We have trips for every skill level, ranging from introductory to challenging. These guidelines will help you select the level of adventure that’s right for you.
(1) Introductory: Adventure travel at its most relaxed pace.
- Activity: 1 – 3 hours most days
- Distances: walk less than 5 km most days
- Surfaces: Mostly Level terrain
- Elevation change: little to none
- Altitude: less than 1,000m
(2) Beginner: Great for newcomers to active travel.
- Activity: 4 – 5 hours most days
- Distances: Trekking/hiking up to 10 km a day,
- Surfaces: rolling terrain with some steep ascents/descents and uneven trails
- Elevation change: up to 700 m/day
- Altitude: up to 2,000 m
(3) Moderate: For outdoor novices and above.
- Activity: 6 hours most days
- Distances: If Trekking up to 15 km most days, Climbing Single Pitch routes 6a
- Surfaces: rolling or mountainous terrain with some steep ascents/descents and uneven trails
- Elevation change: up to 1,000 m/day
- Altitude: up to 3,000 m
(4) Advanced: Recommended for fit travelers with basic skills
- Activity: 5 – 8 hours most days
- Distances: Hike up to 20 km a day. Multi-pitch Climbing involved if climbing
- Surfaces: mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents and uneven trails
- Elevation change: up to 1000m/day
- Altitude: up to 5000M.
- Experience and a doctor’s release may be required
(5) Challenging Active: Designed for very fit travelers.
- Activity: 10+ hours/day
- Distances: Trek 15 or more KM most days, Multi-Pitch Climb 6a+
- Surfaces: remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, uneven trails with loose features.
- Elevation change: up to 1,000 m/day
- Altitude: may well exceed 5,000 m
- Experience required
Mountaineering treks and technical climbs
New Zealand Alpine Grading System: An alpine grading system adapted from the grades used in the Aoraki/Mt Cook Region is widely used in New Zealand for alpine routes in the North and South islands. Grades currently go from 1–7. The grading system is open ended; harder climbs are possible. Factors which determine grade are (in descending order of contributing weight): technical difficulty, objective danger, length and access.
Standard grading system for alpine routes in normal conditions
- New Zealand Grade 1: Easy scramble. Use of rope generally only for glacier travel.
- New Zealand Grade 2: Steeper trickier sections may need a rope.
- New Zealand Grade 3: Longer steeper sections generally. Use of technical equipment necessary. Ice climbs may require two tools.
- New Zealand Grade 4: Technical climbing. Knowledge of how to place ice and rock gear quickly and efficiently a must. Involves a long day.
- New Zealand Grade 5: Sustained technical climbing. May have vertical sections on ice.
- New Zealand Grade 6: Multiple crux sections. Vertical ice may not have adequate protection. Good mental attitude and solid technique necessary. May require a bivy on route and be a long way from civilization.
- New Zealand Grade 7: Vertical ice/rock which may not have adequate protection. Rock grades in the high 20’s (Ewbank). Climb may be in remote area. May require a bivy on route.
International French Adjectival System (IFAS)
The French adjectival alpine system evaluates the overall difficulty of a route, taking into consideration the length, difficulty, exposure and commitment-level of the route (i.e., how hard it may be to retreat). The overall grade combines altitude; length and difficulty of approach and descent; number of difficult pitches and how sustained they are; exposure; and quality of rock, snow and ice. These are, in increasing order:
- F: facile (easy). Straightforward, possibly a glacial approach, snow and ice will often be at an easy angle.
- PD: peu difficile (slightly difficult). Routes may be longer at altitude, with snow and ice slopes up to 45 degrees. Glaciers are more complex, scrambling is harder, climbing may require some belaying, descent may involve rappelling. More objective hazards.
- AD: assez difficile (fairly difficult). Fairly hard, snow and ice at an angle of 45-65 degrees, rock climbing up to UIAA grade III, but not sustained, belayed climbing in addition to a large amount of exposed but easier terrain. Significant objective hazard.
- D: difficile (difficult). Hard, more serious with rock climbing at IV and V, snow and ice slopes at 50-70 degrees. Routes may be long and sustained or harder but shorter. Serious objective hazards.
- TD: très difficile (very difficult). Very hard, routes at this grades are serious undertakings with high level of objective danger. Sustained snow and ice at an angle of 65-80 degrees, rock climbing at grade V and VI with possible aid, very long sections of hard climbing.
- ED1/2/3/4: extrêmement difficile (extremely difficult). Extremely hard, exceptional objective danger, vertical ice slopes and rock climbing up to VI to VIII, with possible aid pitches.
- ABO: Abominablement difficile (abominable) Difficulty and danger at their limit.