Mount Aspiring National Park

Named after one of the highest peaks in New Zealand, this South Island national park is a dreamy landscape of sky-scraping jagged peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes and centuries-old glaciers. It’s where the Maori once trekked, on their way to the pounamu fields on the West Coast. 

This park attracts hikers from all over the world, thanks to its famous trails such as the Caples and the Routeburn. However, it’s not just for serious, multi-day hikers. There are numerous shorter routes perfect for a day or half-day adventure.

Plus, there are also many other exciting ways to explore the park, such as on a boat trip or via helicopter. This park can be accessed via Wanaka, Queenstown or the West Coast and no matter which way you approach, it will take your breath away.

Where is Mount Aspiring National Park?

Mount Aspiring National Park Location Map

Mount Aspiring & Lord of the Rings

Many scenes in Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed in Mount Aspiring National Park. (For the fans, that’s Lothlorien, Isengard, one of the three fortresses of Gondor and the stronghold of Saruman). 

As you hike through the dramatic mountain scenery of this park, you’ll really feel like you have wandered into the larger-than-life landscapes of Middle Earth.

Routeburn Track

One of the “Great Walks” of New Zealand, this 2-3 day track brings many visitors to Mount Aspiring National Park. The track also heads into Fiordland National Park.

You’ll weave through meadows, alpine gardens and more – admiring the spectacular vistas of valleys and mountain ranges.

You’ll stay in huts and campsites along the way, which need to be booked in advance. You’ll need moderate fitness, hiking experience and overnight gear including a camping stove and sleeping bag.

The track is well formed and easy to follow, but be aware that in wet weather the river can rise quite quickly and flood the tracks. Check the forecast before you head out!

Activities in Mount Aspiring National Park

  • River Jets: Skim across the waters of the Makarora and Wilkin Rivers while surrounded by ice-capped mountains and native bush.
  • Scenic Helicopter Ride: Seeing this impressive section of the Southern Alps from above in a helicopter ride is a once in a lifetime experience.
  • Canyoning: Feel the adrenaline of abseiling down waterfalls in the lush forests.

5 Top Walks & Hikes in Mount Aspiring National Park

  • The Blue Pools Walk: This is one of the best short walks in the area. It’s an easy 60 minute track that will lead through beech forest and podocarp to pools of clear blue glacial water. You’ll find swing bridges and boardwalks across the water and you might even see the Mohua (yellowhead), a small, rare, yellow species of bird.
  • Rob Roy Glacier: One of the most stunning half day walks in New Zealand, the Rob Roy Glacier trail will reward you with jaw-dropping views of this enormous glacier. Surrounded on either side by 600 foot high waterfalls, this gorgeous natural wonder is very accessible. The trail takes 4-5 hours return and requires an easy/moderate effort.
  • Aspiring Hut: This remote hut is an easy four hour return hike along the river flats of the West Matukituki Valley. It is surrounded by stunning towering mountains and glaciers. If you want to make it into a bigger adventure, you can stay overnight in the hut and hike back the next day.
  • Mt Brewster Track: This is a great challenging day hike which features a river crossing (check rain conditions) and then a walk through unspoiled beech forest until you reach the hilltop. There’s a 12 bed red hut where you can stay if you want to turn it into an overnight adventure.
  • Blue-Young Link Track: A picturesque track that begins at the Blue Pools car park, this walk traces the path of the river through green and tranquil native beech forest. You’ll cross the Blue Pools Bridge and then the path continues through the forest to Rainy Flat. It takes 1.5-2 hours one day and is suitable for those with moderate fitness levels.

Getting To and From

There are three main entry points into the park:

  • Queenstown/Glenorchy: At the South Western entrance to the park, you’ll travel past Mt. Earnslaw (aka. Isengard).
  • Wanaka: Take the route up the Matukituki Valley and it will take you to the Cascade Saddle Route and Rob Roy Glacier.
  • To/From the West Coast: State Highway 6 will take you right through the national park, past the Young and Wilkin circuit and many other great walks.

The Landscape and Climate

The best time to hike in Mount Aspiring National Park is during the summer months. The cold and ice make it difficult to hike in the winter months. The summer season (between November and March) is also the ideal time for other activities such as jet boating and helicopter tours.

However, the winter months do have advantages – the roads are quieter, the air is clearer and prices are cheaper.

Mt Aspiring National Park Temperatures

  • Summer, December – February. High:. 52F, 11C Low: 32F, 0C.
  • Autumn / Fall, March – May. High:. 48F, 9C, Low: 28F, -2C
  • Winter, June – August. High:.26F, 2C Low:23F, -5C.
  • Spring, September – November. High: 41F, 5C Low: 25F, -4C


There are a lot of options for accommodation in Mount Aspiring National Park. On the budget end of the scale there are campsites, basic motels and budget hotels – as well as backpacker hostels.

If you want to treat yourself to a luxury stay, there are higher end options available as well. For example, Whare Kea Lodge on the edge of Lake Wanaka is an elegant, light-filled building with deluxe suites, sundecks, a hot tub and a restaurant with open fire and bar.

Local Information

Wanaka is a small town on the shores of Lake Wanaka and it is considered the “Gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park.” This is the best place to stock up on food and other supplies before you head further into the park. There is a supermarket located just one street back from the lakefront, as well as a few other shops and specialty markets. 

Before hiking, check in at the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre, where you’ll find information about hikes, track conditions, weather and safety. It’s located in Wanaka Township and is open every day except Christmas Day.

Visiting Mount Aspiring With MoaTrek

We’ll take you on an unforgettable adventure through Mount Aspiring National Park. After spending three nights in Queenstown, we will head to Glenorchy and Lake Wakatipu, where you’ll have the option of the Dart River Jet Boat.

We’ll stay in lakeside accommodation in Wanaka with gorgeous views north across the lake and into the park. We’ll cross the entire park from east to west, taking our time to explore the many fascinating little spots along the way. We also have the option of stopping for a number of short walks including the Blue Pools walk as we travel through the park and over to the West Coast.

There are a number of MoaTrek tours that include Mt Aspiring National Park:

Kakapo 21 day tour
Kaka 17 day tour
Kea 9 day tour

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