Rock slabs on Gertrude Saddle are slippery and dangerous when wet

Image: Don Bogie | DOC

Introduction

Gertrude Saddle includes rocky alpine terrain and should only be attempted by experienced trampers and in good weather. Wet weather, snow or ice create treacherous conditions in any season.

Video

Track overview

7 km return via same track

Walking and tramping

4-6 hr Expert: Route

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

Steep climbs on slab rock Gertrude Saddle
Steep and wet slippery rock can cause falls with fatal consequences

This is a challenging tramping route requiring tramping and alpine experience, and is not recommended in winter due to avalanche danger.

From the car park, the marked track meanders up the valley through spectacular alpine vegetation. From the head of the valley the route leads up towards the saddle; from this point there are no permanent track markers. Cross the Gertrude Stream below a large, steep waterfall area, about halfway up to Black Lake.

From here, parts of the track are very steep and not suitable for those with limited tramping experience, or a dislike for heights. The track goes up steep rock slabs and is treacherous when wet or frosty - there are steel cables to assist you.

From the head of the valley continue up through the boulders to the saddle. Return the same way.

Breathtaking views of the valley and part of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi can be seen from the Gertrude Saddle. This track provides excellent access to the mountains for experienced climbers.

Steep climbs on slab rock Gertrude Saddle
Steep climbs on Gertrude Saddle Route

Steep climbs on slab rock Gertrude Saddle
Steep climbs on slab rock Gertrude Saddle

If there's rain or snow, don't go

You need to cross multiple rivers and steep granite slabs on this route.

Getting there

This track is reached from the Gerturde Valley carpark, about 98 km along the Milford Road  from Te Anau.

Know before you go

Check the Fiordland National Park weather forecast and talk to the staff at the Fiordland National Park Visitor before you go, whenever you go.

After rain there are some creek crossings so expect to get wet feet.

There are no permanent markers above the bushline, so alpine and navigation skills are essential. Rock cairns placed by trampers mark the route, but be sure to follow your own judgement and use a topographical map.

This is an alpine route and is subject to avalanches after snow.

Essential safety

Only attempt this track if:

  • you are fit and experienced – on the route you will have to:
    • scramble up steep rock
    • avoid wet rocks
    • cross rivers
    • avoid hazards by following markers
  • track and weather conditions are good on the day
  • you have the right equipment, including a personal locator beacon – see the Day hikes gear list

Contacts

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Postal Address:   PO Box 29
Te Anau 9640
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