Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 22, 2010

Gertrude Saddle

Another one of my long term goals down here in Kiwi Land has been to climb to the top of Gertrude Saddle.   That is a pass which is above the Homer Tunnel, which is on the road from TeAnau to Milford Sound.   I had seen photos of the view from Gertrude that looks all the way down the valley to Milford Sound.  I knew I really wanted to experience that view.   Well every other time I have been near Gertrude it has been either too snowy, too cloudy, too rainy, or whatever.   But a few days after completing the Stewart Island hike, there I was in TeAnau (one of my favorite NZ towns) heading to Gertrude on a beautiful clear day.   The folks at the DoC office didn’t have any first hand information on what the conditions would be, so I just decided to “go for it”.  After all I can always turn around if it gets too rough (not likely though!  🙂

The Milford Road is a trip in and of itself, and I stopped lots of places to take photos.   There is a section where the most incredible Lupines grow.  Lupines are an invasive plant down here – but being from Colorado where they are native to our region, I just love them.  So after about 10 photo stops, I finally made it to the Gertrude Saddle trailhead.

I walked up the valley – a high alpine valley with beautiful clear streams running through it!   At first you can’t tell which way the end of the valley will open up – it looks like it is impassable on both sides.   But as you get to the end of the valley, there is obviously a route taking off to the left.   You can’t see the top of the saddle (hum – is this an indication of difficulty or what??), but it is a pretty straight forward hike.   The little printout warns you not to necessarily follow the cairns you see up there.   They say that you need to be sure of the route you want to take, and not get on a false route by cairns which may have been put up by someone else (that is also “shades of Colorado”!).   Ah, well, there really wasn’t a problem with the route.   It was steep in places, and there were several snow fields to cross, but nothing that a “good ole Colorado girl” isn’t used to!  I met a couple of young men on the way down, they said they hadn’t gotten to the top because they didn’t have poles and only had running shoes on – they didn’t think they were prepared enough.   That made me think a little bit…..   The next young man I met on the way down, said he had been to the top, but that it was still a pretty long way up there – obviously I was looking at a “false summit” (another typical Colorado happening!)  All and all, it was a beautiful climb – not too difficult (they had put cables on the rocks where they thought it might be difficult) – a beautiful day and what a BEAUTIFUL view!   Awesome!   I stayed on the top of the saddle for about an hour and a half  – hiked over to a second lake near the top  (the lakes up here reminded me of Yule Lakes outside of Crested Butte).

Now I am pretty “stoked” to have completed the North West Circuit and Gertrude Pass!   And, since then, I have been rained out of my next two trips (around Lake Hauroko, and then to the North Borland Hut- actually that was a swollen river I couldn’t cross).   Well, you win a few and you lose a few.   At least that gives me more things to do next time….  But then I still have about 6 weeks before I head home – so I have plenty of tramping to keep doing down here!   I feel most fortunate!

Mirror Lake on the Milford Road - I think they named that right!

Love those Lupine!

Gertrude Valley

Why does this remind me of hiking in Colorado in the summer? 🙂

Cable on the rocks - Does this mean it is "steep"??

View from the saddle - I could see the cruise ships in Milford Sound.



  1. Looks like another great day of hiking. I love the lupine too — never knew they were invasive plants. Have a merry christmas talie! Judy

  2. That’s what I love best Talie – you always find to best of CO in NZ!!! Spectacular!

  3. Dear Talie–Both of these recent treks that you did sound gorgeous and exciting. I really enjoy reading your adventure stories and the photos are outstanding. Thanks so much for taking the time to document all of the fun and challenging places that you are experiencing. I would love to be tagging along. It all makes snowboarding through Teocalli Bowl rather ho-hum. But that is fun too. I am teaching quite a bit and enjoying all the great snow we have been getting–a bit cold though. . . several days of well below -0-. Hopefully it will keep the bark beetles at bay. See you when I see you. Love, Roxie.

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