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Snow White becomes a dwarf

Image of the May 2020 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2020 Issue

Snow White Glacier, Mt Aspiring National Park

The Snow White is an enchanting name for a large glacier draining the Snowdrift Range.

Located in the Olivine Wilderness area of Mt Aspiring National Park, the glacier is beautiful and lonesome, much like Grimm’s heroine, Snow White. However, the Snow White Glacier in the present tale turns out to be less fortunate.

This summer, we left the day-trippers behind in the Matukituki Valley and embarked on a fairytale-like journey to visit the glacier. Once across the legendary Arawhata Saddle, high above Liverpool Hut, it’s through bluffs to gain an old lateral moraine on the true right of the stream draining Liverpool Glacier.

From here, a long westward sidle, first through stunted scrub, then on coarse scree fringing the Snow White’s terminal lake, brought us to within sight of the Snow White Glacier, where the ice was fatally melting into a second, as-yet unmapped, terminal lake.

Getting around this lake requires a little determination, but walking on the ancient ice and getting a closer look at the impressive Snow White icefall makes the rubble-bashing worthwhile.

Once there, towards the north-east, the perfect spire of Mt Aspiring can be admired, as can the grand bluffs below Mystery Col. However, it appears that, despite the magic scenery, and unlike in the fairy-tale, the present-day Snow White may not live happily ever after

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22.4km to glacier
Total Ascent
1-2 days to Arawhata Saddle, 1 day to the Snow White Glacier
From Raspberry Creek car park at the end of the Wanaka Mt Aspiring Road
CA10, CA11

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