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Sharks Tooth Peak, 2096m

5 August 2010

Coordinates 44°31.782′ S, 168°46.600′ E

Sharks Tooth Peak dominates Raspberry Creek car park. Photo D Hegg

Sharks Tooth Peak is a striking rock spire that dominates Raspberry Creek car park in the Matukituki River West Branch. To the south it overlooks the middle branch of the Polnoon Burn, a tributary of the Shotover River. Located well to the east of the Main Divide, it often enjoys good weather even when the mountains further west are in cloud. This, combined with the ease of access, makes the climb to the summit a popular day trip.


Sharks Tooth Peak was clearly named after its shape, but I don’t know by whom. James McKerrow is a likely candidate, since he named the next peak to the east (Fog Peak), and all other mountains down valley, mostly after their appearance.

The first recorded ascent was by A.R. Craigie, J.P. Cook, R. Rodda and W.S. Gilkison on 19 December 1939. The party left Cascade Hut at 6am on a day when climbing at the head of the valley was out of the question. They completed the climb in about 6 hours without any particular difficulties, although they noted that “the last pyramid of 200 feet or so gave interesting rock work” [1]. They followed the south-west ridge, which is still the standard route to the summit today. Given the ease of access, it is possible that the mountain had been climbed by shepherds or deer-stalkers earlier on.

No other noteworthy routes have been climbed on the peak. The striking east ridge especially is still waiting for a first ascent; however, given the poor quality of the rock, this may not be a very appealing undertaking.

At the base of Sharks Tooth Peak's summit pyramid. Photo D Hegg

Route description – the south west ridge

Rating: Alpine, grade 1                     October 1999

Sharks Tooth Peak is a fast, straightforward climb from the Matukituki road end. Snow often remains on the slopes at the toe of the summit pyramid until late summer; ice-axe and crampons would generally be useful, even if no snow can be seen from the car park. Unless the summit pyramid is iced up, a rope is definitely not required.

Sharks Tooth Peak map. 1 grid square = 1km. Left click to enlarge.

From Raspberry Creek car park, aim for the old musterers hut (private), then up easy grass slopes on the true right of Raspberry Creek. Above 1400m, these turn into a sharp arete, which narrows to a knife-edge higher up. The easiest going here is in the valley on the right (facing up), which leads directly to the col between Sharks Tooth and Craigroyston. From the col, sidle under the first elevation on the south side of the ridge (there’s often snow here), then climb a steepening snow slope (early season) or scree and slabs (late season) to the summit pyramid. Here there are two options:

1) Stick to the ridge the whole way to the summit. The climbing is easy but steep and exposed; there are good holds and the rock is firm.

2) Sidle left onto the west face 80-100m below the summit, then follow leads connecting ledges and broken rock through the slabs to the top.

The second alternative is easiest, especially on the way down, when it is possible to see the whole route from above and navigation is not a problem.

Time: allow 7 to 10 hours for the return trip from the car park to the summit.      

On the saddle between Sharks Tooth Peak and Craigroyston Peak, looking up to the summit. Photo D Hegg


[1] Sim, A.J.: Camp Three. The New Zealand Alpine Journal, Vol VIII, No 27, 1940, p155-166. Published by the New Zealand Alpine Club.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam permalink
    24 March 2016 7:26 pm

    The east ridge has been climbed, little to no protection, poor rock, gale force winds, second ascent not recommended

    • 29 March 2016 7:44 pm

      That’s great Adam, thank you for your comment. Could I have more information on this? Did this happen recently?

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