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How to Take the Famous Mount Cook Road Photo

backpacking as a couple is a challenge

Have you ever wanted to capture that perfect photo of Mount Cook you see all over Instagram? Well, in this blog I show you exactly where and how!

A Guide to Taking One of the Most Famous Photos of Mount Cook

One of the most stunning roads I have had the pleasure of traveling along is the road to Mount Cook National Park. A visit to Mount Cook National Park is without a doubt one of the best places to visit on the South Island.

As you drive along this windy road you’re welcomed with stunning views of Lake Pukaki and the giant mountains that surround it in the distance. Lake Pukaki literally shines bright blue on a sunny day and as you approach the township of Mount Cook, the views only get better.

Road tripping through Mount cook in our campervan rental car
The road to Mount cook along Lake Pukaki. Can you see mount cook?

One view, in particular, is as spectacular as it is famous, and that’s the view of Mount Cook Road with Mount Cook (the mountain) towering above in the background. Getting this iconic shot has become one of the best things to do in Mount Cook National Park.

In my opinion, taking the time to check out this view is so worth it. However, getting the perfect shot can be difficult if you’re not super camera savvy.

So in this post, I will not only outline the exact spot so many people get this amazing shot at, but also the little trick that gets it looking so good – so you can too!

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Most famous Mount cook photo
Just chilling on the famous spot in Mount Cook!

Where to Stay in Mount Cook

If you’re heading to Mount Cook then you simply must stay at least one night – I guarantee you won’t regret it! There isn’t much accommodation and it books up fast (especially in summer) but here are your options:

The YHA Hostel – The YHA is the best budget option for those not camping. Dorm beds here start at $38 per night. Its a really good quality hostel that’s clean and social (and even has a sauna.)

The Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook – The Hermitage is the biggest hotel in the national park and where the visitor center is. Its got some of the best views and the restaurant is amazing!

White Horse Hill Campground– This is a DOC campground and costs only $13 per person per night. They also have specials for kids and students. The campground is set up for tents, cars, and motorhomes.

Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge – The Alpine Lodge is a mid-range budget hotel that has stunning views of the entire national park.

Aoraki Court Motel – Another beautiful hotel that’s got the best reviews in Mount Cook National Park.

The Alpine Chalet – This is a one of a kind chalet built for 8 guests. It’s 3 bedrooms and as a fully equipped kitchen! the best option for large groups.

Mount Cook Lodge and Motel – One of the newest hotels in the park but fast becoming one of the most popular and highly rated.

If the accommodation in Mount Cook is booked up, the next closest town is Twizel (45 minutes away) or you can also stay in Lake Tekapo (1.5 hours away).

For more detailed information on the accommodation in mount cook and where to stay nearby, check out our Mount Cook accommodation guide!


Where is the exact spot for the photo?

This photo is taken 10km outside of Mount Cook Village.

As you drive out of Mount Cook Village (leaving from the village to the highway) you will pass the airport on your left. Keep heading towards Lake Pukaki for another few minutes and you will begin to see Mount Cook’s peak pear out from its base as you drive further away.

Then, you will come to a long stretch of road that has four small streams on it all in a row (these streams are spread apart so it’s best to use Google Maps or Maps.me to find them).

It’s on this stretch of road that you get the perfect angle of Mount Cook and also a good view to see if cars are coming (that’s kind of important). Below are a few screenshots of the location on Maps.me. The red markers mark the road this photo is taken from. In my opinion, taking the photo from the last stream is the best spot.

The 4 small streams
The same spot zoomed out

Check out some awesome tours in and around Mount Cook

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Is there a place to park?

Well, not exactly but there are places with the flat ground you can pull safely off the road. These are located at each one of the streams and the largest being at the last one (if you’re heading away from the village).

It is always best to leave your hazard lights on and never shoot in the dark. Although on this stretch of road you have plenty of time to see cars coming, it’s still important to pay attention.

Mount cook National park
Just playing on the road!

So, what’s the trick to getting the shot?

If you line up at the exact spot mentioned above and simply click your camera or phone the shot won’t quite look like the photos above. This is especially true if you shoot with a wide-angle lens.

With the wide-angle, your view becomes too large and Mount Cook appears tiny in the background and not as huge as you see with your eyes.

Best Mount Cook photo!
Same spot, same camera, just no zoom!

The trick to making Mount Cook appear huge is using some zoom! By making the person in the photo further away and zooming in you can decrees your field of view and also make your subject appear smaller making Mount Cook larger.

That’s it, no crazy complicated trick, just some plain old zoom. The great thing about this technique is you can use it in other photos. Like the one below!

For some more great photography tips, check out this blog I wrote: How to Take Better Travel Photos!

Mount cook Photos
Same technique I used on the hooker valley trail.
Related Read:   Where to Take the Best Photos in Mount Cook National Park

Well, now you know where to take the shot and the “secret” to get it! You can now take this knowledge to Mount Cook and take another cool shot from this iconic spot!

Both Bailey and I would love to see your photos and if you found this post helpful so please leave us a comment or email us your photos and feedback!

Keep Reading…

Guide to the Mueller Hut Track – Want to know whats it’s like to hike to the Mueller hut and why it’s my favorite hike in New Zealand? This post answers all your questions and how to book the hut.

The Hooker Valley Track – Its easily one of the best hikes in New Zealand but if you don’t avoid the crowds the experience can be a little less amazing. Here’s how to beat the crowds and all the things to look out for along the way!

Tasman Glacier Viewpoint – Want to find the best views of the Tasman Glacier? Our post is a guide to the best viewpoint and why you really should go for sunrise!

-Daniel

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Mount cook road photo pin

4 Replies to “How to Take the Famous Mount Cook Road Photo”

  • I am heading to New zealand next week and have found your posts about Tasman Lake, Hooker Valley, Roy’s Peak and this one incredibly helpful. Thanks for all the detailed information and tips. Much appreciated!

    • Hey Marielena

      That’s so amazing to hear we really appreciate the kind words! If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet use the links on our site. It won;t cost you a thing extra. That would be greatly appreciated!

      Just let us know if you need any help or info not on our website!

      Have an amazing time!

      Thanks
      Daniel

    • He J M Noor,

      It depends on your budget haha!

      I shoot with a Nikon D600 but its a big camera and not very cheap! My first camera was the Nikon D3300. These are great and I think they have a new D3400 out thats aweseom. They are cheap just be sure to get a wide-angle lens with it (around 14mm to 18mm) as its a cropped sensor! For the Mount Cook road photo, you’ll need zoom so try get a lens that can do 14mm to say 70mm!

      Let me know if you need more info or what your budget is so I can find something more suitable!

      Thanks
      Daniel

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