Aoraki Mt Cook is New Zealand’s Highest Peak. It stands at 3724 metres above sea level – although it was recorded at 3764 metres high until a series of slips affected the peak.
The Mount Cook Village is a 45 minute drive from the main State Highway through the Mackenzie Country alongside the gorgeous aqua blue Lake Pukaki.
There are a number of accommodation options in the Village including the iconic Hermitage Hotel and a few motels and chalets. There are also some beautifully hosted B&B’s and Lodges within an hours drive and it is really worth staying in what is a unique alpine environment. By overnighting you will witness the everchanging weather patterns in this striking region of the Southern Alps along with being able to take in a range of sightseeing activities, including:
Walking / Hiking – There are number of bush walks available from the Hermitage Hotel, however two of my favourite walks are a short drive away. The Tasman Glacier Lake Walk is approximately 2.6kms (1.6 miles) to the Lookout which takes in the Glacier Lake and depending on recent glacier melt, you might see a number of Icebergs too.
Another walk, which is not to be missed is the Hooker Valley Walk, approximately 10kms (6.2 miles) return. The well maintained track includes three swing bridges and passes over the Hooker River. During the walk, you will take in views over Mueller Lake, enjoy the unsurpassed vistas of Mount Cook and the surrounding Glaciers as you make your way to the Terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier.
Hooker Valley Walk Tips
– Be sure to listen for the rumbling of avalanches from the distant Mount Sefton and spot them before they crash into the Mueller Glacier below.
– Look out for the rare Mount Cook buttercup, which is the world’s largest buttercup. During early summer the valley is full of plants flowering.
-The best time to take in the Hooker Valley Walk is at dawn when you can view the first rays of the sun creeping over the Southern Alps and Mount Cook.
Glacier boat trips on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake operate between September & May and allow you to get up close to the 300-600 year old ice clusters and large icebergs that can be seen floating, which have carved off the face of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s largest Glacier.
Four Wheel Driving adventure accessing awe inspiring views over the Tasman Glacier and its moraine wall. This 2.5 hour trip takes in a short walk to the top of the moraine wall and allow you to capture some incredible shots.
Stargazing in Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. At 4,367 sq. km in size, this is the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world as well as being the only place with a gold status, meaning the darkness of the night skies is unbeatable. With trained guides and state of the art astronomy telescopes and binoculars, view the southern night sky including the Southern Cross, seasonal ecliptic objects, planets, star clusters, moons, distant galaxies and the spectacular Milky Way.
Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and get an insight in the life and achievements of Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer who was the first person to reach both the North & South Poles and summit Everest. The Centre features New Zealand’s first 360 degree high definition digital dome, 3D theatre, Gallery and Museum.
Scenic flights by fixed wing ski-plane or by helicopter, which can include glacier and snow landings, along with the incredible views of Mount Cook, the Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers and the Tasman Sea on the West Coast.
Ski the Tasman Glacier, during our winter months and with professional guides, there is an opportunity to ski the Tasman Glacier – explore ice caves as you make your way down New Zealand’s largest glacier.
For more information on Mount Cook or any of the activities mentioned, contact Inspired New Zealand Travel to help plan your New Zealand Vacation.