Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is located on the western side of the South Island of New Zealand. The national park boundaries encompass an area of 278.6 square miles (721.6 sq km).
The park follows the Southern Alps for about 37 miles (60 km) with the park occupying the southeastern side of the range. Every one of the New Zealand summits that reach heights over 9,842 feet (3,000 m) are found within the park except for Mount Aspiring.
The tallest mountain in New Zealand is Aoraki / Mount Cook with a summit topping out at 12, 218 feet (3,764 m). It is the pinnacle peak of the Southern Alps. Tasman Valley and Hooker Valley both provide stunning views of the mountains.
Approximately 40% of the park is accounted for by glaciers with being Tasman Glacier recognized as the largest. With a total of 72 named glaciers, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to eight of the twelve largest glaciers in the country.
Hooker Glacier, Mueller Glacier, Murchison Glacier, and Tasman Glacier all have terminus points at lakes surrounding the renowned Aoraki / Mount Cook. The only forested area is found in the Hooker Valley with alpine species being the abundance of flora found in the park.
The national park features about 38 species of birds with the black stilt being the rarest wading bird in the world. The kea is another special bird species in the park because it is the only alpine parrot.
Aoraki Mount Cook Highlights:
The pinnacle highlight of the park is Aoraki / Mount Cook which is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. It is not only the tallest, but it is also one of the most majestic creating one of the more picturesque scenes of a mountain.
Aoraki / Mount Cook is one of the most popular mountains to climb in New Zealand providing a variety of different paths to ascend. This, of course, is for the more conditioned and adventurous. Mountaineering is one of the more popular activities along with tramping or long-distance hiking.
Mount Cook is also known as Aoraki. The mountain features a summit at 12,218 feet (3,724 m) making it the tallest mountain in New Zealand. The range covers the length of the southern island in New Zealand, which attracts climbers from around the world.
Mount Cook has three different peaks. The Low Peak is furthest south with a height of 11,788 feet (3,593 m), with the Middle Peak coming in at 12,195 feet (3,717 m), and the High Peak topping off at 12,218 feet (3,724 m). There is a captivating view of Mount Cook looking across Hooker Lake which may feature a striking reflection across the water.
Tasman Glacier measures a distance of 14.6 miles (23.5 km long) making it the longest glacier in New Zealand. It reaches widths of 2.5 miles (4 km) and has a depth of 2,000 feet (600 m). The glacier is astounding with an area of 39 square miles (101 sq km). Aerial views of the glacier are captivating and provide opportunities for incredible photographs.
Tasman Glacier is also known as Haupapa. It flows out of the Southern Alps on New Zealand's South Island.
Trails in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Hooker Valley Trail: This is one of the most popular trails because of its shorter distance and limited elevation changes. The trail extends 3.1 miles (5 km) and only rises 330 feet (100 m) in elevation. There is an observation area providing panoramic views Aoraki / Mount Cook and the entire mountainside. The shorter distance and captivating views of Mount Cook beckon hikers to come to take a look.
Muller Lake Lookout Trail: This is an easy and short 1.2-mile (1.9 km) trail that travels along a river and then to a lookout over Muller Lake. This is a scenic journey that provides remarkable views.
Tasman Lake Trail: This trek is rated easy with an elevation gain of only 347 feet (105.7 m) over a distance of 2.2 miles (3.5 km). The lake is surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that may even be capped in snow. It is a beautiful blue lake that leaves most visitors wishing to take a swim.
Sealy Tarns Trail: This journey is more challenging with an elevation gain of 1,811 feet (552 m) while traveling through the mountains 3.5-miles (5.6 km). Although there is a chance to see wildlife, the highlight of the adventure is the breathtaking views of Mount Cook and the surrounding landscape. It is a difficult rated trail but the rewards are worth every bit of effort.
Aoraki/Mount Cook Highlights
- Aoraki / Mount Cook
- Southern Alps
- Tasman Glacier
- Hooker Valley and Hooker Glacier
- 100% New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, https://www.newzealand.com/us/feature/national-parks-aoraki-mount-cook/, retrieved September 2019.
- All Trails, Best Trails in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/new-zealand/canterbury/aoraki-mount-cook-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Backpackers Guide, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park – Backpackers Guide, https://www.backpackerguide.nz/aoraki-mt-cook-national-park-guide-backpackers/, retrieved September 2019.
- Britannica, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Aoraki-Mount-Cook-National-Park, retrieved September 2019.
- Britannica, Mount Cook, https://www.britannica.com/place/Mount-Cook, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Tasman Glacier, https://www.britannica.com/place/Tasman-Glacier, retrieved June 2020.
- Mackenzie Region, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, https://mackenzienz.com/scenic-highlights/aoraki-mtcook-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- Department of Conservation, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/aoraki-mount-cook-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.