Approaching Fitzgerald Pass
The snow slopes and glaciers below Fitzgerald Pass
Maximum 2 participants per guide
Mueller Lake, Mount Cook Village and Lake Pukaki
A small alpine tarn in the upper Copland Valley
Endangered Blue Duck (Whio) on the Copland River
Stream crossings on the way down the Copland Valley
Fitzgerald Pass Crossing
Cross the Southern Alps from Mount Cook Village to the West Coast on foot!
Fitzgerald Pass links the grandeur of Mount Cook with the untouched wilderness of West Coast bush. Enjoy spectacular mountain and lake views on the east before crossing to the sweeping views of West Coast forest and costline on the west.
Spend a night bivvying under the stars above Hooker Lake before a stiff climb up and over the Fitzgerald Pass and down through sub alpine terrain to Douglas Rock hut just below the bush line. Hike down the Copland Valley and relax at the end of your third day when you reach the natural Copland Hot Springs to soothe your weary body.
The Fitzgerald Pass Crossing is a challenging 4 day alpine crossing of the Southern Alps from the Hooker Valley to the Copland Valley done entirely under your own power. It follows the Jubilee Route over Fitzgerald Pass which is an alternative to the old Copland Pass route across the Main Divide and bypasses problems associated with the old route, caused by the retreating Hooker Glacier (the steep and crumbling moraine wall, and rockfall and flooding on the Hooker Lake shore). Besides Fitzgerald Pass is a much more comfortable place to stop for lunch!
Bivvy above the Hooker Lake and enjoy watching the sun set on the South Face of Aoraki / Mount Cook. 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.
Fitzgerald 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. The length of season is limited by the amount of snow on the route and may vary year to year.
Venue: Douglas Rock and Welcome Flat Huts + Bivvy Experience
The Fitzgerald Pass Crossing spends one night camping under the stars 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
12 noon gear check at the Alpine Recreation office, Lake Tekapo. Drive to Mt Cook, hike up the Hooker Valley and climb up to a terrace at the base of the rock bluffs overlooking the Hooker Lake. Camp here. 3 hours hiking.
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 rock buttress. The guide will belay you up the 150m of exposed but technically easy rock until you reach snow slopes that lead to the north-eastern part of the Stewart Glacier. You climb steep snow and ice slopes and around crevasses until you reach a shoulder where the view opens up to the south face of Aoraki Mount Cook and Copland Pass.
A steep snow traverse leads to the final slope that takes you to Fitzgerald Pass, 2109m. (About 4-5 hours climbing up to the pass.)
From Fitzgerald 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. The 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 crevasse conditions. We recommend this trip during the months of November through to February. Please email us to request your dates.
Fitzgerald Pass is a Main Divide crossing and traverses steep snow slopes. Fine weather, safe snow conditions and good timing are crucial for a successful crossing. The Jubilee route over Fitzgerald Pass involves climbing a rock buttress and a steep and crevassed glacier. There is a 20m wide section of danger from ice avalanches.
The Jubilee Route over Fitzgerald Pass is an alternative to the old 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).
The Jubilee Route over Fitzgerald Pass was pioneered in March 2003 by Anne & Gottlieb Braun-Elwert and Stella Sweney. It was called the Jubilee Route because the first crossing coincided with the 50th Jubilee of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
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, you may require at no extra cost. Please see the equipment list below for further details.