Mount Cook is one of New Zealand’s great alpine parks. The mountain’s highest glacier, Aoraki Mount Cook – Maori for ‘Cloud Piercer’, stands at a mighty 3,754 metres. Despite its 23 peaks, the range is quite easily accessible from the village of Mount Cook at the foot of the unrelenting mountain, a safe haven where most visitors base themselves. Explore by foot or by air – there’s plenty to be discovered in this unique area of New Zealand on a Mount Cook Holiday.
Things to do in Mount Cook
From the village, there are 10 formed and well marked short walks. We recommend the Red Tarns Track, Kea Point, and the Hooker Valley Track for stunning scenery taking, which will take around two hours to complete. For the more experienced hiker, there are three other mountain pass routes which offer a more adventurous journey.
During the winter (July-September), Mount Cook becomes immensely popular for skiing. The Tasman Glacier is the top choice for intermediate skiers as it offers two of the longest ski runs in the Southern Hemisphere, with 8 to 10 kilometres of fabulous ski-ing to enjoy. More advanced skiers will find Murchison, Darwin, and Bonney Glaciers even more exciting.
After a day of hiking or skiing, a visit to the hot pools with stunning panoramic views of Lake Tekapu is a welcome respite. For more pampering, there are four spa rooms, a sauna and steam room, and a plunge pool also on the complex.
Mountain Cook Highlights
Lake Tekapu is renowned for its impressively clear night skies as the area is almost completely free of light pollution, so much so that the area has now been recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Just outside Tekapu is the John Observatory, which is one of the clearest places in the Southern Hemisphere to view stars with six telescopes, including the country’s largest at 1.6 metres. Stargazing tours are available in the area, which include the use of telescopes and astronomy binoculars.
Although the walking paths are easily accessible from the village, one of most exciting ways to take in Mount Cook’s spectacular scenery is by air – and for some, this is the only way to see Tasman Glacier, usually only accessible to more experienced skiers and mountaineers. You can get a ski plane or a helicopter flight from Lake Tekapo or Aoraki, then sit back and enjoy the untouched, dramatic views from on high.