Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, West Matukituki Valley, Wanaka area NZ

A lesser known day trip to Red Rock (1858m) in the West Matukituki Valley, with excellent views into Mt Aspiring National Park.

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area

For some time I have contemplated doing the highly rated Cascade Saddle walk as a day trip from Raspberry Flats, but the length (~32km?) and reputed danger of descending the route has put me off a bit. I may still get to this classic walk, but in the summer of 2020 I settled instead for this lesser known but excellent day-walk through the West Matukituki Valley up to Shotover Saddle, and then on to Red Rock (1858m). You get spectacular views up and down the valley, of multiple peaks in Mt Aspiring National Park including Rob Roy and its glacier, and nearby Mt Tyndall. A great way to sample the spectacular Mt Aspiring Scenery on a day walk and without undue risk.

We walked just a few minutes beyond Red Rock for more views up towards Mt Tyndall – a worthy side trip. And we were joined by kea on the summit, which is always nice. Track notes at the end.

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle: The Scenery

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
We’d meet the real thing on the summit.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Early morning light, looking back down the West Matukituki Valley.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Looking up the valley.

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
The West Matukituki Valley as we climbed higher up towards Shotover Saddle.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
A tarn near Shotover Saddle.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Nearing the summit of Red Rock here. Climbing through this red scree was quite difficult.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Panoramic views up and down the West Matukituki Valley from the summit of Red Rock (1858m).
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Looking out towards the beginning of the Shotover River.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Peaks to the south-east.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Looking back towards the start.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Mt Tyndall (2496m) up there. That is a tramper’s peak in the right conditions, and can be reached on a very long day walk. This view from a short climb above Red Rock.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
The scene from a little above Red Rock. Worth the extra few minutes walk/scramble.


Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Looking down on Red Rock and the West Matukituki Valley.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Tyndall Creek
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Curious kea on the summit.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Nice kea profile shot here – they are not shy animals.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Got a couple of decent shots of kea on the wing.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
One of my better kea shots (although not quite as in focus as I’d like).

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Sophia posing on the summit of Red Rock (1858m).
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Alpine plants and the tarn we visited on the way down.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
I waited a while for the sun to come out before taking this shot.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Rob Roy was front and centre all the way down.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Impressive speargrass.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
The light was improving for photography on the way down so I took another panorama of the valley. Rob Roy in the centre.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Back on the valley track, but looking up the valley in this shot.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Mellow lighting in the early evening as we walked back.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Brides Veil Fall in the afternoon. You don’t get that close to the falls on the route – I used telephotography for this shot.
Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
Sharks Tooth Peak (centre right) was an impressive sight as walked back through the West Matukituki Valley to the Raspberry Creek Car Park.


Track Notes

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, Wanaka area
It’s easy walking along the West Matukituki Valley on a vehicle track for 5km. The poled Shotover Saddle Route is signposted and climbs quite steeply through pasture at first, and then in nature reserve. It’s then off track on tussock and tricky red scree to get to Red Rock. From there a short walk higher provides views of Mt Tyndall and an alpine basin.

It’s easy walking along the West Matukituki Valley on a vehicle track for 5km. The poled Shotover Saddle Route is signposted and climbs quite steeply through pasture at first, and then in the nature reserve. It’s then off track on tussock and tricky red scree to get to Red Rock. From there a short walk higher provides views of Mt Tyndall and an alpine basin.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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