After being out there in the back country for mountaineering, trekking, hiking, climbing and ski touring, here some feedback from guests. The Alpinism studio-cottage accommodation guest reviews are now part of it too via this link: feedback and further feedback about alpinism adventures on our blog

On offer: guided trips and instruction courses by no other than fully qualified mountain guide Gary Dickson in person, he is IFMGA/NZMGA with a Queens Service Order for Search and Rescue

climbing course in Switzerland

Phil Melchior, our client turned friend, feeling on top of the world in the European Alps. Just recently, April 2022, Phil and chief Gaz had an adventure in Fiordland, Turners bivvy. It was Phil's 24th trip with Alpinism & Ski, go Phil!


'Dear Gary and Iris,
Just a quick note to once again say 'thank you' for another life-expanding adventure. By my count our "three 4000m peaks and a huge three-wire bridge" week in Switzerland was the seventh trip (in NZ and Switzerland) I've done with the noted firm of Alpinism & Ski - which says something about my appetite for punishment and comfort-zone expansion, and your amazing ability to make your clients suck up the hard stuff, stifle the whimpers and then keep coming back for more. You guys are the best. Many thanks.'
Phil Melchior, Wanaka
guided mountain climbing in Europe

Holiday accommodation at the Alpinism Studio and art by AlpinIrisArt

We look forward to share special moments with you, be it in the mountains for some alpinism fun or at our base or both!

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Experienced mountaineer Simon from the UK decided to add New Zealand's highest to his 'collection' of summits around the world. His wife and him had this to say about their week here, staying in the Alpinism studio, and the guided alpine climbing ascents trip to Aoraki-Mt Cook:


"Thank you Iris for making my stay so welcoming and showing me around your paradise. Great food, company and lovely Ziggy walks. Fantastic scenery. Thanks to Gary for taking Simon to the 'top' and bring him back safely. Merry Christmas – lots of love”. Jacki, and: “so lovely to have met you, having lovely people like you in the world makes life so rich.”

“Thanks for all your hospitality and to Gary for arranging perfect summit day weather and getting me up and down safely and even bringing me breakfast in bed the morning of the climb”, Simon

From us: it was awesome to meet such a wonderful, adventurous couple and share such precious times together!

A testimonial by Andrew & Dave (Sydney, Australia):

Gary, our wives and children thank you for safely delivering home their two Aussie husbands (mid-40’s) from a recent 6 day mountaineering instructional course in New Zealand’s Mt Aspiring National Park. We arrived with a good level of physical fitness and a healthy dose of trepidation given we had no real mountaineering experience between us. Gaz, reviewed our clothing before distributing necessary climbing gear and food and then we headed into the mountains via helicopter. Gary’s professionalism quickly became apparent as he tailored a logical instruction framework with constant risk assessment whilst providing respectful critique of our efforts throughout. We gained exposure to crampon travel over rock, ice and snow; an array of safety knots as well as both short rope and glacial travel roping techniques. Gary’s ‘keep it simple’ philosophy helped us grow in confidence as we trained in anticipation of a summit opportunity during our stay at Colin Todd Hut only to be dealt a poor hand by the weather gods. Not to worry, our hut day was filled with indoor classes in map reading, glacial navigation, weather forecasting and prussiking. Our instruction also covered off on anchoring, self-arrest and crevasse rescue techniques all of which enhanced our comfort levels and our skills. The hike out required a solid effort so be warned. An awesome experience, an extremely experienced guide and leader, a magnificent amphitheatre in which to learn new skills and be at one with nature in New Zealand’s majestic Southern Alps. Highly recommended, we’ll be back!"

Matt Molyneux, 14th Dec. - after a Pure Alpinism week

"Another thanks to Gaz, Iris and my guide Nico. I had an interesting trip up the back of the Mt Cook National Park, with the challenges of the Murchinson and Tasman Glaciers. As usual, the hospitality has been excellent, with heaps of useful info for hiking available. See you again soon!"

and we look forward to your next visit Matt! photos and thanks Matt too for being able to show them.

Climbing in Europe:
''Just a quick note to say thank you for a great week in the hills last week, even if the weather didn’t fully cooperate. Your deep knowledge of “the alpine”, your participation in international guide diplomacy/policy making, your teaching abilities (and patience), your local community involvement, your broad and varied interests, your good company, and of course your sense of humor are nothing short of inspiring. All of the rest of us have a lot to work on...'' Ed, ISM summer 2014

Rob Roy Glacier Cirque:

'Dear Iris
Thanks for the photos. This tour was a real pleasure for me. You are a good guide with your deep knowledge of the nature and a very nice walkingcompanion' Chris from Stockholm, Feb.2014
'Beautiful walk, fantastic guide - thank you for such a brilliant day!' Mike, Daniel, Terri & Claire Amos, UK
'We had a lovely hike today with Iris up to Rob Roy Glacier lookout. We learned so much about the local area, the wild life and flora of the forest. We had such a pleasant day and were so taken with the beauty that we must come back.Thanks so much!' Rit & Caroline Mathis, Larry & Beth Mathis, USA

Mt Cook Aoraki guided ascent, Peter Laurenson from Wellington: "Due to the flexibility and vast alpine experience offered by Alpinism and Ski I finally realised a long held goal to reach the top of Mount Cook in December 2012, the month following my 50th birthday. I also enjoyed a warm up on Anzac East and a warm down on a traverse of Double and Single Cones on the Remarkables, as well as some heart warming southern hospitality back at Wanaka – all in five fabulous days. Aoraki Mount Cook has been my most ambitious climb so far and the sheer scale of the terrain deeply impressed me. Without Gary it would have also scared me in places but, his utter dedication to safety and professional, efficient guiding ensured that I could just absorb and really enjoy it. I also learnt much on the other end of Gary’s rope.

My time with Gary and Iris surpassed my expectations and hopes. For the best alpine experience, safety and service look no further." some photos on our blog


From Phil Melchior, click on his name to see his contribution - Phil, Alpinism & Ski's best client and supporter, turned friend and business mentor, here on Mt Cook-Aoraki with his friend and neighbor Bill Day, also from Wanaka, chief Gaz= Gary Dickson and fellow mountain guide and mate Sean Brooks (inset).


Alpinism Studio guests Linda & Alex from the UK: "We had a great stay in Wanaka. The studio really had everything we needed and was very comfortable, just perfect for a week of relaxing and exploring around Wanaka. Thanks for taking care of us, the loan of the bikes and the bottle of wine were also much appreciated! We would definitely stay there again next time and you never know we might be able to fit in some big hikes around Switzerland with you in the summer!"

Ski Touring in New Zealand, trip with Hideko, John and Peter at Pioneer hut and

from legendary Charles Day: "Dear Iris and Gary, Many thanks for a most hospitable stay and the ingenious flexibility in adapting to my minimal skiing ability. It was also great to visit Tasman Saddle again in perfect conditions and to explore some of the off-piste areas near Wanaka." from the Alpinism & Ski team: well done Charles, not many Gentlemen at 73 years of age are having a go at it!

More specialised alpine training,: "Dear Gary, I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank you again for your help, support and instruction on our recent visit. We all appreciated the way in which you were able to tailor the package to meet our requirements and were most impressed with the professional conduct and level of instruction given. Everyone gained a huge amount and this has hopefully sewn the seeds in the guys to take this new capability forward. Please pass on our thanks to Callum and Iris for their instruction and assistance during the package.

We look forward to having the opportunity to work with you again in the near future to help further develop our capability in the mountains.

Best wishes and safe climbing. Frankie"

Specialised training: "We would like to express our appreciation and thanks for the recent rock and alpine Search and Rescue training Gary delivered to the Wanaka Police SAR team on Mt Aspiring. For us to respond in the field on SAR operations we need both safety and competency. Gary's excellent technical knowledge, ability to role model sound decision making and facilitate real time training with appropriate learning outcomes is highly regarded. We all enjoyed his enthusiasm and commitment to improving the team's skills in this alpine environment. We look forward to our next professional training opportunity Sergeant A. Nicholson, Officer in Charge, Wanaka Police SAR"

Guided Ascents of Mt Aspiring:I’d been wanting to sit down and say a big thanks once again for how welcome you made me feel before we got onto the mountain and then how much I enjoyed the climb. Words are inadequate. I know how lucky I was to get the hill to ourselves but it was the whole package that made it so good. I was still very much “in the mountains” for several days afterwards which was great... Thanks once again for such a fantastic all round experience. Malcolm Wootton, Ashburton

I wanted to thank you again for looking after me and for a successful trip, the weather notwithstanding. Mt Aspiring was a good choice as an objective and was appropriately challenging and rewarding. Some more time in the hills would have been good of course but we were i think pretty lucky to be positioned to well use that time that we were given. A total pleasure on and off the hills and again i have come home energised and full of ideas. Thanks, Anthony Day, Hongkong

Mountaineering and alpine climbing instruction course: Had a brilliant 6 days at top of Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers being taught mountaineering skills, climbing out of a crevasse the highlight!! Very professional, experienced guiding and teaching from Gary and awesome meals from both Gary in the huts and Iris back in Wanaka. Thank you very much, it has been a fantastic course. Will definitely recommend and lovely Ziggy an added bonus. Ruth Littlejohn, UK - Had an excellent time and one of the best instructed courses I've ever been on. Gary is a mountaineering expert, Shaun Hazell, Australia, PS: Iris is a great cook.

Thank you for the half day walk at Lake Diamond loop track, arranged at short notice. The information about plants, birds and the landscape was really appreciated as was your cheerful companionship. Diolch yn Fawr, Heather from Walesm UK

climbing in the Swiss AlpsEuro summer:
Dear Gary and Iris, Just a quick note to once again say 'thankyou' for another life-expanding adventure. By my count our "three 4000m peaks and a huge three-wire bridge" week in Switzerland was the seventh trip (in NZ and Switzerland) I've done with the noted firm of Alpinism and Ski - which says somthing about my appetite for punishment and comfort-zone expansion, and your amazing ability to make your clients suck up the hard stuff, stifle the whimpers, and then keep coming back for more. You guys are the best. Many thanks, Phil Melchior

climbing Mt Aspiring
'Words cannot adequately describe my appreciation of your expert guiding both in NZ and Europe, your patience, your friendliness and your warm hospitality. Our recent ascent of Mount Aspiring was only one of many mountaineering adventures for which you have my heartfelt gratitude', Doug Ball

From Monty, returning from Oz for more climbing:
"Gaz, Iris, thanks again for making my trip memorable and fulfilling. I was never bored or frustrated from the bad weather as your hospitality and contingency plans filled the trip with some rewarding climbing, great walks, good food and most of all, good company. Looking forward to another climb with Gary and another smile from Iris'

From Spanish hiker to Rob Roy glacier cirque, Alejandra:
Iris 'muchas gracias' for sharing with me this little bit of paradise you have got in the South Island! The walk was fantastic and you made it even more interesting with all the tips and stories! I am very much looking forward to come back .... you are a great guide but more important a great person....

USA visitor Anita:
'What a beautiful day spent hiking the Diamond Lake Loop trek! Since my past 3 weeks in NZ have been spent with my husband and 25-year-old son, so it was very fun to have a "girl-day" on the trail. So enjoyed your company and getting to know you - and loved all of your plant tips and suggestions for other things to do in the area...'

Two cousins from the UK:
"Dear Gary and Iris, Thank you for everything: for great hospitality; for good food; for hitching us a lift on a helicopter; for making us jump off a cliff; for taking the piss eternally for a couple of minor slips (who needs ice screws and belay plates anyway?!?); for putting up with Rob's failure to grasp the two of spades; for clear, helpful hints guiding and instruction wise; and for making us think 7 no trumps, not 6 spades!

Seriously though... it's been a great six days. The choice of location was top notch, the cooking was cracking, the routes you picked were brilliant and it was a great laugh to learn from you - a good combination of clear instruction, deep patience and taking the piss when appropriate! You both made our time in NZ very, very memorable. Thanks a million and best wishes, Lorna and Rob"

after climbing Mt CookFrom the Kalozdi family, visiting NZ for 2 weeks from Louisiana USA:
"We summited Mt Cook which made the entire trip... and the days after with Iris were only "lagniappe", a Louisiana saying meaning just great extras. Thanks for being so professional and making our New Zealand adventures exceptional".

on the summit climbing Mt CookNovember from Mic Savage, Australia:
"Mount Cook in January, now Mt Tasman. Great climb, great company, great food - lucky me! Thanks a heap Gaz & Iris. See you next time".



October, ski tour based at Centennial hut with Maroubra Mick from OZ, back for the third time:
"I would like to thank you both again for looking after me while I was there. You did a great job because I had a great time..."

half day guided hikingDiamond lake loop track:
"Well well worth it. Thank you for your great company and wealth of knowledge."

Jan from Whangarei, NZ - Diamond lake loop track:
Iris thank you very much for your interesting and informative commentary on the flora and fauna. The views of Matukituki valley, mountains and Rob Roy glacier were just great, Bob from Tasmania.... Most wonderful walk with a very knowledgeable guide. I will remember the day for a long time to come!Highlight of my NZ trip, thank you, Gill from Guernsey

Ski touring Wayne B., Invercargill:
"Many thanks for another splendid trip and my first taste of ski touring - I am well and truly hooked and look forward to the next trip! Thanks for finding some Ego snow! Not to forget your expert guidance & cooking Gaz!" Wayne is an excellent photographer check it out on the right hand side.
From the same trip Ozzie Maroubra Mick: "Thanks for an excellent ski touring trip Excellent decisions re weather and location. Excellent food, company and accommodation" at the time based in Siberia

March: Rob Roy Glacier Cirque:
Iris, thank you for a wonderful day and for answering all my questions with such patience. I had a great time and learned a lot, Sian, UK.

Diamond Lake:
Merci Iris pour cette superbe randonnée riche d'échanges et de convivialité - N'oublie pas de te faire connaître des petits français qui viennent ici, Martine de Paris.

Thanks to all for a great base camp and for 3 varied and excellent days in the hills, Nick, Waimate / UK

Une semaine intense et très exotique, nous avons eu du beau temps, merci pour tout, Thierry, Tahiti

Thank you for all of your time and assistance with all. In particular thank you very much to Iris in helping me get here alright, all of the local information that you gave and the wonderful meals you prepared for us. Gaz, I don't know where to start, but thank you for all of your time and patience...also for all your deep levels of information and for pushing me as far as you could despite my whinging. It was the most amazing week, and don't you go thinking you've seen the last of me!!! Kat from Oz

Mueller Hut in Mount Cook:
Iris, thank you so so very very much for being a great guide. You're patient, understanding & full of knowledge. I will tell anyone & everyone that comes to New Zealand to go to you. I had a great walk to Mueller Hut (even in the snow). I hope to come again and do some more treks with you. Keep doing exactly what you are doing, Janina Kojs, Chicago, USA

Rob Roy Glacier Cirque, Mt Aspiring National Park
'A walk through wonderland! Your enthusiasm and knowledge, how infectious. You effortlessly mored two "older" trampers from sheep to keas, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Truly a day we will no forget. Thank you, John & Suzanne Barr, Oakland, California'.

'Totally fantastic trip, amazing to think such a place can be so accessible to us. The best way to spend my birthday. Thank you so much Iris' Lauren. - 'Awesome walk. Learnt a lot about the plants and bird life (love the keas), thanks' Sarah Picard, VIN Wanaka

'Nous avons passé une journée formidable et complète. Tu es une guide très complète et tu vie tous ce que tu fais. Le repas, magnifique' Blanca et José Aycona, Espagne

'A great day walk - had a blast' Ben from Israel

'I really enjoyed the perfect day, thanks' Ian, Canada

'Had an amazing week in the hills above Fox with BBQs and great hospitality either side. Thanks very much Iris, Gary and Andy, all the best' Dave Williamson, Melbourne, Australia

Fantastic time. Just what I needed. Learnt an incredible amount up at Pioneer and Fox. Will spread the NZ and Alpinism gospel throughout Oz. Many thanks for the hospitality. Be strong! Aaron Bourne, Melbourne

guided  hiking comments'Here from 5th-27th Dec. 2002. Great time - fabulous hospitality, working out how to get back.' Tony Gladstone, English Lake District

Alpinism & Ski Ltd, Wanaka, New Zealand :: Ph 027 229 5534 :: e-mail: info@alpinismski.co.nz