Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Aspiring National Park’

MSI Covered in Magazine Article


“Vacations with a Purpose” Cover Story writes about Mountain Spirit Institute’s work in NZ/Peru
“To Travel is to Explore, Dream, Discover

"Vacations with a Purpose" Cover Story

An article recently appeared in New Hampshire’s Kearsarge Magazine about Mountain Spirit Institute by writer Deb McKew. It  can be read on our Press Clips Webpage, as an excerpt from the magazine. Click on the first listing at the top of the page.  We encourage you to purchase this good read of a magazine if you’re in the New Hampshire, USA area.  Publisher Laura Jean Whitcomb does a great job with the magazine.

The article has a shot of MSI founder R. Richards doing a bit of ice climbing on a glacier in Mt. Aspiring National Park, and covered Mountain Spirit’s core mission of getting people connected “with themselves, each other and the environment”,  where we “combine experiential wilderness programs with spiritual development”.

Richards near Mt. Aspiring, NZ

As the article states, “some programs are solely wilderness based while others are workshop based.”

The article informs readers of the educational programs and unique nature of  MSI mission of getting people out of their native countries and into the mountains and cultures abroad. Being a non-profit organization, MSI strives to bring people of different backgrounds and countries together, to learn about  new ways to work together, and to re-examine one’s role in the natural environment, and in the world community.


A Joyful Ceremony Planned

R. Richards and A. Hamilton are getting married in NZ

R. Richards and A. Hamilton at Mt. Cook, NZ Ceremony set for 30th May near Auckland

Executive Director Randall Richards is getting married to Amanda Hamilton. Randy 51,  is a native of Sunapee New Hampshire, USA, and Amanda, 40, born in South Africa, who has been living in New Zealand for a number of years, are planning a simple ceremony at the end of the month.  Neither have been married before, nor have any children.

It took their mutual friend Lizbeth Asserhoj from Denmark,  living in Copenhagen, to put them together. Richards knew Asserhoj from travels in Peru, and Hamilton first met her in Australia, and later traveled with her in India. Lizbeth thought the two would get along, and went so far as to invite Richards on the India trip in hopes the two would cross paths and hit it off.

What started with some emails and Skype video calls, soon developed into a trip to New Hampshire, USA for Amanda, and month later, a trip for Randy to NZ. The two will be having the ceremony on the 3oth of May at Piha Beach near Auckland, New Zealand, Amanda’s twin sister, mother and friends will be present. The two will also plan celebratory gatherings in the U.S. when they eventually return.

Getting Married on Piha Beach, NZ

Ceremony on N. end of Piha Beach, NZ

Both are lovers of the mountains. Hamilton has been a ranger for the Aspiring National Park for the last few seasons on New Zealand’s South Island, and has enjoyed trekking in Nepal, the Alps and other areas.  Richards has been climbing, skiing and mountain guiding most of his life.

The Adventure, continued

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

The adventurers from Singapore, Shaun Lee and Karan Puri, (see earlier post) took me up on my offer in joining me in New Zealand’s backcountry. I don’t think the two would have ventured out in this territory on their own, in fact they mentioned the whole concept of “backcountry” didn’t exist in their country. Singapore is compact. Their eyes were wide when they first came up on the Rob Roy Glacier after a few miles up a steep trail, after a small swinging bridge. They then made the two hour trek to the Aspiring Hut with me. Their shoes were a bit wet after the hike, but after a warm meal they were feeling great. The following morning, they were on their way back to the trailhead, as they had reservations on the mountain shuttle.  They were a bit nervous, heading out in the rain, but I assured them they would make it. I assume they did! I’ve not heard from them.

Got a Baby? Doesn’t stop this family

Family heading back from Aspiring Hut

Family heading back from Aspiring Hut

Recently, during a New Zealand national holiday, the Aspiring Hut saw a full house last Saturday night.  There were climbers, trekkers, and people of all ages. Some were making the Aspiring Hut their destination, others were headed further for Cascade Saddle, French Ridge or Mt. Aspiring’s summit.
One family was the most unique there that night. A  young couple was there with there 11 month old baby. I was amazed to see the baby stroller in the hut. It seemed so out of place. Upon quering the couple, they said they had been ill advised about the stoller, and shouldn’t have brought it.  (There is a good portion of the trail where it can be used however, not enough to warrant carrying it as much as they did).

The hike to Aspiring Hut, NZ

The hike to Aspiring Hut, NZ

Congratulations to these two for coming into the mountains with their new baby. They, and others here in New Zealand, show us that the backcountry is a place for the young and the young at heart. The next day, an elderly hiking group from Dunedin, numbering 40 or more, with an average age of 60, hiked to the hut for the day. Well done.

The Power of Place

Matukituki Valley, Mt. Aspiring Nat'l Park

Matukituki Valley, Mt. Aspiring Nat'l Park

The Power of Place
By Randy Richards, MSI Founder

I was debating how I was going to write my first entry from New Zealand. I have already written one article but don’t think it will make the grade. So I guess I’ll write about a magical valley. Oh, I can hear you say, “But all places are spiritual.”  Yes, but, I think there are places where the spirit of the place is so evident it comes over you like a wave.  I think this valley is one of those places. Places like these have a power that is unmistakable, people are drawn to them,  as Boyton Canyon, near Sedona Arizona, or Alta, Utah, and of course Machu Pichu.  All land has an energy, and some places are humming with energy, whether it’s the beauty of the place or the history or both.

NW Ridge, Mt. Aspiring

NW Ridge of Mt. Aspiring

The Matukituki Valley is west of Wanaka , New Zealand in the Mt. Aspiring National Park. The hour drive from Wanaka changes by the mile. The long flat valley with cascading waterfalls begs superlatives.  Mt. Aspiring is the tallest and proudest peak near the back of the long valley. Climbers come from all over the world to do their best on the mountain. But others come to enjoy the valley and glacier edges high above.

In the US, Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods is gaining traction with his important coinage of the term, Nature

A family group arrives at Aspiring Hut

A family group arrives at Aspiring Hut

Deficit Disorder. Here I have observed many families in the valley for their summer vacations.  One group at right, consisted of  two families with a total of 10 children who hung out at the hut and environs for three days. They did steep day-hikes up to the surrounding ridge lines. The four-year-old didn’t make it all the way up on her daddy’s shoulders though.

The hut ranger at Mt. Aspiring Hut in the valley, and greets both climbers and “trampers”  of all ages.  It’s clear that the valley has its hold on many. One volunteer hut warden makes the annual pilgrimage from London, while others I met from New Zealand come back year after year, and others, after some 30 years away.

Amanda and Lindy

Hut Warden and her sister at Shovel Flat

One who has a special feeling for the place is a hut ranger going on her third season. The coveted position is shared by another Department of Conservation employee as well.  The former, divides her time between Aspiring Hut, French Ridge, precariously perched on the valley’s edge just below the glaciers near Mt. Aspiring,  and other huts in the region.  She beckoned me, “You’ll love the place”.  And I did.

The large trees have a way of calling to you.  The winds that caress the grasses on the valley floor seem to create a rhythm that makes us forget the traffic in town.

Double Rainbow from the warden's quarters

Double Rainbow from the warden's quarters

It’ s a good reminder of why we need to get to these places, and of course preserve them. Whether it’s Mt. Washington,  Mt. Shasta,  Alta, or the Matukituki,  get out while you still can. I will still post that previous article with tons of revisions, but here’s a start on my impressions of New Zealand and the power of the place.