If you are not afraid of heights and want a challenging “real NZ” hiking experience, this is without a doubt “THE” trek to do. Once the grassy flats of the Wilkin valley are left behind there are no more huts. The unspoilt mountain valleys, alpine meadows, huge waterfalls and awesome campsites provide you with an unforgettable experience.
From rain forest to hanging glaciers there is no better way to escape the crowds and usual tourist trail. If you are fit and not afraid of heights, you will not find a better way to experience the fantastic mountains of New Zealand. Much of this route is off any prepared track, there are numerous side streams and river crossings.
Check out this great footage of Rabbit Pass from Jan 2017 : Going Up and Going Down
Rabbit Pass links the Wilkin Valley with the Matukituki Valley in the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park
“The moment you head onto the pass and the whole East Matukituki opens up in front of you. It's a staggering view from what was previously a somewhat enclosed environment. The thrill of climbing the waterfall face would be a close second.”
The Rabbit Pass Guided Trek is located in New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park. This four day hike takes you from ancient Beech forest to alpine meadows. This area is so spectacular, it is designated a World Heritage Area. Surrounded by glacier covered peaks and waterfalls, the route follows an alpine fault line resulting in striking vertical relief.. This is home to the Kea, the only alpine parrot on earth, as well as many other rare and endangered species.
Our professional guide will ensure your safety as we explore this remote and seldom visited area. All food and overnight gear is supplied; all you carry is a light day pack.
C = confirmed to run, check for availability
* = subject to conditions - in April there is a chance of ice on the pass
Dates don't work for you?
No problem. We only need 2 people to confirm a trip, so if you're already a group of 2 or more, let us know your preferred dates and we'll see what we can do.
To enjoy your Rabbit Pass trek you need to be very fit, have good balance and not be afraid of heights. There is significant exposure to falling with small footholds and ledges. Sometimes the footing is unstable and hikers need to be good on their feet and be comfortable on rough or slippery ground (you will not encounter deep mud). Hiking boots are needed for increased security rather than lighter trail shoes. Hikers should be able to maintain a slow but steady pace for long periods of time. Your pack will be considerably lighter without sleeping & camping equipment. There are many sidestreams and river crossings.
Track times and distances in New Zealand can be deceiving. The tracks here are quite slow progress compared to other countries. The nature of the terrain means that you seldom get long stretches of fast travel. Tracks twist through the forest, there are streams and waterfalls to negotiate as well as steep ascents and descents. In the alpine there can be loose scree or exposed drops. Do not be deceived into thinking that days with short mileage will be easy; days that we travel less that 10km can be more tiring that days we travel considerably more distance. Call it what you want but it is never dull.
We meet with transport and guide at 8:30 a.m. and travel 45 minutes to the small village of Makarora. Here we board a small fixed wing aircraft and fly into the heart of Mount Aspiring Park. A leisurely 2-hour walk brings us to the Top Forks Hut. The walking is not difficult but it is exciting with numerous river crossings and your first taste of wilderness travel. The afternoon is spent exploring this marvelous area.
6-7 hrs 500m ascent 500m descent.
An early start gets us up to Waterfall Flat. It is not hard to imagine where it gets its name with torrents of water pouring of the surrounding cliffs. The improbable scramble up the Waterfall Face leads to Rabbit Pass. We clip you into a fixed hand line for 60 meters to give you confidence on the trickiest part of the route. A long descent through native herb gardens is a magical end to an exhilarating day. Pickelhaub Camp is an expedition type setup with a cook tent, table and chairs with smaller four person tents to sleep in.
9-11 hrs 900m ascent 650 descent
Waking to sound of icefalls crashing off the towering Mnt. Pickelhaub, we have a leisurely breakfast before heading down the East Matukituki Valley. Even with no track the going is easy through this isolated scenic valley. Once we come to the magnificent Bledisloe Gorge the climbing begins again. From open river flats, through ancient forest and up to the alpine, this is a day that has it all. We camp at our incomparable Aspiring Camp with the same comfortable set up as the night before.
7-8 hrs 200m descent 300 ascent
It is the last day of the trek, and we all know what that means, that’s right: pancakes, whipped cream and blueberry jam. The trail down to the valley floor winds through tall beech forest with Mt. Aspiring dominating the view. Gradually the track opens out into farm land just before we meet our waiting transport back to civilization and a hot shower.
5 hrs 500m descent
This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for hiking in New Zealand.
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