Is epic scenery and plenty of activities a priority on your next travel adventure?
Then Aoraki/Mount Cook, positioned in the middle of the South Island New Zealand, is your answer. The national park is home to the highest mountain (Aoraki/Mt Cook), the largest glacier (Tasman Glacier) and nearby in the Mackenzie District are the bluest lakes (Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo) as your view. Most of New Zealand’s 20 highest peaks are gathered around Aoraki/Mt Cook, and a third of the park is permanently covered in snow and glacial ice. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is part of the World Heritage-listed Te Wāhipounamu-South West New Zealand Area covering a tenth of the country. The park’s soaring alpine vistas and grandeur offers extreme alpine terrain, but at the same time it’s easy for travellers to explore.
One of the main drawcards to this region is the Tasman Glacier. At just under 23 kilometres in length, it is mighty and powerful. For the ultimate ice adventure make time to explore the Tasman Glacier now with Glacier Explorers. This guided boat journey is one of the most unique activities to do in New Zealand, as you cruise around the Tasman Glacial Lake and experience the enormity of New Zealand’s largest glacier. It’s a family-friendly adventure, with a minimum age of 4 years and 2.45 hour duration. The vista can change on a daily basis, but the hope is to weave in and out of floating icebergs, gaze at the towering ice wall and most certainly, learn about the ever-changing glacial landscape and history. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the face of the glacier into the rapidly growing lake. Most interestingly, the Tasman Lake itself did not exist 30 years ago. With the effects of global warming and other climatic processes taking their toll on New Zealand glaciers, their retreat is sadly imminent. It’s a surreal and mesmerizing experience…
Only in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park can you explore glacial lake icebergs by day and discover millions of stars by night. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is far from the city lights and home to the world’s largest Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve. With Big Sky Stargazing, take a mesmerizing journey through the cosmos as you explore the wonders of the night sky; home to planets, stars, and a whole other world we only dream about. The resident astronomy guides will take you on a 1 hour tour of the night sky through high powered telescopes. They share their knowledge about the night sky in an informative and approachable way, answering any questions you may have as they go. If the weather is not agreeable, then you also have an indoor stargazing option in the 360 degree digital dome Planetarium. It’s an unrivalled cinematic experience as you see the night sky like never before.
Aoraki/Mount Cook helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest. He and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest back in 1953. Make the time to also visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Museum at the historic Hermitage hotel and discover the history of this iconic region.
Explore the unforgettable. An iconic destination steeped in history & beauty…
Accessible day walks radiate out in all directions with views of blue-ice glaciers framed by magnificent mountains. If you enjoy a hike, then a must is the 10km return Hooker Valley Track or for a walk to a viewing deck with stunning views of the surrounding area don’t miss the 2-hour return Kea Point Track. The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier view walk is only 40 minutes return. For a more difficult walk don’t miss Sealy Tarns Track, also nicknamed “Stairway to Heaven”. Click here for a full list of the walks in the region.
The Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a drawcard which you cannot miss when visiting the South Island, New Zealand. Positioned centrally between Queenstown and Christchurch, it is easily accessible and so picturesque! It’s home to the most unique experience of a glacial lake cruise as well as the highest mountain in New Zealand. Experience the soaring alpine vistas whether you are on a short hike, skydiving or on a scenic flight. So make sure to explore the Tasman Glacier now, include a stay at Aoraki/Mount Cook Alpine Village and take a cruise with Glacier Explorers on your next visit to the South Island…. I know it will be the highlight of your New Zealand adventure!
Summer temperatures in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park range from 7 to 30 degrees Celsius, and in Winter, from -20 to 4 degrees. Expect the rainiest months to be January, April, May, July, August, September, October, November, and December. Typically, Spring and summer from October to April are the best times to explore the park’s excellent walking tracks, and from December to March, enjoy the blooming mountain wildflowers. Note the park’s weather can change quickly throughout the year.
Good to know:
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to New Zealand’s highest peak. The park was established in 1953 and along with Westland National Park (West Coast), Mount Aspiring National Park (Wanaka) and Fiordland National Park (Milford Sound) forms one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Aoraki/Mount Cook is a 4-hour drive from Christchurch, and 3:15-hour drive from Queenstown.
One of the top scenic drives on the South Island is the 65km stretch from Twizel to Mount Cook. Expect jaw-dropping scenes with the icy blue Lake Pukaki and Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, as the back drop. At the foot of the mountain sits the village of Aoraki/Mount Cook, you could easily base yourself in the region for 2-3 days as there is so much to see and do. Other activities include: skydiving, glacier kayaking, a scenic flight over the stunning peaks and a bucket list experience, a Heli-hike on the Tasman glacier.
AET Travel (formerly Australia Expat Travel) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact us