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 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; Mount Cook Village will make your dreams come true regardless of their order of importance.
1. Wander through Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
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. When you show your friends all 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
2. Go on a cruise around Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake
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
3. See the Church of the Good Shepard with your own eyes
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
4. Visit Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
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 stop by!
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
Address: Mt Cook Village, Aoraki, Mt Cook, New Zealand
Website: Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
5. Stargaze at the Mount John Observatory
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 starts 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
6. View the mountains up close from a helicopter
Always wanted to ride in a helicopter and see the world below you as you’ve never seen it before? This is your chance of doing that in one of the most beautiful places on Earth: Mount Cook. The Helicopter Line offers several different tours you can take around the region; you can choose to fly above the mountains, the glaciers, or all at once! This is a treat for the true adventurer so if you consider yourself one, book it now!
Mount Cook Helicopter Tour
Price: from 245 USD / 356 NZD
Website: The Helicopter Line
7. Be mesmerized by the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo
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.
Address: 43°53′S 170°31′E
Website: Lake Tekapo
8. Do some mountain biking through the Tasman Glacier
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
9. Get a 360-degree view of the Southern Alps from Mueller Hut
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?
Address: Mount Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand
Website: Mueller Hut
10. Treat yourself to a drink at the top of the Hermitage Hotel
Before you leave Mount Cook Village, 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 goodbye to Mount Cook’s stunning views whilst sipping a delicious drink. Doesn’t it seem like a perfect way to end your dream trip?
Address: 89 Terrace Rd, Mount Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand
Website: Hermitage Hotel
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: 50 minutes flying time
Price: 259 USD
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.
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