If you have ever wanted to hike on a glacier or safely walk amongst towering columns of an ice fall, then this is the NZ trekking trip for you. This is your chance to experience a hiking adventure in one of New Zealand's most famous glacial areas. We supply all the technical gear; all you need is a good pair of boots and a spirit of adventure. New Zealand's glaciers are spectacular but very few people ever get to visit the catchments of these vast oceans of snow.
French Ridge rises steeply out of the Matukituki Valley and reaches the Bonar Glacier at its summit.
"We were after a memorable adventure, and we sure got it. It was the two of us with an experienced guide, Tony. We trekked along the valley, crossed freezing rivers barefoot, battled gravity 1,000m with our packs up very steep NZ mountains, stayed in a mountaineering hut amongst the mountains. And that was Day 1. Day 2 involved crampons, ice axes and ropes. We came very close to crevices, but stayed away. Another 900m straight up, before descending down to the hut. For anyone in need of a serious challenge, a memorable experience and a heap of fun - try this one. The company is very experienced, the guides good and the pricing reasonable given the low ratio of clients per guide.”
The magnificence of this region speaks for itself. It is a demanding hiking trip and requires a high fitness level. Some experience with crampons and ice axes is useful for traversing the glacier and descending from Quarterdek Pass. It is an opportunity to discover the grandeur of the alpine regions and develop an approach to the mountain environment.
The route passes directly below Mount Aspiring with amazing views. Mount Aspiring itself is a majestic peak and the only peak over 3000 metres outside Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. The Mount Aspiring National Park is renowned for its wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. It is a walker's paradise and a must for mountaineers. The views are endless and unforgettable. The park is part of Te Wahipounamu - Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area. Mount Aspiring National Park straddles the southern end of the Southern Alps.
Pack 40 litre Weight 10-15kg
C= confirmed to run
Join a scheduled departure or book a private or custom trip on dates to suit you.
Hikers should be used to walking on uneven ground and covering longer distances with larger packs. The French Ridge track is steep, descending 1800 vertical meters over 3km and requires short sections of down climbing on rocks and tree roots. This will give you a whole new appreciation of New Zealand hiking. Some experience with crampons and ice axes is useful. You will need to carry your own gear, including technical gear as well as some food or other group gear. Pack weight 10-15kg
We meet at our office in Wanaka where your guide will check your clothing and equipment and you can ask any last minute questions. It is a beautiful drive up the Matukituki Valley to the trail head. The helicopter will pick you up from cattle grazing meadows and transport you up to the snow and rock of Bevan Col on the edge of the Bonar Glacier. From here it is a few hours walk across the Bonar Glacier, the view dominated by the western aspects of Mt Aspiring. We arrive at Colin Todd hut, your home for the night. This leaves some time in the afternoon for exploring the area.
100m ascent, 2-4 hours
An early start after breakfast and we descend to the Bonar Glacier and head up under Mt Aspiring to the summit of the trek, the Quarterdeck Pass. Nothing too tricky yet, just a steady climb in the cool of the morning. Soak up the views of the Glacier and Mt Aspiring before changing your perspective to the beautiful West Matukituki Valley. Here the snow is broken by crevasses and your guide will careful show you how to safely navigate your way. Depending on the time of year, the glacier can be either a smooth ramp leading down, or a jumbled icefall that you weave through. After leaving the snow we follow a narrow ridge down to French Ridge Hut.
500m ascent/ 780m descent. 4-7 hrs
After leaving French Ridge Hut the track takes us back towards the valley floor. After down climbing the steep sections it’s magic to be back on flat ground again. We have a few more hours before reaching Aspiring Hut where we usually have lunch. Two hours of walking beside the Matukituki River brings us back to our vehicle and the ride back to base.
1000m descent, 6-8 hours
This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for hiking in New Zealand.
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