Awarded ‘World Heritage’ status in recognition of its qualities and rare beauty, the Mount Cook National Park covers an area of nearly 7,000 hectares of majestic alpine scenery with more than one third being in permanent snow and glacial ice. The park contains 22 of the 27 peaks over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in New Zealand.
A special feature of this area is the mountain buttercup or Mount Cook Lily with its multitude of white blossoms that grace the land through spring and summer. The Park is also home to the mountain parrot, the kea, and also the yellow-breasted tomtit, tiny rifleman and the native pigeon.
Mount Cook provides a wonderland for walkers, skiers and mountaineers. A popular way to experience the grandeur of this mountain area is with a helicopter or a fixed wing flightseeing trip.
Near Mount Cook and in the heart of the McKenzie Country, you’ll find Lake Tekapo. This lake has an astounding turquoise blue hue reflecting the surrounding mountains, the beautiful blue/green colour of the lake is caused by ‘rock flour’ which is finely ground particles of rock held in suspension in the melted water from the glaciers that run into the lake.
A little further along the front of the lake is the famous statue of the working collie dog whose help was invaluable to early settlers and indeed modern shepherds and farmers in the region.
The area is popular for a host of sports including skiing and ice skating in the winter, rowing, fishing, walking, mountain biking and boating in the summer.
If you cannot join the elite few who make it to the top of Aoraki/Mount Cook on foot, the next best way is by helicopter. The Helicopter Line offers a range of helicopter flights that traverse the Southern Alps and provide you with close-up views of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Ben Ohau ranges, and the Fox, Franz Josef, and Tasman Glaciers. All flights include a snow landing either on a snow field or on a glacier. The Helicopter Line is based at Glentanner Station, a fully working high country sheep station located just 15 minutes from Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.
In 1955 the first ski plane landed on Tasman Glacier. Since then, Mount Cook Ski Planes have introduced visitors from all over the world to the dramatic landscape of the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Another way of viewing the Tasman Glacier is with Glacier Explorers, as they cruise on the lake at the end of the Tasman Glacier. Each tour includes commentary on the history and mechanics of the Glacier. Based at the Mount Cook Village.