Gillespie Pass 4 day



The Gillespie Pass Route takes you into the heart of Aspiring National Park

Gillespie Pass : A small group experience...

Jess, Australia

"We were very confident that Aspiring Guides would give us the small group experience we were looking for. I loved the Valley walking and the experience of the other people on the trip  I also loved how beautiful the scenery was, just so unlike what we get in Australia. It was stunning.  I was so impressed by Michael as our guide. He actually made the trip for me. While relatively young in years, his experience really shone and the way he dealt with people of differing ages and experiences was just so impressive. I learned a lot from him over the few days.My overall impression of Aspiring Guides from this particular trip was that it's a very professionally run organisation and you guys know what you're doing. It must get exhausting trying to make everyone's experience special and unique when you've done a trip so many times - but you guys do an excellent job of this and I felt very grateful. I survived and am looking forward to my next hike :)"

More Information

Untouched native forest, alpine pass, waterfalls, glacier views, and towering peaks – this trip has it all. The track begins in dense temperate rain forest and steadily climbs into wondrous alpine paradise. We finish the trip with a thrilling jet boat ride back to civilization.

On this trip we use Young Hut the first night and camp out the second and third nights.  If the weather is inclement we can drop down to the comfort of Siberia Hut rather than camp out.

Our professional guide will ensure your safety as we explore this remote and wild area. All food and camping gear is supplied; all you carry is your own clothing and sleeping gear. You can bring your own sleeping bag and thermorest or we have this gear available for hire.

If native flora is your interest, the primordial plant associations will amaze you. Eighty percent of the native plant species are found nowhere else in the world!  This is an experience you will never forget.

Pack 30-40 litre   Weight 6-9kg

Available Dates

2017-2018 Dates Status
2017 Nov 25 - 28 C: 2 places available
  Dec 10 - 13 Open
2018 Jan 1 - 4 Open
  Jan 20 - 23 Open
  Feb 9 - 12 Open
  Mar 7 - 10 C: 3 places available
  Mar 13 - 16  Open
  Mar 31 - 3 April Open
  April 9 - 12 Open

c= confirmed to run

Join a scheduled departure or book a private or custom trip to suit you.



To enjoy your Gillespie Pass trek you need to be fit and have good balance. This is classic New Zealand hiking which is to say the track is rough and sometimes wet. While there is a prepared track it is not groomed to the level of the busier Great Walks trails. Sometimes the footing is unstable and hikers need to be good on their feet and be comfortable on rough or slippery ground.  While it can be slippery you will not encounter deep mud.  Hikers should be able to maintain a slow but steady pace up hill for an hour between rest stops. You will only carry your own gear plus sleeping bag (no tent or food) and each day walking is designed to be 5-7 hours. 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 - the days that we travel less than 10km can be more tiring than days we travel considerably more distance.  Call it what you want, but it is never dull!

Price Details

Guide : client ratio Price per person
1:2 NZ $2,225
1:3-5 NZ $1,715
What's Included
  • meals and snacks
  • tents and/or hut accommodation
  • national park, guide fees and 15% goods and service tax (GST)
  • jetboat egress

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One - Alpine Lakes

Meet with your guide at our office in Wanak and travel 45 minutes to the small village of Makarora.  Here you will helicopter into the heart of Mount Aspiring Park.  A leisurely 20 minute walk brings us to the Top Forks Hut. Dropping overnight gear, the rest of the day is spent walking to Lake Lucidius or if the group is strong - Lake Castilia, a high alpine lake surrounded by cliffs and hanging glaciers. The trail climbs gradually as it weaves through native beech forest until breaking out above tree line. The hiking gets rougher just before the lake with a short boulder scramble rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley and lake, the bold go for a swim. 6-7 hours return.   


Day Two - Waterfall Face

The hike to Waterfall Flat climbs from dense forest into the high alpine. It is a magnificent climb as the trail rises through Snow-Bridge Gorge, a deep canyon surrounded by glaciers and waterfalls. The trail is challenging until it opens out into the incomparable Waterfall Flat. Surrounded by high peaks and flowing rivers, this seldom visited valley is a unique New Zealand paradise. 6-7 hours return.


Day One

We meet you at our offices in Wanaka. After checking through the group's gear, we depart for the township of Makarora. 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. Tonight we stay at Young Hut. Waterfalls, roaring canyons and beautiful temperate rainforest, a big day!

20km -- 7 hrs -- 650m ascent


Day Two

The track winds its way up the valley sidewall under the awesome East Face of Mount Awful. This is really an alpine paradise with hanging snowfields and waterfalls galore. The track passes though open meadows that after 3 to 4 hours leads to the pass. The steep track winds up and up (and up) ending at Gillespie Pass and one of the great viewpoints of the Southern Alps. It’s pretty impressive with Mount Alba and Mount Awful dominating the skyline. Two hours downhill and we reach our camp next to tranquil Gillespie stream.

7km-- 6hrs--700m ascent--700m descent

Gillespie Pass Mt Awful

Day Three - Kerin Forks

We head down river to the Kerin Forks Hut at the confluence of the Siberia and Upper Wilkin Rivers. This is a gentle downhill grade for 6-7 hours along the north bank of the great Wilkin River. The track is varied with lots of up and down with numerous river crossings.  The track is surrounded by lush native bush.  

hiking New Zealand

Day Four -Siberia Valley

A steep track leads to the Siberia Valley. The valley is surrounded by high mountains.  The early surveyors had a sense of humour when they named the two largest and beautiful ones Mt Awful and Mt Dreadful.  We camp at a fantastic spot called Gillespie stream, a high alpine meadow. 
6-7 hours.

Gillespie Pass Hiking

Day Three

We leave our packs behind today as we do a day trip to Lake Crucible. This unusual lake sits high above the Siberia Valley, nestled under Mt Alba. It is a steep climb through native forest with a small river crossing, and finally the ascent through a snowgrass flat until you reach the lake. Surrounded by towering walls, Lake Crucible is a geographic wonder carved by the glaciers. 14 km return --

7hrs -- 880m ascent -- 880m descent

Lake Crucible

Day Four

This is the easy day so a sleep in and big breakfast are welcome after the big days so far. From our camp the track takes us through ancient Beech forest and open river flats. Great views of Mnt. Awful and Mnt. Dreadful (the early explorers had fun with the names here) with the Siberia River in the foreground. Bring your camera! It is all downhill to Kerin Forks Hut at the confluence of the Upper Wilkin and Siberia Valleys. Here we meet our waiting jetboat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora. It is a wild finish to a Wild Walk

11km--5hrs--650m descent.


Day Five - Gillespie Pass

Today we reach the high point of the trip, Gillespie Pass.  This is a real accomplishment and you will be rewarded with one of the great views of the Southern Alps. The trail climbs steeply from camp for 2 hours before we reach the top of the pass, then steeply winds its way down (a long way down) to the Young Valley.  You camp in a high open valley surrounded by towering cliffs and waterfalls or walk another 45min to Young Hut.
5-6 hours


Day Six - Young Valley

The trail continues its steep descent into the rain forest. We follow the Young River which gradually flattens out and becomes a tranquil route though native forest for the final three hours.  A final river crossing and we are met by the vehicle to take us back to Wanaka. 
6-7 hours.


Equipment Details

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

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