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Time Required : 7-8 Hours

Gertrude Saddle, Te Anau Overview

Gertrude Saddle Hike is among the top adventure experiences in Fiordland that offers a majestic view of the Milford Sound, Gertrude valley and the Tasman Sea. The Gertrude Saddle is at an elevation of 1410 metres. It is a 7 km (4.3 miles) out and back trail and the time that is required to complete it varies from 4 to 6 hours. Although a very short hike, it takes time because the route is fairly steep up to the Black Lake and Gertrude Saddle thereafter. The hike should be undertaken on a clear day because rains render the track highly risky and dangerous and moreover, the clouds may allow you no view at all from the top.

Gertrude Saddle hike is one of the most preferred hikes as it takes one through a variety of landscapes - through forests, over to rocky steep and stony path, passing the Black Lake, crossing river stream, climbing rocks and finally reaching the top to a breathtaking view. You can also camp at the top of the trek as there are two spots designated for the same.

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The Trekking Route

  • The Gertrude Saddle walk starts from the car park of the Gertrude Valley, east of the Homer Tunnel on the road to Milford Sound. A green post indicates entrance into the valley.
  • From the car park, the well-marked track opens out onto Tussock Grassland.
  • After walking for about 40 to 60 minutes and nearing the head of the valley, the route crosses Gertrude stream, and here, the ascent to Gertrude Saddle begins along a creek.
  • There are very few permanent markers from this place onwards, but instead, the route up is marked by rock cairns(stacks). These rock cairns should be followed cautiously as at times these may be misleading.
  • The steep climb begins with a walk through bushes, trees between cliffs and then up a steep, slippery rock road.
  • The Gertrude Saddle hike gains roughly 2600 ft in just over 2 miles.
  • After 100 metres of climbing, i.e. about halfway to the Black Lake, the trail crosses Gertrude stream again below a large steep waterfall.
  • The last 25 metres is the hardest climb to the Black Lake and is assisted by fixed metal cables, holding which one can climb with comfort and ease.
  • The view from the Black lake with a waterfall at its outlet is stunning. The water of the lake is almost freezing and so not recommended for swimming.
  • Continue right from the Black lake over the rock slabs with the help of another metal cable.
  • Then comes the final climb where you have to scramble up the boulders field to the awesome Gertrude Saddle. 

Gertrude Saddle Weather

The Gertrude Saddle hike is best taken at the peak of summer (late Dec to late Feb). The route is covered with snow from early autumn (Mar/Apr) to late spring (Nov/Dec). It is impassable during winter and danger of avalanche is always looming high in winters. Late December is a good time as there is still some snow around and the route up is fairly safe.

Things to Carry

  • Daypack (20-30 L)
  • Plenty of food and water
  • Shoes having a good grip
  • Waterproof and windproof raincoat and trousers
  • Jumper or a jacket
  • Warm clothing like thermals and fleece
  • Hat and gloves
  • Sunscreen and eyeglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Map

How To Reach Gertrude Saddle

The Gertrude Saddle track is reached from the Milford road, SH 94. The car park of the Gertrude valley is about 98 kilometres along the Milford Road from Te Anau and is marked by a signpost shortly before the Homer tunnel. It is a 90 mins drive from Te Anau and about 25 mins if staying at Milford Sound.

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