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July 2015 Issue
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A godley experience

Boulder hopping up Separation Stream towards the terminal face of separation Glacier. Photo: Pete Laurenson
End of 4WD track to Godley Hut 2hr return; Red Stag Hut to Mt Sibbald via McKinnon Stream 15hr; Godley Hut to Mt Forbes via Separation Stream 15hr   
North from Tekapo via gravel road, then a 35km 4WD up a river valley

Godley Valley, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

You’ve almost certainly heard about Lake Tekapo, but did you know that, at its northern end, a braided river valley bounded by snow-capped peaks stretches north for more than 40km?

Access by 4WD vehicle is possible for about 35km, leaving a short 3km walk to the 10-bunk Godley Hut. Situated beside the terminal lake of the Maud and Grey glaciers, the Maud icefall fills the hut’s northern window – a magnificent alpine vista. All this is quite accessible to families.

The valley floor gives access to a myriad of hiking and climbing possibilities too; and offers the added benefit of being east of the main divide, permitting activity when the weather isn’t playing ball further west.

After a couple of nights based at Red Stag Hut (four bunks), about 30km into the valley, we boulder hopped up McKinnon Stream, then carried on over steep scree onto a very craggy ridge and snow slopes to reach the summit of Mt Sibbald. Mt what you say? A rugged peak with breathtaking views to Aoraki/Mt Cook, Sibbald, at 2811m, is taller than Mt Ruapehu.

Then we pushed further north up to Godley Hut to wait out some bad weather, before doing more boulder hopping up Separation Stream to a campsite beside the babbling water. More scree, rugged rock and snow lead up to the summit of Mt Forbes.

The Godley is a treasure trove for anyone who loves the outdoors – from gentle river walks and fishing to challenging alpine climbing, it’s all there to enjoy. And regardless of what form your activity takes, the views are reward enough for making the effort to get there.        

Pete Laurenson