Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

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. The park is part of the "Te Wahipounamu" UNESCO World Heritage site.

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

Understand

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

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 .

Get around

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

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

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

Drink

Sleep

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. 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

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.