Climb Mount Kosciuszko with Kids
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
After venturing to Thredbo for a number of fun filled summer escapes we hadn’t managed to climb Mount Kosciuszko yet due to some poor weather and not enough time. When we woke up to discover a cloudless blue sky we were excited that our New Years Eve adventure to walk to the peak of Australia’s highest mountain with our kids was going to happen.
Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia at 2228 metres above sea level and forms the centrepiece for the NSW Snowy Mountains. The area is popular for winter sports throughout the snow season but in Summer transforms into a hiking paradise.
Preparing for the Mount Kosciuszko Walk
To enter Thredbo and the National Park you will need to purchase a Kosciusko National Parks Pass. You can purchase this from the toll booth on the Alpine Way drive into Thredbo or at the National Parks office in Jindabyne. The entry fee currently costs $17 per day for a car or there are options for longer stays or annual passes.
The Kosciusko Express Chairlift for a family of four will set you back $72 (at the time of writing) and operates in peak summer periods between 8.30am and 5.00pm.
A simple day backpack is suffice for the climb with key supplies including sunscreen as the UV is extreme at the higher altitudes, a hat, potentially a beanie if the weather isn’t particularly sunny, snacks or lunch and a camera.
There is no water supply on the walk so you will need to carry enough water for the number of people in your group for at least a 4-6 hour period.
If completing the walk with kids it is worth making sure you have some basic first aid supplies such as bandaids as the metal grid paths will definitely take off skin if there are any trips along the way.
Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, closed shoes. No real need for proper hiking shoes if you don't have them but comfortable runners will do the trick.
Mount Kosciuszko Weather
As with any alpine areas the weather climbing Mount Kosciuszko can be very temperamental and can change extremely quickly. We left in the morning to sunny blue skies, were hit with some icy blasts of winds towards the top of the summit and then descended largely in cloud and much, much cooler weather.
Even in the depths of summer it is very important to pack plenty of layers to prepare for the changeable weather. A warm jacket whilst annoying to carry will be welcome relief if the cold wraps around the mountain as quickly as it did to us.
At the beginning of our walk we were in tshirts and were quite warm but by the time we reached the summit the wind had picked up and the chill had set in.
Cater for all weather conditions but basically a pair of long pants with a tshirt, jumper and coat will cover you for the summer conditions up on Kosciusko. Like us you will no doubt wear every variation of these layers throughout the walk.
With the high altitudes don't forget the sun protection as well. Even on cold days you are likely to get sunburnt. Use some sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself for the walk.
Best Time of Year to Climb Mount Kosciuszko
The summer months are the best time to climb Mount Kosciuszko with more stable temperatures - from December to March is recommended as the best months to tackle the walk. This is also when the wildflowers are in full bloom which is really pretty across the windswept hills.
The climb up Mount Kosciusko is super popular and and very busy. To be completely honest walking up on NYE right in the middle of the busiest part of the summer season was the only drawback to our experience. This is because there were literally hundreds of people all with the same idea as us!
The number of people made it a little hard sometimes to really enjoy the pristine natural environment or to experience any silence or sheer wilderness. If you have the luxury of being picky with your dates, outside of school holidays (or the peak Christmas period) would be a more relaxed time to walk up Kosciusko.
Our New Years' Adventure
We headed off bright and early to be one of the first families onto the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift which very kindly transports you vertically from Thredbo Village up the steepest part of the climb and provides the starting point for the Kosciuszko trail. The chairlift itself is super scenic and a nice way to start the day.
You can opt to walk from Thredbo village if you don’t mind an extra hour and a half of very steep climbing but to make this hike achievable with young kids I recommend starting from the top of the chairlift.
There is a third option to start the climb from Charlotte's Pass however this is an additional 5.6 kilometres in walk distance.
Our girls were aged 5 and 7 and have done lots of hiking and walking so I was confident that they could make the distance however we did lots of motivating to get them prepared for the distance they were going to cover. For little legs we knew that 13 kilometres (return distance from the chairlift to the summit) was going to require some positive psychology.
Most of the walk is on metal grid walkways to conserve the ecology and minimise any degradation so the walking is pretty easy and of course navigating is extremely straightforward.
The first 3 kilometres is potentially the most taxing for young kids with a couple of long and steady climbs. You will find though that many kids are faring better with the altitude and distance than a lot of adults who we passed struggling up the mountain.
The mountain scenery is very distinct to the Australian alps with windswept open plains and rocky outcrops, and in December a pretty smattering of wildflowers blanket the grass for added visual effect. If you are lucky, in the middle of summer you can still pass spots of snow close to the trail where the kids can have fun rolling snowballs to launch at parents.
Overall the climb itself is long and consistent and with some coaxing and positive reinforcement I would say achievable for most children aged 5 years and older depending on the temperament of your kids. We did pull out some chocolate and other bribery snacks to get the youngest one up the final one kilometre section of the climb. Both kids were proud of their achievements at reaching the Summit.
We were very fortunate to reach the summit at a moment in the day which afforded 360 degree views in all directions with crystal clear skies. After some big high fives for the kids, and a stop for a photo at the highest point, we ventured out to some quiet rocks to take in the expansive views with an early lunch.
The kids found it enthralling to watch a nearby helicopter fly past that was lower than where we were sitting. It helped to put in perspective just how high they had climbed.
Starting the descent it feels like a long way back with two young kids who are starting to really tire however the good news is that the walk back happens extremely quickly in comparison to the climb up and before you know it the chairlift station appears in the distance.
True to form for mountain weather it was starting to close in with clouds encompassing the summit as we circled back around the base of the trail and super chilly winds were starting to blast the people still heading up.
All up the whole walk took us pretty much spot on four hours which was taking it pretty easy on the climb up with lots of short stops and a play in the snow. No doubt without kids this walk can be done much more quickly but we set a reasonably easy pace to complete the walk in this time.
I highly recommend this walk for families as it is such an iconic and well-trodden trail that is enjoyable for all ages. Your kids will get a real kick out of making it to the top and will be itching to tell their school friends about their adventures.
If you love mountain adventures as much as us make sure you check out my full article on all the fabulous things to do in Thredbo over the summertime.
Stay in Thredbo
We love Thredbo. Apart from climbing Kosciuszko there are so many other awesome family adventures to be had. There are loads of family accommodation in Thredbo from resort style stays to private holiday rentals to find your own piece of mountain bliss.
Here are some of the fabulous options to extend your stay.
Modern, warm and luxurious the 2 bedroom apartments are perfect for families and located a 1 minute walk from the village centre. Book your stay here.
Great option for family groups with 2 bedrooms in a modern apartment in the family friendly quiet part of town.
Located in my favourite part of Thredbo the Woodridge estate is peaceful and backs on to bushland and walk from your door hiking trails. This luxurious and spacious villa is great for larger families or small groups with three bedrooms and space to store bikes and other equipment.
Mount Kosciuszko FAQs
13 kilometres return from the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift in Thredbo
18.6 kilometres via the alternate Charlotte's Pass route
How long does it take to climb Mount Kosciuszko?
From Thredbo Chairlift - 4-5 hours return
From Charlottes Pass - 6-7 hours return
Can you drive up Mt Kosciuszko?
Thankfully no. Whilst you used to be able to drive close to the summit there are now only walking trails to conserve the natural environment of the National Park.
Do I need a map?
Nope. The trail is exceptionally easy to follow - you can't get lost!
Will there be a lot of people?
During school holidays and peak summer periods the Mount Kosciuszko hike can become very busy.
If you are after some more serene, away from the crowds walks then check out my full Thredbo article for more ideas.
Is there snow for the kids to play?
Yes there can be. Even in the height of summer the higher altitude means you may find some patches of snow along the way. If it has been warm it is likely that these patches may be a fair way off the trail and you are advised to stick to the trail.
Are there toilets or other services on the mountain?
There is only one toilet along the walk which is located at Rawsons Pass which is 1 kilometre from the summit. No running water here either but hand sanitiser is provided.
There are no other services on the mountain. All food and drink must be carried in your backpack.
NEXT: More Australian Adventures for Families
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