Things to do in Mount Cook National Park

things to do in mount cook

If it isn’t already, a visit to Mount Cook National Park should be on your itinerary while travelling in New Zealand – it is simply beautiful! This blog is all about the amazing things to do in Mount Cook that are sure to make your visit one for the books!

Things to do in Mount Cook National Park

The tallest mountain in New Zealand is Mount Cook, and therefore, Mount Cook National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. While climbing Mount Cook itself is only for the professionals, the park actually boasts a ton of other things to do. From walks to helicopter rides to dinner with a view, Mount Cook National Park has something for everyone and is a place all tourists should visit for at least a couple of days!

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there are lots of different things to do in mount cook national park
Mount Cook is huge!

Before we get into the things to do in Mount Cook, here is a little background information about visiting Mount Cook National Park…

About Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park is located on New Zealand’s South Island about 1 hour from the town of Lake Tekapo. Within the park itself is Mount Cook Village, a small town with a few places to stay and eat.

If possible, I recommend staying overnight in Mount Cook Village in order to make the most of your trip, but if you can’t find something suitable there consider staying in Lake Tekapo or the closer option, a town called Twizel is closer than Tekapo but it doesn’t offer the same amazing views!

To browse accomodation available in Mount Cook Village, click here!

Things to do in Mount Cook National Park

Now that you’ve arrived in the Mount Cook National Park, what is there to do? You will see the amazing views when you are there, but there are few things you just need to do while visiting in order to make the most of your visit. Here are what I think are the best things to do in Mount Cook National Park.

1. The Hooker Valley Track

This is probably the most popular of the things to do in Mount Cook National Park simply because it is such a stunning walk and it is so easy that anybody can do it! The walk is 10km return but is flat and suitable for almost all fitness levels.

the bridge along the hooker valley

Along the Hooker Valley Track, you will cross rivers on suspension bridges, walk on wooden decks across the valley, see Mueller Lake, and then at the very end you will be greeted by Hooker Valley Lake. The backdrop to Hooker Valley lake is Mount Cook itself, it makes for a beautiful photo opportunity and is sure to be a view that takes your breath away.

mount cook reflected on hooker valley lake
Simply stunning! Hooker Valley Lake with Mount Cook as its backdrop.

If you want to do the Hooker Valley Track for yourself you will have to only drive a couple minutes down Hooker Valley Road towards Whitehorse Hill carpark and campground. From where the walk starts. allow about 2-4 hours return depending on your fitness level. If you want to visit when it is least busy I recommend going for sunrise!

For more information on the Hooker Valley Track check out our blog: Walk the Hooker Valley Track 


2. A Scenic Helicopter Ride

In my biased opinion, Mount Cook National Park is the best place in New Zealand to go on a scenic helicopter ride. I recently went on a ride from Mount Cook National Park and it was incredible! I haven’t experienced a helicopter ride elsewhere in New Zealand (yet) but I think that Mount Cook would be the best place as it is the largest mountain in New Zealand, and from the air, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier aren’t far either!

Mount Cook Helicopter flights
One of the most magical views! You can actually see the Franz Joseph Glacier in this shot!

The downside to a scenic helicopter ride is the price tag. For those on a tight budget, this experience may not be possible. But if you can afford it, this is one of those “one in a lifetime” type of experiences that I think is worth every penny!

For information on a scenic helicopter ride check out our blog: Everything you need to know about a Mount Cook Helicopter Ride

Landing on the Tasman Glacier on a Mount Cook helicopter flight!
Landing on the Tasman Glacier! We were all smiles!

3. Dinner with a View

If you feel like spoiling yourself a little bit with a nice dinner and drinks with a view then the brand new Hermitage Hotel is the place for you! They are open all day and with the elevated location and big windows, they have some incredible views. Even if you don’t want to go for dinner, it is worth stopping by for a relax with a coffee or glass of wine!

READ  Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk


4. The Sealy Tarns Track

For those who like hiking, this one is for you!

The Sealy Tarns Track is a bit challenging with about 2,000 stairs to climb, but the view is totally worth it! From the top, you will see the Hooker Valley and lakes from above and it is spectacular! Mount Cook sits right across the valley and the view is probably one of the best in the area.

This is a hoto of the Sealy Tarns track in Mount cook National Park, New Zealand
Check out them views!

While the Sealy Tarns Track is challenging with all of the stairs it isn’t actually that long and can be done in a couple of hours. The track starts in the same place as the Hooker Valley Track at the Whitehorse Hill car-park and campground.

Sealy Tarns Track in winter
The path has been completely covered in snow!

We wrote a blog all about the Sealy Tarns Track so you can do it for yourself: Tackling 2,000 Stairs on the Sealy Tarns Track

5. Tasman Lake

Many people skip the Tasman Lake and miss the views of the Tasman Glacier, don’t be one of those people as it is amazing! Icebergs float in the lake with the glacier in the background. The walk to the Tasman Lake viewpoint is short, only about 20 minutes or so and very easy.

the tasman valley walk
Hanging out at Tasman Lake!

From Mount Cook Village take Tasman Valley Road until to the end where you reach a car-apr. From there you can either walk to the Tasman Lake, Tasman River, the Blue Lakes, or the Tasman Glacier viewpoint. I recommend doing all of it! The trails are all very short and it is a beautiful area to explore.

If you want the iconic Tasman Lake photo, read our blog on how to get to the exact spot: Tasman River & Lake for Sunrise

Tips for Things to do in Mount Cook in Winter

All of the things I have listed are possible to do in the winter as well as the summer. However, there can be avalanche risks on tracks such as the Sealy Tarns. The best thing you can do is check with the DOC (Department of Conservation) about the current conditions and risks before you leave.

In the winter also prepare with warm clothing, gloves, and a hat. The temperature in Mount Cook National Park can be very cold in the winter.

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Mount Cook is an Amazing Place

No matter what things to do in Mount Cook you choose to do, you will have a great time. The drive there is simply stunning and that alone will be impressive. Take in the mountains, blue lakes, snow and sunshine and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings of Mount Cook National Park!


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