After our visit to the south coast of New Zealand, we headed north again, because one thing was missing on our list: Mt. Cook National Park!
On the way to the Mt. Cook National Park, you pass Lake Pukaki. When the weather is good, the view of the highest peak in New Zealand is fantastic:
Hiking in the Mt. Cook National Park
We had two days at Mt. Cook National Park. Two days, two hikes. The first one went to the Tasman Glacier, the second led us through the Hooker Valley to Hooker Lake.
Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake
For this short hike, you have to drive by car from Mt. Cook Village through the Tasman Valley. At the end of the street is a parking lot. From there starts the short (about 1 hour round trip), but steep hike past the Blue Lakes to a viewpoint over Tasman Lake. From here you can also see the glacier. The Tasman Lake is a glacier lake and is fed by the melting water of the Tasman Glacier. There is also a path leading directly to the lake. On the lake you can go kayaking or take a motor boat to the glacier. This time it was too expensive for us. That is why we have “only” made the hike to the lake.
Hike through the Hooker Valley
Probably the most popular hike in Mt. Cook National Park is the hike through the Hooker Valley. It takes about 3 hours to get there and back across 3 suspension bridges, past Mueller Lake and Mueller Glacier, through the beautiful Hooker Valley to Hooker Lake. You will defenitely get some great great views of Mt Cook along the way. If you want to make this hike and avoid the tourists, you should start early in the morning. If you are already back around 11 clock, you will avoid most of the tourists. Later, however, the path becomes quite busy.
Besides these hikes, there are many others. From a short walk to a multi-day hike with overnight accommodation on huts, there is something for everyone. An overview of the different routes can be found hier.
Accomodation in Cook National Park
In the middle of the national park is Mt. Cook Village. There are different hotels and lodges. If you are traveling with your camper, you can stay at the DOC Campground “White Horse Hill”. The campsite is located about 2.5 km outside of Mt. Cook Village, but is right on the main hiking trails. The accommodation costs $ 13. In the main season you should reserve in advance. There is a large lounge where you can cook with your own camping stove. There are also running water and flush toilets. If you want to take a shower, you have to go to the 2.5 km public shelter in Mt. Cook Village.
A stay at Mt. Cook National Park is definitely worth it! The landscape is really great and there are great hiking trails. A highlight is also the White Horse Hill Campground, which is located in a really fabulous surrounding, in the middle of the mountains.