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Learn modern mountaineering techniques for climbing in glaciated mountains.

The New Zealand Mountaineering Course is designed to give you a solid & comprehensive introduction to modern mountaineering & climbing techniques. The course teaches participants the important skills to be able to climb safely & independently in high alpine areas & glaciated mountain’s around the world.

The NZ Mountaineering Course is a great place to start if you are planning on climbing New Zealand’s highest mountains such as Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring or other significant peaks throughout the worlds great ranges.

Queenstown Mountain Guides philosophy is learning skills while climbing & we will aim to climb as many peaks as possible as part of the course so participants can see how the skills they are learning are applied to mountain terrain. Participants will have the opportunity to practice skills for themselves while under the careful supervision of the guide.

New Zealand’s steep & heavily glaciated mountain areas are the perfect environment for learning mountaineering skills. We base the New Zealand Mountaineering course from helicopter accessed high mountain huts deep in the heart of New Zealand’s highest mountains. 


  • Climbing knots
  • Ice axe use & climbing techniques
  • Glacier travel
  • Cramponing technique on easy, moderate, and steep terrain
  • Self arresting
  • Belaying
  • Use of a climbing rope on snow, ice, rock, and alpine ridge lines
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Rock climbing
  • Ice climbing
  • Decision making and judgment
  • Weather analysis
  • Map & compass use & route finding
  • Snow anchors
  • Rock anchors


  • Hochsetter Dome 
  • Mt Aylmer
  • Mt Abel
  • Glacier peak
  • Grey Peak
  • Mt Lendenfeild
  • Mt Aurora
  • Chancellor Dome
  • Anzac Peak
  • Glacier Dome Ridge Traverse


The New Zealand Mountaineering Course will be based from a high mountain hut in the Southern Alps. In periods of bad weather at the start or the end of a trip we use the Remarkables mountain range for instructions and ascents.


Your guide will meet with you at 8.30am in the Queenstown Mountain Guides office at Unit 403, 875 Frankton Rd in Queenstown.



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

Day 1

Meet at the QMG office at 8.30am for introductions and discuss the course outline and your goals for the trip. We are lucky that we have several areas that we can choose from to run the mountaineering course and we will choose the best location for the weather and conditions (Mt Cook, Fox Glacier, or the Mt Aspiring region). Before we depart we will check through your equipment. It’s a 3 hour drive to get to Mt Cook and the helicopter staging area.

Once we arrive in the mountains we will get set up in the hut before getting straight into the learning. Often we will start our course by teaching mountaineering knots and the technique for roping up for glacier travel, this will be followed by an outing on the glacier learning safe glacier travel technique. We will show you how to safely hold a fall if your climbing partners falls into a crevasse.

Day 2

Use of ice axe and crampons are introduced. This is followed by a self arresting lesson. You will learn how to safely move on snow and ice and practice self arresting until you are confident at the technique. The best way to get proficient with ice axe and crampons is by moving through mountain terrain. We will continue learning about glacier travel and route finding through crevasse fields as we move towards todays climbing objective – the ridge route on Mt Alymer at the head of the Tasman glacier. As we climb the steep snow and ice on Mt Alymer we will learn more snow and ice climbing techniques and how to apply them on mountain terrain.

Day 3

We wake up early and head down the glacier to the ice climbing area in the ice fall below Tasman Saddle Hut. We will learn modern steep ice climbing technique using two tools. The guide sets up several top rope climbs and makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to challenge themselves. For many clients ice climbing is one of the highlights of the trip. As part of the learning your guide will show you how to place ice screw anchors and make V threads.

By 2pm the weather has deteriorated and we climb back up the glacier to the hut in a whiteout using a compass, map, and GPS for navigation. This is also a good opportunity to learn about travelling safely on glaciated terrain in a whiteout with flat light.

Back at the hut and after hot drinks we have an afternoon theory lesson on navigation in the mountains. We learn about reading maps, compass use, and navigation in the mountains. These skills can be applied while navigating in the mountains in good weather and poor weather/white out conditions. 

Day 4  

We awake to the sound of wind. Looking outside there is 20cm of new snow outside, poor visibility, and the wind is blowing at 80km/h. This morning we have an indoor lesson on crevasse rescue rope work. This lesson includes how to tie prussik knots and climb out of a crevasse with prussiks, and how rescue a climber with assisted hoist (2:1 pulley systems) and unassisted hoists (6:1 pulley systems).

After lunch the weather clears enough for us to get out of the hut and learn about building snow anchors in hard and soft snow. After testing the anchors we introduce the rope and look at belaying and pitching skills and building snow anchors in climbing terrain. We will find a steep slope to practice climbing, placing snow anchors, and belaying.

Day 5

Time to practice the skills we learnt about climbing, building anchors, pitching, and belaying. Todays objective is to climb Hochsetter Dome with you and your climbing partner leading the pitches. The guide will climb along side you giving you instruction as you climb and keeping a watchful eye on you. This is a full day of climbing and at the end of the day you head back to the hut with the satisfaction of climbing a significant peak in the NZ Southern Alps. 

Day 6

We wake up early and travel down the glacier. We have time to find a crevasse and practice crevasse rescue. Under the supervision of your guide you lower your climbing partner into a crevasse and then practice the crevasse rescue skills you have learnt. After the crevasse rescue practice we head down the glacier to the helicopter pick up location. After the flight back to Mt Cook we drive back to Queenstown. We should be back by 5pm in time to enjoy a beer and talk about the mountains.



3 to 4 people
6 days
October to March
  • 14th – 19th October 2024
  • 11th – 16th November 2024
  • 9th – 14th December 2024
  • 29th Dec – 3rd Jan 2024/2025
  • 13th -18th Jan 2025
  • 10th – 15th Feb 2025
  • 10th – 15th March 2025

This trip is available as a pre-organised group trip as well as for private bookings.



  • Guide fees
  • Flights into and out of the mountains
  • Technical equipment hire
  • Hut fees
  • Accomodation during course
  • Meals and snacks
  • Ground transport
  • Group equipment


  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Accomodation before and after the trip


Experience required

For this trip, the minimum requirement is that you have an intermediate level of fitness and an interest in learning climbing & mountaineering skills. Previous climbing experience is helpful but not required.

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.


In the mountains you will stay in mountains huts. These dormitory style huts are cosy and provide good shelter form the elements, they are all located in spectacular locations, but they are also basic. The huts have water, cooking facilities, a mountain radio, and a bunk area with individual mattresses. There are no showers or electrical sockets for recharging.

On some trips to remote areas we use expedition style tent camps.

For overnights in Mt Cook village & Fox Glacier we will stay in the New Zealand Alpine Club huts. These dormitory style huts have shared bathroom facilities.

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.

Each day in the mountains will typically start at 7.00am. On some days for example a serious alpine climbing objective you may be required to start climbing by as early as 2.00am to make the most of the safe frozen early morning conditions and quick glacier travel.

On any poor weather days it is possible to learn skills inside the hut – for example cliff and 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.

Aircraft access & egress

The flights into a high mountain hut and flight out from a lower glacier pickup location are included in the trip costs. For example you may fly directly into Tasman Saddle Hut and at the end of the trip be picked up on the lower Tasman Glacier.

Guide to participant ratios

The maximum guide to participant ratio that we guide in glaciated at is 1 guide to 4 participants. In glaciated terrain groups larger than 4 participants require an extra guide.

On the summit of Hochstetter Dome NZ mountaineering course
Learning ice climbing
Learning glacier travel
Learning crevasse rescue

“The mountaineering course with Mike Madden from Queenstown Mountain Guides was a huge step up in our mountaineering training. Mike is an amazing guide and instructor with literally a world of experience. Upon meeting Mike in Queenstown we knew this is a guy who knows his stuff. We instantly felt in safe hands. Covering a range of skills including glacier travel, crevasse rescue, ice climbing and many rope skills we feel ready to take on the next challenge. Mike has instilled in us not only a range of skills and safety consciousness that will serve us for years to come but a real sense of what is possible for us to achieve. If you want to experience an awesome week in the spectacular New Zealand mountains then call Queenstown Mountain Guides. You will love it! Thanks Mike.” 

R Holland, Australia