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6 day guided climbing expedition to Mt Cook 3724m, New Zealand’s highest mountain.

6 day guided climbing expedition to Mt Cook 3724m, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Mt Cook is a prized international summit and world class mountaineering objective with many climbers coming from all over the world to attempt the climb. Despite the modest altitude compared to many other mountains around the world, Mt Cook is a steep heavily glaciated mountain, technical climb, and a formidable challenge. 

Guided ascents of Mt Cook are only available to clients who have previously climbed with Queenstown Mountain Guides. For safety reasons and to maximise the chance of success climbing Mt Cook by the Linda Glacier requires extensive previous mountaineering experience and a high level of fitness. Please see the experience required section below for more details.

Due to climate change and glacial recession Mt Cook has become more challenging to climb and has a higher level of risk from rockfall, icefall, and crevasse fall hazard. Because of the high risks and objective hazard Mt Cook can only be climbed when conditions are perfect. If the guide decides that conditions are not appropriate for an attempt at Mt Cook the guide will discuss with the client alternative mountaineering objectives for the 6 day expedition.

A typical climbing day on Mt Cook is between 13 and 18 hours, with a vertical height gain of 1800m. The typical climbing route is the Linda Glacier New Zealand alpine grade 3 but other route options are possible for more experienced clients including Zurbriggins Ridge, the East Ridge, and a Grand Traverse across Low Peak, Middle Peak, and High Peak.

The 6 day trip is based from Plateau Hut at 2200m. The length of the trip allows enough time for access and egress from the mountains, skills training, possibly climbing a training peak, and weather contingency days.

Mt Cook is a very serious climb that should not be underestimated. Mt Cook is a heavily glaciated peak with objective danger that can only be managed safely when the conditions and weather are good on the mountain. The minimum length of a Mt Cook trip is 6 days, this gives us enough time to maximise the chance of success and pick safe weather & conditions on this expedition style mountain.

The Mt Cook season is normally from October through to mid December. In a good year, the season may extend beyond mid December. However, we recommend that clients book their Mt Cook climb before mid December because in recent seasons, the route on the lower Linda Glacier has become unsafe to pass after late December.

Why climb Mt Cook with Queenstown Mountain Guides? Queenstown Mountain Guides are Queenstown’s only professionally qualified IFMGA Mountain & Ski Guiding operation. We have years of experience working on Mt Cook and an impressive history of safety and successful guided ascents on the mountain. 


Mt Cook National park.


Your guide will meet with you at 8.30am on the first day of the trip at your accomodation. 


Note that this itinerary is a sample only. Your final itinerary is subject to weather and other conditions.

Day 1

We will meet you at your accomodation on the first day at 8.30am for introductions and a gear check before we drive to Mt Cook airport. The drive to Mt Cook airport is about 2.5 hours from Queenstown.  Make sure you have your camera ready for the flight as the Grand Plateau is one of the most spectacular alpine vistas in the world! After taking in the incredible scenery we will get ourselves set up in the hut. This will be followed by the opportunity to work on some skills training for the climb or the chance to go for a short walk on the glacier to take in the surroundings and acclimatise. 

Day 2

Training and acclimatisation day. This is a good day to work on some skills or do a training climb to acclimatise for the Mt Cook climb (Plateau hut is at 2200m and Mt Cook summit is 3754m above sea level).

Days 3-5

Summit Days! Normally we depart the hut at 1.00am under the cover of darkness. The goal is to reach the summit by 9.00am. A typical summit day on Mt Cook is between 13 and 18 hours in length. If we are back in good time it is possible to fly out to Mt Cook village for a celebratory meal and beer!

Final Day

Flight out of the mountains. Drive back to  Queenstown where we sort out our gear and have a trip debrief. We we also have an opportunity to discuss future mountaineering goals.


6 days


Mid October to December



  • Guide fees
  • Technical equipment hire
  • Hut fees
  • Meals and snacks
  • Ground transport


  • Aircraft access & egress fees
  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Accomodation in Queenstown & Wanaka


Additional booking conditions

These are additional conditions to our standard booking terms and conditions.

Queenstown Mountain Guides reserves the right to change the itinerary and attempt climbing an alternative peak if Queenstown Mountain Guides decides that conditions are not safe for a Mt Cook summit attempt. Due to climate change and glacial recession Mt Cook has become more challenging to climb and has a higher level of risk from rockfall, icefall, and crevasse fall hazard. Because of the high risks and objective hazard Mt Cook can only be climbed when conditions are perfect. If the guide decides that conditions are not appropriate for an attempt at Mt Cook the guide will discuss with the client alternative mountaineering objectives for the 6 day expedition.

As part of the Mt Cook climb a period of 6 days guiding is included in the price of the trip. It may be possible to complete the climb before the 6 day period is over. If you finish the climb early you may choose to retain the services of the guide. If you choose to finish the trip early no refund is due.

Extending your 6 day Mt Cook climbing trip may be possible depending on your guides commitments. The cost of extending your trip is $850 per day. If your trip is involuntarily extended (for example being stuck in Plateau hut due to bad weather) the cost will be $700 per day.

Experience required

Mt Cook is only available to clients with previous mountaineering experience with Queenstown Mountain Guides.

Mt Cook is a significant peak and a world class mountaineering objective, standing on the summit is a significant achievement but with preparation and commitment this is an achievable goal. To achieve the goal of climbing Mt Cook you will need to do a full mountaineering course and get experience on other New Zealand 3000m peaks.

  • Have current snow and ice skills. We require at least 10 days on crampons within the last 3 years.
  • Proven experience climbing with 2 tools on steep snow and ice.
  • Proven experience of several 12+ hour days on alpine ascents in the past 3 years.
  • Glacier travel and rescue experience – you should be able to competently demonstrate a crevasse rescue system.
  • Rock climbing competence to Australian 15
  • High level of fitness – able to climb 1,000 vertical meters with an 8 kg backpack in 3 hours.

Step 1: Mountaineering course.

This will be your first step to learning mountaineering skills. You need to learn to climb on snow and ice and learn glacier travel skills. We could run this as a private trip for you or you could join a group course.

Step 2: Experience on some New Zealand 3000m peaks.

To prepare for a climb of Mt Cook. To climb Mt Cook you need experience making at least 2 successful ascents of significant New Zealand mountaineering objectives or international equivalents.

Step 3: Mt Cook ascent 

6 day 1:1 attempt to climb Mt Cook.

Training for Mt Cook.

In addition to this, keeping fit by running and doing long single day or multi-day hikes is important.

  • Aerobic training (hill running or cycling for 1 hour 2-3 times per week)
  • Strength training (lifting weights in the gym 2-3 times per week)
  • Endurance training closer to your trip (long hill walks of 6-8 hours with 5-10kgs in your pack once per week)
  • Rock climbing at an indoor wall or outdoors 1-2 times per week.



Clothing & equipment

Climbing in the New Zealand mountains requires that you have high quality equipment and clothing due to the extremes of weather we experience. Please ensure you look carefully at our equipment checklist. At the start of the trip your guide will go through your equipment and make sure that you have everything that you need for the trip. Please organise to have your extra equipment stored at your accomodation for the duration of the trip.

It is important that you keep as close as possible to the equipment checklist. The focus is on ensuring that you have the equipment you need, but also on keeping your pack as light as possible. If your guide is meeting you at your accomodation for the start of the trip it would be helpful if you have all your equipment and clothing organised and laid out in a logical fashion so they can check that everyone has the right equipment and clothing for the trip.

Accomodation during the trip

On the Mt Cook climb we stay in Plateau Hut. This large dormitory style hut is situated on the edge of the Grande Plateau and looks up at Mt Cook and the highest mountains on the main divide of New Zealand’s southern alps. This dormitory style hut is cosy and basic, it has water, cooking facilities, a mountain radio, and a bunk area with individual mattresses. There are no showers or electrical sockets for recharging.

Accomodation in Queenstown & Wanaka is not included in the trip costs. Staying in Queenstown or Wanaka may happen if you are delayed entering the mountains or exit early because of the weather. Being based in Queenstown during poor weather in the high mountains will enable us to use the Remarkables mountain range as often this is sheltered from the worst of the Southern Alps weather.

Accomodation in Queenstown  before or after the trip is not included in trip costs. To organise accomodation before and after the course we recommend here you will find a wide range of accomodation depending on your preferred style and budget.

Daily trip logistics

Every day in the mountains is different with changing weather, snowpack, and access conditions. When you book your trip with Queenstown Mountain Guides we will discuss your goals for the trip and the general plan. When you meet with your guide on the first morning of your trip your guide will discuss with you the weather forecast and current conditions and make a final plan for the trip. It is best to be flexible so we can ensure that you will make the most of your time with us.

At the start of the trip we will fly into the mountains at the first possible opportunity.

On any poor weather days it is possible to learn skills inside the hut – for example crevasse rescue, navigation, weather theory, avalanche awareness.

On the final day of the trip we will aim to have you back in Queenstown by approximately 5.00pm.

Queenstown Mountain Guides uses aircraft to fly into the mountains and this enables us to bring a good supply of fresh food on our trips. Your guide will organise breakfast, lunch, and dinner for you when  you are in the mountains. Your guide will cook your meals on a basic mountain stove but you will impressed by what is possible!

Aircraft access and egress

Aircraft access and egress to Plateau hut is included in the trip costs.

Guide to participant ratios

Mt Cook is a guided at a 1:1 guide to client ratio.

Climber on the summit of Mt Cook
Guide and client on Mt Cook climbing summit ice cap
Climbing above the summit rocks on Mt Cook
Climbing above the Linda Glacier Mt Cook