A cosy private hut in a stunning setting
Snowshoers in front of the Caroline Face of Aoraki / Mt. Cook
Enjoy a great adventure in spectacular alpine terrain
All snowshoeing gear is included - no hidden costs
Mount Cook Snowshoe Mountaineering
Snowshoe adventures based at Caroline Hut
Trek through amazing winter terrain, surrounded by New Zealand's highest peaks and longest glacier. Enjoy a night in the warm, private Caroline Hut, savouring the fabulous views of the 2000m high Caroline Face of Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest ice face. Relax in its wonderful setting on the Ball Ridge, high above the Tasman Glacier, and be awed by the avalanches rumbling down Mount Cook. This is a trip for those who are willing to go the extra mile for awesome views!
Mount Cook Snowshoe Mountaineering is a 2-3 day snowshoe trip for experienced hikers/snowshoers. You will climb up 1200m to private Caroline Hut which is fully stocked so pack weight is able to be kept to a minimum. From the hut you can snowshoe up Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) and admire stunning mountain panoramas - Mount Cook, Mount Tasman, Minarets, Elie de Beaumont, Malte Brun Range... and many more!
All gear included in our prices - even hiking boots if you need them. No need to pay extra to hire snowshoes or avalanche transceiver.
|Participants||2 days||3 days|
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Group Booking Discounts (NZ$ per person)|
|Group booking of 3|
|Group booking of 4|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide
- National Park fees
- Heated PRIVATE hut accommodation
- 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, snowshoeing and mountaineering equipment
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 2 days or NZ for 3 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).
Mount Cook Snowshoeing dates are scheduled on a case by case basis - please contact us with the dates you would like.
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
Venue: Caroline Hut
↑ Caroline Hut is warm and cosy and a great base for snowshoeing adventures.
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. As we are not using public huts there is no risk of overcrowding, facilities are clean and you have a guaranteed bunk.
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.
The hut is equipped with firewood, gas, solar lighting, satellite communication devices, Department of Conservation radio, sleeping bags and nonperishable food. A wood-fired stove means there are good heating and drying facilities.
The hut consists of two rooms, sleeping up to 10 participants and 2 guides in total. There are no showers, but warm water and a basin can be provided for washing. The two traditional longdrop toilets have one of the most spectacular views in the country!
Endurance, Agility & Technical Difficulty
FEBRUARY 2020 UPDATE - BALL HUT & CAROLINE HUT ROUTE CHANGES
The intense and prolonged rainfall of 1-8 December 2019 caused significant damage to the traditional route to Ball Hut and Caroline Hut across Husky Flat. An alternative foot access route to Ball Ridge has been successfully established, and Alpine Recreation guides are familiar with the changes to the route. The current foot access to Caroline Hut takes approximately 2 hours longer than traditional route up Ball Ridge and is through rough and challenging terrain. If you are unsure whether your fitness and agility are sufficient, please contact us before booking your trip.
Endurance: Grade 3 - "Challenging"
A solid level of fitness with aerobic training prior to the trip is expected. Ability to carry moderate to heavy backpacks (8-10kg) for 6-9 hours if required. Expect ascents of 800-1200 vertical meters. Some discomfort expected due to long days and exposure to elements. Prior multi-day hiking/trekking/tramping trips through rough untracked terrain are recommended.
Agility: Grade 3.5 - "Moderate scrambling agility"
Scrambling over rough ground with hand placement needed (eg. pulling yourself up on vegetation, clambering over boulders). Good foot placement required across a variety of terrain, including steep grass, alpine scrub, scree, boulder-fields and snow. Must be competent and efficient at moving over uneven and untracked terrain carrying a moderate backpack. Sections of steep and/or exposed terrain at times. May involve crossing snow slopes and/or glaciers, requiring the use of crampons and ice axe if conditions are firm.
Technical: Grade 1.5 - "Beginner Mountaineer"
No prior rope skills or experience with crampons/ice axe required. Basic 10-point crampon, ice axe, self-arresting and glacier travel skills will be introduced by the guide if applicable.
+Trip Difficulty Ratings explained
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For the Mount Cook Snowshoe Mountaineering 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. There is no track and the terrain is often uneven and you have to place your feet carefully. In places there are loose scree slopes to negotiate.
Regular hikes of at least 8 hours' duration involving significant vertical ascent are recommended as preparation for this trip. All trips to Caroline Hut require a solid level of fitness to cope with the mountain terrain. In winter you are likely to encounter soft snow well below the hut. If you have never snowshoed or walked in deep snow before, you will be required to do our Lake Tekapo Snowshoeing trip first.
Participants for a Mount Cook Snowshoe Mountaineering need to:
- be very fit (be able to climb up 300 vertical metres within an hour)
- have extensive hiking, tramping or bushwalking experience
- be able to maintain a reasonable pace over steep, rugged and untracked terrain
- be able to hike or climb 6-8 hours in a day without difficulty
- be sure-footed, well-coordinated and have good balance
- have previous snowshoeing or snow trekking experience
- have no fear of heights or problems with vertigo
Previous alpine trekking experience is recommended - this trip is tougher in winter conditions, we recommend doing the Ball Pass Summit Trek as preparation. Previous experience with crampons and ice axe is beneficial.
For an easier option, we recommend Lake Tekapo Snowshoeing.
↑ Aerial photo of Ball Pass and Caroline Hut.
6-8 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 1200m ascent.
8:30am gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo.
Travel to Mount Cook (about 1 hour), and the end of the Tasman Glacier. Climb 850m steeply up to Ball Ridge and to Caroline Hut at 1800m, 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.
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.
6-8 hours return from Caroline Hut.
Ascend to Ball Pass and climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) to take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki and across the Hooker Valley to Mount Sefton. Crampons as well as snowshoes may be required.
Back at Caroline Hut take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face.
5-7 hours trekking.
Return down to the Tasman Valley, finishing at about 5pm back in Tekapo. Depending on conditions and group ability, your guide may choose to return via a different route. Note that these snowshoe trips do not cross Ball Pass.
Ball Hut Road → Caroline Hut: Elevation profile
Why go with a guide?
- You can get into the mountains without having to bring a lot of gear. The snowshoes, ski poles, avalanche transceivers and shovels are provided, along with any other gear you may need to borrow, including boots.
- It's safer. 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.
- No heavy loads to carry because sleeping bags, stoves, fuel and nonperishable food are at the hut.
- You have a clean hut and a guaranteed bunk.
Alpine Recreation provides snowshoes, ski poles, transceivers, shovels, crampons and helmets. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots 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.