Mount Cook Scenery and Museum


Aoraki Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It is situated in the Canterbury region of the South Island and is known as the Southern Alps. There are 23 peaks over 3000 metres and 220 peaks over 200M but you can visit there by car easily. I was living nearby in Lake Tekapo so we went to visit and were amazed by the Mount Cook scenery and museum. I was blown away by the sheer beauty and completely awestruck to be sitting in front of this giant snowcapped peak.

top of mount cook

Apart from the obvious breathtaking scenery, Mount Cook National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve. A wonderful place to watch the night sky and experience stargazing at its most beautiful and clearest. There is something truly magical about the place.

on the road to mt cook view

Sir Edmund Hillary learned to climb here and made his first ascent in January 1948. In honour of his life,  the South Ridge was renamed as Hillary Ridge in August 2011. The museum is full of memorabilia connected to him such as his old skis, boots and machinery used to make way through the difficult terrain. In those days technology and machinery were very limited so he was a true pioneer. 

old machinery used to climb mt cook  ancient snow plough  mount cook museum old plane

Since the early 20th century, around 80 people have died attempting to climb the mountain. This is why it is known as New Zealand most dangerous mountain peak to climb. The first woman to ascend the mountain was Freda Du Faur, an Australian, on 3 December 1910, who completed the first ever traverse of the 3 peaks.

snowy peaks

If you are wanting to experience the mountain peaks on foot, yet don’t want to climb or want to experience the feeling of being on top of the world, you can get a helicopter or ski plane there! The scenic flights are an amazing panoramic view and a fantastic way to see the place.

From October until May, you can explore the Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake by boat. Get up close to glaciers and even grab a piece of ice along the way. Make sure to wrap up warm whatever you do though! Brrrr.

If you’re interested in climbing you don’t need a permit but need to fill out a trip intentions form at the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre. There are guides provided if you wish to climb, walk or even ski on the glacier. Intermediate level skiing only. No beginners!

peak of mountain

Winter climbing is not for the faint hearted and is only suitable for those with experience, stamina and fitness. The weather can change dramatically and quickly. You need to have trained and prepared for all weather conditions such as heavy rainfall, severe wind and snow. I’ll leave that to the experts thanks! I was happily sipping a cappuccino admiring the up-close snowy peak from the balcony of the main building. A stunning sight to behold.

selfie at mount cook  old car at museum mt cook  old car at museum mt cook

The stargazing night tour do provide big warm coats and give you a hot chocolate to keep you warm so that is a nice touch. You get to check out the galaxy, solar system and planets through giant telescopes and stare at the amazing stars in their full glory so worth doing if you get a chance. They also help you take photos.

snowy mountain tops

Mount Cook village is the main township and it is tiny but has all amenities such as accommodation (backpackers, campsites and luxury hotel stays) , food and drink and the amazing Hermitage Hotel where you simply have to go to see the view from the balcony. 

There are beautiful Kea birds native to the area which are a New Zealand bird similar in looks to a parrot. They are very intelligent and not afraid of humans. If you’re lucky you may have one come right up to you or even steal your leftover food. However, they do not permit you to feed them so try not to let them!

Upclose pic of a kea bird

A fantastic trip and a really memorable experience. Recommend it to anyone travelling the South Island of New Zealand. A must-see attraction.

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