Charlie Taylor, of Australia, Wanaka climbing guide Nick
Cradock, and Geoff Millard, of Australia, on the summit of
Mt Aspiring, near Wanaka, on a day recently when 22 people
are believed to have reached the summit. Photo by Guy
The Mt Aspiring climbing season is off to a strong start,
with guiding companies reporting good mountain snow conditions
and client bookings, particularly from the Australian market.
Wanaka-based guiding companies Adventure Consultants and
Aspiring Guides are completely booked out this month for
climbing courses and ascents of Mt Aspiring, Mt Cook and
other New Zealand peaks.
"I think people recognise that that's the time of year when
the snow conditions in the mountains are at their best,"
Adventure Consultants owner Guy Cotter said.
The company had already turned away "around $100,000 worth of
business" from international clients in November-December
because there were not enough fully qualified guides in New
Zealand to meet the demand and working with Immigration New
Zealand to bring in foreign guides had been "problematical",
Mr Cotter said.
Mt Aspiring has been particularly popular with climbers -
predominantly Australians - in the past few weeks. Mr Cotter
was "amongst the crowd" on a day about a fortnight ago when
he understood 22 climbers had reached the summit of Mt
Aspiring, the highest number he had personally seen there at
any one time.
"It was one of the little spikes you get," he said.
"I guess it just reflects the start of the season and a good
Despite a dry winter, frequent spring snowfalls had been
filling up the glaciers, providing good mountain access.
The snow conditions this year were similar to those 20 years
ago, when the mountains were accessible the entire summer.
However, the situation could change quickly if there was hot,
dry weather in the coming weeks, Mr Cotter said.
Aspiring Guides director Andy Oxley said the company's
pre-Christmas bookings were at maximum capacity and about on
a par with the past couple of years.
Department of Conservation community relations manager
Annette Grieve said last month's occupancy of Colin Todd Hut
- at the base of Mt Aspiring's northwest ridge - was about
160 people, which was also similar to numbers in recent