Classic Peaks of New Zealand
New Zealand offers a variety of classic peaks and a lifetime of mountaineering adventures. The Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana has 24 peaks above 3000m. The range is renowned for high glaciation and relief. Height is an arbitrary measure of the technical or aesthetic appeal of a mountain, and all these summits provide excellent objectives. Some are easily accessible from high mountain huts and others require a longer time and effort commitment.
Aoraki / Mount Cook (3424m)
The highest summit in New Zealand is an aspired to prize for many. The Linda Glacier route is a long and serious outing requiring excellent movement and fitness. The crux is mixed climbing through the Summit Rocks. A return from Plateau Hut on the Grand Plateau can take between 15 and 24 hours.
Horokoau / Mount Tasman (3497m)
The second highest summit of the Southern Alps, the North Shoulder is a long route, usually accessed from the Pioneer Hut on the Fox Glacier. The route traverses the Main Divide from Marcel Col including up and over Lendenfeld Peak. In recent years an ice cliff has formed above Engineer Col that affects access.
Malte Brun (3198m)
The famous West Ridge is gained from a camp on the upper Bonney Glacier during mid to late season. The route provides a long ridge climb with the highlight of the exposed cheval section.
Maukatua / Mount Sefton (3151m)
Often viewed from Mount Cook village, the sheer east face is an intimidating shield of ice and rock. It’s western aspects offer more feasible climbing routes, either approaching from the Copland valley of flying into the Douglas Névé. As with all west coast trips, weather plays an important role to catch the right window for access and to complete the climb and walk out.
Tititea / Mount Aspiring (3033m)
One of the most aesthetic peaks of the Southern Alps. The only 3000m peak outside of the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland National Parks, its prominence makes it visible from many areas of the Southern Lakes. Every route is classic and is deservedly NZ’s most popular alpine peak and a first 3000m summit for many.
Mount Dixon (3019m)
Mount Dixon is an easily accessible 3000m peak that is less than one hour walk from Plateau Hut. The classic East Ridge provides the standard ascent route at about grade 2. The classic South Ridge is a longer and harder alternative with steep snow climbing, interesting mixed gully and ridge climbing and provides a satisfying traverse with a descent of the East Ridge.
Lendenfeld Peak (3192m)
Accessed from Pioneer Hut on the Fox Glacier. The standard route ascends to Marcel Col on the Main Divide requiring a few snow pitches to the summit. The Hamilton Berry rib provides a more challenging ascent with excellent rock climbing and a mixed ridge.
Mount Hamilton (3025m)
In the Malte Brun range between the Haupapa / Tasman and Murchison glaciers, Mount Hamilton is a less traveled but excellent first 3000m peak from a base camp on the Darwin Glacier.
Elie Du Beaumont (3109m)
The northern-most 3000m peak in the Southern Alps, it is also accessed from Tasman Saddle Hut. The route is a popular ski but the crevasses of the Anna Glacier can get cut off later in the season.
The Minarets (3031m)
The twin peaks of the Minarets are climbed from Centennial Hut on the Franz Josef Glacier / Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere. The West Face offers a steep but straightforward ascent and is an excellent first 3000m summit. High on the main divide, views extend from Elie Du Beaumont to Aoraki / Mount Cook.
Douglas Peak (3077m)
The South Face of Douglas Peak is one of the Southern Alps most aspired to alpine ice climbs. Based out of Pioneer Hut the peak is one of the most dominant peaks of the Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe. The route has a crux of water ice grade 3 and is either descended by abseil or by traversing over the peak.
Pikirakatahi / Mount Earnslaw (2819m)
The highest peak of the Whakatipu basin. This provides a big elevation gain from the Rees Valley. Nights can be spent at the Kea Basin bivi rock or Esquilant Bivi above Wright Col. From here it is a relatively short climb to the summit. From December onward, the north face of the east peak is generally snow free and gives a fun rocky scramble to the summit with a short crux.
Mounts Walter (2095m) and Green (2837m)
Just shy of 3000m, these peaks are prominent from the upper Tasman / Haupapa Glacier. Accessed from Tasman Saddle Hut, and separated by a high plateau, it is possible to climb one or both of these peaks via an lower aesthetic snow arete.
Mount Tūtoko (2723m)
The mighty chief Tūtoko and the highest peak in Fiordland National Park requires a big expedition and proven skills. The climb starts from Turner’s Bivi and another camp will likely be required on the route of the classic South East Ridge.
Mount Madeline (2536m)
Mount Madeline is a varied and satisfying climb in the Darran mountains of Fiordland and is based from Turner’s Bivi. The walk-in or out provides the full experience from sea level at Milford Sound and the Tutoko Valley.
Mount Brewster (2515m)
The Brewster Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to access in the country with a steep and direct approach through beech forest from the Haast highway. Mount Brewster is an alpine ascent that can be accomplished in a few days and great progression before attempting more challenging climbs in the Southern Alps.
Mitre Peak (1692m)
One of the most recognisable of New Zealand’s peaks, Mitre Peak rising out from Milford Sound is a popular summer scramble with jaw-dropping exposure down to the fiord below. Best enjoyed with a bivi on the shoulder to enjoy being alone in the sound.