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New Zealand's Southern Alps are the ideal training ground for aspiring mountaineers. This is the training ground that Sir Edmond Hillary used to gain the skill and knowledge to conquer the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest. The Southern Alps extend along the spine of the South Island from the Inland Kaikouras and Nelson Lakes down to Fiordland and are studded with many impressive peaks. In the Mt Cook region there are over 20 peaks higher than 3000 metres, therefore the physical challenges are limitless.

Commercial mountain guiding companies in places like Mt Cook, Queenstown, Wanaka, Twizel, Tekapo, Fox and Franz Josef, offer a range of specialised training courses and lead summit climbs on major peaks. As well as Mt Cook (the highest peak at 3754m) popular climbs are Mt Aspiring ('the Matterhorn of the South'), Mt Tutoko in Fiordland's Darren Range, and Mt Ruapehu on the North Island's volcanic plateau. Guides can tailor a trip to suit your experience and fitness levels, from a strenuous classic peak climb to a helicopter landing on the main divide, or a beautiful trek across the world-renowned Ball or Copland Passes.

Tackling New Zealand mountain terrain can be pretty serious stuff given the changeable weather, strong winds and extreme cold, even in the November to March climbing season.

If you enjoy mountaineering you have to experience New Zealand.

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