New Zealand Part 3: Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park Hiking From Wanaka, we drove to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. At the Sealy Tarns you will come across a beautiful mountain lake with some reflections of the snow capped peaks out in the distance. Required fields are marked *, Join our mailing list to receive the latest iTINeraries, guides & helpful tips to plan your next trip, TripTins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This relatively flat hike takes you along the Hooker River between mighty peaks, over 3 picturesque suspension bridges until climaxing at the Hooker Glacial Lake showcasing the sheer rawness of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook. The walk is part through thick pine forest and a part through typical New Zealand farmland. While that hike deserves all the praise it gets, there’s heaps more to explore in the land of New Zealand’s tallest mountains. Many people complete the hike in one day but you also have the option to complete it in 2 days with an overnight in the hut itself. You can start the walk right at the Mt Cook Village Public Shelter and complete the loop from there. Have fun out there! You will also pass through the Fairlie Domain which is one of the landmarks of Fairlie. While the previous few trails are pretty easy bush walks, the Red Tarns Track is one of the more difficult in the area. If you are wondering what to bring along when taking part of hikes in general take a look at the comprehensive Hiking Packing List that I put together. This post is part of a series of posts on our trip to New Zealand’s South Island. Just keep an eye on the forecast and go from there. Snowcapped peaks, tussock lands, glaciers and not to mention the unbelievably blue lakes, the landscape surrounding Aoraki Mt Cook is a pretty special place to be hiking or taking a leisurely stroll. Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog to chat about New Zealand. Governors Bush Walk. A short helicopter ride will bring you onto the Tasman Glacier, where you can spend a few hours hiking throughout the incredible landscape. For towns to visit in the region, check out 10 Essential Pitstops for Your South Canterbury Road Trip. Spend 2h30min to tackle this hike it is well worth it! Following the riverbed, you will find remains of the great 1994 flood, a huge historical event in the little settlement. The views even on the flat walks are exquisite. How to Get to Mount Cook National Park. Keep an eye on cloud coverage, rain probability, and number of sun hours as it gets closer to your time around Mount Cook. The track is actually an extension of the Sealy Tarns track so if you want to continue taking in those vast views from a higher vantage point, continue the rocky path to the Mueller Hut. This 2 hour round trip hike also starts at the Mt Cook Public Shelter and includes a 300M ascent up a mountain overlooking the entire valley with Mt Cook out in the distance. Hiking the Hooker Valley Track should without a doubt be included on any traveler’s itinerary during a visit to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand.. Right behind the Hermitage Hotel is the Glencoe Walk. As mentioned above, Mount Cook Village is the main town where most of the hiking trails are located around. Because not many of us backpackers and working holidaymakers are going to be mountaineering on Aoraki Mt Cook any time soon, we’ll just stick to the must-do hikes around this epic mountain. The best time to walk this stunning track is at dawn when you can view the first rays of the sun creeping over the Southern Alps, including over New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook. If hiking these trails is a priority for you, I highly recommend staying within the village itself. Before we moved to New Zealand, I didn’t really think much to hiking – and definitely didn’t think I’d be capable of climbing a mountain! Your email address will not be published. For more things to do in Lake Tekapo check out our Tekapo Backpacker Guide. Discover New Zealand's big mountain country & largest glacier at Mt Cook National Park - enjoy heli-hiking, snowshoeing or ice climbing adventures on the mighty Tasman Glacier with professional guides. » Learn More in the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View & Tasman Lake Track Hiking Guide. It is a beautiful trail that takes you along Mueller Lake, across 3 suspension bridges, and into the Hooker Valley right up to Hooker Lake. There's also a lot of variety, if you don't like anything too strenuous try the Hooker Valley track and if … From Mount Cook Village you can reach 4 different trails. While you won’t need to prepare too much for those shorter hikes mentioned, on some of the longer ones the packing list can come in very handy. This is because there is only one 55 km long road that goes to and from Mount Cook, and the nearest towns are even … The easiest way to go about your time in New Zealand is by having your own car to take you around. This is a simple pit stop in your journey as the track is only 1-hour return. Location: Starts near Tekapo Road Bridge, Lake Tekapo. These are the best places for budget-friendly hiking trails in Mt. Once in the village you can walk, bike, or maybe even hitchhike to some of the trailheads. While hiking is one of the main things to do in the Mount Cook area, there are still plenty more activities to take part of during your time there. If you're looking for the best trails in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, we've got you covered. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock. You can learn a bit more about the Mount Cook area and enjoy some time out on the water. 1) How to Get to Mount Cook National Park, 2) Where to Stay Near Mount Cook National Park. Location: Starts at the Blue Lakes car park, Mt Cook. Taking you through beech forest up to a lookout point of the Southern Alps. Plus, stick around for nightfall. The list includes several different essentials such as: I say this a lot when it comes to hiking (especially when going up to higher altitudes) but if you want to get the most out of these trails you need to pay attention to the weather forecasts. You will be on your own schedule and easily will be able to make your way from one spot to the next without worrying about public transportation. The Kettlehole Track is a 1-hour walk that will take you through native New Zealand bush to a unique kettlehole (shallow body of water created by retreating glaciers and now filled with sediment) with great views over the stunningly blue Lake Pukaki. You can get right up and close to the lake and see the floating icebergs from up close. 10 NYE Events in New Zealand You Can’t Miss. Any reason to visit Lake Pukaki is good enough for us and the Kettlehole Track is just one more reason! In this article, we are going to share the 6 best hikes in Mount Cook National Park. It's safe to say, that these were two of the most incredible experiences we've e » Learn More in the Kea Point Track Hiking Guide. You can decide to do the Tasman Lake track as a standalone hike or add it onto the the previous hike. » Learn More in the Red Tarns Track Hiking Guide. Climbing from the bottom of Mt John to the top, the track offers a rare true 360-degree view of the surroundings as the track circles the summit. If you want to take in the views (and believe me you do!) We've hiked in quite a few places over the years, but it wasn't until New Zealand that we added glacier to the list. If you have extra time consider the Burkes Pass Heritage Walk starting at the St Patrick Church. If you are looking to get some incredible views from above, the Sealy Tarns Track is for you. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky. From there you will be able to spot Mt Cook, as expected, but also the whole Mackenzie Basin and the stunning Lake Tekapo. For an easy-going walk with great views of the Southern Alps, Lake Tekapo and Motuariki Island, the lake’s biggest island, take on the 1h30min Peninsula Walk. So if you are looking to get in those views then the Red Tarns is for you. If you cannot find accommodation within the village, you can also take a look at some options in the towns of Twizel and Tekapo, which would be some of the closest main towns from Mount Cook. For about 2 hours the steep climb to the Red Tarn will test your endurance. Those 11 trails can be reached from 3 different places – Mount Cook Village, White Horse Hill Campground, and the Tasman Glacier Car Park. Description Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park has rugged landscapes full of rock and ice. By using this website you agree to our, Advertise your business on New Zealand's most popular travel guide, full guide to the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, one of the most scenic bridges in the country, 10 Essential Pitstops for Your South Canterbury Road Trip, 10 Historical Places in Northland You Can’t Miss. Feel free to check out the other New Zealand itineraries and guides up on the site and if you have any questions just write them in below. Mount Cook National Park is home to many short and accessible hiking trails. » Click on the links to book your spot in advance and take a look at some other Mount Cook tour options before you go. Day use parking is available in front of the campground on the left where the track begins. Location: Starts at the public shelter or Aoraki/Mt Cook village, Mt Cook. I lived in New Zealand for a couple of years, about a decade ago. The track follows the Tekapo River that is now mostly dry. If you like stairs, you’ll be served! On this guided hike you will go as close as it's possible to get to Mount Cook on foot without actually being on the mountain. by CharlesOct 21, 2019Blog, New Zealand, New Zealand Blog. If you are not tired, pair this hike with the Domain to Mt John Lookout walk mentioned above they go hand and hand. We would have loved to spend more time at Mt Cook. Moving away from Mt Cook Village, the Kea Point Track starts at the White Horse Hill Parking Lot. Climb Aoraki Mt Cook 3724m in November 2017 via Zurbriggen Ridge from Plateau Hut Arguably the most famous of hikes in Mount Cook National Park is the Hooker Valley Track. Your final destination is Hooker Lake at the bottom of Mount Cook – the highest mountain in New Zealand. There are not too many accommodation options to choose from but below would be some of the main choices when deciding where to stay. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. One of the hikes to take part of at the last trailhead of the Tasman Glacier car park takes you to the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View. After the lookout, the walk will take you back to the village where you started. While you’re here, exploring all there is to know about Aoraki Mt Cook, take a look at our full guide to the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. A 2,000+ step staircase takes you high above the valley with the Mueller Lake, Tasman Lake and Mt Cook all in view. Cook National park. In the next section I give a bit more detail on each hike in particular. There is everything from mountain hikes to valley trails to bush walks, so no matter what you are looking for Mount Cook National Park will have something for you. The final 3 trails can be accessed from the Tasman Glacier Car Park, a 15 minute drive from Mount Cook Village. Frozen in winter, the Tasman Glacier lake is best visited in summer where giant icebergs break away and can be seen floating in the lake. Contact – Disclaimer, Welcome/Kia Ora! That’s a true South Island experience. The area surrounding Aoraki Mount Cook is full of incredible day hikes to lakes, tarns, glaciers, and epic viewpoints. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Roy’s Peak in Wanaka is the hardest hike I’ve ever done, but the view at the top … We loved our visit there, campervanning around both islands. You’ve probably heard of the Hooker Valley Track, by far the most popular hike in Mount Cook National Park. Red Tarns Track. Climb up the Ball Ridge and confront the mighty Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook. then try and be as flexible as you can when deciding when to take part of these trails. The river flowed from the southern end of Lake Tekapo before joining in with the Pukaki River. There are many peaks including the highest peak in New Zealand; Aoraki or Mount Cook. Feel free to read through the Mueller Hut Track guide linked below to get a good sense of what to expect for the Sealy Tarns Track as the tarns is half way up to the Mueller Hut. The relatively easy Hooker Valley Track opens up to some great views of Mount Cook (also known as Aoraki in Maori), New Zealand’s tallest mountain. A guided New Zealand glacier tour is a great way to explore the Tasman Glacier, a beautiful part of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Explore glaciers, ice-covered peaks, ice caves, lakes, valleys, and many breathtaking alpine locations in any of our Aoraki / Mt Cook Day Walks. Mount Cook is located in the center of New Zealand’s South Island, and the only viable way of getting there is by car, or even better, by campervan. If you want to take part of any of the hiking trails in Mount Cook National Park, you will need to make your way to the area around Mount Cook Village. Our accounts of heli-hiking in Fox Glacier and Mount Cook, one of the best experiences in New Zealand. Mueller Hut is one of the most spectacular destinations for a day hike or overnight trek in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (and perhaps all of New Zealand). We provide the highest level of safety. New Zealand We reckon the day hikes at Mount Cook are some of the best in the world and we don't say that lightly. Hiking in cloudy/rainy conditions will not be the same experience as hiking on a clear day. Take a scenic helicopter ride, experience a glacier walk, heli hike, or try snowshoeing and ice climbing. Welcome/Kia Ora! Location: Starts at the Pukaki River spillway, Twizel. This track will take you to the bottom point of the Tasman Lake as you see where the lake meets the river. Where the trail is inaccessible, we will take you on a short scenic helicopter flight to reach our destination. AllTrails has 16 great hiking trails, views trails, walking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. The return trip will take some 3-4 hours, depending on how fast you walk and how many photos you take. As the highest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki Mt Cook provides the backdrop to many super stunning hikes in the Canterbury region of the South Island. If you have some poorer weather days, maybe head off on some bush walks instead of trying to head off to the Mueller Hut. Mount Cook National Park is the best hiking area in New Zealand. Cowans Hill Track will take you through an open wetland with tussock grass beaten by the wind and thick pine cone forest offering a unique rare contrast of landscapes. If you are planning to go hiking in New Zealand or just want to get some authentic New Zealand outdoor experiences we can help with your travel plans. [Note that this article was first called 24 hrs in Mt Cook and published in 2014. The insanely good views from my camp spot at sunrise after camping alongside the Mueller Hut. An even shorter bush walk located right across the street from the Self Service Petrol Station is the 10 minute walk through the Bowen Bush. So even if you do not have a car in the village, you can still easily take part of these by just stepping out of your front door. This guide will go over each of the Mt Cook Hikes to give you a better idea of what types of trails are offered in the area. views hiking walking nature-trips wildlife lake forest birding wild-flowers camping kids Governors Bush Walk (easy) This 1-hour circuit climbs up to a lookout point overlooking Wakefield … If you want to take part of any of the hiking trails in Mount … Location: Starts at the White Horse Hill camping area, Mt Cook. Another option is to add the Governors Bush Walk to the longer Red Tarns Track if you would like to get in some views from above. To me, Mt Cook National Park is one of the prettiest places in New Zealand and yet despite the number of tourists increasing each year, it’s a must if you are traveling in New Zealand. Location: Starts at the Allandale Bridge, Fairlie. And before you think otherwise, no, we haven’t climbed Aoraki/Mount Cook – I wish!Whilst New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary used the peak as his training ground before summiting Everest, this mountain is by no means an easy feat. See more budget-friendly hiking … 4) Scenic Flights & Helicopter Rides – a flight above Mount Cook National Park will have you in awe as you take in the views from above. When deciding which day to take part of certain hikes I recommend taking a look at the Mount Cook National Park weather on Meteoblue.com. 3) Heli Glacier Hiking – if you want to actually hike on a glacier then this may be for you. Roy’s Peak, Wanaka. Mount Cook National Park weather on Meteoblue.com, Learn More in the Sealy Tarns Track Hiking Guide, take a look at some other Mount Cook tour options before you go, New Zealand 14 Day South Island Itinerary, A Helpful Okere Falls Walk Guide | The 7 Meter Plunge, Kuirau Park in Rotorua | Mud Pools, Lakes, & Geothermal Activity. The views are breathtaking and the loop is as easy as it gets. Starting in the White Horse Hill camping area, the Hooker Valley Track is one of the most popular hikes in the valley.… Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Track. I will go into a bit more detail on each below. Walking one of the tracks is the best way to experience this ancient landscape. From the campground parking lot you can choose from another 4 trails. The 3-hour track will take you to the best of the alpine scenery including the Hooker River and two swingbridges, including one of the most scenic bridges in the country, to finally reach the Hooker Glacier terminal lake. Some of them are simple 10 minute bushwalks while others are 8+ hour uphill mountain climbs. It’s better to attempt this hike over two days, either staying in the hut or freedom camping nearby. Mount Cook National Park on the South Island of New Zealand is home to some of the best hiking trails in the entire country. You can take a look at a company like Intercity that has daily busses to and from Tekapo to Mount Cook Village. Your email address will not be published. With a wide range of hiking, camping and adventure options, Mount Cook is a destination that should definitely be included in any hiking and outdoor focused trip to New Zealand. New Zealand's hiking and outdoor adventure specialist with tours to suit all fitness levels on great walks and trails. Before reaching Mount Cook Village, turn right on Hooker Valley Road. If staying for just a day or staying for a week, there are plenty of trails to keep you busy. By foot you cannot get any closer than this if you don’t plan on climbing Mount Cook. This post was originally published in March 2017 and was updated in April 2020 (to include photos from the time I did this day hike in better weather conditions). Driving Tip: Along the way up to Mount Cook Village there will be several opportunities to pull off on the side of the road and get some incredible photos of Mt Cook out in the distance (like the one below!). There are 11 official Mt Cook hikes in the national park. Below I have listed out the 11 Mt Cook hikes that you can decide between. Keep an eye out for native birds such as kea, the alpine parrot, and the cute fantail. The last track in Mount Cook National Park is the Ball Hut Route. I hope this Mt Cook Hikes guide has given you a better sense of all the different hiking options that you have within Mount Cook National Park. Since it is in the valley, the hike is pretty flat the whole way through, making it a hike that most can take part of. We only drove to the park and took a few photos on a short hike, but it seemed like there were some pretty epic hiking opportunities around there. You can rent bikes in town once you arrive. The scenery was spectacular! It includes everything I bring along on day hikes, and it will have you better prepared when taking part of trails all over New Zealand. November, of course, if you want those Mt Cook lilies are blossoming in your pics! If you do not have a car you can walk the additional 45 minutes from the village to the campground. It is a bit more of a challenging landscape to get to the Ball Hut but it does come with some beautiful views along the Tasman Lake and onto the Tasman Glacier. “What is the best time of the year to take on this hike,” you ask? Reaching the hut is no simple walk in the park, demanding an ascent of over one thousand meters in just over five kilometers. This 1 hour round trip hike is a pretty flat trail that takes you right up to a viewpoint of the Mueller Lake and its moraine wall with Mt Cook out back. Once you reach the summit, you will find a small lake overrun by red pondweed that gives the water an amazing colour. Do note there is a bit of elevation gain to get those views. #nationalpark #hiking Tasman Glacier Mount Cook, New Zealand The melting #glacier of the Mt. Some of the most popular options include: 1) Cycling – there are a several cycling trails that can take you along the valleys below the mountain ranges of Mount Cook. If you do not have your own car, the next best option is to take a bus to get you to Mount Cook Village. » Learn More in the Mueller Hut Track Hiking Guide. The short loop walk should take just under45 minutes. Join in on these Mt Cook hikes as part of your New Zealand 14 Day South Island Itinerary or 3 Week New Zealand Road Trip! Cook Village: Mueller Hut Route. Remember that the weather down in the valley and village may not be the same another 1,000+ meters up in the sky. Trailhead address: Hooker Valley Road, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, Canterbury, 7999, New Zealand The Mueller Hut route is one of my personal favourite hikes in Mount Cook National Park and perhaps in all of New Zealand. During the two months I spent traveling New Zealand, I saw a lot of gorgeous scenery. The 3.5-hour return journey leads through the dramatic Southern Alps, across swaying suspension bridges and over wooden boardwalks, and ends at an iceberg-speckled glacial lake. You will get to see the vast landscape of the national park from a bird’s eye view. The park is home to Mount Cook Aoraki, New Zealand’s highest mountain and where the first person to climb Mount Everest trained for his great feat. Another very easy walk, this3-hour loop will take you all around the small town of Twizel, circling it and offering great views of the town and its surroundings. After 2 kilometers, the road ends at White Horse Hill Campground. Franz Josef Glacier Guides Franz Josef, New Zealand Hiking on the glaciers in New Zealand is an awesome experience! Some of the hiking trails start within the village itself, while a bunch of the others are within a 10-15 minute drive. Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest. The track leads up the Hooker Valley and along the Hooker River, ending at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views of Aoraki/Mount Cook on a clear day. © 2020 NZ Pocket Guide. But it mostly paled in comparison to the views I enjoyed while hiking in Mount Cook National Park. A 7 minute drive from Mount Cook Village you will find the White Horse Hill Campground. Location: Starts from almost anywhere in Twizel, Twizel. With a clear night, you can get some beautiful night skies as shown in our 5 Stargazing Sits in New Zealand. Starting over the Opihi River, the 1h30min return walk is a journey through history. By using this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and the terms of use within it. During this 1 hour trail you will pass by 3 different lakes and have the chance to enjoy of the Tasman Glacier from above. » Learn More in the Sealy Tarns Track Hiking Guide, Elevation Gain: 1,040 Meters / 3,412 Feet. 1. Location: Starts at the Domain at the bottom of Mt John, Lake Tekapo. Do you want to stay up to date and receive the latest travel iTINeraries, guides and tips to better plan your next trip around the world? While the Sealy Tarns track takes you pretty high up, the Mueller Hut track takes you even further up. Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is located in the Southern Alps — at over 3700 metres, Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain. While much of the walk is done through the trees, you will be welcomed to a nice viewpoint of Mount Cook Village and the Hooker Valley out in the distance. 2) Glacier Boating – hop on a small boat and get up and close to the icebergs of Tasman Lake. The Aoraki Mount Cook Trek is an easier 2 day option compared to the Ball Pass Alpine Crossing. » To learn more about the NZ roads, take a look at the Driving in New Zealand Guide up on the site. Staying in the national park village gave us good access to the park’s trails and meant we could see the mountains in various light. Early risers will be rewarded with the serenity of sharing the track with only a … To reach the lake, take the short Tasman Glacier View Track starting in the Blue Lakes car park. Well sign up and join the TripTins community to receive monthly newsletters that will recap everything you need to know to make that trip as memorable as can be. 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