4 People
Minimum Participants
2 out of 5
Wanaka, NZ

New Zealand, Mount Aspiring National Park

Brewster Glacier and Gillespie Pass  4 Day  Trek

The Gillespie Pass adventure is targeted to take place over 4 days, 3 nights within Mount Aspiring National Park, South Island, New Zealand. The park is renowned for its amazing diversity – mountains, alpine lakes, river valleys, waterfalls, glaciers, beech and podocarp rain forests.  Above the tree line, subalpine gardens of tussock mark the mountainside in green lushness. The mountains are unspoilt and truly a sign of the beauty of the wilderness.

This is an amazing trek offering a combination of climbing up to the base of Mount Brewster and Brewster Glacier and then moving over to Makarora valley to take on the beautiful track of the Gillespie Pass circuit. Enjoy the exciting climb up to Gillespie pass (1600m) to enjoy the skyline view of Mount Aspiring national park and Mount Awful.  We will enjoy the beginning of the last day with a thrilling jet boat ride to the trail head.




  • Brewster Hut and Gillespie Pass Trek gives you the amazing combinations of glacier lakes, mountain views and high passes
  • Trekking to Brewster hut offers an incredible perspective of the Mount Aspiring National Park and surrounding peaks
  • Overnight stays at mountain huts offer a rare opportunity to experience the beauty of the mountain and the amazing sunrise.


  • This Pass offers access to amazing nearby peaks, and home to the national park with amazing views of wildlife and flora
  • If you are physically fit and can walk for long hours without any difficulty, you can complete this trek. It is rated as moderate grade
  • This Brewster hut / Gillespie Pass trek lasts for 5 days. On average you spend 6 to 7 hours walking. You will need to carry your personal gear, sleeping bag, clothes, etc..
  • The Brewster hut / Gillespie Pass trek route is gentle with some steep ascents and descents at intervals
    The highest point of this Brewster hut / Gillespie Pass trek is at Gillespie pass at 1629 metres


The best seasons for Brewster hut / Gillespie Pass trek are Summer (December-March). During these seasons the skies are mostly clear and weather remains pleasant. Weather in New Zealand is unpredictable, so we need to be prepared with rain gear. This trip can also be done during winter months, though the weather will be cold and harsh, it will be less crowded and the skies will remain clear offering spectacular and unobstructed views of the mountains


DEPARTURE / RETURN LOCATION Wanaka Town Center, Wanaka New Zealand
DEPARTURE TIME February 23, 2020  Please arrive by 6:00 PM at Wanaka Town Center, Wanaka, NZ.
RETURN TIME February 29, 2020  Approximately 9:30 AM at Queenstown Airport
WEAR Season Dependent Trekking clothes

Ground Transportation To/From Wanaka to Trail Head

Accommodation at Wanaka, 2 nights, Twin Share

Jet boat transport from Young hut to trail head

All Meals on the Trail D1-D4,

Park Entrance Fees

Mountaineering Guide Services

Hut Fees

transport to / from Queenstown*


Transport from Queenstown to Wanaka (We can help arrange)

Personal Equipment Rental (Sleeping Bags, shoes, etc…)

All Flights (International or Domestic)


 Level 2: Beginner to intermediate

*Only one pickup time can be accommodated at Queenstown airport. We can assist in booking a shuttle if you cannot make the departure time, the cost will be paid by the individual.


Day 1: Arrival Day

Arrival into Queenstown, New Zealand and 2 hour transport ride to  Wanaka, NZ – Accommodation in Wanaka (twin share)

Day 2 : Trek to Young Hut

The next day start with a scenic drive up to Makarora valley and the Wilken river.  Here we start the hike at the Wilken river where you will be mesmerized by the lushness of the depth of blue in the color of the water.  From here we will trek thru the beech forest thru the grassland to our first stop for the evening, Young hut.  (Trekking time 7 hours – Distance 20 km).

Day 3 : Gillespie Pass

 Day 3 – will be the exciting day of crossing over the Gillespie pass and the scenic views of Mount Awful.  Impressive mountain views on the main divide will be the stopping point for our lunch to take in all the scenery.  From the top of the pass it is a pleasant 2 to 3 hours walk up to our next sleeping spot, Siberia Hut. (Trekking time 8 hours – Distance 12 km)

Day 4 : Crucible Lake

We will leave our backpacks behind to do a day trip to Crucible lake. A small Glacier lake that has ice floating on the surface almost year round. If you can brave the cold, this is the spot to do a once in a lifetime plunge into a Glacier lake. We will then return to Siberia hut and grab our packs and make our way out to Kerin Forks hut for a nice campsite by Wilken river.  (Trekking time 9 hours – Distance 21 km)

Day 5 : JetBoat Pickup

After a hearty breakfast we will have the excting end to the trek with a pickup from a Jet boat to give us a thrill Jet coaster ride on the Wilken river, before bringing back to the the beginning of the trail, at the Makarora Café.   We will then pack up and start the drive back into Wanaka. Here we will check into the local Wanaka inn* and have our chance to clean up and enjoy that nice hot shower.  There will be free time on this day to take the afternoon and explore Wanaka and grab the local souvenirs, and explore a bit of Lake Wanaka.  We will all come together at the end of the day to have a meal and chance to view some of the amazing photos taken over the past four days

Day 6 : Departure

Any early check-out and drop off back at Queenstown Airport or in Queenstown.  For those wishing to extend their stay in Wanaka or in New Zealand, we will have to say a warm farewell at this points as our guides will be making there way up to the Himalayas after this trek.

It’s important to stay comfortable and bring the correct items, without overloading your backpack. At Wildfire we want to keep you prepared as well as comfortable on the trail.

Personal equipment

Backpack (40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking)

Waterproof/plastic pack liner

Sleeping bag (3–4 season)

Personal kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kit)

Drink bottle (1-2 litre capacity)

Eating utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup)

Torch/flashlight and spare batteries

Trekking Poles

Backpack Rain Cover


It is important to have a change of clothes at the end of the day to get out of the clothes you hike in.

Hiking boots or firm footwear (should be comfortable and well broken in)

Socks (wool or polypropylene)

Shorts (quick dry material)

Shirt (wool or polypropylene)

Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)

Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)

Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)

Rainpants (wind and water proof)

Warm hat and gloves

Sunhat and sunglasses

Extra socks, underwear, shirt


Earplugs and eyemask


Small binoculars


At Wildfire Expeditions, we use a combination of grading systems based on technical requirements of the climb as well as the physical conditioning of the trek.  The grading systems we use to assess the treks is a combination of  the New Zealand Alpine Grading System and the French adjectival alpine system As with any treks, there is a level of physical fitness that is required.  Trekking days can be an average of 8 to 12 hours, and summit days can be 16+ hour days. Before undergoing any new or strenuous physical activity, it is advisable to receive a health check from a qualified physician.

The Gillespie Pass Trek is considered a (2-F)

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:[19]

  • 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.
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(climbing)

Some Amazing Snapshots from the Region.

Cancellation Policy:  Due to the booking of government and operator permits, Wildfire Expeditions has the following refund policy

  • Each deposit, includes a $100.00 non-refundable registration fee.
  • Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 90 days prior to the trek or dive date.
  • 50% refunds will be provided 60-89 days prior to course, trek or dive date.
  • 25% refunds will be provided 45-59 days prior to course, trek or dive date.
  • No refunds will be provided 45 days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
  • All refund requests must be made in writing  within the deadlines stated above.
  • All balances are due 60 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.

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