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Climbing & Trekking Insurance Guide

Ain't No Mountain High Enough! 

Fancy two weeks sunning yourself on a beach? How about a fortnight by the pool of a posh hotel complex? Thought not.

If you’re the kind that finds this kind of lazy beach holiday a little boring, you’re not alone. Increasing numbers of people are opting to ditch the lazy beach-side holidays in favour of walking, trekking or climbing. In fact, domestically, New Zealanders count hiking as one of their top holiday activities!

Do you yearn for adventure? Do you laugh in the face of vertigo? Trekking and climbing holidays could be for you, just remember to take out the proper adventure holiday travel insurance before you go!

What does travel insurance cover?

While most travel insurance providers will insure you for holidays that go off the beaten track, as well as activities such as abseiling, moderate climbing and scrambling, there are general exclusions you need to pay attention to when going on an adventure holiday.

You’ll be covered:

  • If you injure yourself when taking part in any of these activities, or become ill, your insurance will cover your helicopter evacuation, medical expenses and repatriation back to New Zealand if you need it. In many cases your policy also pays the costs to fly a family member or friend to be with you in hospital and escort you home.   
  • If severe weather or another unforeseen event occurs (such as a family emergency) and you can no longer go on your trip -  any pre-paid tours, travel and accommodation expenses will usually be covered by your insurer.
  • For your gear if it gets damaged or is stolen. Remember that all luggage and personal effects benefits have single item limits which could range anywhere from $700- $1500. This includes items likeyour hiking boots, camping equipment, sleeping bag and Gore-Tex jacket etc.

What isn't covered?

Trekking holidays need trekking travel insurance! Make sure you don’t start your trip without appropriate cover.

  • Climbing where ropes are required: The majority of New Zealand travel insurers do not cover for mountaineering, rock climbing, free climbing, canyoning, caving or any leisure activities where using ropes or climbing equipment is required and there is a significant risk of bodily injury.
  • Gear left unattended that was not under your care or supervision when it was stolen.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions that exist before you start your hike. For example, previous knee surgery that stops you mid-trek would not be something typically insured.
  • Travel warnings already in the mass media: You can’t claim if you didn’t already have travel insurance when the warning was raised. For example, if you hear about an avalanche warning in the mass media and then you decide to buy insurance, you couldn’t cancel your holiday and claim.
  • Altitude limit: Some insurers have a limit as to how high you can go.

Insurers altitude limits




1Cover* 3500m No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or climbing equipment
American Express No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or climbing equipment (other than for hiking)
Columbus Direct 6000m  You must purchase the Sports & Adventure Pack B. No cover for mountaineering requiring the use of ropes and guides
Covermore No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or guides
Downunder Travel Insurance 3500m No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or climbing equipment.
NZ Travel Insurance 2500m No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing.
State No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock-climbing using guides, ropes, rock climbing
equipment or oxygens.
STA Travel 6000m No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing using ropes or guides
Southern Cross 3000m No cover for use of ropes, climbing equipment or oxygen. No cover between altitudes of 1,500 and 3,000 metres if you are, or intend to ascend more than 500 metres per day.
TINZ* 5000m Must be available to the general public, conducted by a commercial operator, not be considered extreme risk, and not require special skills or a high level of fitness to undertake. No cover for mountaineering involving climbing or ice equipment
Travel Insurance Cover (QBE) No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing requiring the use of support ropes
Travel Insurance Direct No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing requiring the use of support ropes or taking part in any professional sporting activity.
Tower No altitude restrictions No cover for mountaineering or rock climbing
Webjet 6000m No cover for use of ropes or climbing equipment or expeditions to or on the Kokoda Track/Trail.  With adventure pack add on.
Worldcare 2500m No cover for mountain or rock climbing
World Nomads 6000m No cover for search and rescue if you get lost in the mountains or at any other time. May need to add on sports and activity cover.
Zoom 6000m No cover for specialist climbing equipment or expeditions to or on the Kokoda Track/Trail. With add-on Adventure Pack.

* country exclusions apply

Where can I buy cover if I want to use ropes?

World Nomads does offer cover up to 6000m altitude, but be aware that there is no cover for search and rescue if you ever get lost up there in the mountains (or at any other time). And you must also not put yourself at risk by not following local advice, or if you go to a region where there is a government travel warning aganst travelling there. 

What’s the difference between hiking, trekking and mountaineering?

The million dollar question! Most tour guides will name the trek based on the degree of fitness needed, the amount of walking each day and type of terrain you’ll cover.

Mountaineering generally requires you to use ropes, crampons and other equipment, so these treks require specialist cover that not all travel insurers cover as standard.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side 

Whether it is a leisurely stroll along the Urupukapuka Island Archaelogical Walk you are after, or a multi-pitch leviathan of an ice climb in the Himalayas of Nepal, there's no end of trekking and climbing options at your disposal!

  • Veteran climbers may prefer a solo adventure, or to organise an expedition themselves.
  • Families will usually opt for a gentler adventure tailored to the needs of younger kids.
  • Relative novices benefit from group trips with expert guides who can ensure your safety and enjoyment throughout.

Packing for a Climbing or Trekking Trip: 101

  • Hiking boots: A tough, durable but comfortable set of hiking boots is an absolute must for any trip.
  • Sunblock: Do not underestimate how long you could be spending in the sun. Take enough sunblock to cover you for the whole trek.
  • Layers: Bring clothing in layers rather than one big coat or jacket. Layers can be easily donned or shed as the temperature changes.
  • Road-tested backpack: You and your backpack are going to become well acquainted. Make sure you’ve tested it to make sure it is comfortable first.
  • Dry pack: Don’t want your belongings ruined by a freak rainstorm? Invest in a good quality dry pack.
  • Flip flops: You’re not going to be hiking all the time, and when you’re not, your feet will be glad of the rest.
  • Sturdy water bottle: You need to stay hydrated, so a reusable water bottle is an important item.
  • Sleeping bag and mat: If you’re going to be camping outdoors, a sleeping bag and sleeping mat will keep you warm and comfortable.

Time to Get Those Boots Dirty: Where to Go

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: Perfect for relative trekking novices and hardcore veterans alike, the Kathmandu Valley is the gateway to the Himalayas.

Yunnan, China: China’s mountainous province of Yunnan is famous for its Tiger Leaping Gorge, maybe the most well known trek in southern China.

Inca Trail, Peru: Peru’s Inca Trail combines stunning scenery with fascinating history to provide an unforgettable experience to visitors.

Picos de Europa, Spain: The Picos National Park in Asturias, Spain provides a wealth of fantastic trekking options and is well worth a visit.

Himachal Pradesh, India: On the Indian side of the Himalayas is the Himachal Pradesh, home to some of the most rewarding terrain anywhere in the world.

Routeburn Track, New Zealand: Lord of the Ring’s fans rejoice; this trail winds its way through NZ’s Southern Alps, taking in breathtaking vistas along the way.

The Haute Route, France and Switzerland: There are few more stunning trekking locations anywhere in the world than the French and Swiss Alps.

Cradle Mountain, Australia: Take an unbelievable trip through Tasmania’s highlands on one of the trekking paths that criss-cross this region.

Are You a Danger-Seeker? You're in Luck!

Trekking is generally a safe activity but, like all the best things in life, it is not without its dangers. Here are a few tips on how to avoid them.

Invest in High-sided Hiking Boots: Twisted ankles are among the most common trekking and climbing injuries. Make sure your hiking boots provide support to your ankles on uneven terrain and remember to watch your step.

Acclimatise Slowly: Altitude sickness is no joke and can seriously derail your trekking adventure. Do your research before you go and take the necessary precautions as you familiarise yourself with your surroundings.

Know Your Own Level: Only experienced trekkers should try to tackle high mountain routes alone. Know your level and stay within that level at all times to ensure a safe, thrilling and rewarding trip.

Stay with the Group and Heed Warnings: If you’re travelling with a group, don’t be tempted to wander off. Always heed warnings about local dangers. Stay attentive and alert and keep yourself safe. 

Read the small print

Before you head off on the adventure trail it’s vital to read the policy wording (PDS) to ensure you understand what is and isn’t covered. Remember the level of cover and exclusions varies between insurers, so check it out to suss out what’s the deal with your chosen cover. And if there’s something you don’t understand you can contact the provider directly.


Need some help? Use the search box below to find answers to all those tricky travel insurance questions. We’ve got heaps of travel insurance tips to help you get the best policy for your upcoming holiday!


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