Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

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Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is dominated by New Zealand's two highest mountains, Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Several other high peaks of the South Island's Southern Alps are nearby.

Tramping in the park with Aoraki/Mount Cook in the background.

Understand[edit]

Mount Cook from Peters Lookout

The park is renowned for its natural environment. "Take only pictures and leave only footprints" is a good rule to follow.

Get in[edit]

Situated in the centre of the Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mt Cook Village is near the popular tourist spots of Lake Tekapo, Omarama, Twizel and is a 3 or 4 hour drive from Queenstown and Christchurch. From Twizel there is an all-weather sealed road to Mount Cook Village. Glentanner Park Centre is located 15 mins drive from Mt Cook Village on the main road into Mt Cook.

Mount Cook airport is down the road from the village. Fly from Queenstown with Glenorchy Air [1].

Get around[edit]

Walking is a popular way to get around the park. There are a number of formed tracks and recognised walking routes.

For those who want to see or ski the mountains, there are light aircraft and helicopters that can get you to places in minutes that would otherwise take hours or days of walking.

See[edit]

These are high mountains, so close up that it will put a crick in the back of your neck.

Air Safaris provide scenic flightseeing tours flying from both Glentanner Park and Lake Tekapo. The Grand Traverse scenic flight from here offers the big picture with an exciting and comprehensive aerial sightseeing tour of all the major mountains and glaciers in both the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Westland National Park.

Do[edit]

  • Glacier Sea Kayaking +64 3 435 1890. A once-in-a-lifetime experience! Go kayaking on Mueller Lake with stunning views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Mueller Glacier. $120-$133 pp.
  • Walking. Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is surrounded by beautiful nature walks for all abilities. For options refer to Dept of Conservation website [2].
  • Tramping. Options include an excursion to Mueller Hut (refer to Department of Conservation website above) and the Ball Pass Trek. For the Ball Pass crossing you need mountaineering experience, crampons and ice-axe, or go with a guide. For the guided option see [3] or phone +64 3 6806736.
  • Skiing. Options include day skiing on the Tasman Glacier with Mount Cook Ski Planes and Alpine Guides, or heliskiing in the Ben Ohau and Liebig Ranges, or ski touring based at high alpine huts. See [4] and [5].
  • Mountaineering. Options range from introductory climbing courses to guided ascents of Mount Cook.

Aoraki/Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in Australasia. There are a number of glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest. Experience the glacier boat trips on the terminal lakes where you can get close to the only icebergs in Australasia, explore some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand on a unique glacier sea kayaking adventure, one of the sub-alpine experiences to try.

For a bird’s eye view take a scenic flight over the Southern Alps to the West Coast and some planes will even land you on top of the Tasman Glacier.

The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is in Mount Cook Village and has a fascinating museum, planetarium and 3D movie theatre. There are climbing courses and stargazing tours which can also available.

Eat[edit]

  • Old Mountaineers Cafe, Bar and Restaurant (next to the DOC Visitor Information Center). 11AM till late.
  • Glentanner Park Centre (on the main road into Mount Cook approx 15 mins drive from Mt Cook Village),  +64 3 435 1855, e-mail: . The cafe/restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch all year round with evening dining in summer.

Drink[edit]

  • The Hermitage.

Sleep[edit]

  • There are huts in the mountains, be prepared to climb to reach them.
  • Camping out is permitted in some parts of the park, though you may need to dig a snow cave.
  • Glentanner Park CentreState Highway 80, Mount Cook +64 3 435 1855, e-mail: . Offers a high standard of self catering and budget accommodation, backpackers, campervan sites. Sited on the shores of Lake Pukaki only 18km from Mt Cook National Park, superb views of the mountain and excellent access to the National Park. Self contained cabins with kitchen $155 night 1-2 people, basic cabins $95 night 1-2 people, dormitory $27.50 pp linen hire $8 single, $12 double set, power site $18.50 pp, tent site $16.50 pp.
  • YHA Mt Cookcnr of Bowen & Kitchener Drives, Mt Cook Village (Highway 8 from Twizel / Lake Tekapo, then highway 80 to Mt Cook Village),  +64 3 435 1820fax: +64 3 435 1821, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:30, check-out: 10:00. from $34 (non-members $3 extra, incl linen).

Stay safe[edit]

Travelling in this mountain area requires preparation and some experience of mountain country.

Even in summer, day-walkers should carry warm clothing and some high-energy food, as the weather in this area can change rapidly.

Tramping and climbing parties should be prepared to stay overnight in the open in an emergency. Intention plans should be lodged with the park rangers. Be aware that weather conditions may delay search and rescue efforts, so parties should be self-sufficient and competent in all aspects of mountaineering. Local advice and guidance should be sought on any proposed activities.

Motorists should keep to the paved roads and not venture onto unsealed roads or 4 wheel drive tracks unless they are sure of their driving abilities and the suitability of their vehicle for the terrain and road surface. Some (notional) roads in this area are so dangerous they are excluded from vehicle insurance policies. In winter, chains should be carried and used when roads are covered in snow.

Go next[edit]

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