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Days: 6 days
Grade: D
(6-8 hrs walking over uneven terrain, some steep ascents)
Start/Finish: Start: 7.30am, Wanaka
Finish: 5pm, Wanaka

December 2019: 2
January 2020: 7
February 2020: 6
March 2020: 1, 17


Period 1st Jun 18 - 31st May 20
  Adult (2 people) NZD $3,800.00
  Adult (3 people) NZD $3,200.00
  Adult (4 or more people) NZD $3,000.00

The '2 people' rate applies when there are only two bookings in total on a particular trip date. The price reduces once there are three or more people booked, and any later reduction in price would be applied to your booking as appropriate. Please enquire as to the rate you should select when booking.




Upper Wilkin and alpine lakes

6-7 hours hiking

Meet with your guide at 7:30 a.m at the office - 58 McDougall St, Wanaka - and travel 45 minutes to the small village of Makarora. Here you board a small fixed wing aircraft or helicopter and fly into the heart of Mount Aspiring Park.

A leisurely 2-hour walk brings you 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 the 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 may like to go for a swim.  

Alternatively, if the weather is good, there is an option to set up a camp at Lake Diana (about a third of the way to Lake Castilia).


Waterfall Flats

6-7 hours hiking

Enjoy a day hike to Waterfall Flats and the remote, stunning alpine meadows. Marvel at the amazing waterfalls while you eat lunch then back to Top Forks hut for the night.


Kerin Forks

6-7 hours hiking

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.


Siberia Valley

6-7 hours hiking

A steep track leads to the Siberia Valley, which 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.  You camp at a fantastic spot called Gillespie Stream, a high alpine meadow.


Gillespie Pass

5-6 hours hiking

Today you 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 you 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.


Young Valley

6-7 hours hiking

The trail continues its steep descent into the rainforest. You follow the Young River which gradually flattens out and becomes a tranquil route through native forest for the final three hours.  A final river crossing and you are met by the vehicle to take you back to Wanaka.

Grading & Fitness

Grade: D
5-7 hours physical activity per day
Pack weights of 12-15kgs on some days.
Altitude gains of up to 800m.
Some uneven track surfaces and river crossings.
No multi-day hiking experience necessary.
Agility and fitness required.

To enjoy your Upper Wilkin - Gillespie Pass Alpine Hike you need to be fit and have good balance. The prepared track is rough and sometimes wet. 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 a sleeping bag (no tent or food). Each day walking is designed to be 5-7 hours. There is plenty of time to rest, swim, and take photos.

What to Take

You usually camp out on this Alpine hike (there are huts nearby if the weather is bad). You will need to carry your own gear but do not need to carry food, tents or other group gear. Many people prefer to use their own sleeping bag, pad and backpack or if you wish you can hire one of ours. To keep weight to a minimum we recommend:

- a ¾ length “Thermorest” self inflating pad
- a 45 litre min. back pack
- a sleeping bag (3 season) and silk liner 

Essential Items

  • Base layer – 2 x thermal tops and 2 x thermal bottoms (150-190 weight)
  • Insulating layer top - 1 x light (200-300 weight) and 1 x heavy (300+ weight)
  • Waterproof layer -  jacket and overpants
  • Lightweight quick drying shorts or pants and shirt for warm weather


  • Sturdy hiking boots (broken in hopefully)
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • 2 pair warm socks


  • Windproof warm gloves or mittens


  • Warm hat which covers ears
  • Sun hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun cream and lip cream


  • 45 litre back pack
  • Pack liner or large plastic bag
  • Inflatable sleeping mat
  • Bowl & spoon (cups are supplied)
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal toiletries and medication
  • Camera
  • Headtorch or flashlight
  • Toilet paper
  • Water bottle (at least one litre)


  • Collapsible trekking pole (3 section pole best to fit into a small pack)
  • Light book or magazine
  • Ear plugs – handy when snorers are in the huts!


Equipment Hire

Per day (NZ$)

Backpack (40-50 litres)




Inflatable sleeping mat


Walking pole (pair)


Sleeping Bag & liner


Base layer - top & bottom (purchase from) 


Gaiters (purchase from)


Headlamp (purchase from)




You are transported for about 1 hour to Makarora to the start of your hike, before taking a fixed wing or helicopter flight into Jumboland or Top Forks Hut.


All meals and snacks are included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 6. Energy snacks and nutritious meals are an essential ingredient in helping you perform to your highest standard. Good wholesome meals are provided and plenty of it. Where possible, we provide fresh vegetables and real coffee. However, there will always be limitations when cooking in an alpine or wilderness environment.  Meals like salads are limited or not possible to provide. If you do have a restrictive eating regime we ask that you disclose this to us at the time of booking and we may ask you to provide us with an advance copy of what you would typically eat on a wilderness trip.


The Upper Wilkin - Gillespie Pass trip uses a DOC hut for the first three nights (option to camp the first night, weather dependent) and a private relocatable camp for the fourth night, with the final night either camping or in a backcountry hut. Your bush camps are carried in during spring and removed before the winter. Please note: There are no showers at DOC huts and the toilets are long drop. They provide open plan bunk sleeping, communal cooking area and tank water supply. At your camps you will have "natures shower" a beautiful crystal mountain stream right by your tent and due to the strict environmental policies all waste is taken out by the group.

Additional Costs

Hire gear if anything needed.

If your party is unable to egress from the mountains at the end of your trip for any reason, a fee of NZ$550 plus expenses (including but not limited to hut & park fees) per extra day is applicable to your party, and is divided between the trip participants.

Guides & Safety

The mountain guides are qualified through the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association. The NZMGA are affiliated to the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association who governs mountain guiding worldwide. The specialist trekking guides are 'hand-picked' from within the industry, in light of their qualifications, knowledge, experience level and communication skills. Some of them have NZMGA qualifications, others have rock climbing, ski patrol and outdoor leadership qualifications. All have strong first-aid skills and a wealth of local experience on the routes guided.


What about my other luggage and valuables?
Additional luggage and valuables can be securely stored at the office in Wanaka during your trip.

In an emergency are we in contact with the outside world while on our trip?
All climbing trips and courses are in radio and phone communications with the Operations/Safety base and the Department of Conservation local office that manages each National Park area. Weather information and coordination of helicopters are through these channels. In some circumstances mountain radio links are available for the relay of any urgent messages.

What about the weather?
New Zealand is famous for its changeable weather. The mountains here are characterized by long sunny fine periods mixed with sudden and sometimes heavy rain or snow. Our experienced guides are well equipped to provide the best possible trip and have many years experience in judging the conditions. Travel in bad weather is an art in itself, the temperate rain forest here is absolutely beautiful in the rain.

What if I want to book as a single?
A 2 person minimum number is required to operate a trip. If you are travelling on your own, try to choose a scheduled date, and if that doesn't fit, let us know. We can book you as a single and then will try to match others to your dates. If we cannot find at least one other person for the dates you want, one month before the start date we will give you a full refund.

How heavy does my pack need to be?
You will only need to carry your own personal clothing and gear and a sleeping bag (no tent or food, other than day lunch supplies & snacks).

How do I get to Wanaka?
The closest airport is in Queenstown, 1 hour away. Some flights from Australia come direct into Queenstown. There are regular shuttles between Queenstown airport and Wanaka.

Booking Conditions


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.


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.


Over 60 days before tour: $200 per person cancellation fee
Between 60 days and 30 days before tour: 50% of total trip fee as a cancellation fee
Between 29 days and 15 days: 75% of total trip fee as a cancellation fee
15 days or less before tour: NO REFUND
No refund for any services not utilised after tour has started

Medical Conditions:

When you book you must notify us of any medical condition, medical history, or medications that you are on. In particular, asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, anti-depressants, allergies to wasp/bee stings and food allergies.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that all our clients carry travel insurance which covers you while travelling to and from NZ, luggage mishaps, and in case you have to cancel your trip. The New Zealand Accident Compensation System (ACC) will cover most of the expenses relating to an evacuation and/or medical treatment/rehabilitation in the unlikely event of an accident occurring. This service may not apply to evacuation costs for personal medical conditions. You are not entitled to bulk payments for compensation and you cannot claim damages for costs under the ACC act (no legal action can be made in NZ). Whilst our focus is on safety we will not be responsible for any evacuation or medical costs resulting from any accident. Likewise equipment damage or loss remain your responsibility. Some insurance companies can provide adventure activities cover. World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.

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