Upper Wilkin

Activities > Back Country Walks > Upper Wilkin

Upper Wilkin

The Upper Wilkin Experience is not an ordinary hiking trip. It places you in the heart of Mt.Aspiring National Park where the fantastic landforms and flora offer challenges far out of the ordinary. This trip is designed for walkers of all abilities. There is no need for experience and the fitness level is moderate. Families and novices are welcome. There are no heavy packs to carry and all equipment is provided. Some parts of the tracks are demanding, offering stimulating hiking opportunities for more ambitious hikers. It is a Fly In/Jet Boat Out trip.

Take a short flight into the remote Wilkin Valley. From our base at Top Forks Hut, stroll in the forest, swim in the crystal clear river, and relax, relax, relax. This area is one of New Zealand's great treasures. We lunch at the feet of Castor, Pollux, Mercury, Vesta, Juno, and Apollo. If the native flora is your interest, the primordial plant associations will amaze you. Eighty percent of the Native plant species are found nowhere else in the world! This is an experience you will never forget.

We guide 2-5 discerning clients on the wildest back country trekking and hiking in New Zealand. We operate primarily in Mount Aspiring National Park out of Wanaka or Queenstown. We are professional mountain guides, not tour operators. Because we guide small groups, we can take you, not on the great walks, but the best walks... where no-one else can go.
We stay at pre-placed camp sites instead of crowded huts. This means you only carry a light pack. We rarely see other parties. All you need is appropriate clothing, a good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots (and a spirit of adventure). You will welcome the comfort of our fantastic home away from home. Our astonishing food is only outdone by the mountain scenery. Join a trek, or book out your private trek on or around thedates listed.
The Mount Aspiring National Park is a majestic and seldom travelled area, literally off the beaten track. The surrounding peaks and huge tracts of unmodified native bush, give a feeling of timelessness. This is the basis of the area's reputation as having some of the most dramatic and undiscovered trekking in NZ. The park forms part of the Te Wahipounamu World heritage site. Many people do not realize that New Zealand does not have any large predators, no bears, no fox or wolf. There are no snakes in New Zealand. There are absolutely no animals which will harm you.
New Zealand is a truly unique country. Due to its geographic isolation many plants and animals have evolved which exist no where else on earth. The only way to appreciate this biodiversity and get a sense of how glaciation shaped the Southern Alps is to walk through the densely forested valleys, relax by the crystal clear rivers and endure the trek up to a high alpine pass.
Maori walked through what is now Mount Aspiring National Park in search of pounamu (greenstone). They discovered routes through the Southern Alps which would take them from the west coast into the interior. Towards the end of the 19th century the European settlers came “exploring”. They were looking for pastoral land, mineral deposits (mostly GOLD) and also routes through to the West coast. We now follow in the footsteps of Maori and the Pakeha surveyors as we trek through this stunning mountain wilderness.


DAY 1 -

Upper Wilkin Camp Day

We meet with transport and guide and travel to the small village of Makarora. Here we board a fixed wing aircraft and fly into the heart of Mount Aspiring Park. A leisurely 2-hour walk brings us to the Top Forks Hut. The walking is not difficult but it is exciting with numerous river crossings and your first taste of wilderness travel. The afternoon is spent exploring this marvellous valley.

DAY 2 -

Alpine lakes

This day is spent discovering the three alpine lakes known as Diana, Lucidus, and Castilia. The trail climbs gradually as it weaves through native beech forest until breaking out above tree line. The hiking to final lake, Lake Castilia is some of the most rugged (and rewarding) terrain you will ever encounter. This day can be as long as you like, from 1 hour to 6 hours.
DAY 3 -

Waterfall Flat

The hike to Waterfall Flat climbs from dense forest into the high alpine. It is a magnificent climb as the trail rises through Snow-Bridge Gorge, a deep canyon surrounded by glaciers and waterfalls. The trail is challenging until it opens out into the incomparable Waterfall Flat. Surrounded by high peaks and flowing rivers, this seldom visited valley is a unique New Zealand paradise. 6-7 hours return.
DAY 4 -  


We head down river to the Kerin Forks to meet the jetboat. This is a gentle downhill grade for 6-7 hours along the north bank of the great Wilkin River. The track is challenging with numerous side stream crossings. A thrilling 1-hour jetboat ride brings us to our van and the return to Wanaka

Trips are mostly on formed tracks but the tracks may be rough or slippery. While the terrain is challenging with long ascents and descents, most people will not have to walk over 6-7 hours a day. No heavy loads need to be carried. Previous hiking experience recommended but not required.

Please note that if weather is not suitable for a fixed wing flight a helicopter may used.

Photos courtesy Aspiring Guides

Contact us
Itrek Customer Service
Tel: +64 21 268 8879
email: info@itreknewzealand.com
NZ local time is 08:13 AM
Key information

Location: Southern South Island in Mount Aspiring National Park

Track Open: October to May

Trek dates:

Oct 25 - 28
Nov 7 - 10
Dec 20 - 23; 27 - 30

Jan 3 - 6; 16 - 19 
Feb 10 - 13;
Mar 14 - 17; Mar 31 - Apr 3

Apr 6-9 ; 16 - 19


Custom and private trips also available.

Duration: 4 days.

Group Size: Min. of 1 guide:2 clients, max. of 1 guide:5 clients.

Grade: Moderate.

Accommodation: Department of Conservation huts.

Luggage: Carry light day pack.

Meals: Fantastic food catering for all tastes.

Price $1950 pp 2 persons

 $1750pp 3 - 5 persons