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February 2016 Issue
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No. 7 – Go for the most spectacular

Barrier Knob provides a spectacular view, perched above Gertrude Saddle, Fiordland. Photo: Peter Crampton

The Waterfall Face leading towards Rabbit Pass is the most famous (or infamous) spot on the Rabbit Pass route. It’s steep, exposed, and scary. But it’s not the trail’s most dramatic spot . This award goes to the pass itself, where you can find yourself blown away by the scale, feeling like a rock star stepping on to a stage overlooking the largest venue on Earth.

Bare, beaten, sheer rock hangs above. Below is a near-vertical drop the equivalent of two Auckland Sky Towers in height. In front, the most glorious view of a once-heavily glaciated valley, drifting into the distance surrounded by vertical madness.

You’ll find yourself thinking, ‘surely it doesn’t get more spectacular than this’. As much as I enjoy my local trails, the forest, the sea, the gentle undulations, sometimes it’s good to let your hair down and target the raw brilliance of a setting like this.

Exchanging your local hills for a weekend tackling Gertrude Saddle is like putting the gladwrap over the salad and heading out for a bacon double cheeseburger with fries – occasionally, you need to pig out.


Four spectacular trips to binge on

Gertrude Saddle, Fiordland

Access From Milford Sound Highway (SH94)

Time One day

Grade Moderate

Cascade Saddle, Mt Aspiring

Access End of Wanaka Mt Aspiring Road

Time Two days

Grade Hard

Rob Roy Track

Access End of Wanaka Mt Aspiring Road

Time Half day

Grade Easy

Earnslaw Burn valley head

Access Glenorchy Paradise Road

Time Two days

Grade Moderate