Explore New Zealand's best glacier ski touring terrain
Escape the crowds and enjoy earning your turns
Immerse yourself in the depths of the Southern Alps
Ski mountaineers admire the view of the Godley Lakes from the summit of Mt. Acland
Stay safe and enjoy a unique ski mountaineering holiday
Let us take care of the planning and preparation
Let your guide do the work and find the best snow!
Our tent camp is well situated to access the best ski touring terrain
Murchison Glacier Ski & Split-board Expedition
New Zealand's best glacier ski and split-board touring destination!
Escape the crowds of the busy Tasman Glacier and explore the Murchison with it's many surrounding tributary glaciers and peaks.
Since the closure of Murchison Hut in 2017, the Murchison Glacier is now far less frequented by alpine touring groups and is off-limits to heli-skiers. While still accessible from Kelman and Tasman Saddle Huts, there is only so far hut-based groups can go in a day. Alpine Recreation's exclusive tent camp provides a unique alternative to crowded public huts and is well positioned for adventurous groups to experience the best ski mountaineering terrain in the area.
There are a wide variety of glacier ski runs suitable for skiers and snow boarders who have recently taken up touring, through to experienced ski mountaineers and split-boarders looking for steep and committing lines. There are numerous options for skiable summits, including Mt. Sydney King, Mt. Acland and Mt. Phyllis - the views down to the remote Godley Lakes are spectacular!
Learn valuable winter camping and expedition skills for future tent-based adventures. Our experienced IFMGA / NZMGA mountain guides will teach you how to set up a comfortable camp and stay warm and dry. Alpine Recreation provides quality equipment for an unforgettable mountain camping experience.
"The trip was amazing - a great venue and wonderful terrain to ski! New Zealand is a truly special place. I am extremely impressed with your operation - the trip was VERY well organized, executed, and was very well-tailored to all of our needs, abilities, interests etc. The guide was PHENOMENAL! He did a great job of balancing safety, while finding the best possible skiing objectives available.....all while dealing with people of differing abilities and experience. He also provided excellent educational training (both theory and practical) on avalanche and mountain safety. Moreover, he inspired everyone to push themselves physically and mentally (within safety limits of course) to have some epic days." - D. Rasher, USA.
|Participants||6 days||7 days|
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Group Booking Discounts (NZ$ per person)|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain and ski guide
- National Park fees
- Hut accommodation if required
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the trip
- Free transport (Tekapo - Mt. Cook return)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the trip
- ALL avalanche safety and ski mountaineering equipment and clothing (with the exception of ski boots and split-board setups)
Meals and accommodation before/after 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 for 6 days, or NZ for 7 days
- rescheduling to another trip/date
- a full refund
The maximum number of participants per guide is 4. The maximum group size is 8, with 2 guides.
Take advantage of our group booking discounts and get a group of family and friends together. The amount of discount you will be eligible for will depend on the group size - the more people you book, the more your discount will be! If our scheduled dates don't suit your group's travel plans, please contact us as we can reschedule a trip to suit (subject to guide availability).
Please note that group bookings are not private bookings - if you wish to keep your group closed (ie. you have a private guide just for your group), a surcharge will apply. Alterntatively you can book a group of 4 or 8 (which will ensure there are no others in your group).
+Aircraft Access - not included
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
Venue: Murchison Glacier Expedition Camp
↑ Murchison Glacier Expedition Tent Camp
Murchison, Aida & Mannering Glaciers
East of the Main Divide between the Liebig and Malte Brun Ranges, the Murchison, Mannering and Aida Glaciers offer many rewarding ski runs for a range of experience levels. Ski descents are possible from Mount Phyllis, Mount Sydney King and Mount Acland. For expert skiers, Brodrick Peak or a loop around Mount Richmond are outstanding adventures that may be attempted if conditions and ski ability permit.
Alpine Recreation provides all camping gear, including tents, stove, fuel and cooking utensils. Sleeping bags and mats can be provided if you don't have your own. Your guide will instruct you how to set up the snow camp, including building a tent platform, protective snow walls, foot wells at the tent entrances and a safe cooking area. While it can be warmer inside your tent than at Kelman or Tasman Saddle Huts (which are unheated), the air temperatures outside plummet once the sun sets, so we recommend taking plenty of warm clothing and a decent down jacket!
Aircraft access is required for all glacier venues. Due to significant glacial recession, it is now also necessary to fly out.
Tasman & Murchison Glaciers
Aircraft access is via helicopter or ski plane from Mount Cook Village, with low pick-up options available by helicopter on both glaciers. As there are no huts near these low pick-up points, skiing down is a committing endeavour and will only be an option in good conditions.
Fitness & Experience
↑ Skiing fresh powder snow on the Aida Glacier
Ski touring on the glaciers is physically demanding, often involving long climbs and descents through variable and challenging snow conditions. To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip, we expect that you have good aerobic fitness and are able to ski / board safely in glaciated terrain and challenging snow conditions (this means being able to stop and turn when required to avoid falling in crevasses!).
Ski / Split-board Touring Experience
Previous backcountry skiing and snowboarding experience will ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of this trip. If you haven't been touring before, we recommend becoming familiar with your ski touring / split-boarding equipment at one of our non-glaciated venues such as the Two Thumb Range and Gamack Range.
Off Piste Ski Ability
Participants need to be able to ski safely and competently in variable, untracked snow conditions while carrying a 10-12kg pack. Breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in poor visibility may be somewhat challenging.
Previous experience with crampons and ice axe and basic rope skills (such as belaying, abseiling and prussicking) are beneficial, but not essential. Your guide will provide instruction of mountaineering skills if required.
Ski Fitness & Recommended Fitness Training
A high level of fitness is required. We recommend cardiovascular sport 3-4 times a week, for example, get out every weekend, plus 2-3 times during the week. At this level you are happy doing a 4-6 hour hill walk, 40-50km cycle or 2-3 hour mountain bike ride without being completely exhausted. On a ski tour, you can skin at 300m/hour for 3-4 hours a day while carrying a light pack (ie. 900-1200m of ascent each day with a 10-12kg pack).
8:30am gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo. You need to bring your own alpine touring boots (or split-board setup if you're snowboarding), but otherwise we can provide all other equipment. Please see the equipment section for details.
Drive one hour to Mount Cook airport and fly in to the Murchison Glacier. Learn how to set up the snow camp, including building a tent platform, protective snow walls, foot wells at the tent entrances and a safe cooking area. Alpine Recreation can provide you with a sleeping bag and mat if you don't have your own.
After setting up basecamp, an afternoon tour will provide a good warm up for the ski legs. Instruction on using avalanche transceivers is common practice on the first day.
The guide will assess your skiing ability and offer day tours appropriate to your level. Ski ascents such as Mount Sydney King, Mount Phyllis and Mount Acland all provide good skiing and snowboarding opportunities. For more ambitious ski mountaineers (1-2 person groups) peaks such as Mt. Mannering may be on the menu.
Pack up the tent camp before heading out for a morning ski tour. There are numerous good options on the slopes directly above the campsite. Ski down to the lower Murchison Glacier and fly back to Mount Cook airport.
Return to Lake Tekapo, arriving back around 5pm.
Bad Weather Contingencies
If bad weather delays getting into the mountains, accommodation at our Edelweiss Lodge in Tekapo (or the NZAC lodge at Mount Cook village) is included in the costs. This time is well spent in preparation for the expedition, with your guide providing instruction on crevasse rescue techniques, avalanche awareness and rescue, navigation, mountain weather or any mountain-related topic you request. If hut accommodation is required during the trip (to avoid a significant storm), then this is also covered in the cost. We strongly recommend planning extra days in your holiday itinerary in case you are delayed in the mountians due to weather.
Alpine Recreation provides alpine touring skis, poles, skins, ski crampons, avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes. Mountaineering equipment including boot crampons, ice axe, harness and helmet are also provided. Ski tourers need to bring their own alpine ski touring boots. Snow boarders will need to bring their own split-board setup, including split-board skins and crampons. Outdoor clothing and packs can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.
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.
→ Murchison Glacier Ski & Split-board Expedition - Clothing & Equipment list