Glaciers in New Zealand
Maori children
Northland, New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Sound
Routeburn Track
Boating in Taupo
Tongariro, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand

Off the Beaten Track to... Crucible Lake

Copyright: New Zealand Tourism Guide. Crucible Lake

This beautiful little iceberg-studded lake lies in the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park, in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It can be accessed during a 3-4 day hike by experienced hikers only – a truly off the beaten track destination surrounded by some of the most beautiful and most dramatic scenery in the country.

The Mt Aspiring National Park is known for its mountains, alpine lakes, river valleys, waterfalls, glaciers, and beech and podocarp rain forests. The mountainous and glaciated heart of the park is unspoilt and truly a wilderness. Rising above the park’s largest glaciers, is Mount Aspiring (Tititea) the highest mountain in the park at 3,033 metres. You can reach the park from either Wanaka, Makarora or Glenorchy.

It's on the Gillespie Pass Circuit that hikers have the option of visiting Crucible Lake. This loop hike is 58 kilometres long and takes between 3 to 4 days to complete. It links the Young, Siberia and Wilkin valleys via Gillespie Pass (at 1,490 metres) and can be walked in either direction.

“The lake is set in a hanging valley under peaks festooned with glaciers. In the several acres of water, flat blocks of ice that had formed in the winter floated alongside huge icebergs that had calved from the glaciers above. There were over a hundred good-size bergs in the lake, which looked frigid and gray under pewter skies.” National Geographic

You can view more about the Gillespie Pass Circuit on the DOC website.

Other Things to Do

  • Short walks - Roaring Billy, Thunder Creek Falls, Haast Pass/Tioripātea summit, Blue Pools, Makarora Bush Nature Walk, Lake Sylvan, Routeburn Nature Walk
  • Longer walks - Bridle Track, Haast Pass/Tioripätea Highway, Rob Roy Valley, Routeburn Flats
  • Multi-day hikes - Routeburn Track, Rees-Dart Track, Cascade Saddle, Mt Brewster, West Matukituki Valley, Wilkin Valley Track
  • Bird watching - Over 37 native bird species have been recorded in Mt Aspiring National Park including bellbird/korimako, tüï, kererü and South Island käkä, blue duck, paradise shelduck, kea, tuke, yellowhead, rifleman, yellow-crowned parakeet, moreporks and tokoeka.
  • Guided expeditions include: hiking, mountaineering, hunting, fishing, canoeing, rafting and ski touring.
  • Other activities in the park include: jet boat and aircraft scenic rides, extreme ice climbing.

Outdoor Safety Code

The backcountry of Mt Aspiring is renowned for its rugged terrain and changeable weather. Much of the park is wilderness and is remote from facilities. River levels fluctuate rapidly. Please check weather and track conditions at a DOC Visitor Centre before your trip.

1. Plan your trip

2. Tell someone

3. Be aware of the weather

4. Know your limits

5. Take sufficient supplies

More Information

To help plan your holiday in the Mt Aspiring region, simply choose from the main categories below:

More Off the Beaten Track Suggestions

If you want to discover some of New Zealand's hidden treasures, travel to some out-of-the-way places and see sites that many travellers and tourists miss out on, look at more of our 'Off the Beaten Track' suggestions.

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