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Let’s dance

Image of the November 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
November 2017 Issue
Ball Pass, Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park

Within sight of Aoraki/Mt Cook, you can choose from numerous short walks, but extending a trip to a multi-day adventure will bring your experience to a whole new level. And you don’t need to be a super experienced alpinist to enjoy the beauty of New Zealand’s highest mountains in a fascinating (and less crowded) way.

The Ball Pass – a route with a rich history dating back to 1890 – is one of them. This two-to-three day alpine route provides great views, especially in the morning after a night spent camping in the ‘Playing Field’ located high above Hooker Valley.  The panorama of the majestic Mt Sefton, lit by the warm morning sun, is just spectacular.

The approach to Ball Pass requires crampons – and fine weather – to cross the small snowfield just below it. The pass itself is a good place to pause, enjoy the environment and refuel before the long descent into Tasman Valley, where advantage can be taken of the small and cosy Ball Hut.

The last stretch of the journey over the moraine of Tasman Glacier can be monotonous in comparison to the epic mountain views and scenery already encountered but will provide an opportunity to reflect on one of New Zealand’s great alpine pass journeys.

– Jakub Cejpek

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Total Ascent
Hooker Valley to Playing Fields, 5hr; Playing Fields to Ball Pass, 2-3hr; Ball Pass to Ball Hut, 4hr; Ball Hut to road end, 2.5hr
Ball Hut ($5, three bunks)
White Horse Hill DOC campground, near Mt Cook Village