Cascade Saddle Assisted Trek 2 day


Route from Aspiring Hut over Cascade Saddle

Jess was thoroughly professional and focused on safety.

Hewitt Family, Australia

It was very challenging but we chose to have a guide due to the difficulty of this route. Our day across the saddle was long and pretty arduous with thigh deep creek crossing at the end..!! But the view was spectacular and well worth it!  Jess was thoroughly professional and focused on safety. She did a great job in getting us to the top. Thank you so much for your patience and guidance... I doubt we would have made it otherwise (and still be on speaking terms anyway). I would recommend this trip for friends who wanted a real challenge and had done the 'easy' walks already. Amazingly fulfilling experience for all of us!  The girls are planning their next trip of course...

More Information

Cascade Saddle (1835m) is world famous for its spectacular views of Mt Aspiring. It links the majestic West Matukituki and Dart Valleys in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Rather than stay at Aspiring Hut on the first night, we prefer to hike to the tree line and camp out. This makes the next day much easier as it is a long distance to the Dart Hut.  We can supply the tents if you don't have your own, and we can arrange for your guide to bring them out, so you don't have to carry them with you for the rest of the hike.

The ascent to the Pylon at the top of the Cascade Saddle is steep and exposed and often people need a little help and advice on the first day of the trip. Our guide escorts you safely over the top. Your guide will stay with you until you feel confident to continue on your own down to the Dart Hut and then he/she will return to Wanaka.

We can also advise on transport to Wanaka and from the end of your hike back to Queenstown.


Available Dates

Dates 2019-20    
Available anytime subject to guide availability    
Nov through to April    


Technical Difficulty

Cascade Saddle is a well formed track for the first two hours in the forest.  Once it gets above tree line the track steepens with frequent switchbacks.  Several sections of rock slab are encountered and footing can be precarious at times.  Most of the track is quite safe but a slip in the wrong place can result in an uncontrollable slide on the slippery snow grass with cliffs and bluffs below.  Statistically Cascade Saddle is the most dangerous track in the country with fatalities happening roughly every other year.  Hikers should have good balance and be comfortable with heights.


The ascent from Aspiring Hut to the high point on the route goes from 460m to 1835m - a big climb in anyone’s book!  Camping at tree line eases the route significantly by splitting the climb in two.  Hikers should be capable of maintaining a slow but steady pace up a steep hill for extended lengths of time.  Pack weight should be kept to a minimum.

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price
1:1 NZ $1,650
1:2 NZ $900
1:3 NZ $650
1:4 NZ $550

What's Included
  • gear and equipment check
  • weather and track information
  • ground transport from Wanaka to Raspberry Flat in the Matukituki Valley
  • guide, and park permit fees
  • 15% NZ goods and services tax

*camping equipment, food and hut fees not included in price


Frequently Asked Questions About This Trip

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One

The trip begins with a gear check and a scenic drive through the Matukituki Valley (saves you the cost of a bus).  A two hour gentle walk brings you to Aspiring Hut where you may spend the night. If the weather permits we prefer to camp out at the tree line which is a big advantage the next day. The trail is exposed and traverses several rocky bluffs. In good weather the track is straightforward, steep and exposed. If the weather is not perfect, you will be especially glad to have an experienced guide along! 

Aspiring Hut

Day Two

Once you are on top (3-5 hours) the trail traverses an alpine valley until it begins its descent into the Dart Valley. If the weather changes, or visibility is poor, this section of the trip can be very difficult for even experienced walkers and hikers. The guide stays with you until you are comfortably down the other side and then returns to Wanaka.

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.  

Cascade Saddle

Equipment Details

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

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