The highest peak in New Zealand, the magnificent Mt. Cook (Aoraki) stands 12,349 feet (3,764 meters) tall.
The Maori name Aoraki means "cloud piercer" and its striking beauty makes it one of the island's finest mountains. Of New Zealand’s 27 mountains over 8,400 feet (3,000 meters) 22 of them are in this mountain range offering a spectacular display of snow-capped peaks and lush rainforested slopes.
The mountains glacial lakes are popular with people wanting to fish and sail while the rest of the mountain offers horse riding, 4x4 safaris, scenic flights and excellent mountain climbing for experienced climbers. Sir Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mt. Cook in 1948 before climbing Everest in 1953.
The Tasman Glacier falls down the east side of the mountain with the Hooker Glacier falls to the west. It is possible to take guided skiing trips on Tasman Glacier while Hooker Glacier offers some excellent walking tracks.
Mount Cook Village is also referred to as "The Hermitage" and is situated 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from the summit. It’s a popular base with climbers and tourists. It is a 2.5 hour drive from both Christchurch and Queenstown.
Don’t miss the chance to stay in New Zealand’s most famous hotel, the Hermitage.
In prime position with fabulous views of Mount Cook, there’s been a hotel on this site since 1884. Several incarnations later, the current building dates from the late 1950s, with a new multistory wing which was added in the past decade.
A visit is a must even if you’re not staying here. The hotel has a well-regarded restaurant, offering a la carte, buffet or informal cafe-style dining. And, of course, a drink with mountain views at the bar, beside a crackling fireside, is another essential Mount Cook experience.
The Hermitage hotel dominates the northern edge of Mount Cook village. The hotel’s chalets, motel rooms and lodge accommodation are in several locations around the village.
The Tasman Glacier is a geology lesson in action. The largest glacier in the Southern Alps, the massive sheet of ice is slowly flowing south along the eastern edge of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
The top of the glacier is covered in ice and snow, but its long lower stretch extending for kilometers is a jumbled mass of rocks and debris swept down from the melting peak.
It’s estimated that the Tasman Glacier is retreating between 477 to 822 meters (1,564 to 2,696 feet) each year; at that rate its days are numbered. Since the 1970s, the melting waters have collected in Lake Tasman at the foot of the glacier.
The Tasman Glacier spills into the north shore of Lake Tasman, 7 km (4.5 mi) north-east of Mount Cook Village. The glacier measures 29 km (18 mi) long, 4 km (2.5 mi) wide.
The best way to see the glacier is from a boat excursion on Lake Tasman.