Mount Aspiring National Park
Located in the Otago region
IntroductionMount Aspiring National Park is a wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. It is a walker's paradise and a must for mountaineers.
Find things to do and places to stay Mount Aspiring National Park
Most of the park's alpine areas lie over the Southern Alps. Glacier and high alpine adventures are popular but suitable only for experienced trampers/mountaineers with the appropriate equipment. Mountaineering, ice climbing, rock climbing and abseiling are possible within the area.
Brown and rainbow trout are found in the Matukituki and Makarora area’s rivers.
There are limited opportunities for trout fishing in the mid Rees, and in some tributaries and parts of the Dart River. There is a limited open season from 1 November to 31 May with a bag limit of one fish.
Fishing licences can be obtained from Fish & Game NZ.
Mt Aspiring National Park straddles the southern end of the Southern Alps. The closest towns are Wānaka, Queenstown, Glenorchy and Te Anau. It is one of New Zealand's larger parks at 355,543 ha and it lies alongside the largest, Fiordland National Park.
In the northwest the park is traversed by SH6. Good tramping tracks and short walks can be accessed from the small settlement of Makarora between Haast and Wānaka.
Roads also lead to main access points from Wānaka, Queenstown/Glenorchy and Te Anau. Local transport services run to most of these access points, including a boat service from Glenorchy to the Greenstone Valley. There are frequent bus services to Queenstown, Wānaka and Te Anau. Queenstown has an airport with regular services and Wānaka airport services domestic flights.
If you use the track system in the park for overnight trips, make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared.
Make sure your group has a capable leader and that everyone is carrying a sleeping bag, cooking utensils, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, gloves, a hat, and several layers of warm (wool or fleece) clothing.
There is avalanche danger during winter and spring (June-November) on the Rob Roy Track, Cascade Saddle Route and Pearl Flat to the head of the valley.
Check in at any of the local DOC offices for the latest information on weather and track conditions.
Stay safe in the outdoors and follow the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.
The park spans a large area, from the Haast River in the north to the Humbolt Mountains in the south. Large valleys, carved out by ancient glaciers, dissect high mountain ranges.
Mt Aspiring itself is the only peak over 3000 metres outside Mount Cook National Park. One of the most unusual areas in the park is the Red Hills 'mineral belt' in the southwest. Here the concentration of magnesium in the soil is so high that only a few hardy plants survive.
Most of the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana started over 220 million years ago as sediment and rock on top of volcanic rocks on the seafloor. Under intense heat and pressure the rock was consolidated, then uplifted to form the Main Divide. The present landscape was shaped by glacial processes during the Ice Ages when huge glaciers filled and scoured out the valleys.
Beech forests dominate below the bush line. Each beech species favours slightly different growing conditions. While you might find red beech in sunny, frost-free situations, you will find silver or mountain beech at higher altitudes, happily surviving winter snowfalls.
Ribbonwoods are among the first to colonise open areas caused by slips and avalanches. Ribbonwoods are among New Zealand's few deciduous trees. Above the bush line are snow tussock grasslands and herb fields with mountain buttercups, and daisies.
Rifleman, bellbird, South Island robin, yellow-crowned parakeet, mohua (yellowhead), tomtit, South Island fantail and New Zealand pigeon are common bush birds. Towards evening, native bats and moreporks (small owls) may be seen and heard. Blue ducks and paradise shelducks live in the valley.
The park's alpine areas are home to the threatened rock wren and the high-profile kea. These mischievous mountain parrots have been known to take an unhealthy interest in visitors' packs and tents.
Introduced animals include whitetail deer in the lower Routeburn valley, red deer throughout the forested areas and chamois about the mountaintops. Possums, rats and stoats are widespread. Introduced brown and rainbow trout are found in the lower Route Burn and brown trout are present in Lake Howden.
Rare, threatened native long-tailed bats/pekapeka roost in mature red beech forests mainly in Makarora, East Matukituki Valley, and the Routeburn. Bats are New Zealand’s only native land mammal; their bodies are a similar size to mice.
Māori were here first, searching for food and pounamu (greenstone). “Greenstone trails” along mountain passes are still in use today such as Haast Pass on State Highway 6 (the major road between Wānaka and Haast).
Māori called Mount Aspiring, Tititea, meaning steep peak of glistening white. Throughout the year they came from Foveaux Strait and Coastal Otago to the inland lakes to collect kakapo, kaka, kereru (wood pigeon) and tui from the forest. For the first 200 years of Māori settlement, there would also have been moa along the forest edges.
Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu both had named settlements around the shores of Lakes Wānaka and Hawea, including Nehenehe (literally meaning forest), on the north side of the mouth of the Matukituki River. There are several sites on the lake shore with ovens for cooking ti rakau (cabbage tree) roots.
The first European to see Mount Aspiring/Tititea was government surveyor John Turnbull Thompson in 1857. After European settlement, many of the valleys were farmed and exploited for minerals such as scheelite. Remnants of these activities can still be found in and around the park. Tourism development began in the late 1880s. Even then it was possible to take a guided trip into the Routeburn Valley.
Formed in 1964 and covering 356,181 ha, Mount Aspiring National Park is possibly the least developed of New Zealand’s 14 national parks.
World Heritage Area
Mt Aspiring National Park is part of Te Wãhipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. This world heritage area was established in December 1990. It covers 10% of New Zealand from Westland Tai Poutini and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Parks in the north to Fiordland National Park and Waitutu Forest in the south.
|Tititea / Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre|
1 Ballantyne Road
PO Box 93
|Full office details|
|Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Visitor Centre|
|Phone:||+64 3 442 7935|
|Fax:||+64 4 471 1117|
50 Stanley Street
PO Box 811
|Full office details|