13 Best Things To Do In Mount Cook Village, New Zealand

things to do in mt. cook village nz

Mount Cook Village, also known as Aoraki, sits under the highest mountain in the region – Mount Cook, the “Cloud Piercer”. The alpine village is like a fairytale setting: a place surrounded by peaks, peppered with glaciers, and where snow doesn’t cease to fall. It is an adventurer’s dream with endless, unspoilt natural beauty to explore. Mount Cook Village seems to exist to awaken mankind’s most primal instincts, to make us remember how magnificent this planet can be. It demands its visitors to be truly immersed by the mountains and to realise how small they are and how big they can be. So, when you find yourself in one of the Airbnb vacation rentals there, do what the mountains ask and experience something new, something you’ve never done before. From seeing the glaciers up close to hopping on a scenic flight, make sure your visit to Mount Cook is much more than a visit: it needs to be a revolution, an earthquake of who you are.

The following list is to be taken very seriously: every single one of our suggestions of things to do in Mount Cook Village has enough potential to change your life, even if it’s just by adding a thousand memories to it. It will feel like a bucket list but the best thing about it is that you can do everything in just one place. Start from the beginning or from the very end; explore the best things to do in Mount Cook Village, New Zealand.

1. Admire majestic mountain views at Aoraki/Mt. Cook Visitor Center

Aoraki - Mt Cook from Sealy Tarns Track, Aoraki - Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michal Klajban used under CC BY-SA 4.0

New Zealand’s stunning landscapes are better enjoyed and explored through a Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Center. The extraordinary Aoraki/Mount Cook Visitor Center is an avenue to introduce the wonders of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park to visitors from all corners of the world. It offers services such as walking and hiking tours, information drive about conservation areas, and exploration of attractions and activities in the park and local countryside.

You can enjoy the majestic Aoraki mountain from the center’s large picture window and learn more about the area via an artwork collection, interpretation exhibits, and video materials.

Department of Conservation, Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park Visitor Centre

Address: 1 Larch Grove, Aoraki/Mt Cook

Website: Department of Conservation, Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park Visitor Centre

Opening hours: Summer peak season (Oct - Apr): 8:30am - 5pm (daily); Winter off-peak season (May – Sep) 8:30am - 4:30pm (daily)

2. Brave the walking tracks of Hooker Valley

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The Hooker Valley track is one of New Zealand's most popular walks with great views of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. Have you walked the track? #DoSomethingNewNZ #NZMustDo IG: sarahflorencegalbraith

Posted by 100% Pure New Zealand on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Do you remember telling a friend that you’ll walk the track of Hooker Valley? Well, it’s time to walk the talk. Brave one of New Zealand’s most popular walks with great views of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. Walking the tracks leads up the Hooker Valley and along the Hooker River and gives great opportunities to experience this ancient landscape. If lucky, you can witness the rays of the sun creeping over the peak of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Three swingbridges will be crossed along the way and the 10km (6.2mi) track ends with an amazing view over Hooker Lake where majestic views of Aoraki/Mount Cook is seen on a clear day

As precautionary measures, guests are encouraged to physically prepare for the hike as the vegetation in the area widely varies from wide valley floors to ridges and humps. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park becomes a rugged land of ice and rocks during winter and Hooker Valley’s tracks perfectly paint the description.

Hooker Valley Track

Address: Mt Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand

Website: Hooker Valley Track

3. Soar above Mount Cook National Park (from USD 292.0)

How does flying above Mount Cook National Park sound? If this excites you, then a helicopter tour suits your type of adventure. This thrilling 45-minute aerial tour is a ski plane and helicopter combo tour over Tasman Glacier, Hochstetter icefall, and Mount Cook’s mighty peak. The tour includes hotel pickup and the real adventure sets off at Aoraki Mount Cook Airport where you jump aboard either a ski plane or a helicopter. Soar above Mount Cook National Park and enjoy spectacular aerial views while your pilot puts up live commentary so you don’t miss anything.

After gaping over the magnificent views, touch down on one of the mountain peaks and walk across the snowy terrains. The return journey allows you to switch to either a ski plane or a helicopter to view the glorious national park from a different perspective.

45-Minute Mount Cook Ski Plane and Helicopter Combo Tour

Duration: 45 minutes

57 reviews

4. Challenge yourself by climbing through Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

Tramping or hiking in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Source: Photo by user Corey Parsons used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is a wonderful place for both skilled mountaineers and more unfit adventurers. It is considered the best climbing region in Australasia and boasts many mountain walks leading to herb fields, alpine tarns, and incredible glacier views. Be prepared for unpredictable weather: take appropriate clothes, comfortable shoes, and make sure you appreciate every second you spend surrounded by outstanding nature. If you are feeling more adventurous, set up a camp in the park’s conservation areas staffed and protected by DOC rangers.

When you tell your friends about the wonderful Mount Cook attractions and show them the photographs you took, they won’t believe it!

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

Address: 43°44′S 170°6′E

Website: Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

5. Go on a cruise around Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake

Tasman Glacier terminus at frozen Tasman Lake
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pseudopanax used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Have you always dreamt of seeing a glacier up close? You can do it during your visit to Mount Cook Village! This cruise will guide you through the beautiful Tasman Glacier terminal lake where you’ll have exceptional views of the glacier and the mountains around the lake. You’ll get to see and touch icebergs of every shape and size and you can even taste ancient glacial crystals. Don’t miss this unique experience and book your cruise with Glacier Explorers: they will be the best guides throughout this exciting adventure.

Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake cruise

Price: from 170 USD / 247 NZD

Website: Glacier Explorers

6. See the Church of the Good Shepard with your own eyes

Church of the Good Sheperd. Lake Tekapo. NZ
Source: Photo by user Bernard Spragg. NZ used under CC0

The Church of the Good Shepherd is set on the beautiful shores of Lake Tekapo, surrounded by a stunning natural landscape. It was built as a memorial to the pioneers of Mackenzie Country and is now one of the most famous targets for photographers, although you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. As a place of prayer and reflection, the Church of the Good Shepard should be respected and appreciated not only through a lens, but with your own eyes.

The Church of the Good Shepard

Address: Pioneer Dr, Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand

Website: The Church of the Good Shepard

7. Visit Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre - Mount Cook
Source: Photo by Flickr user TravelingOtter used under CC BY 2.0

The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a 126-set theatre and planetarium, unique in the world. It is a tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the world’s greatest explorers, and to the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people.

As you enter the theatre, you’ll find a small museum showcasing the history of the Mount Cook region and learn a little bit more about the extraordinary place you’re visiting. Don’t forget to include this on your what to do in Mount Cook list.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Address: Mt Cook Village, Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand

Website: Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

8. Stargaze at the Mount John Observatory

Mount John University Observatory
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bernard Spragg. NZ used under CC0

Earth & Sky offers an amazing observatory tour on Mount John; expect an unforgettable evening spent discovering the southern sky, gazing into the cosmos through a powerful telescope. If the sky is too cloudy and the stars too shy, you won’t miss your chance of seeing them: you’ll just look at them from inside the observatory and become an astronomer for a few hours. Don’t forget to bring your best camera since you’re going to want to record this experience for posteriority.

Mount John Observatory tour

Address: Twizel Main Street, 7945, Fairlie-Tekapo Rd, Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand

Website: Earth & Sky

9. Be mesmerized by the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Krzysztof Golik used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo is another unbelievable place where you can stargaze with no need of telescopes. But during the day, Lake Tekapo is as beautiful as it is by night. Its turquoise waters will ignite something within you, forcing you to remember how important your existence is and how wonderful your life is just because you get to see such beautiful things. Even if you’re not interested in visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd, make sure you see this incredible lake; you won’t regret it.

Lake Tekapo

Address: 43°53′S 170°31′E

Website: Lake Tekapo

10. Do some mountain biking through the Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier
Source: Pixabay

If you’re more of a biker than a cruiser, hopping on a mountain bike and setting off to see the Tasman Glacier from the margins of the lake certainly sounds more exciting to you. But be warned: this track is not easy, as it rises and descends relentlessly for 6 km (4 miles). If you’re fit and are used to this kind of journey, you won’t even notice how arduous it is but if you’ve never done it before, perhaps you should hike instead. But mountain biking by the Tasman Lake sounds way cooler, doesn’t it?

Mountain Biking through the Tasman Glacier

Track: Tasman Glacier

11. Get a 360-degree view of the Southern Alps from Mueller Hut

Hike to the Mueller Hut
Source: Photo by Flickr user almassengale used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Mueller Hut is one of those places that isn’t easy to reach but that, as soon as you end up there, you feel as if every second of the way was worth it. The hut is a well-deserved place to rest and meet like-minded adventurers, relax whilst enjoying the impressive views, and have a great meal. You can stay there overnight if you’re too tired to go back and if you do, you’ll probably make a friend or two for life and wake up to see the most wonderful view you’ve ever seen. How great does that sound?

Mueller Hut

Address: Mount Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand

Website: Mueller Hut

12. Treat yourself to a drink at the top of the Hermitage Hotel

隐士酒店 The Hermitage Hotel - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user wanghongliu used under CC BY-SA 3.0

After trying out exhausting Mount Cook activities, you have to treat yourself to a drink at the top of the Hermitage Hotel. Besides being an excellent choice for accommodation in the area, the Hermitage Hotel has a wonderful selection of bars and restaurants, as well as a rooftop bar where you can say hello to Mount Cook’s stunning views whilst sipping a delicious drink. Doesn’t it seem like a perfect way to end your day?

Hermitage Hotel

Address: 89 Terrace Rd, Mount Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand

Website: Hermitage Hotel

13. Join The Grand Traverse Scenic Flight from Lake Tekapo (from USD 273.0)

things to do in mt. cook village nz | join the grand traverse scenic flight from lake tekapo

Fulfill your dream of flying over snowy alpines by taking the grand traverse scenic flight tour offered by Experience OZ. It’s one of the best things to do in Mt. Cook since you’ll be visually exploring New Zealand’s highest peak, Mt. Cook itself. The approximately hour-long flight departs from Lake Tekapo and will take you to another World Heritage National Park, the Westland, which has over 140 glaciers. Expect to take a window seat since the aircraft is designed for every passenger to have unobstructed views; the wings are even located above the windows! This flight spanning 200 kilometers (124 miles) provides an opportunity for all passengers to have a bird’s eye view of New Zealand’s best mountain regions that cannot be explored by land. Inflight commentary and a multi-language flight guide are even included in the flight package. Different types of aircraft carry a maximum of 7 to 15 passengers. They normally have no problem catering for an infant while for expectant mothers, a doctor’s professional advice is always recommended. Given these conditions, it’s safe to say that the tour is a perfect activity for family bonding, friends outing, or even if you need a solitary moment. Just don’t forget to bring your best companion during the whole scenic flight – your cameras!

The Grand Traverse Scenic Flight from Lake Tekapo

Duration: 1 hours

Mount Cook Village: the trip you'll always remember

Travelling is all about creating new memories and accomplishing dreams. Your trip to Mount Cook Village will give you that and much more: it will remind you of the power of nature, of how beautiful the world is, and of how lucky you are to be able to see so much beauty at once. It is a unique place unlike any other you’ll ever visit and, as such, it will offer you chances to do things you never thought you could do. Be brave, accept the challenges that it will throw at you and, above all, love it as it will make you feel loved.

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Mount Cook Village, New Zealand

1. What are the best attractions to visit in Mount Cook Village?

As the home of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook Village boasts not only the mighty peak but also other equally stunning locations. The best attractions in this village are: i) Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, ii) Tasman Glacier, iii) Church of the Good Shepard, and iv) Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

2. What are the best activities in Mount Cook Village?

What better way to explore Mount Cook Village than to try thrilling mountain adventures. Create better Mount Cook memories by doing these activities: i) soar above Mount Cook National Park via helicopter tour, ii) stargaze at the Mount John Observatory, iii) mountain bike through the Tasman Glacier, and iv) get a 360-degree view of the Southern Alps from Mueller Hut.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Andreia has been fond of words ever since she learned how to write. She believes people are made of the stories they live and the journeys they take. She intends to go on as many journeys she can...Read more

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