Mount Aspiring National Park | A complete guide
On the outskirts of the quaint New Zealand town of Wanaka lies Mount Aspiring National Park. Snow-capped peaks dominate the landscape and braided rivers race through the flats. Here, you can find serenity and seclusion in the wild. The peak, Mount Aspiring, is the real draw; standing tall at 3,033m, it calls to mountaineers all year round.
This is your comprehensive guide on everything you need to know to make the most of your time in Mount Aspiring National Park.
Fun facts about Mount Aspiring National Park
- The Māori name for Mount Aspiring is Tititea, which means ‘glistening peak’.
- The park is part of the Westland Tai Poutini UNECSO World Heritage area.
- Mount Aspiring has often been called ‘the Matterhorn of the South’ due to its pyramid peak.
- Major Bernard Head, Jack Clarke and Alec Graham made the first ascent of Mt Aspiring New Zealand on 23 November 1909.
- The region is home to 100 permanent glaciers!
Best hikes to do in Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring National Park is an incredible spot to explore on foot. There are ample day hikes and bigger multi-day missions to choose from. Here are some of our favourites.
1. Blue Pools
For a short stroll with a big reward, there’s the 1.5km loop track to the beautiful Blue Pools. Weaving through native beech forest, you’ll marvel at the striking blues of the glacier-fed water as you wander.
2. Siberia Valley
On our Pure South trip, we’ll take you on this unique walk (one of our absolute favourites!) in Mt Aspiring National Park. The 6.8km track winds through thick forest linking the Siberia Valley to the Wilkin Valley wilderness below.
3. Rob Roy Track
A beautiful track which winds its way through the stunning alpine environment for 10km. This three to four hour hike takes you through a valley of lush beech forest, emerging above the tree line to look out onto the best view of the Rob Roy Glacier.
4. Routeburn Track
Arguably our most well-known Great Walk, the Routeburn Track takes you from the Routeburn gorge up the cascade of Routeburn Falls. There, you’ll encounter stunning views of the Hollyford Valley and Darran Mountains. The entire route is 33km long, to be completed over two to four days. Alternatively, the first section makes for the perfect day walk, which you will hike on your World Heritage Walking Tour.
5. Brewster Track
An absolute beast of an elevation gain squeezed into 2.5km, this route is a real heart-pumper. Starting from Fantail Falls, your first test is a river crossing. From there, the track climbs steadily through beech forest out onto a ridgeline leading directly to Brewster hut.
Things to do in Mount Aspiring National Park
New Zealand is the home of the jet boat. Mount Aspiring National Park is a great place to try it out with the Dart, the Wilkin and the Matukituki Rivers flowing through it.
Mountaineering and heli-skiing
The park is a mountaineer’s playground. There’s the delightfully-named Mt Awful or, of course, Mount Aspiring itself. If you’re not an experienced mountaineer, there are plenty of local guiding companies available to take you out on an alpine adventure. In the winter months, heli-skiing is the big draw.
Mount Aspiring National Park boasts some of the best canyoning in New Zealand. This adrenaline-filled activity involves scrambling through caves, across natural rock slides, swimming and abseiling down waterfalls!
Best time to hike in Mount Aspiring National Park
The beauty of New Zealand is that there is no bad time of year to explore the country. However, if you are not a mountaineer or backcountry skier then we would recommend visiting Mt Aspiring National Park outside of the winter months (May – September). For hikers, spring through to autumn is the best time to explore the trails.
Tips for hiking in Mount Aspiring National Park
- Check the weather forecast before you go. Call into the DOC (Department of Conservation) office in Wanaka or Queenstown if you are unsure about conditions on the track and they will be able to help you make your decision.
- In your daypack you should always carry a flashlight/headtorch, sunscreen, a hat and an extra layer or two. For any day hike, a packed lunch, lots of snacks and water are vital.
- Start early! Give yourself plenty of time to complete the hike during daylight hours.
- Keep an eye out for the mischievous kea when exploring alpine areas. These cheeky mountain parrots are beautiful to behold but they may destroy your packs, tents, skis, cars, etc.!
Visiting Mt Aspiring with New Zealand Trails
On your Pure South trip, you will explore a remote section of Mount Aspiring National Park known as Siberia Valley. This is the ultimate Kiwi backcountry experience. You’ll take a scenic flight into an isolated valley in Mount Aspiring National Park. After a picnic lunch, you’ll hike back down to the river where a jet boat will be waiting to whisk you back to civilisation.
On your World Heritage Walking Tour, you will spend a day walking the first section of the world-renowned Routeburn Track. Following the surreal blue river, you will make your way to Routeburn Flats for some well-deserved fare. At this point, it is up to you whether you want to push on up to Routeburn Falls or turn around. Whatever you decide, it is always a spectacular day spent in nature!
If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.