Trekking for Climate Action: Exploring New Zealand’s Southern Alps

14.04.23 By
This article is more than one year old

In March 2023, a team of passionate climate supporters embarked on an unforgettable journey to explore the Southern Alps of Aotearoa New Zealand. Organised by the Climate Council, this trip aimed to raise funds to support urgent climate action. 

It also allowed for witnessing firsthand the global implications of delayed climate action, like the devastating Black Summer bushfires that turned the snow and glaciers of the Southern Alps brown in 2020.

Twelve participants from diverse backgrounds – including retirees, lawyers, doctors, students, farmers, ecologists, and academics – were united by their shared passion for climate action. Joining them on this trip was Professor Lesley Hughes, a Climate Councillor and renowned climate scientist.

Beginning in Christchurch, the team trekked through breathtaking landscapes, including the Mackenzie Country and Lake Tekapo, where they marvelled at the beauty of glaciers on Mount Sefton and stood in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. They embarked on the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail and explored the glacially-fed Lake Ohau, Wanaka, Hawea, and Queenstown, immersing themselves in the stunning natural beauty of the region.


The team travelled with a purpose: to raise funds to propel Australia towards bold, effective action to reduce emissions to net zero by 2035. The 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report showed that Aotearoa, New Zealand will face increasingly extreme weather, including floods, droughts and fires, as the earth’s temperature continues to rise. 

Thanks to the incredible fundraising efforts of the participants, $56,000 has been raised to support the Climate Council’s ongoing efforts to advocate for urgent and effective climate action in Australia and beyond. We are so thankful to our generous Southern Alps Trekkers, their friends, families and people in their networks who have all contributed to this incredible outcome.

Building community

Throughout the journey, participants deepened their understanding of climate science, impacts, and solutions through engagement with Climate Councillor, Professor Lesley Hughes, who shared her expertise and insights on the organisation’s strategy and campaigns. The team discussed various topics, from carbon offsets to seaweed, to climate anxiety, sparking meaningful conversations and connections

Together, the team covered approximately 90 kilometres on foot and bicycle, pushing themselves physically while experiencing the natural wonders of the Southern Alps up close. New friendships and connections formed among supporters who shared a common vision for a safer, cleaner, and healthier future

As well as raising funds and spreading awareness, the trip reinvigorated and ignited sparks among participants to continue pushing for climate action in their own circles. Despite sore muscles from the physical challenges, the team left New Zealand with a renewed sense of optimism and determination to address the urgent climate crisis

If you’re interested in joining a Climate Council adventure trip, subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Climate Council offset travel for all trip participants and partnered with Soulful Concepts, a sustainable travel provider, for this trip. Find out more about Soulful Concepts at their Green Hub here and read their Responsible and Sustainable Travel Policy here