The foothills of the Southern Alps undergo a magic transformation in winter. A covering of snow turns these tawny tussock lands into an extensive playground, not just for skiers, but also trampers on snowshoes.
Hike 3 hours up to our cosy mountain hut at the snowline (1280m) and use this as a base to explore a winter wonderland of ice-covered streams, curving ridges and snowy valleys. Relax in the evenings in the warmth of a pot belly stove. Maybe try a Glühwein and fondue in true Swiss style. The more adventurous can choose to build a snowcave and sleep in it - or retreat to the hut!
Here in the foothills of the Southern Alps you are in the newly created Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park of the Two Thumb Range with grand views across the Mackenzie Basin and of the major peaks of the Main Divide, Mounts Cook and Tasman.
We recommend 3 days as an optimum time for sampling snowshoeing, but for those limited to weekends 2 days will certainly give a refreshing break; and there are plenty of trail options for those who are able to spend 5 days.
All gear included in our prices - even hiking boots if you need them. No need to pay extra to hire snowshoes or avalanche transceiver.
Read the article about Snowshoeing in the Two Thumb Range.
WEEKEND SPECIAL - get a group of 6-10 friends together for two days snowshoeing based at Rex Simpson Hut and pay only $580 per person, all inclusive.
2-10 participants per guide.
Individual bookings welcome. If you end up being the only person on a trip you will have the option of changing to another date or a full refund.
|Price per person in NZ$ (valid until 30 April 2014)|
|5% returning client discount, if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Participants||2 days||3 days||4 days||5 days|
|Discounts for group bookings|
|3-5 (book a minimum of 3 persons to qualify)||660||870||1130||1370|
|6-10 (book a minimum of 6 persons to qualify)||580||780||1000||1220|
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.
Included: guide, hut accommodation, all food & transport ex Lake Tekapo, snowshoes, ski poles and any other equipment you may need to borrow, Department of Conservation licence fee, 15% GST.
Meals and accommodation before/after tour are NOT included.
Rex Simpson Hut is owned by Alpine Recreation and is an ideal base for ski touring and snow shoeing in the winter and trekking in the summer.
No aircraft required: The hut can be reached in 3 hours' walking from the road end and is located at 1300m, in a beautiful setting, with great views of the Southern Alps and out over Lake Tekapo across the Mackenzie Basin.
Fully equipped with firewood, gas, solar lighting, sleeping bags and non-perishable food. A wood-fired stove means there are good heating and drying facilities.
How difficult is snowshoeing?
The snow evens out the bumps and hollows of the summer terrain and makes it easy to walk over the surface without having to negotiate rocks or tree roots as you often have to do when tramping. With the addition of ski poles it makes for enjoyable walking, taking in the scenery, instead of watching where you are placing your feet.
If you enjoy bushwalking, tramping or just ordinary hiking, then you'll enjoy walking over the snow on snowshoes. You don't sink into the snow as you would with just boots on. Using snowshoes is very straightforward - it's as simple as strapping them onto your normal hiking boots, grabbing a pair of ski poles and walking!
You need to have good tramping stamina and at least average fitness. If you enjoy going for longer walks, you'll enjoy snowshoeing.
For a more challenging option we recommend Snowshoe Expedition to Caroline Hut.
9am gear check at our office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo.
From Lake Tekapo township we drive along the lakeshore to the top of Lake Tekapo. 3 hours' hike with a climb of 550m/1805t brings us to the cosy Rex Simpson Hut, at 1300m/4265ft. The views over Lake Tekapo are expansive. Time permitting we may do one of the shorter trails (e.g. Mt Gerald Stream) in the afternoon or head up onto the ridge behind the hut to admire the view.
Relax with a hot drink beside the pot belly stove as your guide prepares a tasty dinner. Watch the sun set behind the alps and enjoy spectacularly clear displays of our Southern Hemisphere stars. No light or air pollution up here!
As the hut is fully stocked we only need to carry some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat) and our personal clothing and equipment.
Based at Rex Simpson Hut, we will explore the winter wonderland around Mt. Gerald, Camp Stream Valley, Snake Ridge, Beuzenberg Peak and the Southern Terraces. Please refer to the "Trail Options" section.
Return to Lake Tekapo, with the option of doing one of the shorter trails in the morning (e.g. Southern Terraces), arriving back around 4-5pm.
MT GERALD STREAM:
From hut, around the corner, up Mt Gerald Stream and onto the plateau of Mt Gerald itself, with views down to Lilybank Station and up the Godley Valley and across Lake Tekapo. Return same way or cross Snake Ridge and follow down to hut. 3-4 hours return.
SNAKE RIDGE - BEUZENBERG PEAK:
Up to saddle looking into Camp Stream, then up onto Snake Ridge, following all the way up to Beuzenberg Peak, 2070m and return via ridge or via Camp Stream. Great views of East Face of Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and other Main Divide peaks as you cruise along the ridge top. 6 hours return.
Head south from hut, enjoying the view out over Lake Tekapo as far as Lakes Benmore and Pukaki, traverse back around into the lower end of Camp Stream, stopping off to take a step back in time with a visit to an old musterers' hut, before following up the gorge and back over the saddle to Rex Simpson Hut. 4-5 hours return.
CAMP STREAM TRAVERSE:
Up to saddle behind hut, down into Camp Stream valley and up a peak, 1666m, on the eastern side for grand views into the next valley and a different perspective of the Main Divide. This trek can be extended into the next valley (subject to safe snow conditions). 3-4 hours return.
CAMP STREAM - STAG SADDLE:
Great on a windy day to have the shelter of the valley. Amble beside the gurgling stream up to the bumps and basins at the head of the valley, before climbing up to Stag Saddle, 1925m. Return same way, or traverse up onto Snake Ridge and descend that way. 6 hours return.
You can get into the mountains without having to bring a lot of gear. The snowshoes and ski poles are provided, along with any other gear you may need to borrow, including boots.
Winter mountain travel does bring hazards such as avalanche potential and white-outs which are not present in summer. Guides know where avalanche danger is, how to avoid it and are equipped to deal with it. They have navigation skills with both compass and GPS.
You're above the bushline all the time, so it is very easy to get lost when cloud comes in. The guides' local knowledge is a huge advantage.
Light packs & a clean hut
No heavy loads to carry because sleeping bags, stoves, fuel and non-perishable food are at the hut. You have a clean hut and a guaranteed bunk.
Alpine Recreation provides snowshoes and ski poles. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Snowshoeing 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.