Mount Aspiring National Park
Mt Aspiring is one of the highest peaks in New Zealand.
Mount Aspiring National Park is a hiker's paradise and a must for mountaineers. 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 -- the views are endless and unforgettable. Mount Aspiring National Park is part of Te Wai Pounamu, the southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Mount Aspiring is now a protected World Heritage site, but signs of early explorers in search of greenstone can still be found.
Ancient Maori trails led through parts of what is now national park. Early travellers passed through in search of pounamu (greenstone), much valued as a material for tools, weapons and ornaments. After European settlement, many of the valleys were farmed and exploited for minerals including scheelite. Remnants of these activities can still be found in and around the park. Tourism development began in the late 1880s, when guided trips were first offered into the Routeburn Valley.
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.
Hike through varied beech forests teeming with bird life.
Beech forests dominate below the bush line. Each beech species favours slightly different growing conditions so while you might find red beech in sunny, frost-free situations, you will usually find silver or mountain beech at higher altitudes, happily surviving winter snow falls. Ribbonwoods are among the first to colonise open areas (caused by slips and avalanches); these are among New Zealand's few deciduous trees. Above the bushline are snow tussock grasslands and herbfields with mountain buttercups, daisies, and ourisias.
Rifleman, bellbird, South Island robin, yellow crowned parakeet, mohua (yellowhead), tomtit, South Island fantail and New Zealand pigeon are common bush birds found in Mount Aspiring National Park. Towards evening, native bats and moreporks (small owls) can be seen and heard. Blue ducks and paradise ducks also live in the valley. 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 a widespread threat to native birds. Introduced brown and rainbow trout are found in the lower Routeburn and brown trout are present in Lake Howden. 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, tents, car antennae and even bicycle seats so keep your belongings with you at all times!
See Mount Aspiring National Park on the following New Zealand tours
Rimu – 14 day South Island adventure trip
Tui – 8 day South Island adventure trip
Winter Rimu – 14 day South Island adventure trip
Kea Family – 13 day South Island family trip
Manuka – 14 day South Island hiking trip