New Zealand is famous all over the world for boasting some of this planet’s most breathtaking natural scenery. The landscape all over the country is incredibly diverse – from lakes, beaches and coastline to glaciers, volcanos and dramatic alpine terrains.
If you want to take it all in, heading over to Wanaka in the South Island is a pretty good first step. Wanaka literally has it all – natural beauty, epic hiking, mountain biking, skiing in the winter and of course, delicious local cuisine to fuel all of your adventures. Wanaka is also home to Mount Aspiring National Park – a stunning park known to be a hiker’s paradise with both short walks and long hikes featuring mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes.
Take a look at the view outside our window when we visited Wanaka a few years back:
Our trip to Wanaka included the Siberia Experience, which is a perfect way to explore some of the diverse wilderness in Mount Aspiring National Park. The Siberia Experience starts with a flight over to the hiking site, which is an experience in itself! The scenes from the small plane are spectacular and dramatic, featuring jagged alpine valleys and waterfalls. You then land in a sort of grassy clearing which is literally a remote valley up in the mountains.
I found the whole experience quite quiet and peaceful but just exhilarating at the same time, especially since it felt so remote and was so different from my everyday surroundings.
After landing, the adventure side of it then really started for us, as we had to cross the Siberia stream to get to the path. The river was freezing cold and actually reached above the knee with water, following a few days of rain.
After crossing, you have a long(ish) hike (roughly 3 hours) which takes you across open tussock flats and native rainforest. The whole time, you’re completely surrounded by the incredible alpine landscape.
Unfortunately for me, it was during the early part of this hike as I was trekking through some tall grass that I managed to sprain my ankle quite badly! I must have missed a step as I cut through the grass and later found out that it was sprained in three different places. As you can imagine, it was quite painful and I couldn’t actually put much weight on it so unfortunately had to cut our trip short, which was very disappointing! The next step of course was finding a way to get to the hospital – a tough feat given how remote we were. Luckily, an American family had noticed me go down and one of the guys (a firefighter apparently!) carried me to a helicopter that was set to leave shortly. The whole situation was very dramatic and although quite painful at the time, the injury and emergency liftoff just added to the adventure of trekking in the New Zealand wilderness. Although I do deeply regret missing the rest of Siberia Experience, which would have included the remainder of the beautiful hike followed by a boating trip through a glacial mountain river!
Injury or not, exploring a bit of Mount Aspiring National Park and enjoying the (first half!) of the Siberia Experience was truly unforgettable. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of adventure and immersion into breathtaking natural scenery – maybe just wear some supportive shoes and make sure you’ve got an American firefighter with you…just in case…