Hiking Mount Kosciuszko; Australia’s Highest ‘Mountain’
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2021: Australia’s highest mountain is Mount Kosciuszko at a whopping 2,228m (7,310 ft). It’s more of a hill, but climbing, or hiking Mount Kosciuszko is a great way to spend a day in the Snowy Mountains, just 2.5 hours south of Canberra, Australia’s Capital.
That being said, despite its humble height, Mount Kosciuszko is often listed as one of the Seven Summits, the highest mountain in each continent! If you’re wondering what are the Seven Summits, I wrote about that here. So if you want some bragging rights, and a beautiful day out hiking, then hiking Mount Kosciuszko is the one for you.
Table of contents
- Hiking Mount Kosciuszko; Australia’s Highest ‘Mountain’
- Where Is Mount Kosciuszko?
- Is it Hiking Mount Kosciuszko Difficult?
- How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Kosciuszko?
- How does Hiking Mount Kosciuszko work? How Do You Actually ‘Climb’ Mount Kosciuszko?
- What gear do I need for Hiking Mount Kosciuszko?
- Do You Take the Ski Lift when Hiking Mount Kosciusko?
- My Thoughts on Hiking Mount Kosciuszko 😍🇦🇺
Where Is Mount Kosciuszko?
Mount Kosciuszko is in the Snowy Mountains, in New South Wales, Australia.
How Do I Get To Mount Kosciuszko?
The nearest accessible airport is in Canberra, from there it’s a 2.5-hour drive south. You can get an infrequent bus from Canberra to Thredbo, or you can rent a car at Canberra airport, which is what we did. It was $75 per day, last minute. Cheaper if you book in advance.
The town you’ll want to base yourself in for hiking Mount Kosciuszko is Thredbo. A gorgeous little ski-village. 95% of people who are hiking Mount Kosciuszko start from there, as did I. There are lots of hotel and restaurant options, and the ski-lift leaves right from town.
Is it Hiking Mount Kosciuszko Difficult?
If you do it in the summer then in a word, no.
Almost anyone can contemplate hiking Mount Kosciuszko. It’s no expedition, it’s not a climb, it’s barely a hike, more of a beautiful walk. So it’s not difficult by any stretch. I’d feel comfortable taking my 70-year-old mother there to climb it. I hope that puts your worries at ease.
From the top of the ski-lift, the hike to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko and back again to the ski-lift is about 13km. Not too bad. In good weather, this can take anything from 2-6 hours depending on your speed.
Hiking mount Kosciuszko in winter is still very possible, but you’ll need snowshoes, walking poles, and be able to read a map and GPS in case of white-out snowstorms. 99% of people climb in the summer though.
Is Mount Kosciuszko REALLY one of the 7 summits?!
In my opinion, no. I’ve currently climbed 4/7 so here we go. The Seven Summits (highest mountain on each of the 7 continents) are as follows:
- ASIA: Mount Everest, Nepal
- EUROPE: Mount Elbrus, Russia
- SOUTH AMERICA: Aconcagua, Argentina
- NORTH AMERICA: Denali, Alaska, USA
- ANTARCTICA: Mount Vinson
- AFRICA: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- AUSTRALASIA: Puncak Jaya / Carstenz Pyramid, West Papua, Indonesia
So how come some people consider Kosciuszko as one of the 7 summits? Well, it’s the same reason some people consider Mont Blanc in France as one of the 7 summits. It comes down to which continent you consider the mountain ‘lives’ on.
Kosciuszko is obviously on the continent of Australia BUT so is a large portion of the islands of Indonesia. On one of these islands lies Puncak Jaya. Which means IT IS the highest mountain in the Australasia continent, not Kosi!
Same for Mont Blanc, where actually Mount Elbrus, in southwest Russia, finds itself on the European tectonic plate, and therefore is the highest mountain in Europe. And there ends our geography lesson.
How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Kosciuszko?
You have to pay to enter the national park and then if you choose to take the ski-lift to the ‘bottom’ of Mount Kosciuszko, then you have to pay for that too. Other than that you need a hotel in Thredbo for 1 or 2 nights. So in total, the cost should be somewhere around $140 per person, based on 2 people sharing a room.
1. National Park entrance:
-June to October: $29 per vehicle per day (24hrs); bus passengers $11.45.
-Rest of the year: $17 per vehicle per day (24hrs); bus passengers $6.60
2. Thredbo Ski Lift:
$25 to $30 return
I stayed at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, right opposite the ski-lift. About $120. Average but completely fine. I stayed in a twin room with my buddy, so $60 a night each.
How does Hiking Mount Kosciuszko work? How Do You Actually ‘Climb’ Mount Kosciuszko?
My personal account. I had just finished climbing Puncak Jaya in Indonesia, and as part of my goal to climb all Seven Summits, I had heard about the discrepancy between ‘Australia’s highest point between Puncjak Jaya and Kosciuszko, so 6 flights from West Papua to Australia, and 36 hours later, my buddy and I landed in Canberra. It was May 31st, the winter season started June 1st, so we were hoping for ok weather. We rented a car directly from Canberra airport, and drive the 2.5 hours to Thredbo village. Here we checked into the Thredbo Alpine hotel for 2 nights, and we went to check out the town and find out the information for the climb tomorrow.
Bad news. There was a snowstorm, earlier than usual, and no one was climbing! Sh*t. We flew all the way to Australia just for this, so we were doing it regardless. We went to the gear rental place, found out that there was no ‘ban’ on hiking Mount Kosciuszko in bad weather, it just wasn’t recommend. So we organised snowshoes for the following morning, found out the path to the ski-lift was closed due to Snow Drifts, organised our lift passes and went to bed.
Normally, with hiking Mount Kosciuszko, you can either start at 7am and hike the ski-lift section, which was our preference. But as I said, it was closed. We hopped on the ski-lift for 15 minutes, felt the chill, and then we were ready to go. From the top of the ski-lift, we knew it was 6.5km to the summit, but in winter and in the snow there are no snow poles directing you, so we fulled out gut and made our way. Not before a coffee at the restaurant at the top of the Ski Lift though, aka Australia’s Highest Restaurant!
From the top of the ski-lift
From there we set-off, and quickly! We actually managed to avoid using the snow-shoes for the vast majority of the hike. We could see remnants of the old track underneath the snow, so as long as we stuck to that, we shouldn’t fall in any frozen rivers! After about 1.5 hours, we reached the steep section of the summit and made our way to the top.
To be honest, hiking Mount Kosciuszko is supposedly better in the Australian Summer. I get it, the weather is nice, the grass is green, there are people minging. But doing it in the snow was beautiful. There were only 5 or 6 other hikers that day, so we almost had the place to ourselves. And the views of the Snowy Mountains from the top was spectacular. Also, hiking in the snow in Australia? A novelty indeed. Very cool.
We stopped for a few pics at the summit, but as soon as we stopped hiking, the cold bit hard. So before long we were power walking our way back to the Eagle’s Nest for another coffee and cake, back down the ski-lift and into our hotel for a cheeky beer and some food. The whole hike maybe took us 3 hours, but we were going quickly due to the cold.
What gear do I need for Hiking Mount Kosciuszko?
Fear not, very little! If you do it in the Australian Summer, sneakers, shorts and t-shirts are fine. As you get to the 2,000m mark though, winds can pick up and temperature can drop so bring a warmer layer to add. Also, if you have dodgy knees, walking poles always help with that.
In the winter though, you’ll need a lot more. Snowshoes can be rented in Thredbo, right at the bottom of the ski-lift. Other than that you need general cold-weather gear. Hiking boots, hiking pants, warm/Goretex coat, hat, gloves. It’s not an extreme mountain by any stretch so use your common sense for the season, and you’ll be fine.
To confirm, for hiking mount Kosciuszko, you will need:
- Proper hiking shoes (especially in winter). In summer, sneakers should suffice.
- Water – and windproof clothing
- Warm clothing (ideally Goretex)
- Snowshoes/cross country skis (only in winter. although we managed without)
- Walking poles
- Bug Spray
- Map, compass, GPS (essential in winter apparently, although I didn’t have it)
Do You Take the Ski Lift when Hiking Mount Kosciusko?
Good question. And the answer is that it is up to you. Most people DO take the ski lift ($30 return ticket), which means climbing Mount Kosciusko is much easier, and much faster.
If you decide to NOT take the ski lift, you’re adding on an extra 2/3 hours at the start and an extra hours hike down at the end. 3
My Thoughts on Hiking Mount Kosciuszko 😍🇦🇺
Do it! No matter your age or fitness levels (its much easier than climbing Mount Fuji for example). It’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s easy to access and as far as the Seven Summits go, you won’t get a cheaper, more simple task than this! Also, Thredbo is a gorgeous town, well worth a couple of nights. We were in and out of Canberra within 48 hours, and back to Sydney for dinner with old friends. Nothing but fond memories of this adventure. Highly recommends. And remember, it’s as easy as this:
Top 5 tips for climbing mount kosciuszko:
- Fly/bus into Canberra ($150 flight from Sydney or $40 coach)
- Rent a car from Canberra airport ($75 a day), drive 3 hours to the town of Thredbo. Get a hotel for 1 night (I stayed at Thredbo Alpine Hotel for about $100, it was average but fine).
- Wake up early the next day, and either start hiking at 7am to the top of the stairlift ($30),or you can take the stairlift at 9 am.
- From the top of the stairlift, it’s a 13km round trip hike. That’s 2-6 hours depending on your speed.
- When climbing Mount Kosciuszko, do it in the summer to avoid the snow, not like us!
- Drive back to Canberra. Done!
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