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Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring is a pyramid-like peak in the southern region of the Southern Alps, on the border of Otago and Westland, about 30 km west of Lake Wanaka. It has challenged expert mountaineers because of its similarity to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. At 3,036 m, it is the highest peak in NZ outside Mt Cook National Park.

The mountain is composed entirely of hard schist rocks. These rocks were originally laid down as muds and sands on the sea floor. Between 170 and 120 million years ago, earth movements associated with the beginnings of the opening-up of the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, squeezed and buckled the old sea floor sediments and pushed them deep into the earth's crust where they were exposed to high temperatures and pressures. The beds of sand and mud, on being exposed, underwent re-crystallisation and re-constitution to form the metamorphic rock called schist. Earth movements, beginning about 12 million years ago, raised these rocks again to various heights above sea level, and since then erosion has carved the land surface into its present shape. In the case of Mt Aspiring, however, the carving has been largely the work of glaciers, during the last two million years. Even now Aspiring is surrounded by active glaciers.

Things to do in the Mount Aspiring National Park:

  • Try Jet boating on the Dart River
  • Walk one of the short tracks that start and finish at the access roads
  • Walk the world famous Heaphy track
  • Other great tracks to try are the Greenstone track and the
  • Dart/Rees River circuit
  • If you are an experienced mountaineer, climb a mountain

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