New Zealand

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Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring is a pyramid-like peak in the southern region of the Southern Alps, on the border of Otago and Westland, about 30 km west of Lake Wanaka. It has challenged expert mountaineers because of its similarity to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. At 3,036 m, it is the highest peak in NZ outside Mt Cook National Park.

The mountain is composed entirely of hard schist rocks. These rocks were originally laid down as muds and sands on the sea floor. Between 170 and 120 million years ago, earth movements associated with the beginnings of the opening-up of the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, squeezed and buckled the old sea floor sediments and pushed them deep into the earth's crust where they were exposed to high temperatures and pressures. The beds of sand and mud, on being exposed, underwent re-crystallisation and re-constitution to form the metamorphic rock called schist.

Earth movements, beginning about 12 million years ago, raised these rocks again to various heights above sea level, and since then erosion has carved the land surface into its present shape. In the case of Mt Aspiring, however, the carving has been largely the work of glaciers, during the last two million years. Even now Aspiring is surrounded by active glaciers.

Gecko Guide Comments

This is a truely remote and spectacular alpine wilderness, it includes the popular walking tracks of: Routeburn, Rees Dart, West Matukiyuki and the spectacular Gillespie Pass. This area has excellent, hunting and fishing locations.

Te Wahipounamu is one of the best examples in the world of a dynamic mountainous landscape, created by the great buckling forces along the plates which make the Earth's crust.

The name Te Wahipounamu (which means place of Greenstone) was chosen in recognition of the great cultural significance of the area to Maori, especially as an ancient source of the prized Pounamu (Greenstone).  In Pre European timest he Maori had not discovered the are of processing ore into metals however greenstone (jade) was an excellent substitute. The stone was used for ornaments as well as weapons such as the "mere" a hand club.  These items were "Tonga" (very important trophies) and have been passed down through generations. I have met tribes who can date Tonga  in their possession back over 500 years..

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