Aspiring National Park

A Doug's Life
[Above: We enjoyed pretending to be in the Lord of the Rings movie.]
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There aren’t many national parks in the U.S. that are run and managed like they are here in N.Z.

As we found out time and again, the Kiwi's put the U.S. to shame regarding friendly, easy and simple processes that serve the public.

There was no hassle entering the park. No Ranger hut or ranger for that matter. No traffic. No payment!

A Doug's Life
Even late in the summer season, you can still see icy peaks within the park from many vantage points in downtown Wanaka (Rhymes with Hannukah).

A Doug's Life
We decided to get a closer look, so we borrowed the Pollards' trusty little Subaru and took the gravel road to the very end – which puts you in a dirt parking lot that includes clean and nicely designed public toilets.

Down here they call them toilets (not restrooms, they won’t know what you're talking about if you ask for one – just ask Virginia), and the Kiwi expectation that there’s always one nearby, it’s clean and in perfect working order – which they always are even at a remote car park (parking lot) at the bottom of a glacier.

There is one in Queenstown that’s so artistically designed; it’s actually become a tourist attraction. Perhaps you get some bragging rights or merit badge after, ahem... “visiting”? 

As an older couple we found the whole toilet situation quite exciting and took advantage of them often. Oh look, honey, there’s another one. It's cute!

A Doug's Life

Meanwhile back at the parking area, you find yourself at the mouth of the Matukituki Valley and the West Matukituki river flowing teal blue. The rush of the river was loud. It was a mighty sound that says wild river!

We were hoping for a clear day of blue skies and sun but got white sky and clouds instead. No matter, we were excited to explore the valley and get some views of the Rob Roy glaciers.

Virginia especially loved the track along the valley (they don’t call them trails here) since it ascends only lightly, following the mostly lazy river. There were only a few steep climbs.

The Matukituki Valley is stunning. The river collects extra water from several waterfalls lopping over the steep slopes. Ice capped peaks stand high above the river when looking down to the valley's end.

A Doug's Life

There is little infrastructure to suggest that you’re in a managed park. However, farmers have held sway over the land here for eons, and many have maintained the right to let their cattle and sheep graze within the park boundaries, so you’ll see typical grazing fence lines here and there (along with cows and ewes. To cross over, steps are provided to avoid all the nasty things that could happen when mixing barbed wire and legs.

A Doug's Life

On we hiked. Our day was quickly eaten up by many photo stops as well as off-trail detours to explore the river’s secret bends and pools.

A Doug's Life

Eventually after our lunch in the grass, we backtracked to the starting point, not quite making our goal to reach the newly remodeled Aspiring Hut. It’s been updated to hold more overnight hikers as it’s the most popular hut in the park.

But once back at the parking lot, we headed for the toilet hut, not the same as the Aspiring hut, but almost as good!

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If you've made it this far, thanks so much for reading to the bitter end.

If you've got questions, comments or your own stories to share, use the comment form below. The comment password is: life is good

Comments (1) -

Anthony Mikkonen
Anthony Mikkonen 3/31/2024 11:00:59 AM

A great Sunday morning read. Keep it coming Doug!

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