The Nuns Veil

The Nun’s Veil is 2749m ASL and is located in the Mt Cook National park, South Island, New Zealand.  It is a great trip because you do not need to fly in.  It takes two big days and is a real adventure.  I climbed it in January 2005 together with Vanessa Wills.  Getting to the base of the Nun’s Veil is interesting in itself.  We took a boat (you can book the Tasman glacial lake guiding company to get you across) across the Tasman Lake, then walked/bush bashed/boulder hopped up the Gorilla stream for a few hours.  There is a nice little rock bivvy site there. It does not give 100% protection so you would need a fly if it was a wet night.  Then the next morning we climbed the route, had some lovely views from the summit, then descended all the way back to the Tasman lake.  We had pre-arranged a pick-up with the boat the day before and got there just in time!

We used a single snow stake and Vanessa belayed me one pitch on the way down from the summit.  This is the only portion you may want to pull the rope out for as it gets a little exposed and is definitely not a place to slip.

This is a big two days.  It is 16km of horizontal distance one way from the Tasman Lake to the summit. That’s a 32km round trip with 2000m of height gain and 2000m of descent. So get fit for it, or maybe extend the trip for two nights/three days if you want a more relaxing time.

It really has a little bit of everything, a boat ride, an interesting trek to get to the base, an overnight bivvy under the stars, some exposed climbing towards the top and best of all – no need to pay a lot of money to fly in or out of!

The route up the Nun's Veil in 3D. Click the image to enlarge.

The route up the Nun’s Veil in 3D. Click the image to enlarge.


Waiting for the boat to cross the Tasman glacier – Mt Cook above my head.


Looking up Gorilla Stream


It is an interesting boulder hop and bush bash especially through the lower section of Gorilla stream


Nearing the top of Gorilla stream and the bivvy rock. The route up the Nun’s Veil is follows the natural large snowy gully then trends left to the summit.


The bivvy rock


Climbing up through the lower glacier


The final summit slopes do steepen up and are exposed.


Great views from the summit of Mt Cook behind me.


Vanessa Wills on the descent


Coming down the lower summit slopes


Cooling off in Gorilla stream on the walk out. The Tasman valley and Mt Cook village in the distance.

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