Gillespie Rabbit Pass Alpine Traverse 8 day

Location

Extending from Makarora Township to the confluence of the East and West Matukiuki Valley, the Gillespie/ Rabbit Pass route is the longest guided trek in New Zealand. 

The best tramp in NZ?

Philip, Australia - Gillespie-Rabbit 2017

The impression given of the level of difficulty was very accurate. It was just right for me - sometimes demanding but not exhausting. The precautions on the potentially dangerous areas were absolutely great - I never felt at risk. George was very hands-off at other times but we were experienced walkers, so I think he judged it pretty well. I'd highly recommended this Wild Walk to anyone who's after a spectacular walk and fit enough to do it. The best tramp in NZ? Would do it again in a heartbeat. Superbly organised with the food and gear stashes. 

More Information

The Gillespie Rabbit Pass Traverse is located in New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park, part of the Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. This eight day traverse links three of the region's major river valleys crossing two alpine passes. This area is spectacular, surrounded by high glacier covered peaks, waterfalls and lakes. This is home to many other rare and endangered species including the Kea, the World's only alpine parrot.

Our professional guide will ensure your safety as we explore this remote and seldom visited area.  The crossing of Rabbit Pass is a challenging alpine crossing requiring good conditions to safely ascend and descend steep and exposed terrain. Prolonged periods of bad weather may prevent the crossing in which case the time is utlised exploring the alpine scenery of the Upper Wilkin area. Overnight gear and a delicious menu is provided at our private camps so all you carry is a light pack. You only carry  your own personal items, lunch & snacks each day and a sleeping bag & mat for the first 3 days.

Pack 35-45 litre   Weight 6-9kg


Available Dates

2018-2019 Status
2018  
17-24 Dec * Completed
28 Dec - 4 Jan Completed
2019  
12-19 Jan Completed
19-26 Jan Completed
3-10 Feb Completed
12-19 Feb In progress
17-24 Feb FULL
1-8 March C: 1 place available
12-19 March FULL
24-31 March FULL
1-8 April FULL


C = Confirmed Departure

* = Rabbit Pass section of trip subject to conditions  - in mid Dec there is still a chance there may be snow on the pass, in April chance of snow or ice

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.

Difficulty

Fitness 

To enjoy your Gillespie/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).  Hikers should be able to maintain a slow but steady pace for long periods of time. You will only carry your own gear plus sleeping bag (no tent or food and no sleeping bag after day 3). There is plenty of time to rest, swim, and take photos.


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 around 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.


Price Details

Guide Ratio Price per person
1 : 2 NZ $3,650
1 : 3-4 NZ $3,050


 

What's Included
  • all meals and snacks
  • transport ex Wanaka
  • satellite phone communications
  • tents and/or hut accommodation
  • national park, guide fees and 15% goods and service tax (GST)

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One

We pick you up at your accommodation and depart for the Young Valley. If the rivers are high then jet boat access to the start of the track is provided. The Young Valley is a wonderland of dense native forest and high peaks. The trail steepens and climbs steadily to tree line.

7 hrs 650m ascent

Rabbit Pass planning

Day Two

The track winds its way up the valley sidewall under the awesome East face of Mnt. Awful. This is really an Alpine Paradise. The climbing ends at Gillespie Pass and one of the great view points of the Southern Alps.

6hrs 550m ascent 550m descent

Rabbit Pass

Day Three

It is all down hill today. The track meanders through the beautiful Siberia Valley and then plunges steeply to the Wilkin River where your mountain hut awaits.  Here we get resupplied by jet boat so fresh vegetables are back on the menu!  From here on sleeping bags are supplied at the campsites so we no longer need to carry sleeping bags and pads.

5 hrs 650m descent

Best Multiday Hike

Day Four

Following the Wilkin River the track gradually rises until reaching the Top Forks. This area is one of New Zealand’s treasures with outstanding native bush and hanging glaciers.   The track alternates between forest and open river flats.  Top Forks Hut has a wood burning stove and views that are hard to believe.

7 hrs 300m ascent

IMG_5332

Day Five

We leave our packs behind for a day trip to Lake Castalia. The track is rugged with plenty of stream crossings and boulder scrambling. Some may prefer a shorter day or just a rest day to swim and admire the world class views.

7 hrs 500m ascent 500m descent or a rest day

Note : if the weather forecast is good your guide may decide it is of benefit to head over Rabbit Pass early on this day rather than wait for the next.  In this case you may spend an extra day at Pickelhaub or Aspiring Discovery Camp, or you may head out of the Aspiring National Park a day early. The last day would then be a day walk from Wanaka.
  

best Multiday Hike

Day Six

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
  

IMG_3947

Day Seven

Waking to sound of icefalls crashing off the towering Mt 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 setup as the night before.

7-8 hrs 200m descent 300 ascent

IMG_5424

Day Eight

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

NB : Please note that this itinerary is a sample only and the actual itinerary may vary at the discretion of your guide. Weather, conditions and personal ability and needs may make changes necessary or advantageous to the participants.

New Zealand Rabbit Pass Hiking


Equipment Details

This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for hiking in New Zealand.

Back to Top