Mount Aspiring National Park is situated at the southern end of the Southern Alps. The towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Te Anau are the main centers in the area and the park is part of Te Wahipounamu, the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.
The park was created in 1964 and is named after Mount Aspiring, the highest mountain in the park at over 3000 metres. Glaciers carved out the beautiful river valleys which are surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps. Part of the park, known as Red Hills, has soil which has a extremely high concentration of magnesium and only certain types of plants can survive here.
Below the bush line the dominant plant species is beech with red and silver beech filling the forests, whilst tussock grasslands are widespread above the bush line. Mountain buttercups and daisies can be found in the grassy tussock land.
The park is home to a wide variety of bird life, including bellbirds, the South Island robin, tomtit and of course the cheeky kea. In the evenings, the call of the native morepork, a small owl, can be heard. Introduced deer are widespread in the park and trout can be found in some of the main rivers.
Tramping and mountaineering are the main activities in the park with numerous day hikes, multi day tramps and great climbing opportunities available. Mountaineers should note that the climbing in the park is considered suitably only for experienced mountaineers.
There are a number of jet boating operations in the park as well, two of the more popular ones operate on the Dart and Wilkin rivers. It is also possible to take guided walks on the Routeburn and Greenstone tracks.
Close to the park a full range of accommodation is available in Haast and Glenorchy whilst at Makarora has a smaller range with B&B's, chalets and camp sites. The other more distant centers of Queenstown and Wanaka have a vast range of accommodation to suit all requirements.