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Handbook to the Mount Aspiring National Park

22 May 2010

Gazetted on December 10th, 1964, Mount Aspiring National Park is the tenth national park in New Zealand. It covers an area of 3555 km² divided evenly between the districts of Otago and Westland.

This book, edited by Scott Gilkison on behalf of the Mount Aspiring National Park Board, provides visitors with basic information about the park’s recreational opportunities and natural history. After a brief introduction on the establishment of Mount Aspiring National Park, the first half of the book is entirely dedicated to access roads to the region (with a detailed description of the Haast Pass Highway), tramping tracks and routes, and the mountain ranges in the park, with ten pages of detailed information on the main peaks in the area. Only four pages are dedicated to the flora in the park, three pages to the native wildlife, another four to introduced mammals and six to the geology of the park. A comprehensive section on the history of exploration of the region is perhaps the most informative chapter in the whole book. A brief section on the management of the park follows; the volume ends with a list of notable first ascents in the region.

Overall, the contents reflect the editor’s interest in climbing and climbing history, and the publication is strongly biased towards tramping and mountaineering. Other sports or recreational activities are not even mentioned. On a positive note, this means that trampers and climbers will find lots of valuable information. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this booklet contains the most comprehensive summary of the history of climbing and exploration in the Mount Aspiring region I have come across so far.


Gilkison, W.S. (1971) Handbook to the Mount Aspiring National Park. Published by the Mount Aspiring National Park Board, Dunedin. 70 pages

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