The Dennistoun Pass trip is one of the few true, untouched New Zealand alpine trips available. East of New Zealand lies the Indo-Australian continent, while in the west lies the Pacific tectonic plate. Where these two forces of nature meet, New Zealand’s Southern Alps rise up 6000 feet above the ocean and divide the east coast of the South Island from the west.
This is a genuine hiking expedition, where we cross from one side of the South Island to the other, while traversing some of the most captivating, remote and spectacular New Zealand scenery on the way.
Our trip starts in the heart of the High Country at Mesopotamia Station. Over the next three to five days, we travel over Dennistoun Pass and down into the steep West Coast valleys.
The presence of the mountain ranges at this latitude means that the western side of the Alps is steep and the climate moist, with pleasant rainforests and glaciers descending to almost sea level. On the eastern side of the Alps, the climate is much drier with High Country farmland sloping gently towards the fertile river plains.
We’re privileged to enjoy a relaxing start to this fine alpine trip, by catching up with some of the local station owners for some unique Rangitata Gorge hospitality. After this, we head for the hills and travel by foot, four wheel drive, plane or helicopter (or a combination of these – you choose) to St Winifred hut for the night.
Today’s highlight occurs when we cross the snowy Dennistoun Pass to Bettison Stream campsite. This is true wilderness; there are no walking tracks and this pass is seldom travelled. It’s tough at times, but the raw beauty, the self-reliance and the camaraderie generated during this outstanding trip create life-long memories and make the views from the top of Dennistoun Pass across the Southern Alps worth it – unsurpassed and magnificent!
After the satisfaction of yesterday’s crossing, you make a choice. The first option provides the thrill of a heli-pickup, before being dropped off at the put-in and rafting out to a spot near Whataroa on the West Coast. Alternatively, for hardened adventurers, this journey may be travelled entirely on foot, extending the journey by a day, camping the night at Scone Hut, before you reach the put-in and raft out.
Like many of our more rugged, New Zealand alpine adventures, this trip is weather dependent, and not for the faint hearted. You need to have a high standard of fitness, and be prepared to physically and mentally challenge yourself. Days are long and weather often extreme. Be prepared to embrace the challenges that living with the hills, living with yourself and nature presents.
For whitewater rafting sections of the trip, a reasonable standard of fitness and confidence in water is required; and a minimum age may apply.
We can arrange all aspects of your expedition, including all accommodation and travel before and after your trip. Hidden Valleys can arrange transport to Mesopotamia and return transport from the West Coast to your chosen destination. We are happy to recommend accommodation: please contact us with your queries.
Three Nights – Four Days
Adults = $2400 (fully guided),
Children = Please enquire
The season runs from October to the beginning of April. Please enquire for more details as trips depend on water levels.