The stunning Adelaide Cirque at the head of Moraine Creek is one of Fiordland's hidden gems. Lake Adelaide is surrounded by jagged peaks and massive cliffs. The setting is remote and you need to be fit to carry a full pack on the challenging approach up and over rugged peaks and have some experience on untracked terrain.
Your objective may be to just get away from it all, experience sleeping in one of Fiordland's famous rock bivis, swim in crystal clear tarns or mountain lakes, or to build up your photographic portfolio. There is plenty of subject matter as endangered Rock Wrens bop around the rocks, mist swirls around the precipitous crags and colours change as the sun dips below the peaks and the stars emerge.
"Off the beaten track trips appeal to me. Loved the impressive views all the way along. Bivying out. Accessing an area that few people get to see. Being away from crowded tracks. Oh...and the tomato relish :0)))) I'm delighted to have had an enjoyable trip in and out of this hidden gem."
This satisfying route is the most technically challenging trek we offer. Leaving the stunning but well-travelled Milford Road route behind, the route climbs steeply out of the Holyford valley up Moraine Creek to reach Lake Adelaide. Then there is the steep climb up and over Barrier Knob and descending into the Gertrude Valley. In early season, this route requires the use of crampons and ice axe to ascend Barrier Knob. Ropes and harness are required to safely navigate the infamous Giffords Crack leading from the Adelaide Cirque up to Adelaide Saddle. If conditions dictate, a shorter version of this route may be attempted heading from the Gertrude Valley over Barrier Knob to Gill's Biv in the Adelaide Cirque above Lake Adelaide and back.
The route offers many spots to camp and some famous Fiordland rock bivis. Gills Biv is a massive rock bivi with space enough for a large party and (luckily for Fiordland) it can keep you dry in any weather. This luxurious location has been used as a home-away-from-home for trampers and rock climbers since the area was first discovered. Lake South America provides a refreshing dip in crystal clear mountain water, well deserved after a long hard day. From Adelaide Saddle and traverseing Barrier Knob rewards you with views out to the waters of Milford Sound and the rugged Fiordland coast to the summits of Tutoko, Tititea / Mount Aspiring and Pikirakatahi / Mount Earnslaw.
Participants are to have recent experience with consequative long trekking days, steep ascents. The route covers a lot of rough terrain (eg tussock, river beds, boulders, scree) so good balance and footwork is essential.
This is a wilderness trip so participants need experience wild camping, carrying full packs and be comfortable in a range of weather conditions.
Also experience with crampons and ice axes is required early season as well as some scrambling, rock climbing or abseiling experience.
Your guide can meet you at our office in Wanaka or your accommodation in Queenstown. After a gear check we travel the scenic Milford Road to the Holyford Valley. The drive is always tinged with excitement as the mountains grow in steepness and scale until the summits are only visible through the sunroof.
The track starts from the lower Hollyford Valley in the midst of ancient West Coast rainforest. The track soon crosses the mighty Hollyford river via and exciting wire bridge before climbing steeply up alongside the lower cascades and waterfalls of Moraine Creek to a Fiordland rock bivi. Already the remote nature of this route is evident as the track in places is poorly formed, may be overgrown by the rampant Fiordland vegetation and requires scrambling on dry creek beds and root steps.
After a short distance, the track leaves the forest and enters the open swampy Tent Flat with the steep sided glacial valley and peaks reaching up on both sides. Head further up the valley along creek beds and scrub to the site of the old Moraine Creek hut. Continue up the side of the old glacial moraine from which the valley takes it's name. From the top the view opens out down onto Lake Adelaide and across to the cliffs and peaks of the Adelaide Cirque. You may choose to camp before the terraces or carry on further for a night at Gill's rock biv.
From Gill's Biv, trek past Lake South America and up to the intimidating Gifford's Crack. The crux of the route involves steep rock scrambling protected by a rope up to Adelaide Saddle. Contiune up and over Barrier Knob to camp at Gertrude Saddle to watch the sun set over Milford Sound.
The final day, it's back down Gertrude Valley to the Milford road and onwards back to reality. Finish up in either Wanaka or Queenstown ready for your return journey.
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