Won­der­ful Walk

Get a taste for alpine ad­ven­ture in Mount As­pir­ing Na­tional Park where there are in­spir­ing walks for fam­i­lies and keen moun­taineers alike.

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Liver­pool Hut in Mt. As­pir­ing Na­tional Park

Na­tive flora and fauna, glaciers and moun­tain tops abound in Mount As­pir­ing Park and the Matuk­i­tuki Val­ley. A few walk­ing tracks of vary­ing fit­ness lev­els are ac­cessed from Rasp­berry Creek car park, an hour’s drive from Wanaka (4WD rec­om­mended). There’s a pop­u­lar day tramp to Rob Roy val­ley with views of the glacier, but to truly get away from it all, head deeper into the park and stay overnight in a hut. The As­pir­ing Hut is two hours’ walk from the car park; the track winds along­side a bluer-than-blue river through farm­land and grassy flats. At the half­way point, there’s an ex­cel­lent (though very cold) swim­ming hole. If it’s a warm day, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than stop­ping for a snack and a dip here.

When you spot the his­toric Cas­cade Hut, keep go­ing, you’re al­most there. There Words Bethany Rogers

are a few river cross­ings and the As­pir­ing Hut is hid­den from view by grand old trees. This 38-bunk stone hut is main­tained from late Oc­to­ber to mid-April by DOC. There’s a wood burner, gas stoves and flush­ing toi­lets – lux­u­ri­ous by backcountry stan­dards and great for fam­i­lies.

If you’re stay­ing here, bring bug spray as it’s pop­u­lar with hun­gry sand­flies.

From the kitchen win­dow, you might be able to glimpse a red dot on the moun­tain­side. This is the Liver­pool Hut, a 10-bunk DOC hut a fur­ther 3.5 hours’ walk. It’s cer­tainly more chal­leng­ing, but worth it. The val­ley walls spew wa­ter­falls and that bluer-than-blue river reap­pears. Keep an eye out for par­adise shel­ducks in the val­leys and ri­fle­man and South Is­land robins in the bush.

At Pearl Flat, trudge through the river to­wards French Ridge or over the bridge to head to Liver­pool Hut. It’s all up­hill from this point and you’ll need to clam­ber over tree roots. As the bush line clears you’ll spot the hut, it’s tan­ta­lis­ingly close but alas, it’s on an­other knoll. The track swings away from the hut over rocky ter­rain which in spring and sum­mer is lit­tered with Mt Cook but­ter­cups (the world’s largest) and moun­tain daisies. It’ll take an­other half-hour to reach the hut, which looks down on the val­ley, across to French Ridge and up to Mt Liver­pool. Keep your eyes and ears open, you’re likely to meet cheeky kea. And the last time I vis­ited, a tiny and very rare rock wren ser­e­naded my fi­nal steps. g

9km (about 2 hours) from Rasp­berry Creek car park to Mount As­pir­ing Hut, a fur­ther 6km (3-4 hours to­tal) to Liver­pool Hut. The red of the 10-bunk Liver­pool Hut stands out among the many shades of green. Mount As­pir­ing Na­tional Park

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