Top Ten New Zealand Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Ski Touring Around Mount Cook

Climbing New Zealand's highest peak, at 3,754 meters, is something most people only dream about. The Maori name for Mount Cook is Aoraki, meaning cloud piercer—and it certainly is—its summit ridge soaring high above Mount Cook Village.

An alternative to climbing the mountain is to ski on its skirts, based in huts on the glaciers. Here the adventurous skier moves among sharp mountains, vast snow headwalls, and huge glaciers, sometimes with views to the Tasman Sea. There is almost unlimited scope for day tours on telemark or alpine touring equipment.

A favorite approach is to fly to the Tasman Saddle and ski to the Kelman Hut, then tour the many glaciers and peaks that are literally on the doorstep. Guides are available, but it is possible for experienced skiers with glacier skills (crevasse rescue, etc.) to travel independently. Check in with the DOC (Department of Conservation) in Mount Cook Village.

An alternative to ski mountaineering (which involves skiing uphill as well as down) is heli-skiing on the Tasman Glacier, taking in icefalls and caves. Powder snow is possible from July to early September, with spring snow until November.


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