Image of the September 2016 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
September 2016 Issue
Home / Articles / Waypoints

One of New Zealand’s finest day walks

On the ridge above Talbot's Ladder with Gertrude Valley and Milford Road below. Photo: Peter Laurenson
Total Ascent
4-8hr to Mt McPherson
Homer Hut ($35 (non-NZAC members), 30 bunks)
From Homer Hut take the road to the south end of Homer Tunnel. Follow the trail from the car park into McPherson Cirque. Head west to Homer Saddle, then climb Talbot’s Ladder onto the snowfields beneath McPherson
CB08, CB09
GPX File
Talbots Ladder.Fiordland NP (gpx, yo 9 KB)
Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.

Talbot’s Ladder, Fiordland National Park

Yes, it’s true: a ladder (of sorts) does lead to one of New Zealand’s most dramatic alpine landscapes. But don’t be deceived; while ‘Ladder’ implies a set of steep orderly steps, Talbot’s Ladder is considerably more challenging in winter conditions. It took three attempts before I finally made it up and over Talbot’s Ladder in winter. This is a place demanding respect. It’s very steep, very exposed, and very cold.

On the upside, subject to weather and snow conditions, access is easy. Just drive the fabulously scenic Milford Road to Homer Hut, then it’s a relatively short climb, first to Homer Saddle then up about 300 vertical metres on Talbot’s Ladder, which gives access to a much wider, more gradual snow ridge leading to the summit of Mt McPherson (1931m).

In winter, Talbot’s Ladder requires several pitches over slippery rock, snow and ice, with yawning drops on both sides. In summer conditions, it’s a steep, exposed rock scramble. Once on the ridge, it’s time to enjoy the ever more spectacular and panoramic views.

From the summit of McPherson is a view of precipitous ridges and peaks in every direction, including the route down and then up again to Traverse Pass (1987m).

From the pass, you can descend to Gertrude Saddle and then walk out to Homer Hut – a circuit claimed by many to be the finest day walk in New Zealand.

In summer, the whole circuit takes about eight hours, but our winter effort took 14 hours.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.