Everything You Need to Know Before You Hike Mount Alfred
Mount Alfred is one of the most beautiful tramps in the Queenstown/Glenorchy region.
Though it is stunning, it takes a little bit of forward planning to actually be able to enjoy this walk. That’s because it is hosted on private property and isn’t accessible to the general public.
In order to access the Mount Alfred track, you will need to join a guided walk to the summit.
There are many benefits to supporting this incredible guided hike. Not only will you gain access to some of the most incredible views in the region but you’ll learn about local flora and fauna and know that you’re contributing to a genuine conservation legacy.
The following guide shares everything you need to know about hiking this gorgeous track.
Did you know? In New Zealand we use the term ‘tramp’ or ‘tramping’ to describe going on a hike or a bush walk. You’re able to use all these terms interchangeably though – Kiwis will understand what you’re talking about regardless.
Why Do You Need a Guide to Hike Mount Alfred?
Once upon a time, you didn’t need a guide to climb to the summit of Mount Alfred.
The landowner used to provide access to Mt Alfred on the condition that they requested access and left the environment as they found it.
Unfortunately these requests weren’t universally respected and for this reason, a guide is now required to access the land – though this comes with many benefits.
The Only Way to Access the Summit Now
Established in 2017, the Mount Alfred Guiding Company provides safe, supported access to the summit of Mt Alfred.
By hiking with a guide, you’ll benefit from their local knowledge and the support of their thorough health and safety protocols.
The team at Mount Alfred Guiding Company (which is associated with Wildlight Safaris Aotearoa) have a genuine care for their local environment. Everything they do is with conservation in mind – from reusable drink bottle to the hundreds of native trees that they’ve planed on the land. Our guide, Dean, had an indisputable love for the environment in which he spends so much time and we absolutely loved learning from him.
Not to mention the fact that this now limits the number of people that can reach the summit. This means that you’ll likely be the only ones walking that day, providing you the opportunity to enjoy this stunning part of the world as it was meant to be seen – uncrowded and peaceful.
What to Expect When Hiking Mount Alfred
Located on the outskirts of Glenorchy, you’ll be collected by your guide from the Mt Alfred Guiding Company (most likely the owner, Dean) and driven onto the private property upon which the trail sits.
That is, unless you’ve chosen to stay with Dean and Patricia, in which case you’ll be able to roll out of bed, enjoy a tasty breakfast and then depart together for the walk.
Upon arriving, you’ll load up your day bag and begin the climb upwards.
The trail is varied throughout the ascent – from clearly marked paths to trails so hidden you’ll wonder how on earth Dean remembers where to go – it’s all there.
In addition, you’ll move from bush and tussocks, into open glades, lush forest and rock scrambles, making for a diverse tramp amongst beautiful scenery.
As you approach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible 360-degree panoramic views out over nearby snow-capped mountains, lakes, braided rivers, rain forests and farmland.
It’s really unlike anywhere else!
Not keen or able to walk in and out? It’s possible to catch a ride with a helicopter (there or back – you choose). What an incredible way to enjoy this untouched part of the country along with unrivalled views from the chopper!
How Challenging is This Hike Really?
This is always a difficult question to answer as it all depends on your level of fitness.
The trail itself gains almost 1,400 metres in elevation (1,375m to be exact) over a distance of approximately 4km.
The trail on the bottom half of the mountain switches back and forth whilst the climb higher up leaves the trail and weaves its way over uneven ground.
The trail also includes a number of stream crossings and can be pretty windy in places.
Thankfully, our guide Dean was managed to strike the perfect balance for us – ensuring we kept pushing through when possible, but also allowing us plenty of time for breaks.
How High Will I Be Able to Hike?
The hiking season for Mt Alfred normally runs in the warmer months – from October to April. During this time, the days are longer and the weather is more stable.
We were lucky to be able to hike Mt Alfred when we visited Glenorchy in July (which is the peak of winter in New Zealand) but doing so came with some limitations – largely the number of daylight hours.
Your guide will determine just how high you’re able to climb whilst still allowing plenty of time to get safely back to your awaiting transport.
We didn’t make it all the way to the top (partially because of the pace that we walked at and partly because of the short days in wintertime) but with the longer days that come with the normal season, you’d make it right to the top no worries.
- Access from: Queenstown and Glenorchy.
- When: The season runs from October – April. Tramps outside of the season can be organised on a case-by-case basis.
- Duration: 8 hours. Your fitness and the number of daylight hours will determine how far you manage to hike.
- Intensity: Moderate to difficult. The trail includes some rough terrain, ascents and hill climbs along with minor stream crossings.
- Distance: 8 km return.
What Does the Guided Walk Include?
A guided hike up Mt Alfred includes practically everything you could need.
- 4×4 vehicle transfers from Glenorchy
- The freshest drinking water you can get
- Snacks to keep your energy up
- The use of a daypack and walking poles
- A knowledgeable, professional guide.
- Lunch can be included for an additional $20 each, or you can organise your own from Glenorchy.
As an added bonus, Dean, who heads up the Mount Alfred Guiding Company is an accomplished wildlife and landscape photographer and an experienced nature guide. Because of this, you can be guaranteed to spot plenty of native birdlife and to come away with stunning photographs of your tramp.
Dean did a fantastic job of motivating us as we made our way up the mountain whilst regaling us with stories and information.
By the end of our hike we really felt like we were leaving a long-long friend, which really is the ultimate!
What You Should Pack for Your Hike
Be sure to include the following items in your day bag when climbing Mt Alfred.
- A sunhat or beanie (depending on the season/weather)
- A light waterproof jacket
- Lunch & additional snacks (if you don’t plan on preordering your lunch)
- Your camera and/or phone to snap lots of pictures.
- Hiking poles (if you have a favourite set at home – Dean also has plenty available to loan.)
What to Wear on Your Mount Alfred Tramp
As with any hike in New Zealand, you will want to be suitably prepared.
Our weather is changeable and though the seasons should give a good indication as to the weather you might expect, it really can flip on a dime.
As we say in New Zealand, you’re likely to experience ‘four seasons in one day’.
The chances of this are even higher on Mount Alfred due to the elevation gain – the temperature at the start of your hike is likely to be much higher than at the top!
To be safe, it’s best to be prepared for all conditions.
We suggest you wear a number of easy-to-remove layers, allowing you to quickly adapt to changing weather.
Where to Stay Near the Mountain
There are a number of fantastic accommodation options in Glenorchy.
This small town is quiet compared to neighbouring Queenstown but it’s full of charm and is the perfect place to spend a night or two as you travel around.
Our Pick of the Bunch – Stay With Your Hiking Hosts
On our most recent visit, we opted to stay with Dean (that’s right – our amazing guide) in his gorgeous homestay accommodation.
Their incredible modern home is filled with momentos of their time in Africa. The stories that stem from these artefacts are even more impressive though!
As if our travel wish list wasn’t already long enough, we left their home the next morning with countless new countries on our ‘to visit’ list and absolute admiration for the exciting life their family has carved out for themselves.
In addition to comfortable, stylish accommodation and great chat, Dean also whips up a mean breakfast (which for our international friends, is actually a real compliment in New Zealand)!
Alternative Glenorchy Accommodation
In the past, we’ve also enjoyed staying at Camp Glenorchy. This gorgeous eco lodge is as comfy as it is memorable for all the right reasons.
If you’d prefer private accommodation, it’s a great option in town.
Mt Alfred is a bit of a hidden gem in the Glenorchy area.
Known by locals and astute travellers, this hike is breathtakingly beautiful and practically untouched.
Every part of our experience in climbing it was a pleasure and for this reason, we whole-heartedly recommend it to visitors to the region!