Wānaka’s spectacular alpine crossing. By Pavel Tvrdy
Cascade Saddle is a spectacular tramp resulting in what are arguably the best views you can get of Mt Aspiring/Tititea. But those views are hard-earned and can only be achieved by experienced trampers in fine summer weather. Above the bushline, the terrain steepens and can be slippery.
The West Matukituki Track follows its namesake river over grassed flats and past occasional swimming holes until Aspiring Hut and the turn-off to Cascade Saddle.
Above the bushline, the trail becomes significantly more difficult. Steep sections of snowgrass and tussock are followed by rocky ledges and scrambling. Multiple warning signs advise for extreme care to be taken.
Mount Aspiring, French Ridge and Liverpool Hut are visible from the highest point of the ridge at the pylon. Arriving at this point just before the sun began to poke over the mountains, I turned from the traditional view to gain a new perspective of the Matukituki Valley and to see the terrain I had walked the previous day.
After the pylon, snow poles lead trampers to Cascade Saddle and the camping area. From here it is possible to ćontinue into the Dart Valley to connect with the Rees-Dart Track. Otherwise, return to the car park on the same track, whilst enjoying a fresh perspective.