Lambs & Near Death: Mt. Aspiring, NZ
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
Location: Matukituki Valley, Mt. Aspiring National Park, South Island, New Zealand
Elevation: 1,200m (3,937ft)
Difficulty level: Advanced
Trail length: 30km (18.6mi)
Elevation gain: 700m (2,296ft)
"This hike has two modes; chilled out ambling and knee breaking scrambling. Both really fun and the latter leads to an epic sense of accomplishment. Liverpool hut isn’t quite as high as French Ridge hut but it makes up for it with steepness and slippery shale. Your reward is a beautiful view of Mt. Aspiring and the valley below, best appreciated from the bathroom." - Bob (my hiking buddy)
The first few hours of farmland on the way in and out were easy and fun – it was springtime, the trail was mostly flat, and there were hundreds of little lambs frolicking around and literally doing 2ft jumps of joy. The entrance to the valley is stunning, with the meandering blue-green river and mountains towering on both sides.
I pretty much hit my now standard 800 photos mark on this hike, and we had most of this all to ourselves – not many other hikers. My friend and I took the opportunity to look extra ridiculous with our headgear, and take excessive breaks with ‘no one watching’. Yeah, we're dorks, and we have a lot of fun.
We only had one walking stick between the two of us, but an everyday hero in the Mt. Aspiring Hut took pity on us enthusiastic amateurs and lent us two more. Which turned out to be a real life-saver, since the 3hr ascent/descent to Liverpool hut is often not described accurately as a 110 degree angle ascent/descent. Turns out walking sticks are infinitely helpful for safely balancing your weight, not rolling down the mountain disgracefully, and taking some of the beating off of your old joints (we were 27, but still).
"There is a quite scary bit where there is an exposed shingle and rock section with a huge drop to what looks like the valley floor. It is near the top of the track and even the seasoned mountaineers that we met at the hut thought it was dangerous. Take extreme care if it is wet and slippery and stick as far left as possible away from the loose shingle." - Bob (my hiking buddy)
We also ran into an old guardian angel on the way down from the hut - he was a pretty cool older mountain man who helped us navigate the tricky descent while quietly smiling all the while, and made sure we got off the mountain in one piece. The hut itself is very cute and cozy, with a huge deck from where you can watch the mountaineers come down from the peak of Mt. Barff. Spoiler: best hut bathroom in. the. world.