I'm not a great user of Instagram. I joined it umpteen years ago around the time I joined Facebook but no one seemed to use it so I stopped too. These days Instagram is huge, and it is having a potentially negative impact on fragile New Zealand landscapes, and leading to overcrowding at some huts.
Just in case you don't know what Instagram is, it's a social media platform that shares photographs. And apparently, sharing photographs of yourself in adventurous places on the planet is a big thing. So much so that people actually line up to take a shot that looks like you are in the middle of nowhere when in fact you are in a conga line!! Weird hey? And if the shot means trampling on fragile alpine meadows rather than sticking to a purpose built boardwalk, tough titties.
Anyway, back in Mt Aspiring National Park, at the end of a dirt road up the West Matukituki River is Raspberry Flat. From here you can walk along the river valley, past the turn off to Rob Roy Glacier, and further upriver to Aspiring Hut. One Tuesday, Krista, Rochelle and I did that. We had lunch in the sun outside the hut, berated a few tourists who had admitted to not paying their hut fees, and then headed further upriver to where the track heads uphill.
You have two options: to the right, and over the river, is the climb to French Ridge Hut. This is the route those planning an ascent of Mt Aspiring take. We took the left turn, climbing a steep 600m to Liverpool Hut.
The climb is indeed steep, but not as long as the climb to Brewster Hut. The views over the valley to Mt Aspiring are spectacular, as are those back down to the hut.
You need to climb higher than the hut to bypass some bluffs and then descend over a snow covered slope to the hut itself. Most of the snow is melted, so it is a perfectly safe descent not requiring any specialist equipment (crampons and ice-axe). There is another couple, skiing friends of mine in fact, already at the hut, which only has mattresses for 12 people. In summer the hut is mobbed by the Instagram brigade, but tonight there is just 7 of us, with a Spanish couple arriving just before dark.
The friendly Kea come out in force to greet us, so we keep all our possessions inside and never leave the door open for the cheeky devils to sneak in and steal stuff. Cute as they are, their intelligence leads them to be dreadful pranksters. Overnight they host a party on the ventilation duct, so sleep is decidedly interrupted.
The morning dawns into another beautiful day. We enjoy more views of the surrounding peaks before making the descent to West Matukituki Valley and the walk back out to the carpark.
And straight back to Wanaka for a beer and Red Star burger!! Cheers!!