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Fiordland Mountains Hiking Experience

Fiordland's Darran Mountains are known as New Zealand's Patagonia and have some of New Zealand's most spectacular alpine scenery. The Fiordland Mountains Experience is for people looking for a remote & challenging experience that can only be offered by a professional mountain guide.

The high point of this trip is a steep climb to the summit of Barrier Knob, a remote Fiordland peak. 

The trip starts with a walk up through the Gertrude valley. Here the valleys are filled with spectacular alpine vegetation and steep glacially carved granite walls tower overhead. The track steepens and we pass waterfalls, alpine tarns, and lakes. Often we will see the Kea, the worlds only alpine parrot.

From Gertrude Saddle there are incredible views of Milford Sound. The route above here is unmarked and is used by experienced climbers for access into the Darran mountains and there is a rich climbing history in this area. Above here we will make camp at a spectacular campsite.

The next morning we will make an attempt on Barrier Knob. This is a steep climb requiring the expert guidance of your professional mountain guide. From here there are views of Mt Tutuko and the central Darran mountains, Milford Sound, and Lake Adelaide.

This trip is also customisable for individuals and groups looking for more of a challenge. We can combine alpine hiking with climbing. We can teach mountaineering skills and climb and traverse some of the spectacular nearby peaks. A traverse of Mac Pherson and Talbot is one of our favourite one day alpine day climbs in New Zealand. 

Sample Itinerary

Day 1

On the first day of the trip your guide will meet you at your accommodation at 8.30 am. After introductions and a look at the topographical map we will go through a gear check to make sure that you have everything that you need for the trip. It is a three and a half hour drive to Milford where we will spend the night. 

On route to Milford we will walk up to Lake Marian, an alpine lake in a hanging valley that was formed by glacial action. The lake is surrounded by mountains and is one of the most spectacular settings in Fiordland. This hike takes approximately 3 hours return. After the Marian Lake Hike we will locate to Homer Hut for the night. Homer hut sits in the valley surrounded by the towering granite mountains of Fiordland's National Park.

lake marian copy


Day 2

After a hearty breakfast at Homer Hut we will pack our gear and start the hike up the Gertrude Valley to our campsite above the Gertrude Saddle. The first hour of the walk follows the valley floor before we start climbing towards Black lake. The Fiordland mountains are a hotspot for alpine plant biodiversity. The valley floor and slopes are covered with a spectacular variety of alpine plants that thrive in Fiordland’s mountain grasslands and herb fields including the Mount Cook Lily, Mountain Daisies and Vegetable Sheep.

The route takes us up large granite slabs to Black Lake. Large snow fields on the peaks above this glacially carved valley feed the waterfalls on rock faces around us. There are spectacular views from Gertrude Saddle of Milford Sound and the highest peaks in Fiordland. From here we climb a little higher to our camp site for the night.

alpine flowers customised hiking

Day 3

We leave our camp in the morning and make the climb to the summit of Barrier Knob. Earlier in the season we may be required to use crampons and ice axe to reach the summit. You will be given expert instruction and guiding to reach the summit and descend safely. From the summit of Barrier Knob we have views of Lake Adelaide and the central Darran mountains.

After some time on the summit we will return to our camp and pack up before descending the Gertrude Valley back to Homer Hut for the night.

barrier knob summit

Day 4

Your guide will serve you a well deserved hearty breakfast. After breakfast we will drive through the Homer Tunnel and down the Cleddau valley towards Milford Sound. On the way we have some special spots that we would like to show you. There is even a spectacular hidden swimming hole for those brave enough to enter the cold Fiordland water. After seeing Milford Sound and taking in this incredible area we will drive back to Queenstown. As part of the Milford Sound trip it is possible to include the boat trip on the Sound.


Prices are per person and in NZ dollars.


4 days
Map 2014



Summer Season - November through to March

Experience Required

For the Fiordland Mountains Hike you need to have a reasonable level of fitness and be comfortable carrying a pack with overnight gear and travelling through untracked areas and over uneven terrain.

Whats Included

The price of the program includes

  • Guide fees
  • Technical equipment hire
  • Meals and snacks
  • Ground transport
  • Group equipment
  • Department of Conservation concession fees

The price of the program excludes

  • Personal equipment & clothing


More Information

detailed trip notesequipment listFAQ