There’s a reason Mt Aspiring National Park is so popular. It’s stunning. From day walks to multi day challenging hikes, to mountaineering and climbing I can see how it really has something for everyone.
To access Mt Aspiring National park from Wanaka it is about an hours drive, 30km of which is on an unsealed backcountry road. The last 10km is a fine weather road win loads of fords to cross, depending on how much clearance your car has.
I have been wanting to get in and explore this National Park since arriving in Wanaka but unfortunately the days off and weather never cooperated. Finally though, I made it!
The first couple of hours is easy walking on a farm track which veers left instead of right where the Rob Roy Glacier track starts at the swing bridge. Cows and sheep are often chilling out in the fields, and the views are spectacular heading into the valley, mountains in the distance and river by your side.
Mt Aspiring Hut is a large , beautifully located and maintained hut belonging to NZAC , although anyone can use it. Maintained by doc, and with an adjoins campground his hut sees a lot of people through in both winter and summer, as it is a gateway to the rest of the park.
Continuing on through beautiful beech forest the track is really well benched and easy, with a few swing bridges crossing over the rivers. Opening out into shovel flat, it is hard to know where to look. A poled route takes you through the valley with waterfalls on one side and glaciers on the other, and many snowy peaks surrounding either side.
This was probably my favourite spot and would have been a great camping spot. Close to shovel flat is peal flat which is near the head of the valley and the turn off for Liverpool and French ridge tracks. A beautiful swing bridge crosses the Liverpool river.
The track for French ridge requires crossing of the matukituki river or use of a swing bridge upstream. Liverpool track begins from pearl flat and heads straight up through the bush. It is steep and height is gained quickly although it feels so slow! Beautiful glimpses of the valley peek through the bush cover. Focus is definately on the track through as it is super slippery and steep, requiring a lot of hand over hand scrambling.
Coming up throughthe bush is amazing as the first glimpses of cute Liverpool hut an be seen to the left. However, the track continues steadily uphil and over a bluff to descend to the hut and extreme care is required as it is slippery slabs of schist and wet tussock to navigate. Descending to the hut was tricky business as there was a little snow still around but it was soft and hollow underneath where the track would have been.
At last arriving at the hut I was super lucky to have it all to myself and settled in to enjoy the wonderful views. Mt Liverpool loomed above the hut alongside Mt Barff which a lot of climbers and alpinists attempt, though often have to turn back as weather is very quick to turn up here. Looking across I could just make out the tops of the French ridge hut through the cloud across the valley sitting high on the ridge.
Did I mention the awesome location of the loo?
The hut was amazing, a modern 10 bunker built only in 2009 and in the beautiful bold red of other alpine huts, it was definately one of my favourite huts of all time. I spent a relaxing afternoon eating, reading, drinking tea and exploring around the hut, before seeing the sun disappear over the valley.
The next morning the weather was a little more dull but I had a nice lie in and leisurely breakfast before heading out. I knew the downhill section was going to be really challenging and it was, slow, painful, wet and pretty treacherous. One I reached the flat again I had a great morning tea, relieved the hard yards were out of the way for the morning.
Heading back, I came across a few day walkers and over nighters heading for Liverpool hut. One couple were going to attempt Mt Barff but didn’t have high hopes after looking at the weather so far that morning.
It was an awesome walk back out, warm in the sun but a light breeze cooling me down. Definately Spring time! I was stoked to have fit this tramp in as it had been on my mind all season. It now rates as one of the best overnighters I’ve done in Nz!