Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m (winter), Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

The 360 degree views from point 1290m just above Sugarloaf Pass, near the start of the Routeburn Track, are amongst the best we’ve seen in New Zealand. So on our trip to Queenstown in winter 2019 we decided to do this walk again, hoping that the rather modest snowfall in the first weeks of winter would nevertheless add to the already fabulous views, and we weren’t disappointed.  Mt Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi is a highlight, as are the Humboldt Mountains. And the beech forest on the ascent and descent was even prettier than I remembered, with some friendly birds adding to the experience.

You can see more on this walk in the original post. There are other variations including a long circuit via Lake Sylvan, and an extension to Sugarloaf Peak (there’s a circuit possible here too). There was snow and ice on the track when we did it: the ice can be avoided but you might consider gaiters if there’s been substantial snowfall at lower altitudes.

Sugarloaf Pass to point 1290m: The Scenery

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Very cold and frosty at the start of the walk. This is the car park for the Routeburn Track.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Mossy.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
This kea followed us for 5 or 10 minutes, and made for an accommodating subject.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
That kea looking a little bit fearsome, but was in fact quite friendly.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
A South Island Robin. This shot makes me look like a competent wildlife photographer, but was in fact taken at point blank range with my telephoto lens.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
A very frosty section crossing a creek.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
A picturesque spot in the beech forest.

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Near the tree line here, hence the sun coming in.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Above the tree line from hear on in.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Approaching the saddle.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Arriving at the saddle.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
A frosty and snowy looking saddle at the high point of Sugarloaf Pass. From here it is a steep but easy enough climb through tussock to point 1290m.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
The Rockburn Valley.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Part of the Humboldt Mountains that line the Routeburn Track, which is down in the valley.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
The Humboldt Mountains, and Rockburn Valley far right.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Sophia walks in front of a section of Mt Earnslaw.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Sophia at point 1290m.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Mt Earnslaw / Pikirakatahi and a frozen tarn. Just proving it was cold, if not all that snowy.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
A section of the Humboldt Mountains. Possibly Momus (2148m) up there.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Sugarloaf Peak (1329m), and Lake Wakatipu in the distance. I think next time we’ll continue on to that mountain.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Mountains lining the Routeburn Track, which is down in the valley.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Mt Earnslaw / Pikirakatahi (2830m)
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Mt Earnslaw / Pikirakatahi (2830m)
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
I liked this rather chilly looking scene.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Looking towards the Dart River and Lake Wakatipu just visible in the distance.
Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Upper Peak (2072m)

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Sugarloaf Pass to pt. 1290m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ
Upper Peak again, in fading sunlight back at the start of the walk. We finished a lot of walks in twilight and darkness on this trip.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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