Fitzgerald Pass (lowest point) and Copland Pass (to the right)
Climbing up Copland Ridge above the Hooker Glacier and Hooker Lake
Taking a break before crossing the pass
The Copland Ridge is accessed by climbing the difficult moraine wall
A small alpine tarn in the upper Copland Valley
Stream crossings on the way down the Copland Valley
Copland Pass Crossing
The classic Southern Alps crossing from Mount Cook Village to the West Coast
The Copland Pass was once one of New Zealand's greatest alpine crossings, linking the grandeur of Mount Cook, with the West Coast bush and the hot springs at Welcome Flats. Erosion of the Stewart and Copland Gullies in the mid 1990's on the Hooker Valley side of the pass has made the crossing significantly more challenging, with the Hooker Hut left stranded on an inaccessible piece of lateral moraine.
The Copland Pass route crosses rough glacial moraine. Alpine Recreation recommends the Fitzgerald Pass as a more pleasent alternative.
The Copland Pass Crossing is a challenging 4 day alpine traverse of the Southern Alps from the Hooker Valley to the Copland Valley. The route follows the shore of the Hooker Lake and the lower Hooker Glacier, before ascending up the steep and crumbling moraine wall to the base of the Copland Ridge. From here, the traditional Copland Pass route can be followed, clambering up Copland Ridge to the Copland Shelter.
Cross the pass with your guide and descend on the western side of the Main Divide to Douglas Rock Hut. Continue on your own along the DOC track to Welcome Flats Hut and the West Coast while your guide returns back over the pass back to Mt Cook Village.
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide for 3½ days (2½ days + 1 weather contingency day)
- National Park fees
- Hut fees for Douglas Rock Hut
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the trip
- Free transport (Tekapo - Mt. Cook)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the trip (4 days)
- ALL mountaineering and trekking equipment
Meals and accommodation before/after trip, hut fees at Welcome Flats Hut and bus transport at the end of the trip are NOT included.
+Minimum & Maximum Numbers
A minimum number of 2 participants is required to run this trip. If you end up being the only person booked on the trip, you will be offered the choice of:
- paying an additional fee of NZ
- rescheduling to another trip/date
- a full refund
The maximum number of participants per guide is 2. The maximum group size is 4, with 2 guides.
Copland Pass Crossing dates are scheduled on a case by case basis - please contact us with the dates you would like. We recommend that you settle guiding dates well in advance as guide availability during peak season is limited. Please allow extra time in case you are held up in the mountains due to weather.
Venue: Douglas Rock and Welcome Flat Huts + Bivvy Experience
The Copland Pass Crossing spends one night camping at the base of Copland Ridge (or at Copland Shelter if conditions permit quick travel) and one or two nights at public huts. The two public huts, Douglas Rock and Welcome Flat Huts, in the Copland Valley, are public huts. Douglas Rock Hut is a 6 bunk hut which can't be booked, but is not often frequented, while the 30 bunk Welcome Flat Hut is a very popular hut (located by the Copland Hot Pools) and must be booked.
Hut fees for Douglas Rock Hut are included in the price, but the (optional) night at Welcome Flats Hut is NOT incuded.
Previous Experience & Agility
Trekking Fitness & Endurance
Previous mountaineering experience and good cramponing and ice axe skills are essential. Participants need to be very fit in order to accomplish the crossing from the Hooker Valley to Douglas Rock Hut in a single day (approx 10-11 hours).
We strongly recommend that participants do a guided Ball Pass Crossing or Introductory Mountaineering Course with Alpine Recreation first in order to learn the necessary mountaineering skills and to allow guides to assess participants' suitability
8am gear check at the Alpine Recreation office, Lake Tekapo. Drive to Mt Cook, hike up the Hooker Valley and around the western shore of the Hooker Lake. Clamber over rough moraine on the lower Hooker Glacier before climbing up the steep and crumbling moraine wall to the base of the Copland Ridge. Camp on the moraine terrace under the stars. If time permits (dependant on the condition of the glacial moraine, which can be very time-consuming to cross), you may continue on up to Copland Shelter to sleep there instead. 6-8 hours trekking over very rough and loose ground.
Pack up camp (overnight camping gear can be left on the terrace for the guide to collect on the way back) and begin the climb up the Copland Ridge to Copland Shelter. Your guide will belay or short-rope you up the steep snow and ice slopes to Copland Pass.
From Copland Pass it is a short and easy descent to the top section of the Copland Valley route. From here, although there is a track, it has become a lot rougher and more difficult to find, due to washouts, and old avalanche debris. Your guide will continue with you to Douglas Rock Hut, another 5-6 hours from the pass, making it a 10-11 hour day altogether.
Your guide will return back over the pass to Mount Cook Village, taking any equipment you have borrowed, and you will continue on your own down the Copland Valley track. From Douglas Rock Hut to Welcome Flats Hut takes 3 hours. (There is the option to continue out to the road - a further 6-7 hours if time is short)
Welcome Flats Hut to road end is 6-7 hours along a well marked track.
There is some flexibility with this programme to work around unfavourable weather or snow conditions. Due to the unstable nature of glacial moraine, access around the Hooker Lake and up the moraine wall is often not possible after heavy rain events and the Fitzgerald Pass route may be used instead.
Copland Pass is a Main Divide crossing over rough glacial moraine and traverses steep snow slopes. Fine weather, safe snow and moraine conditions and good timing are crucial for a successful crossing. The present route over Copland Pass involves crossing rough and unstable glacial moraine around the Hooker Lake and on the lower Hooker Glacier, as well as climbing the steep and crumbling moraine wall to the base of the Copland Ridge.
The Jubilee Route over Fitzgerald Pass is an alternative to the Copland Pass route and bypasses problems associated with the retreating Hooker Glacier (the steep and crumbling moraine wall, and rockfall and flooding on the Hooker Lake shore).
All of your equipment will be checked during the gear check at our office at the start of your trip. Any equipment you need to borrow from us will be issued by your guide. Alpine Recreation provides packs, helmets, harnesses, crampons, ice-axes and any outdoor clothing, pyou may require at no extra cost. Please see the equipment list below for further details.