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10 Unmissable Things to Do in Mt Cook

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What to do in Mt Cook, home of New Zealand’s highest mountain.

If the reason you wanted to visit New Zealand was to see some unmatched alpine scenery then this is your place. Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is home to New Zealand tallest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, and longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. This national park, with the base being Mt Cook Village, plays host to a wealth of alpine activities, from kayaking in glacial lakes to snowshoeing. Getting in the air on a scenic flight is kind of a must-do here too. Find out more with this list of things to do in Mt Cook.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in 5 Aoraki Mt Cook Must-Dos and 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Mt Cook.

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1. Walk the Hooker Valley Track

For travellers on a budget, one of the most popular ways to soak in the Aoraki Mt Cook scenery is on the Hooker Valley Track. This three-hour return trail follows the Hooker River over two swing bridges and ends at the Hooker Glacier terminal face. The best time to do the track is in November to see the Mt Cook lilies in bloom!

Location: Start from the White Horse Hill camping area
Tourism New Zealand

2. Do the Governors Bush Walk

Another fantastic little walk available from within Mt Cook Village, the Governors Bush Walk takes you through picturesque beech forest. The walk features a lookout where you can get spectacular views of the Tasman Valley. Keep an eye out for New Zealand’s alpine parrot called a kea. See more walks in the area with our 10 Must-Do Hikes Around Mt Cook.

Location: Starts at the public shelter, Mt Cook Village
Krzysztof Golik on Wikipedia

3. Land on the Tasman Glacier in a ski plane

For a unique flying experience in New Zealand, fly in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park in a ski plane! The 35-minute flight takes in the highlights of the national park including New Zealand’s longest glacier and highest mountain. Then, the ski plane will land on the Tasman Glacier where you’ll get about 10 minutes to play in the snow and take in the scenery before taking off back to the Mt Cook Airport. Book your flight with INFLIGHT Mount Cook.

Location: Mt Cook Airport
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4. Do a heli-hike on the Tasman Glacier

Heli-hike or ice-climb on the Tasman Glacier with Mt Cook Glacier Guiding or The Helicopter Line. After reaching a remote area of the Tasman Glacier by helicopter, you’ll get to walk on the glacier in some provided crampons. No two tours are the same in this ever-changing river of ice, with ice caves to explore, crevasses to look at and much more.

Location: Mt Cook Airport
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5. Take a scenic helicopter flight around Mt Cook

Taking to the skies is kind of a big deal here in New Zealand’s grandest alpine area. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to flight options in Aoraki Mt Cook, but whatever you choose it will be nothing short of spectacular. See highlights like the Hochstetter Icefall close-up, fly through glacier valleys and learn about this majestic area through your pilot’s commentary. We recommend the 40-minute flight with The Helicopter Line or 55-minute flight with INFLIGHT Mt Cook.

Location: Mt Cook Airport
The Helicopter Line

6. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Learn about the national icon, Sir Edmund Hillary, who was one of the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest. This mini-museum in the Hermitage Hotel displays relics from early alpine exploration, has heritage displays from everyday life in Mt Cook Village through the ages, and a 3D cinema and planetarium.

Location: Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook Village
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7. Do a stargazing tour

Aoraki Mt Cook is part of an International Dark Sky Reserve, meaning it’s one of the best places to stargaze in the world. Join a stargazing tour from the Hermitage Hotel, starting with an orientation in the planetarium. You’ll then be taken to a stargazing facility away from the artificial lights of the village where you’ll get the chance to look at the night’s sky through powerful telescopes. Learn more about what you’ll see in What to Look for When Watching the Stars in New Zealand.

Location: Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook Village
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8. Kayak on the Tasman Glacier Lake

Venture onto a lake produced by the Tasman Glacier on a guided kayak tour with Aoraki Mt Cook Guiding. In a sea kayak, you’ll get to paddle among giant icebergs while surrounded by a tremendous valley and mountain scenery.

Location: The Old Mountaineers’ Cafe Bar, Mt Cook Village
Southern Alps Guiding and Aoraki Mount Cook Guiding

9. Go on a 4WD Safari

Get to those hard-to-reach places around the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park on a 4WD adventure. Tasman Valley 4WD Tours gets to see different perspectives of the Tasman Valley and includes a walk to the top of a moraine wall with picture-perfect views over the Tasman Glacier Lake. You’ll also get to learn more about this fascinating area and its history from your guide.

Location: Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook Village
Tasman Valley 4WD Tours

10. Try Snowshoeing

Explore snowy plateaus and breath in the fresh mountain air on a snowshoe tour with Alpine Guides or Mt Cook Glacier Guiding. Your guide will lead you on a relaxed tour on a remote mountain only accessible with a scenic helicopter flight.

Location: Alpine guides – 98 Bowen Drive, Mt Cook Glacier Guiding – Mt Cook Airport
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