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February 2016 Issue
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No. 6 – Hit the ice

The extensive Olivine Ice Plateau. Photo: Hugh van Noorden

For many Kiwi trampers, visiting an ice plateau as part of a trans-alpine trip is an important goal in their outdoor career. Names like the Olivine, Bracken Snowfield, and Gardens of Eden and Allah have an almost mythological reputation, speaking of remoteness and adventure. A large, flat glacier, set among a fortress of peaks, offers an almost irresistible challenge.

All of these ice plateaus lie within wilderness areas, where flying is prohibited, so reaching them will require skill, perseverance and reasonable weather.

The Bracken Snowfield

Approaches up either the Rakaia, Whitcombe or Wanganui Rivers are reasonably arduous and involve multiple fords. Once there, you’re rewarded with alpine terrain par excellence, dominated by the highest peaks in the central Southern Alps, Mt Evans and Whitcombe.

The Gardens of Eden and Allah

Lying at the heads of the Wanganui, Perth and Rangitata rivers, forming a high, glaciated area from which several peaks protrude.

The Olivine Ice Plateau

Like the gardens of Eden and Allah this has several approaches. The extensive plateau boasts several peaks with names like Climax and Destiny, and has outstanding views towards Mt Aspiring.