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Overview Ball Pass Alpine Crossing Equipment Trek Dates Booking Enquiry Form


Ball Pass Alpine Crossing

Mount Cook National Park offers New Zealand's most spectacular alpine scenery. With all but one of it's 29 peaks over 3000m, it is New Zealand's climbing mecca. Most peaks are accessible only to experienced mountaineers. However, hiking or trekking is possible close to Mount Cook on the guided Ball Pass Trek.

Ball Pass is a demanding 3 day trek which crosses the Mount Cook Range from the Tasman to the Hooker Valley. The route follows Ball Ridge, opposite the awe-inspring Caroline Face of Mount Cook; and overlooks the Tasman Glacier. Guided walkers spend two nights at the fully furbished Caroline Hut at 1830m/6000ft.

Breathtaking views of Mount Cook and New Zealand's highest mountains. Rich alpine flora and unique bird life. Moderate snow and glacier travel. You need to have previous backpacking, tramping or bushwalking experience. All equipment is provided.

The Ball Pass Trek is a good alternative to the Copland Pass Track which due to recent slips (we recommend) is now only accessible to experienced mountaineers.

Ball Pass Route Guide

FITNESS: Ball Pass is suitable for experienced hikers capable of sustained walking, at times over steep, rugged, untracked and very exposed terrain. Participants need to be secure-footed and have a good balance. No mountaineering experience is required.

GROUP SIZE: Minimum 2 participants, maximum 8 participants; 4 participants per guide. If you end up being the only person on a trip you will have the option of changing to another date or a full refund.

DATES: November - April, ex Lake Tekapo

GUIDES: NZMGA, UIAGM mountain guides.

ITINERARY: Ball Pass is a challenging 3-day alpine crossing of the Mount Cook Range from the Tasman Valley to the Hooker Valley. The route allows close views of New Zealand's highest mountains and most spectacular alpine scenery.

Day 1: 8am - After an equipment check at Lake Tekapo you travel to Mount Cook Village. From the Tasman Glacier you climb 850m/2800ft up the Ball Ridge to Caroline Hut at 1800m/6000ft, perched right opposite the awe-inspiring Caroline Face of Mount Cook. The panorama includes Mts Cook and Tasman, all the mountains adjoining the Tasman Glacier, and Lake Pukaki. Caroline Hut is fully stocked with food, firewood, sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils so packs will be relatively light, but some fresh items of food need to be carried, e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat. 6 hours trekking.

Day 2: Receive instruction and practice using crampons and ice-axe while climbing one of the peaks adjacent to Ball Pass: Pukaki Peak 2222m/7290ft or Turner Peak 2341m/7680ft. Dramatic views of the South Ridge of Mount Cook. 6 hours return.

Day 3: Cross Ball Pass, 2130m / 7000ft. Now the view opens to the South Face of Mount Cook, the Hooker and Mueller Glaciers, Mount Sefton and the Copland Pass. The descent from Ball Pass is very steep and snow conditions may require the use of crampons (no previous experience required). The terrain is rugged and untracked and you rely on your professional mountain guide to find a safe route around gorges and bluffs down to the East Hooker Valley. Following old moraine terraces you meander through some of the lushest vegetation to be found in the National Park and return to Mount Cook Village. (8-9 hours). Return travel from Mount Cook generally arrives back at Lake Tekapo about 6-7pm.

2016/2017 Price - (effective 01 May 2016)

  • NZ$1,450.00; per person (valid until 30th April 2017). Cash / NZ Banking Payment.
  • Please note that on Public Holidays there will be a surcharge of NZ$100.00 per day, per person.
    New Zealand Public Holidays 2016: New Year 1/1 & 4/1, Waitangi Day 8/2, Good Friday 25/3, Easter Monday 28/3 Anzac Day 25/4, Queen's Birthday 6/6, Labour Day 24/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 28/12.
    New Zealand Public Holidays 2017: New Year 2/1 & 3/1, Waitangi Day 6/2, Good Friday 14/4, Easter Monday 17/4, Anzac Day 25/4, Queen's Birthday 5/6, Labour Day 23/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 26/12.
  • Payment can also be made by Credit Card and Telegraphic Transfer - administration costs may apply with both types of payments.

Included in prices: Guide, hut accommodation, all food, transport ex Lake Tekapo, crampons, ice-axe, and all other climbing equipment and boots if required, National Park concession fees, 15% GST. Meals and accommodation before / after tour not included.

Guide Client Ratio: 1:4, minimum 2 participants, maximum 8 participants

Fitness / Skills: The guided Ball Pass is suitable for experienced hikers capable of sustained walking, at times over steep, rugged, untracked and very exposed terrain. Participants need to be of at least average fitness, need to be secure footed and need to have good balance. No mountaineering experience is required. Qualified mountain guides will accompany you and give full instruction on how to cross snow slopes safely using crampons and ice-axe. If necessary your guide will belay you on a rope for the steep snow descent. Besides personal clothing you'll need to carry some items of fresh food to the hut. Your pack on Day 1 should weigh no more than 10kg. Several walks of at least 6 hours' duration are recommended as preparation for Ball Pass.

Caroline Hut is a privately owned mountain hut for the exclusive use of our guided parties. It is the only guide/operator-owned mountain hut in the Mount Cook National Park. The hut affords a commanding view of the entire length of the Tasman Glacier and of New Zealand's highest peaks. The hut can be heated.

Equipment: Crampons and ice-axes are provided. A detailed equipment list will be sent at time of booking. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.

Booking Conditions:

(1) A non-refundable deposit NZ$350.00 (per person) is payable to secure a booking. Full payment is due 60 days prior to the departure date.

(2) Cancellations:
- Cancellations received more than 50 days before departure: full refund less the non-refundable deposit.
- Cancellations received within 31 to 50 days of departure: 50% refund of the total trip price.
- Cancellations received within 30 days of departure: no refund.
- No refund for any services not uilised after tour has started.

(3) Evacuation if client unable to complete trip: If a client needs extra services due to lack of fitness and inability to continue with the group, additional fees may apply. E.g. In the case of Ball Pass if a client overestimates his/her fitness to the extent that on Day 1 he/she is not able to reach Caroline Hut; or if the guide judges that the client is not fit enough to continue with the group, then he/she may need to pay an extra fee of NZ$450, to cover the cost of an additional guide to evacuate him/her. Client will be liable for his/her own accommodation/meal expenses outside the tour in such a case.

(4) Changes: The operators reserve the right to alter, amend or cancel any tour, should weather or any other situation demand this.

5. Liability: Alpine Recreation Canterbury Ltd and New Zealand Adventure Specialists Ltd its agents finalise all arrangements for these tours upon the express condition that they shall not be liable for loss of life, injury, illness, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of weather or any defect in any vehicle or aircraft or through the acts of default of any company or persons engaged in conveying the passengers or carrying out of arrangements of the tours. The New Zealand Accident Compensation scheme applies. All clients have to complete a waiver form before starting their tour. These conditions are subject to any rights or remedies a customer has under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, or any other New Zealand law.

Bad Weather Policy: Caroline Hut is located on the Ball Ridge, in the lee of Mt. Cook (for the prevailing westerlies and nor'westerlies), so it is seldom that we cannot walk in to the hut, even if the weather is marginal. There is a wood-fired pot belly stove in the hut and a good drying rack. However, this is a high alpine environment and it could happen that the walk in to the hut may have to be deferred by a day. If all participants in the group have the flexibility to postpone the trip by a day and if guide(s) and hut are available, then we postpone the entire trip by one day. Otherwise the trip is reduced to a two day crossing and the group is being accommodated in Lake Tekapo for the first day. During the last few seasons we only had to take up this option once per season. Alternatively we can offer the "Mackenzie High Country Walk", a 2 to 3-day mountain walk in the Two Thumb Range to the east of Lake Tekapo, based at the Rex Simpson Hut. This would only be an option if the weather looked as though it was going to be bad for all 3 days or if a climb to Caroline Hut is still not possible on day two. Since the Ball Pass operation started this contingency plan has only been carried out once.

If the group is at Caroline Hut and the weather or snow conditions do not permit a crossing of the Pass then the group will descend to the Tasman Valley.

When you book a trip you book the guide and all the organisation that goes with it, you cannot book the weather. Our guides are trained and instructed to always make the best possible decision for all the participants. On rare occasions this could mean having to return or not to go to Caroline Hut on day one for reasons of safety. On such occasions we do not give a refund.

Comments: "Exceeded expectations. Excellent guide who was extremely competent and considerate. Instruction was thorough, clear and effective, giving us greater self-confidence. Great facilities." R & L Brooks, England.

Anybody attempting a Ball Pass Crossing without a guide needs to be an experienced mountaineer with good judgement for snow and ice conditions, and safe route selection in an high alpine environment. The Ball Pass is a route only, NOT an established or marked track. Caroline Hut is not available to unguided parties.