Ultimate Queenstown

Hiking Mount Alfred

Hiking Mount Alfred

Posted by Kate Fahey: 31st Mar 2014 @ 11:24:08

As you drive into Glenorchy the pyramid shaped Mount Alfred is a prominent feature. The desire to stand on top of this peak has been with us since our first trip to the region, but we have never taken the time to go and conquer the day walk.

We wake up to a fine day and are eager for an adventure, so Mount Alfred is on. Driving out to Glenorchy we realise we actually have no idea where the trail head is. Oh well, we’ll find it. That’s why we have smartphones, right?

After a little searching we find the car park on the Dart River side of Mount Alfred, a small day pack of supplies on the back and we’re off into the native beech forest. Starting in rainforest like bush we can hear the roar of jet boats flying past. The NZ Marathon Boats are racing up the Dart River today, and were on the first of four race legs.

A marked route can be followed as far as the bushline. It’s a good zigzag track climbing about half of the way up, before turning into steeper roots and what feels like a few storeys of stairs. For me the relief of finishing the bush line section is apparent and with a smile that the top is in sight. I can push through the final climb because now I’m rewarded with spectacular views down the Dart Valley.

Above the bushline this track is steep and exposed. Climbing over tussocks, rocks and scree we see the first people we’ve come across all morning coming towards us. Poles in hand and at a guest in their 60’s, they traverse the steep slope. After a quick chat and a well-deserved break, I’m motivated by the fellow walkers to get to the top…not far now!

A couple of big steps and a little scramble and our feet are firm on top of Mount Alfred. Woohoo...I made it! Now for the seasoned walker this may just be another hike, but for the occasional hikers out there this will be an achievement.

We walked to the Northern end of the peak to check out incredible scenery over the Dart River and Mount Aspiring National Park. The Earnslaw Glacier is in view, as well as the Routeburn Valley, Lake Sylvan and Diamond Lake. Yep, this is Paradise (quite literally)!

Taking it all in, we can hear the 3rd leg of the jet boat race starting down at Lake Wakatipu. What a perfect viewpoint to watch the race. Perched up on the ledge we look down at the boats zoomin’ up the Dart at ridiculous speeds. These boats are dam fast!

Not wanting to leave but feeling the call of GY Café and a cold beer, we descend the mountain and go and enjoy a well-earned lunch to celebrate the day.

Fitness Required: Moderate
Top Tips: Take water, snacks and a camera!
Time/Length: We walked it in 4 hours return, however DOC recommends to allow 6-8 hours.
Getting there: The approach is on the Western (Dart River) side of the peak off the Glenorchy-Routeburn Road, 10-15 minutes’ drive from Glenorchy. Look for an un-marked car park on the right hand side of the road for access to this track.
Note: DOC advises that permission is required from Earnslaw Station for accessing the upper part of Mt Alfred - once you leave the bushline. This track is not recommended for young children.

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