Aoraki / Mount Cook
Mount Cook National Park has been on my mind ever since we went down in September. It was snowing and looked like something out of a movie scene. Although it was beautiful, we weren't able to fully see Mount Cook because it was covered in clouds.
Going back in December (NZ's summer) was absolutely perfect. We were finally able to see Mount Cook during the most beautiful time of the year. The grass was a yellowish green with roaming sheep and Mount Cook/ Aoraki stood clearly off in the distance. It was a beautiful blue and white peak that had a majestic presence to it.
Mount Cook stands at about 3,724 meters / 12,217 feet high. The Maori name for the peak is Aoraki meaning Cloud Piercer. While we were in the national park our first time we went to The Old Mountaineer's Cafe and had some coffee. I think this may be one of the only restaurants in the park so if you're hungry you should definitely check this place out. It has a very beautiful view of the mountain range.
In terms of tramping, we were able to do Hooker Valley Track which is an easy 3-hour return track. It has absolutely gorgeous views of Mount Cook and leads to Glacier Lake. It's very flat and I believe can be completed at any fitness level. The track leads you down three swing bridges that cross the Hooker River and the best thing is that the track offers spectacular views. You will see some glaciers, icebergs and majestic mountains along the way.
I've also heard great things about Mueller's Hut Route. I would check that out if you have multiple days in the park! Ryan & I camped at Glentanner Holiday Park which is a lovely campsite with a common room and some facilities including a new bathroom & shower. There are many spots to set up your van or tent there. Although it is a little bit of drive into the park you can still see Mount Cook beautifully the whole drive. We also saw a lot of people camped at the base of Hooker Valley Track at White Horse Hill Campsite. This Campsite was packed to the brim and had some very mischevious Kea birds lurking around the vicinity. However, it had a great location at the bottom of the start of Hooker Valley Track.
Mount Cook National Park is an absolute must see & I highly recommend it!