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Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is a national park 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. The park is part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage site.


Tramping in the park with Aoraki / Mount Cook in the background
Mount Cook from Peters Lookout

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park was established in 1953 and today covers 707 square kilometres. The park is home to 22 of New Zealand's 23 named peaks over 3,000 metres high (Mount Aspiring / Tititea is the 23rd).

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

Visitor information centre


Get in


Situated in the centre of the Southern Alps, Aoraki / Mt Cook Village is near the popular tourist spots of Lake Tekapo, Omarama, Twizel (roughly about 1–1.5 hours) 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.

Mount Cook airport is down the road from the village. You can fly from Queenstown with Glenorchy Air.

Fees and permits


Like most New Zealand national parks, there is no fee to enter Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. This includes parking at the base of the Hooker Valley/Kea Point Track and at Mount Cook Village.

Get around

Map of Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

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.



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

  • 1 Tasman Lake and Glacier (Haupapa / Tasman Glacier), Tasman Valley Rd. New Zealand's longest glacier with a length of 23.5 km (14.6 mi). Unfortunately, climate change has meant that the glacier has since been retreating and several crevasses have been exposed. The easiest way to view the glacier is via the 650-metre walk to Tasman Glacier Viewpoint from the car park – if you look north-east, the glacier is visible, though it may not be the nicest looking one. The confluence between the Tasman River and Lake are also a popular photo spot – turn right just before the Blue Lakes and continue for 1 km. Haupapa / Tasman Glacier (Q1140440) on Wikidata Tasman Glacier on Wikipedia
  • 2 Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, 89 Terrace Rd (inside The Hermitage Hotel), +64 3 435 1809, 0800 68 68 00 (domestic), . Daily 8:30AM–8PM. A small museum in The Hermitage Hotel focusing on the region's aviation history in addition to the climbing history of Aoraki / Mt Cook – it also features a planetarium and 3D movie theatre. Adult: $25; child: $15.



Aoraki / Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. There are a number of glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest.

Skiing options include ski touring based at high alpine huts, day skiing on the Tasman Glacier and heliskiing in the Ben Ohau and Liebig Ranges.

The glacier can also be experienced on the terminal lakes, with icebergs, on a boat or kayak tour.

Mountaineering options range from introductory climbing courses to guided ascents of Mount Cook. Check what skill level is needed for the latter tours or for independent mountaineering.

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

  • Alpineguides and Alpinerecreation are among the companies arranging tours.
  • Air Safaris provides flightseeing tours flying from both Glentanner Park and Lake Tekapo. The Grand Traverse flight from here offers an aerial sightseeing tour of all the major mountains and glaciers in both the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park and the Westland National Park.

There are climbing courses and stargazing tours available also at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre (see above).

Walking and tramping


Aoraki / Mount Cook Village is surrounded by beautiful nature walks for all abilities. For options refer to Department of Conservation website.

For 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 Alpinerecreation or call +64 3 6806736.

One of the most popular tracks is the Hooker Valley Track, starting from the White Horse Hill Campground area 5 km north to Hooker Lake (directly facing Mt Cook). The track also features three swing bridges and excellent views of Lake Müller along the way. Allow 3 hours including return.


  • Old Mountaineers Cafe, Bar and Restaurant (next to the DOC Visitor Information Centre). 11AM till late.


  • The Hermitage in Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre/Hermitage Hotel.



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.

  • 1 YHA Aoraki Mt Cook, Haka House, cnr of Bowen & Kitchener Drives, Mt Cook Village (Highway 8 from Twizel / Lake Tekapo, then highway 80 to Mt Cook Village), +6421 193 1150, fax: +64 3 435 1821, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. YHA associate hostel. Solar powered with wood lined rooms. $72 - $413.
  • 2 Aoraki Alpine Lodge, 101 Bowen Drive, Aoraki / Mount Cook, +64 3 435 1860. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Motel with some views of the mountains.
  • Mt Cook Lodge and Motels. Dorm bed $45, private rooms available.
  • 3 Glentanner Park Centre, 3388 Mount Cook Road, Glentanner (on the main road into Mount Cook, 18 km from the park, on the shores of Lake Pukaki), +64 3 435 1855, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Self catering and budget accommodation, backpackers and campervan sites. The cafe/restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch all year round with evening dining in summer. Views of the mountain.

Stay safe


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. 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 (most notably Balls Hut Rd) 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

This park travel guide to Mount Cook National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.