A great summit for experiencing New Zealand's highest peaks at close range
Celebrating the summit of Turner Peak
Turner Peak is climbed via the Ball Ridge and Ball Glacier
The South Face of Turner Peak with Aoraki Mount Cook to the left and Ball Pass to the right
Caroline Hut sits directly opposite New Zealand's highest ice face - the 2000m+ Caroline Face
Turner Peak Guided Ascent
Turner Peak (2338m) is an ideal 3-4 day ascent which doesn't require air access. First climbed in 1913 by Samuel Turner and Darby Thompson, this mountain is part of the Mount Cook Range and looks straight up the Hillary Ridge (south ridge) of Aoraki Mt Cook, and is a fantastic vantage point for viewing the full length of the Tasman Glacier and many of New Zealand's 3000m peaks. Turner Peak is suitable for those who are experienced in using crampons and ice-axe and is one of the few peaks in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park with relatively straightforward foot access. Based from the comfort of private Caroline Hut an ascent typically takes 6-8 hours.
|Guide:client ratio||3 days||4 days|
|returning client discount, if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide
- National Park fees
- 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 technical climbing 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 3 days or NZ for 4 days
- rescheduling to another trip/date
- a full refund
The maximum number of participants per guide is 2.
The peak climbing season for Turner Peak ascents is October to January, but it is often possible to climb the mountain outside of these dates, depending on conditions. 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.
Aoraki - a special mountain, a special area
↑ Aerial photo of the Ball Pass route.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park offers New Zealand's most spectacular alpine scenery. All of New Zealand's 3000m plus peaks, except Mt Aspiring, are contained in this national park and the adjacent Westland National Park. This is New Zealand's climbing mecca. Most peaks are accessible only to experienced mountaineers. However, in the company of a professional guide, mountaineering courses, ascents and alpine trekking are possible in the Ball Pass area.
On the Turner Peak ascent you will enter a "topuni" area, a place of great spiritual significance to Ngai Tahu, the Maori tribe who were the first people to occupy most of the South Island.
"Aoraki", the name given by Ngai Tahu to New Zealand's highest peak (Mount Cook), is their most sacred ancestor, from whom they derive their identity and "mana" or status. Aoraki possesses power over life and death and represents a link between the natural and spiritual worlds. It is a huge privilege to pass through this area and take in the awe-inspiring views that Aoraki and the surrounding mountains offer.
Venue: Caroline Hut
↑ Caroline Hut is the ideal location for an active mountain holiday
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
↑ Exposed, rocky sections of Ball Ridge - you need to be sure-footed, well-coordinated and have good balance. Photo: B. Boucinhas
Endurance: Grade 4 - "Very Challenging"
A high level of fitness is expected. Fit people will still need to train prior to undertaking this adventure. Ascents of 1200+ vertical metres are likely. Expect 10-12 hour days or longer, carrying a 10-12kg backpack. Early alpine starts may be required. Expect some discomfort due to long days and exposure to elements. Must be dedicated and used to long days in rough, untracked terrain.
Agility: Grade 4 - "Advanced scrambling agility"
Committing and challenging for experienced trekkers. Sustained concentration and focus required for difficult sections. Exposure to heights or large drops likely. Confident footwork and scrambling over rough, loose and steep terrain required (eg. pulling yourself up on vegetation, clambering over boulders). Crampons and ice axes required for crossing moderate snow slopes (≤ 35°), alpine passes and/or glaciated terrain.
Technical: Grade 2 - "Introductory Mountaineer"
In-depth crampon, ice axe, self-arresting and climbing skills instructed by guide. Basic rope skills, knots, abseiling, anchor placement, belaying skills instructed if applicable. Ability to apply skills with coached practice and demonstrate proficiency required to progress to next grade. Prior rock climbing experience beneficial.
+Trip Difficulty Ratings explained
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For the Turner Peak ascent you need to have extensive hiking, backpacking, tramping or bushwalking experience. The route to Caroline Hut and to the summit of Turner Peak crosses rough, untracked alpine terrain and traverses snow, scree and boulder fields.
Please see this photo gallery for examples of the terrain to and from Caroline Hut.
Regular hikes of at least 6 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. Early-mid season (November-December) you are likely to encounter soft snow even below the hut. If you have never walked in deep snow before, then the best way to prepare for this is to walk through sand dunes or somewhere where there is loose sand, where you lose a good percentage of your momentum with each step. Mid to late season (January - April), when the snow has melted back, you will encounter firmer snow and loose scree (rock) slopes in places. The best training for this is to hike over smooth rock slabs and rough stony riverbeds or beaches where there is an uneven surface, where you have to watch your foot placement.
Participants for an ascent of Turner Peak need to:
- have a high level of fitness (able to climb 300 vertical metres per hour with a 12kg pack and hike/climb 8+ hours a day without difficulty)
- have extensive hiking, tramping or trekking experience
- be able to walk/scramble over steep, rugged, untracked and exposed terrain
- be sure-footed, well-coordinated and have good balance
- have no fear of heights or problems with vertigo
- have previous experience using crampons and ice axe
Routes & Itinerary
↑ Turner Peak is on the Mount Cook Range, below the Hillary Ridge (South Ridge) of Aoraki Mount Cook.
The route to the peak allows close views of New Zealand's highest mountains and most spectacular alpine scenery.
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. Alternative foot access routes to Ball Ridge have been successfully established, and Alpine Recreation guides are familiar with ongoing changes to the routes. 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 (some sections involve pulling on steep vegetation, clambering across loose scree and negotiating large boulder fields). Please see this photo gallery for examples of terrain. If you are unsure whether your fitness and agility are sufficient, please contact us before booking your trip.
8am on the first day. Meeting point is at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo. If you have requested a pick-up from your accommodation, please be ready for pick-up at 7:50am.
5-7 hours trekking, 5.5km distance, 1200m ascent.
You'll meet your guide and once everyone in the group has arrived, your equipment will be checked. Any items of equipment that you have been unable to provide yourself will be provided free-of-charge. Good leather climbing boots are available if you do not have your own. All technical mountaineering equipment is provided (helmets, harnesses, slings, carabiners, rope etc.) but you are welcome to bring your own if you have them.
Drive to Mount Cook (about 1 hour), transfer to 4WD vehicle and drive as far as possible up the old Ball Hut Road, parallel to the Tasman Glacier. The effects of glacial recession are very evident as we hike beside the lateral moraine. Climb 850m steeply up onto Ball Ridge and to Caroline Hut at 1800m, perched right opposite New Zealand's highest ice face, the Caroline Face of Mount Cook.
Your guide will choose one of two routes (Waterfall direct or Cove Stream) depending on conditions and weather. If snow conditions are firm below Caroline Hut, you are likely to be introduced to crampons and ice axe.
In addition to our personal clothing, the crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness, we will be carrying some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat). The hut is stocked with nonperishable food, mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, gas and firewood.
Access to Caroline Hut on Day 1 is subject to safe snow and weather conditions. The professional judgement of your guide will take into account all factors, including client fitness for the conditions. Please see our Bad Weather Policies.
Ball Hut Road → Caroline Hut: Elevation profile
6-9 hours return from Caroline Hut.
A pre-dawn start to make the most of firm snow conditions. Climb Turner Peak (2338m) north of Ball Pass and take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki. Maybe explore a crevasse on the Ball Glacier on your return. 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, 5.5km distance, 300m ascent.
Return to Mount Cook Village via the Tasman Valley (Cove Stream, Waterfall direct or Ball Ridge routes). Depending on conditions and group ability, the guide may opt to take you back via a different route to your ascent. The descent routes allow good views out over the ever-expanding terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier. Finish back in lake Tekapo at about 5pm.
Choosing the 4 day ascent option allows for more time in this spectacular location and more flexibility with weather. For the 4 day option, you will typically spend Day 2 refreshing crampon and ice axe skills with an ascent of Kaitiaki Peak and time to explore the Ball Glacier, before climbing Turner Peak on Day 3. There is also the option to cross Ball Pass and Mabel Col on the last day (this is not recommended for the 3 day option unless you are exceptionally fit!).
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 helmets, harnesses, crampons and ice-axes. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Please see the equipment list for further details.