Blogs from Mount Aspiring National Park, South Island, New Zealand, Oceania


My arrival in Wanaka was slightly marred by a mix up with my shuttle transfer and subsequent expensive taxi ride the evening before, but I made it and what a beautiful setting the hostel is in. I sit eating my breakfast looking out over the lake and mountains all around. Lucky me. Later I'm sat in the supposed shuttle pick up spot and I'm not entirely convinced it will show, or if it does will be in some arbitrary change of pick up spot that I'm not privvy to. It's the same company that cocked up the day before! But on the dot into the car park rattles this beat up old minibus that's definitely seen better days, as has the driver, very chatty Andy who explains the reason for the state of the van, basically ... read more

One of the absolute highlights of our time on New Zealand's South Island was our visit to Mount Aspiring National Park. We reached the boundary of the park where there were signs saying the road ahead was difficult and could damage your car. We had heard from a DOC ranger that a car had gotten stuck on the road a couple of days earlier so we heeded these warnings. We were in the midst of expansive farmlands with mountains forming an imposing backdrop. At random intervals there were sheep and cows strewn across the road. We travelled alongside a river which was a lovely shade of aquamarine. At one point I stopped to get a photograph and was gutted to be passed by a tour bus. The gravel road had been good so far but it ... read more
Mt Aspiring National Park
Rob Roy Glacier
Bird at Rob Roy Glacier

October 5 – The Rob Roy Glacier sits in the Matukituki Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park. To get to the trail head, we first had to ford the river 5 or 6 times. Thankfully, we were in Brian and Diane’s sturdy four-wheel drive Rav 4 and not in ‘gee zee jay’ which we left sulking in the parking lot at the resort. It was a cool, wet, windy day. (I was beginning to think there were no other kinds.) We first crossed an open area surrounded by beautiful green and gold, bracken covered hills. Brian set a fast pace trying his best to get us (well, mostly me) to the bridge before more rain fell as fording the stream on the way back might be difficult if the waters rose too much. We crossed a ... read more
The Rob Roy Glacier Track
Glacier in the distance
Trees 'dripping' with moss

Last weekend I joined a few Kiwis for a tramping trip in the Fjordland – at least that was the plan. Reality was far away from it. A month ago, I was invited for a 50km+ hiking trip by Andrew – my current roommate. Sounded epic, adventurous and tough. Oh I was totally game! Well, the closer the time came to prepare for this hiking trip, the more I thought about its meaning. 50k on my feet, walking, not turning pedals, but walking. When exactly did I do that the last time? No memory! With the approach of action time, I learned the small but significant details: We would start the track at around 10pm and run to a hut up the mountains, “but don’t worry monika, we are walking the uphills and run the flats ... read more

Tuesday 26th November, 2013. Mount Aspiring National Park & Wanaka, Otago, South Island, New Zealand. Today we had planned to go Tramping (Hiking) in the Mount Aspiring National Park. The park was established in 1964 and is a wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. It is a walker's paradise, and a must for hunters, fishermen and mountaineers. Mount Aspiring National park is the 3rd largest in New Zealand (355,5643 hectares). It is part of the Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Historically, Maori used the trails over the mountain passes in search of food and jade (a.k.a. pounamu). At 3033 metres, Mount Aspiring (Tititea) is New Zealand's highest mountain outside of the Mt Cook (Aoraki) region. Nearly all of the landforms in the park have been formed by ... read more
Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring National Park

The weather is looking suspect as the day dawns. Big, ominous rain clouds hang high above the mountains on the other side of the lake. Forecast says showers but the wanderer thinks there might be enough gaps in between them to make a day out worth it anyway. The ankle is still twingeing but not too badly so an hour's drive and the only thing between me and the Brewster track is the river. Last time, it defeated me. This time, I skip across from rocks to rock as the shallow waters amble past. The sign reads 3 hours for Brewster hut but I'm hoping the cloud might lift and allow an ascent to the summit of Mt Armstrong above the hut. An hour and much root-skipping later I'm above the bushline. Another 45 minutes and ... read more

Rise fairly early and am leaving the hut by 9am, the sun having had a half hour to melt away any frost. Hike up to the top and along the ridge to take a few pics and allow myself to be knowingly overtaken by the needy solo Israeli who has foolishly made the hike in a poor pair of sandals and has been hinting at making the descent with me to guide him. I reach the rock slabs. No ice to worry about but a moist smear of dirty rubble lies waiting for an unwary boot. So pride goes out the window and it's the back of the wanderer's trousers that are in permanent contact with the rock as I slide down gingerly. Down-climbing the treacherous, rooty drops below I quickly catch-up to the Israeli as ... read more

Minimal sleep achieved last night and the fumbling attempts of the four summiteers to rise and leave early make for a groggy morning. Coffee and muesli dispatched, I hike up the ridge to the snowline. DB & MC and already there. We bask in the sunshine and drink in the mountain-top views all around while watching the summiteers progress across the snowfields above. Already the Kiwis are a good hour ahead of the Argentinians who seem to be struggling to cross the bergschrund lower down. By the time we decide to descend back to the hut, the Kiwis are very close to the summit of Mt French (not a necessary part of the route, but worth bagging on a clear day like today) and the Argentinian pair have made it to the top of the first ... read more

It's a chilly morning so Kai breakfast by the lake is an indoor affair today. Cloud hangs over the tops of the hills in the distance but that should lift and dissipate by some time this afternoon. The long drive down the familiar Matukituki valley to the roadend at Raspberry Creek. Dodging sheep, cows, and tourists (day-trippers to the Rob Roy Glacier) in the early parts of the valley but tranquility returns after Aspiring hut. Quick chat with the hut warden at Aspiring (Stu North - a man of some legend in the hills here) confirms that a half hour or so about French Ridge hut the terrain turns into mountaineering land and thus requires kit I don't have with me. So that confirms the plan for the next couple of days - up to French ... read more

After staying int e Mueller hut at Mt Cook National park, Max and I headed to Mt Aspiring hut and trekked 10.5 km to the Makaroa hut. The track was very tough, and hiking down from Mueller didn't help us. After the death march to the hut, we decided to stay for two nights to relax for a day.... read more

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