In the rugged wilderness outside of Wanaka, Glenorchy, Makarora, and Haast, Mt. Aspiring National Park sits waiting to be explored. Here in New Zealand’s third largest park, glaciers hang suspended on mountainsides that are crossed by backcountry trails. Views of this pristine, South Island landscape are reserved for the hardiest of trekkers—or helicopter passengers who share the skies with kea, or alpine parrots. The hiking here in Mt. Aspiring National Park is some of New Zealand’s best, with the Routeburn Track being the most famous of the multi-day hikes through the park. Experienced trekkers seek out solace on the winding, Reed-Dart and Caples Tracks, and a large network of shorter day hikes make a playground of outdoor adventure. In the middle of it all towers Mt. Aspiring, which at nearly 10,000 feet is New Zealand’s tallest peak outside of Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. Outside of Wanaka, the Rob Roy Track is a classic day hike with panoramic views of the lake, whereas Matukukituki is laden with trails that explore the isolated valley. Wherever you hike, scan the skies for the 59 bird species found flitting across the skies, and take the time to drink in the scenery of this stunning South Island park.
The best months for hiking in Mt. Aspiring National Park are from late November-March. Weather can change quickly here in the mountains, and snow and ice are possibilities during any month of the year. Before venturing into the backcountry, be sure to check in with the local DOC office for any alerts or closures.