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7 Best Photo Locations in Mount Cook National Park

Last updated : March 12th, 2020

Surrounded by snow and mountains in the Mueller Hut Trail


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There are many popular places to take amazing photos in Mount Cook National Park. This blog is all about where to go to get those incredible pictures and how to get there!


Mount Cook National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Snow-covered peaks tower over the huge glaciers below. Those glaciers then feed turquoise water into the many river systems which flow into the beautiful Lake Pukaki.

For many, an adventure through this remote part of New Zealand leaves them breathless. It is memories like these that are worth both capturing and sharing with others – and the best way to do this is through beautiful photos!

Of course, there are plenty of spots to get that amazing shot and finding your own unique one is so rewarding. But, if you’ve ever wondered where some of the best photos spots in Mount Cook National Park are then this blog post will not only tell you, but help you get there!

1. Tasman River Viewpoint

Tha Tasman Lake and Tasman Glacier at sunrise
The Tasman Lake and Tasman Glacier at sunrise

The Tasman River viewpoint is my favorite spot to watch the sunrise and capture spectacular images in Mount Cook National Park. The Tasman Lake is often filled with icebergs almost all year round as the lake is fed from the Tasman Glacier.

Behind the glacier are beautiful snow-covered peaks that reflect almost perfectly in the calm areas of the lake. To top it off, the sunrise behind these mountains can put on one beautiful show of beauty!

The Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake just as the sun appears behind the mountains
The Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake just as the sun appears behind the mountains

There is one other thing I love about this spot and that’s the fact it’s only a 15-minute walk! Yep, I said it. Both Bailey and I love long hikes but when it comes to getting up to watch the sunrise a 15-minute hike is ideal. Short walks with views like the ones at Tasman Lake are almost unheard of!

If you would like more information about the Tasman Lake hike including maps and tips on getting a great shot, check out our guide to the Tasman Lake!

2. The Road to Mount Cook

Bailey and I sit on the road to Mount cook

Most of us have heard the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” but did you know it was first said in Mount Cook…well, not really but when you drive there for yourself you’ll think the same thing. Driving into Mount Cook is so beautiful that getting an amazing shot from the road is just as popular as the main attractions.

The best spot is located about 15 minutes out of town and in this spot Mount Cook stands smack bang in the middle of the road. The most amazing part of this photo spot is that with a little perspective trick you can make Mount Cook look huge as you dance, run, sit, or pose on the road.

Another photo on the road to Mount cook

Of course, I must say that standing in the middle of the road is not safe and you must do it at your own risk. However, the road to Mount Cook is long, and in this particular spot, flat so you can spot a car coming and have about one minute to walk off. Please be safe and use a spotter to spot cars!

We have a detailed guide about finding the exact spot and the little trick needed to make the photo look so amazing!

Related Read:   Queenstown Photography - 15 BEST Places to Take Photos

3. The Hooker Valley Track

Bailey watching the sunset behind Mount Cook and the Hooker Lake, New Zealand
The Hooker Valley Lake

The Hooker Valley Track is likely the most popular and most walked track in Mount Cook National Park. This short two-hour hike leads you through the Hooker Valley to the beautiful Hooker Lake.

The Hooker Valley itself is home to three stunning suspension bridges and its own unique and breathtaking views. Along this 5 kilometer-long trail you could take thousands of photos! However, Hooker Lake is definitely the highlight!

The Hooker Lake sits at the base of Mount Cook. Being the tallest mountain in New Zealand, it truly towers over you as you sit on the edge of the lake. Mount Cook’s huge size and sharp mitered peak make for some pretty spectacular photos.

The hooker Valley Track, Mt Cook
Just one of the suspension bridges on the Hooker Valley Track

To top it all off though, on a calm day Mount Cook reflects perfectly off the surface of the lake (providing it’s not frozen!) During the golden hours of sunset or sunrise, this place puts on a spectacular show. Just be prepared to walk in the dark before or after!

We have written a complete guide to the Hooker Valley Track, so check it out!

4. Mueller Hut Track

The Mueller Hut in Mount cook National Park
The Mueller Hut (in winter of course!)

The Mueller Hut is a small backcountry hut located high above Mount Cook National Park. To get there you must hike for between 4 to 6 hours (depending on the season) which includes over 2,200 steps on the Mueller Hut Track.

On the trail, you can enjoy amazing views as you slowly hike towards the hut. In winter the entire mountainside is covered in snow and in summer the tarns (alpine lakes) and waterfalls appear.

Heading down from the Mueller Hut to the Mount Cook Village
Hiking the Mueller Hut in winter

From the Mueller Hut, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Cook, Hooker Lake, the Mueller Hut, and the entire valley floor! It’s that rewarding view that lets you step back and see its beauty from afar.

For more information on the Mueller Hut Track check out our Mueller Hut guide!

5. Sealy Tarns Track

Views of Mount cook from the Sealy tarns Track
Views of Mount Cook for the Sealy Tarns Track

The Sealy Tarns track is the perfect hike for those not keen on tackling the Mueller Hut. The reason? Well, the Sealy Tarns Track is actually the first half of the Mueller Hut track.

To reach the Sealy Tarn it only takes around 2 hours, however, you will have to hike over 2,000 steps to get there! With that said, along the way and at the Sealy Tran you can enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Cook National Park.

Views on the Sealy Tarns Track from the halfway point of the trail
Views on the Sealy Tarns Track from the halfway point of the trail

I highly recommend hiking to the top, but, if you really can’t make it, then hiking halfway up will still give you an amazing vantage point to take some great photos.

For more info check out our guide to hiking the Sealy Tarns Track!

Related Read:   Mount Cook Accommodation - Where to Stay and Why

6. On a Scenic Flight

A close up of Mount Cook on our scenic helicopter flight
A close up of Mount Cook on our scenic helicopter flight

I love all the viewpoints and hikes on this list but one of my all-time favorites was on my first ever helicopter flight through Mount Cook National Park. From a helicopter or plane, you can explore and see places in Mount Cook you can’t any other way!

We flew right past the summit of Mount Cook and over the divide between the east and west coast of the southern alps, peering over at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.

The mountains that seperate the west and est coast of New Zealand on our scenic flight through Mount Cook National Park
The mountains that separate the west and east coast of New Zealand on our scenic flight through Mount Cook National Park

From the sky, you can enjoy views of New Zealand’s best national park in style and see so much more than you can from any hiking trail. If you are planning on doing one scenic flight in New Zealand then Mount Cook is the perfect place to do it!

We have a completed a blog post on our scenic helicopter ride with many more photos and info on how to pick the right one!

Related Read:   A Guide to Planning the Best South Island New Zealand Road Trip

7. The Blue Lakes

A reflection at the Blue Lakes near the Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake
Beautiful reflections at the Blue Lakes

Last but certainly not least on our best photo locations in Mount Cook National Park is the Blue Lakes. These small lakes are located near the Tasman Lake and you’ll find signs directing you to them from the carpark.

Although the lakes are no longer as blue as they used to be due to the melting of the Tasman Glacier, they still give off breathtaking reflections and are a place I highly recommend visiting!

Sad fact: The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s fastest retreating glacier and between 2000 and 2008 the glacier retreated 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) from Tasman Lake.

Before you go…

Mount Cook National Park will leave a lasting impression but capturing these moments to share is the best way to keep the experience with you forever! The 7 spots mentioned above are just the beginning of an experience that will have you both breathless and speechless.

I hope this blog has helped inspire your trip to mount cook National Park. if you have any further questions please leave them below and Bailey or I will get back to you!

Also if you found this blog helpful, be sure to jump over to our New Zealand page for more great travel guides!

Related articles:

13 best things to do in Mount Cook National Park

The best viewpoint at Lindis Pass

Christchurch to Queenstown road trip guide

Omarama Clay Cliffs


-Daniel

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About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

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