One of the most popular and spectacular treks in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park – for experienced hikers.
Day One is a challenging 850m climb up to the superbly located Caroline Hut, on the Ball Ridge, directly opposite the mighty Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook and overlooking the Tasman Glacier. Spend two nights here and experience the crack and thunder of ice avalanches tumbling down the Caroline Face, New Zealand’s highest ice face. On Day Two you’ll summit Kaitiaki Peak (2222m) and climb up onto Ball Pass (2121m) to look deep down into the Hooker Valley on the other side and across to Mt Sefton and the Copland Pass. On Day Three, you will return to Mt Cook Village via the Tasman Valley, possibly stopping for a swim in Blue Lake.
The Ball Pass Summit Trek does NOT cross Ball Pass. Please refer to the Ball Pass Crossing, if you wish to do the full crossing.
This trip is beginner mountaineering, and there is not an established trail to follow. Please read the "Trekking Fitness & Experience" section carefully to make sure this is what you are after...
Alpine Recreation owns Caroline Hut and is the sole operator of the Ball Pass Summit Trek.
"I just wanted to jot you a note and thank you once again for the fantastic guiding experience that both Martin and you provided our team. The guys are still raving about it – with some describing the trip as being one of those "bucket list" experiences!! I know that we were all a bit sore on Thursday night, but after a great soak in the hot pools and a hot meal we were as happy as I've ever seen the team. I couldn't praise you more for the absolute professionalism and commitment you showed to our team. As I said in my speech at the end, we talk a lot about leadership at Sanitarium – and both Elke and Martin demonstrated what it means to be a true leader – in spades! I would have no hesitation to recommend this trip to other (fit) executive teams – and my personal view is that it is a first rate team building exercise. Thanks again for a wonderful and safe trip, and for wonderful memories of the Mt Cook National Park, Ball Pass, and the Caroline Hut experience!"
Todd Saunders, General Manager, Sanitarium, Australia. February 2013.
"Thank you for one of the best adventures I have ever had. It was beautiful and tough at the same time, and I had an absolute ball." - A. Moras, Australia. April 2012. More client comments.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park offers New Zealand's most spectacular alpine scenery. All of New Zealand's 3000m plus peaks, except Mt Aspiring, are contained in this national park and the adjacent Westland National Park. This is New Zealand's climbing mecca. Most peaks are accessible only to experienced mountaineers. However, alpine hiking or trekking is possible close to Mount Cook on the guided Ball Pass Summit Trek, in the company of experienced mountain guides.
On the Ball Pass Summit Trek you will enter a "topuni" area, a place of great spiritual significance to Ngai Tahu, the Maori tribe who were the first people to occupy most of the South Island.
"Aoraki", the name given by NgaiTahu to New Zealand's highest peak (Mount Cook), is their most sacred ancestor, from whom they derive their identity and "mana" or status. Aoraki possesses power over life and death and represents a link between the natural and spiritual worlds. It is a huge privilege to pass through this area and take in the awe-inspiring views that Aoraki and the surrounding mountains offer.
2-4 participants per guide, up to 8 with 2 guides.
Individual bookings welcome. We do require a minimum of two participants to run a trip. If you end up being the only person on a trip you will have the option of changing to another date or a full refund, or paying a NZ$780 surcharge to go with a 1:1 guide-client ratio.
|2014-15 Season: Price per person in NZ$ (valid 1 May 2014 - 30 April 2015)|
|5% returning client discount, if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Discounts for group bookings|
|3-5 (book a minimum of 3 persons to qualify)||1100|
|6-8 (book a minimum of 6 persons to qualify)||980|
Please note that on public holidays there will be a surcharge of NZ$80 per person per day.
New Zealand public holidays 2013: New Year 1/1 & 2/1, Waitangi Day 6/2, Good Friday 29/3, Easter Monday 1/4, Anzac Day 25/4, Labour Day 28/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 26/12.
New Zealand public holidays 2014: New Year 1/1 & 2/1, Waitangi Day 6/2, Good Friday 18/4, Easter Monday 21/4, Anzac Day 25/4, Labour Day 27/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 26/12.
Included: guide, hut accommodation, all food & transport ex Lake Tekapo, crampons, ice-axe, and all other climbing equipment and boots if required, National Parks concession fees, 15% GST.
Meals and accommodation before/after tour are NOT included.
Caroline Hut is the only guide/operator-owned mountain hut in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and is available for the exclusive use of Alpine Recreation parties.
Private facilities: As we are not using public huts there is no risk of overcrowding, facilities are clean and hygenic and you have a guaranteed bunk.
Stunning setting: Located at 1820m on Ball Ridge, directly opposite the Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook, Caroline Hut is a great location to experience the mountain views in comfort.
Fully equipped with firewood, gas, solar lighting, satellite phone, Department of Conservation radio, sleeping bags and non-perishable food. A wood-fired stove means there are good heating and drying facilities.
Previous experience & agility
For the Ball Pass Summit Trek you need to have previous hiking, backpacking, tramping or bushwalking experience. This trek is beginner mountaineering and is more demanding than any of the Great Walks, such as the Milford or Routeburn Tracks, because it is alpine, traverses snow fields and a small glacier and there is no track in parts. Where there is a track it is narrow, uneven and you have to place your feet carefully. In places there are unstable moraine slopes to negotiate.
The Ball Pass Summit Trek is a good alternative to the Copland Pass Track which has become much more difficult due to glacier recession having cut off the access to Hooker Hut and steepening the moraine wall at the bottom of the Copland Ridge.
Besides personal clothing you'll need to carry some items of fresh food to the hut. Your pack on Day 1 should weigh no more than 10-12 kg, including the crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness, which we provide.
Several hikes of at least 6 hours' duration involving some uphill are recommended as preparation for the Ball Pass Summit Trek. You do not need prior mountaineering experience.
Participants for a Ball Pass Summit Trek need to:
Ball Pass Summit Trek: Elevation profile
Early season (November - December) there can be deep snow to contend with. If necessary we will outfit you with snowshoes. Late in the season (mid February - April) snow has often completely disappeared, leaving crevasses wide open. However, even in the middle of the summer there can be new snowfall, and as we get to autumn (March - April) the chances of this increase.
The guide will give you a thorough gear check before departure to ensure you are adequately equipped for both the hot and cold of a mountain environment.
Ball Pass is on the Mount Cook Range, below the South Ridge of Mount Cook. The route to the pass allows close views of New Zealand's highest mountains and most spectacular alpine scenery. Aerial photo.
8am gear check at our office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo.
The guide takes us by minivan to Mount Cook (about 1 hour). We transfer to a 4WD vehicle and drive as far as possible up the old Ball Hut Road, parallel to the Tasman Glacier. The effects of glacial recession are very evident as we hike beside the lateral moraine. From Ball Shelter, we climb 850m up the Ball Ridge to Caroline Hut at 1820m/6000ft, perched right opposite the awe-inspiring Caroline Face of Mount Cook. The panorama includes Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, all the mountains adjoining the Tasman Glacier, and Lake Pukaki.
In addition to our personal clothing, the crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness, we will be carrying some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat). The hut is stocked with non-perishable food, mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, gas and firewood.
In rainy or windy weather an alternative shorter (but steeper and less scenic) route may need to be taken to Caroline Hut.
(6 hours hiking.)
Learn basic mountaineering techniques, using crampons and ice-axe. Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) south of Ball Pass and take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki. Back at Caroline Hut take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face. (6 hours return.)
We return to Mount Cook Village via the Tasman Valley, this time with the 29km long Tasman Glacier stretching out in front of us to the north. Our descent route allows good views out over the ever-expanding terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier. During hot weather a refreshing swim in Blue Lake at the end of the hike is a great way to finish. (4-5 hours hiking.) Return travel to Lake Tekapo, finishing about 5pm.
Access to Caroline Hut on Day 1 is subject to safe snow and weather conditions. The professional judgement of your guide will take into account all factors, including client fitness for the conditions. Please see our Bad Weather Policies.
Alpine Recreation provides helmets, harnesses, crampons and ice-axes. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Ball Pass Summit Clothing & Equipment list.
Accommodation pre-/post- tour:
As our equipment check takes place at 8am on the morning of departure, you need to book accommodation in Tekapo the night before. After the tour, it is recommended to overnight in Tekapo again, or in Mount Cook. Accommodation options in Tekapo.
In case of accident New Zealand's Accident Compensation scheme (ACC) will cover the majority of costs (about 80%) involved with evacuation and injury treatment, even for visitors to New Zealand. However you still need ordinary travel insurance to cover such things as your cancellation if an injury prevents you taking part on the trip, or a close relative suddenly becomes ill; and medical insurance in case you become ill. More information re Accident Compensation. The New Zealand Alpine Club provides a good mountaineering specific travel insurance.
How green are we?
Alpine Recreation reduces its carbon footprint and environmental impact through such things as:
- restricting group size
- using fuel efficient vehicles
- minimising use of vehicles and aircraft
- recycling, re-using, composting, avoiding "consumerism"
- minimal impact huts
- bulk buying of food supplies
- promoting conservation of native flora and fauna
- supporting community efforts to encourage appreciation of the natural environment
For details please refer to our Environmental Care Action.