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Days: 3 days
Grade: E
(Steep, rugged, untracked terrain with snow slopes)
Start/Finish: Start: Lake Tekapo, 30 Murray Place, 8:00am
Finish: Lake Tekapo 6:00 - 7:00pm

November 2018: 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29
December 2018: 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 27, 29, 31
January 2019: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30
February 2019: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27
March 2019: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29


Period 1st May 18 - 30th Apr 19
  Adult NZD $1,490.00
  Adult with 1:1 guide ratio NZD $2,440.00
  Public holiday surcharge (per person) NZD $100.00

A public holiday surcharge of NZ$100 pp applies to any trip which includes a public holiday such as Easter, Christmas, New Year or the local NZ Anniversary Day. Please enquire if you're not sure if this surcharge applies to your travel dates.



Tekapo to Caroline Hut

6 hours hiking

After an equipment check in Lake Tekapo, travel to Mount Cook Village (about 1 hour), transfer to 4WD vehicle for the old Ball Hut Road (about 45 minutes) then commence walking. From the Tasman Glacier you climb 850m/2800ft up the Ball Ridge to Caroline Hut at 1800m/6000ft, perched right opposite the awe-inspiring Caroline Face of Mount Cook. The panorama includes Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, all the mountains adjoining the Tasman Glacier, and Lake Pukaki. The hut is fully stocked with food, firewood, sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, but some fresh items of food need to be carried, e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat.


Climbing near Caroline Hut

5-6 hours hiking

Learn basic mountaineering techniques. Climb Kaitiaki Peak (2222m/7290ft) south of Ball Pass and take in the dramatic views of the South Ridge of Aoraki. Maybe explore a crevasse on the Ball Glacier. Back at Caroline Hut take time to watch the sun set on Mt Tasman and the ice avalanches thunder down the Caroline Face.


Ball Pass to Tekapo

8-10 hours hiking

Cross Ball Pass at 2130m/7000ft. Now the view opens to the South Face of Aoraki, the Hooker and Mueller Glaciers, Mount Sefton and the Copland Pass. The descent from Ball Pass is very steep and snow conditions may require the use of crampons. If snow conditions are icy a fixed rope will be installed for your safety. The terrain is rugged and untracked and you rely on your professional mountain guide to find a safe route around gorges and bluffs down to the East Hooker Valley. Following old moraine terraces you meander through some of the lushest vegetation to be found in the national park and return to Mount Cook Village. Return travel to Lake Tekapo.

Grading & Fitness

Grade: E
Up to 6hrs physical activity on days 1 and 2.
Up to 8-10hrs physical activity on day 3. 
Altitude gains of 900 to 1000m. 
Some exposure to heights. 
Pack weights of 12-15kgs.
Hiking experience necessary.
High level of fitness required

The guided Ball Pass Crossing is suitable for experienced hikers capable of sustained walking, at times over steep, rugged, untracked and very exposed terrain. Participants need to be secure footed and have good balance. No mountaineering experience is required. Qualified mountain guides will accompany you and give full instruction on how to cross snow slopes safely using crampons and an ice-axe. When snow conditions are icy a fixed rope is installed for your safety. Several walks of at least 6 hours duration are recommended as preparation for Ball Pass.

For the guided Ball Pass Crossing you need to have lots of previous trekking, backpacking, tramping or bushwalking experience. This trek is beginner mountaineering and is more demanding than other guided hikes in New Zealand, such as the Milford or Routeburn Tracks, because it is alpine, traverses snow fields and a small glacier and there is no track in parts. Where there is a track it is narrow, uneven and you have to place your feet carefully. Particularly on the third day there are steep rock scree slopes to descend and even on the first day, while walking parallel to the Tasman Glacier, there are unstable moraine slopes to negotiate.

What to Take

The following items must be brought by you (these are not provided):

  • personal underwear
  • shirt (long-sleeved to avoid sunburn/keep cool)
  • quick-drying (nylon) trekking pants or shorts
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen/lipscreen
  • sun scarf (optional) - for protecting back of neck
  • personal first aid (please provide your own blister kit*)
  • toilet gear (minimal)
  • drink bottle (minimun 1 litre)
  • camera
  • ear plugs

*Compeed and Leukoplast are recommended, available at chemists.


The following items can be provided for you, free of charge, if you do not have your own:

  • backpack of minimum 45 litre capacity
  • hiking boots (well broken in, waterproof and suitable for crampons*)
  • snow gaiters
  • 2 pairs woollen socks
  • polyprop long johns (thermal leggings)
  • polyprop singlet and long-sleeved top
  • waterproof trousers
  • fleece jacket
  • waterproof parka (with hood)
  • gloves and overmitts (polyprop gloves are good but you need warmer gloves)
  • wool hat or balaclava
  • sun hat
  • headlamp or torch with spare battery
  • plastic bags
  • pack liner (heavy duty plastic bag)
  • ski/hiking poles 

*To test if your boots are suitable for crampons hold them at toe and heel and try bending the sole around like a banana. If you can do this your boots are too soft. Likewise while holding the heel of the boot try twisting the front of the boot with your other hand so that the front part of the sole is at a different angle from the heel. If you can do that your boots are not stiff enough for crampons. (Please note that currently the largest pair of boots available for hire is a size 46 European, so if you have feet larger than this and do not have suitable boots of your own, you should let us know and should contact R & R Sport, 1 Picton Ave, Tower Junction, Christchurch to arrange hire).


We provide: helmets, harnesses, crampons and ice-axes.


Transport from the meeting point in Tekapo to the start of the Ball Pass Crossing (Mt Cook) and return is included in the price. You will travel in a small minibus certified to transport clients and at Mt Cook you will transfer to a 4WD vehicle for the rough track up the Tasman Valley.


All food is provided for you on the Ball Pass Crossing. A catering manager will prepare food: fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, quality cheeses and meats. Together with the gourmet skills of the guides, this ensures a consistently high standard cuisine. All snacks are included. Non-perishable food is stored at the hut. Because food quantities are carefully planned and prepared there is minimal waste to be carried out at the end of the trip and minimal effect on the environment. Please advise us if you are a vegetarian. Fresh produce will be carried into the hut as part of the group equipment.


Caroline Hut is the only owner-operated hut in Aoraki - Mount Cook National Park. The hut is for your exclusive use and guarantees your bunk space. Located in a spectacular high alpine setting it is outfitted with a wood-fired stove for heating, has solar lighting, and has full kitchen facilities with gas stoves. It has sleeping bags and is also stocked with non-perishable food. If bad weather forces a climbing course indoors, you are ensured of a private classroom, conducive to learning. Climbing crags, snow and ice fields are nearby, thus minimising travelling time and maximising learning.

Accommodation is required at Lake Tekapo before and after the tour. Please let us know if you require assistance booking.

Additional Costs

There are no additional costs on the Ball Pass Crossing. See booking conditions for Fitness Failure procedure.

Guides & Safety

All mountain and ski guides undergo professional training through the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association which has international accreditation with the IFMGA / UIAGM, the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. Each guide has extensive mountain experience within New Zealand and overseas.


What if the weather is bad?
Caroline Hut is located on the Ball Ridge, in the lee of Mt. Cook (from the prevailing west and northwest winds), so it is seldom that we cannot walk in to the hut, even if the weather is marginal. There is a wood-fired pot belly stove in the hut and a good drying rack. However, this is a high alpine environment and it could happen that the walk in to the hut may have to be deferred by a day. If all participants in the group have the flexibility to postpone the trip by a day and if guide(s) and hut are available, then the entire trip will be postponed by one day. Otherwise the trip is reduced to a two day crossing and the group is accommodated in Lake Tekapo for the first day. During the last few seasons this option has only been used once per season.

Alternatively you could take up the "Tekapo Hike", a 2 to 3-day mountain walk in the Two Thumb Range to the east of Lake Tekapo, based at the Rex Simpson Hut. This would only be an option if the weather looked as though it was going to be bad for all three days or if a climb to Caroline Hut is still not possible on day two. Since the Ball Pass operation started this contingency plan has only been carried out once. If the group is at Caroline Hut and the weather or snow conditions do not permit a crossing of the Pass then the group will descend to the Tasman Valley.

When you book a trip you book the guide and the organisation that goes with it, you cannot book the weather. Guides are trained and instructed to always make the best possible decision for all the participants. On rare occasions this could mean having to return or not to go to Caroline Hut on day one for reasons of safety. On such occasions a refund cannot be given.

Booking Conditions


The operators reserve the right to alter, amend or cancel any tour, should weather or any other situation demand this.


The operators and its agents finalise all arrangements for these tours upon the express condition that they shall not be liable for loss of life, injury, illness, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of weather or any defect in any vehicle or aircraft or through the acts of default of any company or persons engaged in conveying the passengers or carrying out of arrangements of the tours. All clients have to complete a waiver form before starting their tour.

Price includes:

Guide, all meals on tour, hut accommodation, transport from Lake Tekapo and return, 15% GST.

Not included:

Meals and accommodation before and after tour.


For bookings 4 or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. For bookings within 4 months of the departure, full payment is required.


More than 50 days prior to departure: full refund less $300 cancellation fee applies
Between 50 and 31 days prior to departure: 50% refund of the total trip price
30 days or less prior to departure: no refund.
No refund for any services not utilised after tour has started.
If a client needs extra services due to lack of fitness and inability to continue with the group, additional fees may apply.


Fitness Failure: If a client needs extra services due to lack of fitness and inability to continue with the group, additional fees may apply. E.g. In the case of Ball Pass if a client overestimates his/her fitness to the extent that on Day 1 he/she is not able to reach Caroline Hut; or if the guide judges that the client is not fit enough to continue with the group, then he/she may need to pay an extra fee of NZ$450, to cover the costs of an additional guide to evacuate him/her, and transport. Client will be liable for his/her own accommodation/ meal expenses outside the tour in such a case.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that you have comprehensive travel insurance. World Nomads provides online quotes.

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