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Mount Cook Accommodation – Where to Stay and Why

Mount cook

Mount Cook National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in New Zealand. It’s home to some of the most amazing things to do in New Zealand ranging from stunning hikes, breathtaking viewpoints, and a starry night sky like you wouldn’t believe!

In all honesty, the ONLY way to truly enjoy Mount Cook is to stay in Mount Cook Village for a night or two! By spending the night in a hotel in Mount Cook Village you’ll not only get more time to explore the park but you’ll be able to see this stunning place at every time of the day!

Luckily there are a few great accommodation options in Mount Cook National Park and plenty just outside the park in case it’s booked out (which is common).

But what are they and where can I stay if Mount Cook Village is completely booked? 

Well, in this post I’m going to let you know exactly where the stay in Mount Cook, tell you about the different Mount Cook accommodation options, and show you a few other towns where you can also stay if Mount Cook is fully booked!

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The road to the mount Cook village where the Mt Cook accommodation is
The road to Mount Cook Village!

Mount Cook Village – Mt Cook Accommodation

The best place to stay in Mount Cook National Park, and well, pretty much the only place to stay is in Mount Cook Village. By staying in Mount Cook Village you are literally 5 minutes from many of the best things to do in Mount Cook. These include hiking the Hooker Valley Track and Mueller Hut

Accommodation in the Mount Cook Village is limited, in fact, there are only 7 accommodation options. They include 5 hotels, 1 hostel, and 1 DOC (Department of Conservation) campground.

Mount Cook Village is also home to a museum, café, a few restaurants, airport, visitor center, rental shop (Alpine Guides), and museum. In Mount Cook Village you get phone reception whereas elsewhere in the park, you get very limited service.


Accommodation in Mount Cook Village

Tasman Glacier in Mount Cook National Park
Staying in Mount Cook means spending early mornings at the Tasman Glacier

1. White Horse Hill Campground

The White Horse Hill campground is the cheapest place to stay in Mount Cook. The campground caters to both campervans, cars, and tents. There are 60 campsites available for tents and around the same for campervans. Since it’s run by the DOC this campground has very basic facilities but does have flush toilets, running water (for drinking), and a cooking shelter.

The campground is very conveniently located right at the start of the Hooker Valley Track, Sealy Tarns Trail, as well as the Mueller Glacier Lookout trail and the Mueller Hut trail. However, it is a 5-minute drive from the Mount Cook Village.  

Prices are $15 for adults, $7.50 for children (5 – 17) and free for children 4 and under.

The White Horse Hill campground cannot be booked in advance and is on a first come first serve basis. So, be sure a have a backup plan if you’re visiting in summer!

White Horse Hill Campsite in Mount coon National Park

White Horse Hill Campsite

This is the only camping and motorhome spot in Mount Cook National Park. Run by the DOC, it’s not fancy but its the best-located place to stay for those looking to hike in the park.

2. YHA Mt Cook

The YHA Mt Cook is one of only two hostel-style accommodation options in Mount Cook National Park. Although a hostel, it’s a really beautiful place to stay. The entire building is made of beautiful wood and there is a huge dining area as well as arguably the best kitchen I’ve ever seen in a hostel. There is also a sauna on-site that’s open to guests from 4 pm to 9 pm as well as a small shop with basic supplies.

The YHA is located in the Village around a 10-minute walk from the visitor center. Rooms start at around $40 NZD per night for an 8 person shared dorm bed and around $150 for a double room. I have personally stayed here many times, and for the budget traveler is a great option!

YHA Hostel Mount Cook

YHA Mount Cook

The YHA Mount Cook is one of only two places with dorm-style accommodation in the park. It’s also the cheapest option and great for budget or solo travelers! Oh, and did I mention they have a sauna!

3. The Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook

The Hermitage is easily one of the best places to stay in Mount Cook especially if you’re after stunning mountain views. The hotel has an onsite cocktail bar (with amazing views), café and restaurant. All rooms come with a private bathroom and some even with a hot tub!

They serve a buffet breakfast which can be included in the room rate as well as serving lunch and dinner. They offer laundry service and even babysitting if you’re wanting a more romantic moment away from the kids.

Rooms here start at around $250 NZD per night, however, for their best rooms expect to pay around $500 NZD.

The Hermitage hotel Mount Cook

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook

The Hermitage is the largest hotel in the park and arguably the most luxurious. If your budget is high or you’re after something more romantic it’s a great choice.

4. Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge

The Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge is a great mid-budget hotel in Mount Cook Village. The rooms aren’t the most luxurious but the views are good and they also have a beautiful shared kitchen for guests. They have lovely common rooms including a large dining area with breathtaking views.

I highly recommend this hotel for families especially those traveling in a group of 4. The reason? Well, their rooms start at only $205 NZD (up to $280) but for $210 NZD you can get a quadruple room perfect for a family or group friends!

Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge

Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge

This hotel is the best value hotel for families in the park. With larger rooms to fit up to 4 people it’s great value especially for what you get!

5. Aoraki Court Hotel

The Aoraki Court Hotel is a chalet-style hotel that offers free parking at each room. All of the rooms are very modern and furnished well. They have their own private patio as well as mountain views and some basic cooking facilities.

The rooms available start at $380 NZD for a studio with kitchen and continue up till around $565 for a two-bedroom apartment! Although a little bit more expensive, the rooms do live up expectation and are very large, spacious, and comfortable.

Aoraki Court Hotel, Mount cook National Park

Aoraki Court Hotel

This hotel is very modern and centrally located. Its rooms have amazing views and offer a lot of privacy. A great choice for couples or families!

6. Aoraki Alpine Chalet

The Aoraki Alpine Chalet consists of only one chalet built to hold large groups of up to 8 people. The chalet has 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, bbq, flat screen tv, a well-equipped kitchen, and a microwave. Although a little old it’s the perfect place for larger groups wanting a private visit to Mount Cook.

This chalet costs $595 NZD per night for 8 people. Not a bad price when divided up between the group!

Aoraki Alpine Chalet

Aoraki Alpine Chalet

For large groups, this is the best place to stay in Mount Cook. It sleeps up to 8 people, has a full kitchen and 3 bedrooms. Divided up its great value per person per night!

7. Mt Cook Lodge and Motel

The Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is one of the best-rated hotels in Mount Cook Village. This small but cute motel has both basic rooms and some luxurious rooms and apartments as well as dorm-style accommodation. A dorm bed here costs $47 NZD a night and privates range from $280 to $400.

Its location is right in the village and walking distance to the discovery center, museum, and café. They offer free parking on-site and the hotel has magnificent views of Mount Cook National Park.

Mount Cook Lodge and Motel

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel

The Mt Cook Lodge is rather new to the park but it’s already the most highly rated on Booking.com. It has beautiful rooms and great views – what more could you want for a visit to Mount Cook National Park!

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Accommodation Near Mount Cook Village

As I’ve mentioned above, Mount Cook Village is almost always fully booked throughout the summer hiking season. For this reason, if you’ve left it a little late to book you’re going to need a plan B. Luckily though, there are three towns close by that although not as convenient, still provide a great place to base yourself and you explore this magical area.

Twizel

lake pukaki and mount cook
The view of Mount Cook from Lake Pukakai (not far from Twizel!)

Twizel is a small and rather unknown town just outside of Mount Cook National Park. It’s only a 45-minute drive to Mount Cook and accommodation here is much cheaper than in the park. In my opinion, it’s the second-best option if being close to the park is what matters most (after Mount Cook Village).

With that said, there’s simply not much going on in Twizel. And aside from being close to Mount Cook, there are no real major tourist attractions in the town. There are some pretty spectacular views just outside of Twizel as the mountains do sit just behind the town.

If you plan on spending most of your time in Mount Cook National Park then Twizel is a good option. However, if a visit to Mount Cook is just a short trip for you then consider the option below.

Lake Tekapo

Lupins at Lake Tekapo
Lupins at Lake Tekapo!

Lake Tekapo is another very popular place to visit on New Zealand’s South Island. This small town is situated on the edge of Lake Tekapo – arguably New Zealand’s most beautiful lake. From Mount Cook Village it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive to Lake Tekapo.

Although further than Twizel, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Lake Tekapo such as swim in the lake, wander the lupins (in season), visit the Church of the Good Shepard, and go stargazing. Overall, Lake Tekapo is just a stunning place to stay!

The issue with Lake Tekapo is that it’s just as popular as Mount Cook Village and in my opinion a stop on its own. So if you’ve left it too late Tekapo may also be booked up and if you haven’t, well, make it a stop on your New Zealand road trip!

Check out some great things to do in Lake Tekapo!

Omarama

Omarama Clay Cliffs
The clay cliffs just outside of Omarama!

The last option that’s only just over an hour drive from Mount Cook Village is the small town of Omarama. In all honesty, I haven’t spent much time in Omarama and usually only stop in for fuel, however, it is actually slightly closer to Mount Cook than Lake Tekapo and there are a few things to do in town you might find interesting.

Accommodation in Omarama is cheap too and there’s plenty of great options that usually don’t book up too far in advance. With that said, the best places will, so be sure to book asap!

One of the biggest attractions in town is the Omarama Hot Tubs. Imagine having a private bath surrounding by nature and looking out at the beautiful Southern Alps! Well, thats what you can expect there!

Another popular thing to do is to visit the Omarama Clay Cliffs. This stunning rock formation is well worth a quick visit on your road trip!

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Freedom Camping in Mount Cook

Freedom camping in Mount Cook National Park
Freedom camping in New Zealand

Most of you reading this may be planning to rent a campervan while in NZ. If it’s self-contained certified then you can actually freedom camp in places around New Zealand.

Unfortunately, Mount Cook National Park is not one of those places. In fact, you cannot sleep anywhere on the road to Mount Cook from the main highway nor around the village.

However, you can camp just outside the park almost anywhere you want except the township of Twizel and Lake Tekapo (there is a map in Lake Tekapo showing where you cannot freedom camp). So, if you’re planning on freedom camping don’t stress. There are places within a 50-minute drive of the park.

There are a few other no-go zones but you can read all about it here on the Mackenzie District website.


Check out some of these awesome experiences in Mount Cook!


Why stay in Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook, New Zealand one of the best places to visit on the south island
The earlier you hit the trails the fewer people you’ll see!

If you haven’t already been to New Zealand then you may not know just how beautiful Mount Cook National Park really is. Visiting isn’t just about what you do because just one look out of your hotel room and the views are sure to take your breath away!

By staying in the park you can be on the hiking trails before they get busy (believe me they do) and also have a much more relaxing time in this quiet town. In my opinion, a night or two in Mount Cook National Park is one of the best things to do in New Zealand by far! Don’t miss this opportunity and book your accommodation now so you don’t miss out!

-Daniel

Keep Reading…

Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Trail – One of the best viewpoints in Mt Cook is only s short 15-minute walk away. Find out where it is and how to get the best views!

Choosing the best Mt Cook scenic flight – Everything you need to know to pick the best, most exciting scenic flight.

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