Efficient skin track setting and uphill movement
Learn skills to keep you safe in the backcountry
Try before you buy
Turns well earned above Rex Simpson Hut
Warm & well equipped - an ideal instruction venue
Backcountry Ski Course
Explore new terrain and learn backcountry skills!
Improve your skills and go further more safely efficiency with track-laying and handling equipment, avalanche awareness and rescue, snow shelter building, navigation.... We can provide all the alpine touring equipment, except boots, at no extra cost, including shovels, probes and transceivers. Alpine Recreation's Backcountry Ski Course is based at a private hut, with quality instruction given by experienced and qualified guides. Low guide-clent ratios/small group sizes mean you get the most from the course. The cosy heated hut has walk in access. The Two Thumb Range near Lake Tekapo is a backcountry skiing paradise with an amazing landscape with a good variety of terrain in a series of parallel valleys. It is an ideal location for either a backcountry introduction or a chance to extend your experience with backcountry skiing. Benefit from the experience of one of our professional mountain and ski guides to refine and extend your skills.
Add in a cosy, heated hut and you have the recipe for a great backcountry holiday!
"I just wanted to again say thanks for the organisation of the guided course for me. Elke was extremely helpful, patient and it was a real privilege to spend time and receive guidance in the mountains with an absolute professional." - M. Flynn, New Zealand. More client comments.
|Individual bookings||5 days||1:6|
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Private Course Prices (NZ$ per person)|
|1 Person||4 days||1:1|
|2 People||4 days||1:2|
|3 People||5 days||1:3|
|4 People||5 days||1:4|
|5 People||5 days||1:5|
|6 People||5 days||1:6|
|A per person surcharge of NZ will apply to all prices on New Zealand public holidays.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain and ski guide
- Department of Conservation licence fee
- Heated PRIVATE hut accommodation
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the course
- Free transport (Tekapo - Mt. Gerald return)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the course
- ALL avalanche safety and technical ski touring equipment (with the exception of ski touring boots)
Meals and accommodation before/after the course are NOT included.
+Minimum Numbers & Course Length
A minimum number of 3 participants is required to run this course (this only applies to individual bookings, not private course bookings). If less than the minimum number is reached, we will run the course you are booked on, with the following changes:
- 2 participants only - the course will be shortened to 4 days.
- 1 participant only - the course will be shortened to 4 days and an additional fee of NZ will apply. Alternatively you will have the option to reschedule to another trip/date or a full refund.
Due to the shorter length, the course start date will be flexible within the scheduled dates (this allows some flexibility for bad weather without affecting your travel plans too much). With a lower guide:client ratio, you benefit by being able to cover the course content in a shorter amount of time.
Our private Backcountry Ski Courses are ideal for groups wanting to learn how to travel safely and efficiently in the backcountry. All levels of experience can be catered for with private groups.
Advantages of Private Courses
- Customized to your needs, experience and skill level
- A closed group of 1-6 participants with 1 guide, or up to 12 participants with 2 guides
- Your choice of dates, arranged to fit your schedule (subject to guide availability)
Both of the following books are available for use at our private hut. Personal copies can be purchased at time of booking:
- Avalanche Awareness handbook covering course material
- Technical Manual covering mountaineering techniques
A course completion certificate is available on request.
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
* New Zealand public holidays incur a surcharge of NZ per person per holiday.
Venue: Rex Simpson Hut
↑ Fresh turns above Rex Simpson Hut
Rex Simpson Hut
Rex Simpson Hut sits at an altitude of 1300m in the Two Thumb Range. It is located in a beautiful setting, with great views of the Southern Alps and vistas over Lake Tekapo across the Mackenzie Basin. It is a fantastic location for star gazing - the Mackenzie District is renowned for the clarity of its sky and freedom from light pollution, which is why the area was recently designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve.
The Hut is privately owned by Alpine Recreation and is an ideal base for backcountry skiing with ready access to a range of slopes suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers. It is our base for the Tekapo Trek in Summer and Alpine Ski Touring, Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing and Instruction Courses during the winter.
No aircraft required: The hut can be reached in 3 hours' walking from the road end and is located at 1300m, in a beautiful setting, with great views of the Southern Alps and out over Lake Tekapo across the Mackenzie Basin.
The hut is equipped with firewood, gas, solar lighting, sleeping bags, bunks, pillows and mattresses, and nonperishable food. A wood-fired stove means there are good heating and drying facilities.
The hut consists of three rooms, sleeping up to 13 participants and 2 guides in total. There are no showers, but warm water and a basin can be provided for washing or you can find a private spot somewhere along the alpine stream. The toilet is a traditional longdrop loo with a view!
Instruction topics include:
- Trip planning and equipment choice
- Uphill movement and skinning technique
- Refining off-piste technique
- Avalanche awareness and hazard management
- Avalanche rescue skills (using transceiver, shovel & probe)
- Terrain analysis and safe route selection
- Mountain weather
- Snow shelters
8:30am gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo.
From Lake Tekapo township we drive along the lakeshore to the head of Lake Tekapo. 3 hours' hike/ski with a climb of 550m/1805t brings us to the cosy Rex Simpson Hut, at 1300m/4265ft, in the Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park. Depending on snow levels usually you will be able to don skis and skins about half-way to the hut, but other times you may need to carry the skis until the last 800m - 1 km before the hut.
Afternoon ski tour and instruction.
As the hut is fully stocked we only need to carry some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat) and our personal clothing and equipment.
Day tours from Rex Simpson Hut with instruction in the field. There are several large basins and valley systems that provide ideal touring terrain for intermediate to advanced alpine skiers. Great views of Mounts Cook and Tasman from the ridge leading up from the hut, nicknamed "Snake Ridge". Please refer to the "Tour Options" section.
Return to Lake Tekapo, after a 3-5 hour ski tour in the morning, arriving back around 5pm.
Fitness & Experience
A high level of fitness is required. Participants need to carry a backpack of about 8 kg plus their skis for 3 hours to the hut (550 vertical metres). On subsequent days packs will be light, but participants will be doing the equivalent of a six-hour walk/climb. Previous tramping or hiking experience is essential.
The Two Thumb Range is suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers. Guides will give instruction on downhill technique as needed. If you have little or no off-piste skiing experience, we recommend spending 1-2 days before the tour with our private ski instructor at one of our local ski fields (Mt. Dobson, Roundhill or Ohau).
Ski Touring experience
No previous ski touring experience is required, however you are expected to have at least an intermediate level of downhill skiing ability (safe turns in untracked snow).
For beginner skiers Nordic/Cross-country Ski Touring is recommended, or for a non-skiing option we would recommend Snowshoe Hikes.
Ideal warm-up short tour after hiking/skinning up to the hut. Skin up to the saddle behind the hut, which leads into Camp Stream. Traverse out onto Snake Ridge and enjoy the ridge-top views, before dropping off ridge down to Mt Gerald Plateau. Good steep run into Mt Gerald Stream on south-facing slope. Traverse south back around to hut. 3 hours.
Snake Ridge - Beuzenberg Peak
Access Beuzenberg Peak (2070m) via Snake Ridge. Good terrain for skiers new to touring, with excellent runs through the bowls below Stag Saddle and a variety of descent options ranging in steepness on both the west and eastern sides of Snake Ridge. Great views of East Face of Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and other Main Divide peaks as you cruise along the ridge top. 5-6 hours return.
In either direction this tour gives yet another perspective of the grand views of the Main Divide and out over the Mackenzie Basin with its turquoise Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki. Camp Stream Gorge provides scenic skiing beside interesting ice formations in the frozen stream, while topping Pyramid Peak (1666m) expands our horizons in all directions. Multiple descent options, including the south ridge down to an old musterers' hut. 5 hours return.
Camp Stream Traverse
Up to saddle behind hut, down into Camp Stream valley and up a peak, 1666m, on the eastern side for grand views into the next valley and a different perspective of the Main Divide. This ski tour can be extended into the next valley or up Peak 1972. 3 hours return
A good option for advanced skiers. Cross Camp Stream and sidle to the saddle north of Peak 1666. From here either follow the ridge to the summit of Peak 1972 or sidle around terraces on the eastern side. A long steep descent route back into Camp Stream Valley. 5 hours return.
There are many variations on these tours. It's possible to spend 5-7 days based at Rex Simpson Hut and explore new territory every day, only crossing your previous ski tracks near the hut.
You can have a taste of ski touring before committing to buying all the gear. We can provide touring skis, skins, poles, transceivers, probe, shovel and any other equipment you might need, but you will need to bring your own ski touring boots.
All of your equipment will be checked during the gear check at our office at the start of your trip. Any equipment you need to borrow from us will be issued by your guide.