Jason Dundas joined an Adventure South six-day hike in New Zealand's Southern Alps. Whatever the season, this is one of the most stunning places on the planet. In summer there's alpine meadows and untamed beauty in some of the world's best alpine walks. The Alps run 450km north to south with Mount Cook the highest point at 3754m. Sixteen other points exceed 3000m and they are all cut with glacial valleys and lakes.
Jason's journey involved trekking to two 2000 metre peaks, climbing snow-capped hills, taking in beautiful glacial lakes all so easy to reach from Australia. If trekking in Nepal is on your bucket list, this is a cheaper and closer alternative well worth considering.
Under the guidance of Geoff Gabities who has been trekking in the Southern Alps for many a year, Jason and his fellow trekkers headed off on a collection of different adventures.
It began with a drive from Christchurch to the highland lake, Lake Tekapo, followed by a 3.5 hour walk to Rex Simpson's Hut for an overnight stay. The hut sleeps 12 and has potbelly stoves, firewood, gas, solar lighting, sleeping bags and non-perishable food.
You follow the ridge line at Eripa Peak to take in some of the best scenery ever. Two Thumbs Range stretches from Lake Tekapo and when the sun sets, you have front row tickets to the Milky Way.
You walk in Mount Cook National Park and drive to Lake Ohau, a glacial lake. Explore a remote lake and valley system in the Mackenzie Basin with Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring towering above.
It's full of highlights mountains are always snow-capped and finely ground rock gives lakes a wonderful turquoise colour. A cruise on the beautiful glacial Lake Wanaka is another breathtaker.
Just when you think it can't possibly get any better, the whirring of a helicopter announces your next amazing adventure. A heli hike involves a flight to tarns where you are left to walk along the ridge of the second 2000m summit. You overlook the Matukituki Valley, Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring.
When the helicopter left, all that remained was the beauty and silence of the Buchanan Peaks area.
Jason said that this adventure is suitable for almost any level of fitness. He described it as a buffet of treks a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Not stressful but totally rewarding.
New Zealand's Southern Alps.
Adventure South 6 days Best of Southern Alps Trek from Christchurch is $1995 per person based on twin share. It includes five breakfasts, six lunches and four dinners, professional guide, one night's stay in a hut and four nights in hotel/motel accommodation. There is coach transport, lake cruise, water taxi, and helicopter flight to and from heli-hike. They operate between November and March.
Air New Zealand has flights to Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown from:
- Sydney and Melbourne $189
- Brisbane $190
- Sydney and Melbourne $220
- Brisbane $249
- Adelaide $297
- Melbourne $288
- Sydney $289
Sales and validity dates apply.
Prices correct at August 13, 2011.
For more information
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
Level 5, 71 York Street
Ph: 1800 10 70 60
Fax: 02 8270 8401
Visa: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +1.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
Telephone code: +64.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.