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Makarora - Mount Aspiring National Park

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Makarora - Mount Aspiring National Park
Print of Mount Aspiring: John Gully

Spectacular mountain scenery, alpine vegetation and river valleys of silver beech are highlights of this area. Named for Mt Aspiring, one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, it was recognised nationally in 1964, when Mt Aspiring National Park was created, and internationally in 1990, with the establishment of the Te Wähipounamu — South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. World Heritage status means this part of New Zealand is among the world’s foremost natural landscapes.

Mt Aspiring National Park straddles the southern end of the Southern Alps. The closest towns are Makarora, Wanaka, Queenstown, Glenorchy and Te Anau. It is one of New Zealand’s larger parks at 355,543 hectares and it lies alongside the largest, Fiordland National Park.

The settlements of Makarora, Haast and Glenorchy act as gateways to the park. Makarora has B & Bs, cottages, chalets, farmstays and camp sites. Accommodation in Haast and Glenorchy includes motels, hotels and lodges.The Makarora region of Mount Aspiring National Park offers a number of tramping opportunities. Many of the tracks follow the river valleys that branch off the Makarora River and range from one day walks to challenging four to five day tramps.

In the past, Maori trekked through the region on their way to the pounamu fields of the west coast. Europeans visited to map, name and explore geographical features of the area and settlers attempted to farm and mine some of the valleys.

Maori from coastal Otago and Southland visited Otago’s inland lakes to hunt moa, kakapo and weka, and to fish. They had camps around the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea and in the Makarora Valley which they knew of as Kaika Paekai — ‘The place of abundant food.’

(page last updated  15 July 2007)