“The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” –Sir Richard Burton
With a population of just over 250 residents its amazing to think that they cater to over 250,000 visitors a year but then again, this is one of the most scenic locations in all of New Zealand so they are used to dealing with crowds of people. Theres a reason why the Mount Cook hikes are some of the most sought after hikes in the world!
This being the highest mountain in New Zealand (3,724 m) the Maori named the mountain “Aoraki” which translates to Cloud piercer. One of the best things about this area is that you do not need to be an expert mountaineer in order to experience the trails. You would just need to be smart enough to bring along the correct outdoor gear and a positive attitude!
The only road that leads you in and out of the park, called the state highway 80, is also one of the most scenic routes around. The mountain looms over you are grows ever bigger as you drive towards it.
While there is a tiny village complete with hotels and a convenience store (expensive!) it would be more worthwhile if you were to stock up on supplies at one of the closer towns (Tekapo or Twizel) especially if you plan on staying there for a few days.
There are 5 hikes to do once there from a beginners level to advanced. The hooker valley track, one of the most popular ones is recommended for beginners. This 2 – 4 hour return hike offers stunning views of the mountain and scenic points, you would cross 3 bridges on your way to the end point.
There are helicopter rides as well and Mount Cook being the perfect place to do them as well doesn’t hurt! With the longest flight being 55 minutes, it leads you to experience the park from a whole other perspective. While I would recommend it, it would make your wallet considerably lighter!
Heres a bit about the other tracks:
Mueller Hut Trek
Labelled as one of the best back country huts in New Zealand the Mueller Hut sits at an elevation of over 1800m above sea level.
When you start at the campground, this medium to advance hike, climbs to 1042m but is definitely worth your timeas it will give you 360 degree views of Mount Cook, Mount Kitchener and Mount Sealy.
Distance: 8.5km return
Duration: 6-8 hour return
Tasman Lake Viewpoint
While this trek runs parallel to the hooker valley trek and has roughly the same elevation too, you would notice the height changes more since it is a shorter hike.
Once you do get there you will be treated to spectacular views of the tasman lake and a few icebergs as well! Although this is quite a short one just based on its views it definitely ranks among the best Mount Cook hikes.
Duration: 1 hour
This trail uses half of the Mueller hut path so it would be perfect if you intend on doing the Mueller hut as well!
While it is a demanding hike just because it does involve alot of climbing it would not take long to complete. As always the views at the end always make it worthwhile.
Distance: 4.5 km return
Duration: 2-3 hours return
If you want to see some of the most picturesque mountains that New Zealand has to offer then definitely add this hike to your bucket list!
It is a short hike and hence an easier one, while it starts from the same car park as hooker valley track doing them both would show you different perspectives of Mount Cook.
Distance: 2.8 km return
Duration: 1 hour
That was my list on the Mount Cook hikes, let me know in the comments below on which hike’s your favourite! Also be sure to check out my other article on life in Queenstown here, another great kiwi attraction that you do not want to miss!
Ps: to find links to all photographs posted please click on them and go show some love.
Please consider giving a like and follow for future posts. 🙂