Kosciuszko National Park is where I spent New Year’s Eve a few years ago. I’d already been camping in the Grampians and hiked across Mount Buller and Hotham, but I was ready for something a little more spectacular – climbing the highest mountain in Australia, Mt Kosciuszko!
It’s part of the Snowy Mountains main range in New South Wales and I drove there in about six hours from Melbourne (it’s about a 5-hour drive from Sydney). The drive went by in a flash because the roads were just SO beautiful! Seriously, I’d recommend visiting Kosciuszko National Park just for the scenic roads! I stayed for just three days, but easily could have spent at least a week exploring all of the trails, caves and alpine lakes in the area!
To make your trip run that little bit smoother, I’ve outlined some information that I wish I’d have known before my trip to the stunning Kosciuszko National Park.
1. When’s the best time to visit Kosciuszko National Park?
Quite honestly, the Kosciuszko Mountain is stunning to visit at any time of the year! Here’s a quick run-through of what each season can offer you.
- Spring (September to November). Arguably the most beautiful time to visit, visitors will be rewarded with wildflowers on the hills, some snow on the summit and lush greenery.
- Summer (December to February) Warm and sunny days make this the most popular time of the year for hiking Mount Kosciuszko. Be prepared to start the walk early though as the midday heat can make it difficult!
- Autumn (March to May). As shoulder season, there are fewer people in the park at this time, and accommodation is normally cheaper. Unfortunately, you do risk colder days as it heads towards winter.
- Winter (June to August). The best time of the year for any keen snow sporters! A walk through the mountains is possible at this time too, but you should be well prepared as paths are very snowy.
2. How do I get to Kosciuszko National Park?
It’s easy enough to drive to the park from either Sydney and Melbourne, but the closest city is actually Canberra. If you’re coming from far away I’d recommend booking a flight to Canberra to make it a bit easier.
From Canberra Airport, it’s a three-hour drive to Kosciuszko National Park. Renting a car from Canberra Airport is easy enough to arrange in advance. You might want a 4WD to explore some of the more remote areas in the park, but a 2WD will be fine to see the main bits.
PRICE: Car rental costs between $35 and $150 a day.
3. Do I need to pay to go to Kosciuszko National Park?
You do need to pay a small entry fee for the pass into Kosciuszko National Park. But once that’s paid, everything else is free!
Park entry fees vary with the season but during peak times cost $29/vehicle/day, or $11.45/person. Unlike most park passes, you can’t buy these online. Instead, you can get a pass from visitor centres and vehicle entry stations dotted around the park.
4. How do I climb Mt Kosciuszko?
There’s no doubt that Mt Kosciusko is the most popular attraction in the Australian Alps! But how do you go about climbing it? There are two options – from Thredbo Village or via Charlotte Pass. Both ways offer stunning views of the Snowy Mountains and join at the end to climb the final 1.5km to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko.
Thredbo Village. At 13km this is the shortest and the most popular of the two walks. You’ll want to set aside about five or six hours to complete the walk, especially if you want to take some stunning photos of the mountains. First, you’ll need to take the express chairlift from Thredbo, which takes 15-minutes and costs $32 for a one-way trip. Once you’ve travelled the 560 meters in the lift, the trail begins next to the Snowy River!
Charlotte Pass. This is the track I chose to take, as it’s a bit quieter and walking through the mountains is very peaceful. However, it’s also a 19km return trail and took me around eight hours to complete. On this trail, you can also check out the historic Seaman’s Hut built in 1929, paddle in the Snowy River and mountain biking is also allowed!
5. You can’t ski on Mount Kosciuszko, but…
… you can ski on its neighbouring Snowy Mountains!
There are actually four ski resorts in the main range, including the famous Perisher and Thredbo Resorts. I visited during summer, so I didn’t get to try out the slopes. However, I was told that while Perisher has better snow coverage and great beginner slopes, Thredbo is full of challenging runs, great for the expert skier or snowboarder.
TOP TIP: Skiing season runs from June to October though Perisher often receives snowfall a little earlier!
6. What else is there to do in Kosciuszko National Park?
Skiing and hiking aren’t the only activities to keep you busy in the Snowy Mountains. There’s also an incredible network of caves that not many people know about – the Yarrangobilly Caves. These are a group of about six limestone caves, full of incredible stalagmites, stalactites and cave corals, only one of which you can explore by yourself. You’ll need to join a guided tour to visit the others for your own safety.
PRICE: Tours can only be booked through the national park website and cost $26 per adult or $19 for concessions.
7. Where can I camp for free in Kosciuszko National Park?
One of the best things about national parks in New South Wales is that once you’ve paid the entry fee, it’s free to camp!
Kosciuszko National Park is home to 26 free camps, which I’d highly recommend booking in advance to stay at! Most are very basic with a long-drop toilet at most, so come prepared with enough food and water to last.
If you do find yourself stuck in a storm, or a situation where a tent simply won’t do, there are some very basic huts in the park that are open to anybody. They’re available on a first-come-first-served basis and you should be prepared to share them with other people if there’s room! The Kosciuszko Hut Association has all of the information you’ll need to know about these huts including where they are, and what facilities they have, if any! Most come with just a wooden stove for heating and a saw for cutting wood.
A few campsites I’d recommend are
- Pinch River Campground for easy access to the Australian Alps,
- Humes Crossing Campground for its beautiful location along the Snowy River and
- Yarrangobilly Village Campground which sits right next to the Yarrangobilly Caves.
BONUS: Where to stay near Kosciuszko National Park
If you enjoy the comfort of a hotel over a tent, your best option is to stay in the near-by towns of Jindabyne or at Thredbo Ski Resort. Both offer up a range of accommodation options to suit every budget with easy access to the Snowy Mountains. I’ve picked out a few highly-rated stays for you below.
- Luxury (250 AUD and up) – With mountain views, friendly service and cosy rooms Pure Chalet is said to be one of the best places to stay in town, but it does come at the more expensive end of the scale.
- Middle (85 to 249 AUD) – For something a little cheaper, try the Thredbo Alpine Hotel which sits in the heart of Thredbo Village and offers up spacious double rooms.
- Budget (up to 85 AUD) – Thredbo also caters for the backpackers among us thanks to the handy Thredbo YHA that offers budget-friendly dorm rooms and cosy communal spaces.
- Luxury (250 AUD and up) – Panorama Jindabyne is an upmarket and newly renovated hotel that sits just ten minutes walk away from the town centre.
- Middle (85 to 249 AUD) – Kookaburra Lodge is a great middle-of-the-range hotel to base yourself in. Guests have the choice of ensuite double rooms, or shared bathrooms along with a choice of a continental breakfast in the morning.
- Budget (up to 85 AUD) – There aren’t any hostels in Jindabyne, but there are a number of well-priced motels, like Alpine Resort Motel. Its location, a little outside of town makes for peaceful surrounding and stunning lake views.
My New Years Eve spent at Kosciuszko National Park was definitely one to remember. In this article, I’ve given you the scoop on a few tips and tricks for making your visit a memorable one too. From how to climb Mt Kosciuszko, to where to camp in the park, it’s all there for you to read!
If you love your time at Kosciuszko National Park then I’d highly recommend checking out the National Parks in Tasmania too. Mount Kosciuszko may be the highest mountain on the mainland, but Cradle Mountain isn’t too far off!
Happy adventuring, and don’t forget to leave any questions you have below.