John Turnbull Thomson, a British engineer who came to New Zealand in 1856 to become Otago's chief surveyor, was first to mention Mount Aspiring in a diary entry in 1857. However, investigators believe that Thomson was actually looking at Mount Aeolus back then. After he surveyed large parts of the South Island, first settlers came to the region to take advantage of Mount Aspiring's rich mineral deposits. Soon later, Tourism with guided tours started at the end of the 19th century.
Tititea, which means shiny and steep white mountain peak, is its original Maori name. Every year, several South Island tribes would come to Tititea to hunt for native birds. One of them was the extinct moa that is said to have been around in the early days of Maori settlements near Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.
Seeking for food, greenstone, and other tool material, Maori were first to create paths through Mount Aspiring National Park. These tracks still exist today. One famous example is Haast Pass, that is named after German geologist Julius von Haast who rediscovered the track in 1863.
The area was officially given national park status in 1964. Some of Mount Aspiring's landscapes were later used by Peter Jackson, as film locations for Isengard in the Lord of the Rings Film trilogy.