Really spectacular views of mountains and valleys on this lesser known walk in Mt Aspiring National Park, including a nice side angle of Mt Earnslaw at 2830m of elevation.
We did this walk for the first time on about our seventh trip to New Zealand, and I can’t understand how it had remained under our radar for so long. After a moderate amount of time in very atmospheric beech forest, the walk emerges above the tree line to a saddle for the first views of mountains and valleys in Mt Aspiring National Park. But the views get really spectacular when you take a right turn off-track up to point 1290m. There are views of rugged mountains in various directions, including a great angle on Mt Earnslaw, which peaks at 2890m of elevation. (Mind you, the impressive Earnslaw Glacier is on the other side of the mountain; you can visit this in a really gruelling day walk that we did a year or so earlier).
There’s about 800m change in elevation on this walk. We also did this walk in winter 2019, when the scenery was even more spectacular, and also my photography was a bit better: click here to see those photos.
I took a nice photo at breakfast on the morning of the walk…
The walk starts at the beginning of the famous Routeburn Track, which we’ve done sections of a few times, but after a short while you take a right turn at a signposted junction, and ascend steeply up through beech forest. Continue past the treeline to a saddle, then ascend steeply off-track to the right until it levels out, then a little further along you reach a minor peak at 1290m of elevation. Behold the views.
We returned the way we came, but the track continues on at the saddle and can be done as a long day circuit back to the road leading to the Routeburn car park. However to do this circuit you’ll want to park your car somewhere near the Lake Sylvan turnoff, and maybe hitch a lift down to the Routeburn car park, or else park two cars at both points to avoid a longish walk along the road.