This track is for experienced and well-equipped trampers only. Check with the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE before starting out.
The track to Alex Knob climbs steadily from lowland forest through sub-alpine scrub to alpine meadows and herb fields, affording superb views of glaciers, mountains and seascapes at various viewpoints along the way.
From the turn-off to Lake Wombat, the track zigzags steeply up to Rata Lookout for your first view of the glacier and main divide. It is then a gentle grade to Christmas Lookout where there is a good rest spot and fantastic views.
Once the upper bush edge is reached, the track continues through snow tussock and mountain daisies to the Alex Knob summit, where a plane table shows the names of the surrounding features.
Drive or walk south from the Franz Josef Waiau township across the Waiho River Bridge and turn left onto the Glacier Access Road for 2 km where the Alex Knob track begins, signposted on the right side of the road.
Nature and conservation
Vegetation changes visibly from rimu, rata and kamahi forest to sub-alpine New Zealand cedar and tree daisies. Forest birds, such as tui, bellbird, kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon), are heard regularly along the track, and sometimes the less common kaka and parakeet. Kea and pipit may be found on the higher sections of the track.
Know before you go
- Check the current track conditions and weather forecasts at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre before starting your trip.
- Always take warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can change rapidly.
- Carry drinking water, insect repellent and sun protection at all times.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
In the winter months, snow is likely above Christmas Lookout. Do not go beyond the snowline if you are inexperienced in walking in alpine areas in winter conditions.
Afternoon cloud is a feature of the local weather, and you are advised to begin your walk early and to reach the summit as early as you can, before cloud begins to obscure your views.