Mt Peterson – Ohau backcountry ski tour & Maitland Hut, Barrier Range

by Joel O’Rourke

On Monday afternoon, Kenji and myself drove from Methven to Ohau, collecting Simon Trummer from Lake Tekapo on the way. Our objective was to camp at Maitland Hut for two nights and ski Mt Peterson behind Ohau.

Unfortunately, the few weeks between taking the above photo and actually getting around to doing this tour, the snow level had risen fairly substantially and we got to do a lot of NZ Tramping in ski boots.


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The skiing down behind Ohau on the Monday afternoon was lovely spring corn and no rocks were hit until we reached the snow line. The descent from there was ‘sporty’, with a few waterfalls and lots of scree walking to get to the valley bottom.

Maitland Hut was a great little two bunk bed hut, featuring a fireplace and small kitchen bench.

Tuesday continued to have great weather and we managed to tramp our way to snow line in the valley below Mt Peterson’s East face. Lots of cool ski objectives are around there for another trip. Lots of scrambling and boot-packing resulted in us reaching the summit of Mt Peterson in the early afternoon. We had some variable but fun skiing down and unfortunately missed the corn harvest on the middle slopes as the shade had come and the slush began to refreeze. Winter powder was still available if you found the shadowy southern aspects.

Reaching the hut just before dark, we had another lovely dinner and night in Maitland hut. A beer or three celebrated Simon’s 25th birthday. A great summit and a beer, good birthday for him.

We arose the next day and had to ascend back through the waterfalls and scree fields towards Ohau. It was a tough walk up to the ridge line with the western aspect and morning meaning ski crampons were required to skin up and an eagle eye around mid-morning as rocks started to loosen in the sun and careen downslope threatening serious harm.

Finally making the ridge line we skied Hemi’s in the Ohau side country down to the road and called it a day and a successful mission.