If you’re planning a tramping adventure this summer, and have hikers of varying abilities in your party, think no further than the beautiful Matukituki Valley 52km from Wanaka. Few places exist in the New Zealand outdoors where everyone from young children to grandparents can enjoy the same environment while not having to step outside their own comfort zone or risk their safety because they lack experience. Here’s how to make your multi-level hike happen!
Begin your tramp together as you set out from the Raspberry Flat public car park approximately 1 hour’s drive from Wanaka. Your destination is Aspiring Hut just 8.7km along a highly scenic but easy-terrain 4-wheel drive track. Apart from a zig-zag over a bluff above a river, the going is pretty much flat, so it’s ideal for children and those with only a moderate level of fitness. Let the strongest and fittest in the party carry the bulk of supplies at this stage, and on your way, be sure to watch out for the bridge and turn-off to Rob Roy Track (more about that later). The entire journey to Aspiring Hut should take no more than 2-3 hours with stops for photos and snacks. If you have active teenagers chomping at the bit, send them ahead to have a brew ready for you when you arrive. On the first night of your adventure, everyone bunks down in the same lodgings.
Each to their own
Read or roam
Day 2 of the adventure sees your multi-level fitness group splitting 4 ways. The least able remain at Mt Aspiring Hut and enjoy the view from their accommodation or soak up the sun with a book. Those with a moderate level of fitness, and who feel like a day trip, double back to the start of the Rob Roy track (check on avalanche warnings before you leave). Billed as an easy route which is achievable by older children, it pays to turn the hike of 3-4 hours (from the start of the Rob Roy track – but longer given you are departing from and returning to Aspiring Hut) into a full day event to allow for plenty of breaks. You’ll be in an alpine environment so prepare for all weathers.
Up and at’em!
At a height of 1100 meters, Liverpool Hut track is accessed from Pearl Flat further up the Matukituki Valley. This is where a party of your fitter members will head on day 2. The track steep going, can be slippery in places, and you’ll be scrambling here and there and glad for a root to hold onto. But those with a healthy degree of fitness and tramping experience will enjoy the challenge. You’ll be staying overnight and will need to carry your own cooking equipment as well as food and alpine-environment clothing. The hut has 10 bunks, the most magnificent views, and delightfully cheeky kea are very likely to pop in to say hello.
French Ridge Hut
This is one for the fittest, as it sits at an altitude of 1,480m with an exposed climb for much of the way. The 20 bunk hut is a serviced accommodation operated by the NZ Alpine club, and while there, you’re likely to find yourself in the company of serious climbers who use it as stepping off point for surrounding peaks. Allow a full day for the tramp to the hut, and expect fabulous views and kea for company!
Back together again
Give your entire party time to reconnect by spending the third night of your adventure together, again, at Mt Aspiring Hut. With careful planning of food (and strict instructions that no one eats the goodies in advance), you can knock up a mountain banquet to celebrate everyone’s achievements before you head back to Raspberry flat and your vehicles on your last day.