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Way up on Wakefield

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July 2021 Issue

Wakefield Ridge, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Wakefield Ridge offers grandstand views of the lower Hooker and Tasman Valleys and their bordering ranges; the Sealy and Ben Ohau and the Burnett Mountains. In fact, you might argue that on a quality-of-view per vertical-metre-gained basis it has one of the best ratios in the country. 

Climbing steeply up the apex of the Mt Cook Range from Hooker Corner, the unmarked Wakefield Ridge trail is a quick way to reach the heights of the park, away from the beaten track. Views improve once the second of two large boulders on the ridge is gained, only to get better from there. 

Once the ridge narrows and flattens around 1340m, Mt Sefton, the Main Divide and the upper Tasman peaks become visible while the view south along the shimmering braids of the Tasman River towards Lake Pukaki and the Mackenzie Basin is both stunning and unique. 

This route is suitable as both a day trip or overnighter (there are tarns and good camping in the basin north-west of Pt1827). 

The summit of Mt Wakefield (2058m) is also attainable by trampers with time and a head for heights. The views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, Nazomi and La Perouse from this high point are exceptional.   

While snow can fall on Mt Wakefield throughout the year, there is variable snow cover on the lower part of the range from early winter through to spring and crampons and ice axe are required during these months. Visitors during this time should also be knowledgeable about travel in avalanche terrain.

Total Ascent
9-12hr to summit and return
Tasman Valley Road, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park