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Top 5 Things to Do in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

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Aerial view of Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand.

Embrace the captivating natural beauty of New Zealand when you take part in the best activities in Mount Cook National Park, home to the country’s largest glacier.

You can experience the shining ice and dramatic colors of glaciers that cover more than 40 percent of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in the Southern Alps, including the summit of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

Besides its epic scenery, you can revel in exclusive experiences among the floating icebergs, jagged snowcapped peaks, and deep crevices that split the icy surfaces.

  1. 1. Scenic Hikes of Tasman Lake and Around the Glacier
  2. 2. Kayaking Across the Tasman Lake
  3. 3. Scenic Flights and Snow Landings
  4. 4. Heli Hike on the Tasman Glacier
  5. 5. Stargazing in Aoraki Mount Cook
  6. Experience the Top Things to Do in Mount Cook National Park

1. Scenic Hikes of Tasman Lake and Around the Glacier

Only experienced mountaineers can trek over the peaks and through elevated passes to hike the surface of Tasman Glacier without a guide or flight support.

For a more casual view of the glacier, you can stroll around Tasman Valley, combining the Blue Lakes via Hooker Valley Track. The trail takes you to fantastic viewpoints overlooking the milky-blue waters of Tasman Lake and the long flatlands of Tasman Valley.

The hiking trail requires minimal effort, but rewards you with a fabulous panorama that includes the labyrinth of icebergs floating on and emerging from the surface of Tasman Lake.

2. Kayaking Across the Tasman Lake

Guided kayak tours take adventurers into the glowing waters of Lake Tasman.

Experts or novice kayakers will enjoy floating along the frigid waters past icebergs surrounded by the ascending peaks of the glaciated mountains. You will kayak close to the ice wall, but remain a safe distance away in case of falling ice.

Should any break away from the glacier wall, you will have an incredible view. In February 2011, the Christchurch earthquake caused a chunk of ice weighing 30 million tons to tear away from the wall, causing waves more than 10 feet tall.

3. Scenic Flights and Snow Landings

A landscape filled with turquoise lakes, rolling coastal waves, scattered mountain peaks, and magnificent geothermal activity has made New Zealand a prime destination for scenic flights.

While in the air, you have a spectacular panoramic view of the scenery, punctuated by the peaks of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.

The aerial view puts the scope of the glacier into perspective, while offering sporadic views of the west coast, upper snowfields, the Grand Plateau, Plateau Hut, and Hochstetter Icefall. The planes land on powdery snow summits, allowing you to stop to take it all in.

4. Heli Hike on the Tasman Glacier

A heli hike is the only way to get onto the ice itself. It combines a scenic flight with the thrill of exploring the ice running alongside New Zealand’s largest mountain. Strap on sturdy boots and crampons after landing in a remote area of the glacier known for meandering crevices, slippery slopes, and hidden caves.

The walking tour lasts about two hours and travels over the constantly changing environment of the glacier, making every visit unique. If you prefer a more audacious thrill when on the glacier, you can ski in the heart of the Southern Alps on a variety of runs, with slopes descending nearly 3,300 feet.

5. Stargazing in Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is one of about 20 Dark Sky Reserves in the world and offers a mesmerizing blanket of stars.

Framed by the Southern Alps, you can experience how the night sky comes to life when absent of light pollution.

Learn more about what you are witnessing by visiting with a guide or lay back and relax for an unforgettable big-sky experience.

Experience the Top Things to Do in Mount Cook National Park

New Zealand’s largest glacier, the Tasman Glacier, offers exclusive experiences of Mount Cook National Park's impressive icy crevices, steep snowy slopes, and rugged landscapes.

If you are interested in visiting the winter wonderland, find inspiration with our New Zealand tours and vacations or learn more about the best travel experiences with our New Zealand travel guide.

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