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To read about (and see photos of) a day walking at Mt Cook Village - up to the Sealy Tarn and then the Tasman Glacier Lake -

 click here

or view the full screen slideshow to experience the beauty.





The Sir Edmund Hillary Centre


 The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre in the heart of Mt Cook Village beside the Hermitage Hotel is a must see.


As well as hosting the Visitor Information Centre for the Aoraki National Park there is a museum, planetarium and 3D movie theatre on site. A combination ticket will allow you access to all three activities. There is also a cafe and bar which even conducts wine tasting and beer appreciation sessions in the evenings during the summer months. For more info about the Alpine Centre see .




A visit to Mt Cook isn't complete without an outdoor experience. This is the heart of the training ground of perhaps the most famous mountaineer of all time. Whatever the fitness level there is a walk suitable for everyone nearby. Respect the conditions and Enjoy!


 The following DOC publication is recommended: Walks in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park (PDF, 622K)


 [Note: Mt Cook Village altitude is 762 metres above sea level]


Hooker Valley

 3 hours return from White Horse Hill car park (at the end of Hooker Valley Road just north of Mt Cook Village). Fairly flat track along Hooker River valley floor to Hooker Lake with exciting swing bridge crossings. (It is just a half hour return trip to the first swing bridge.)


Sealy Tarn (Altitude: 1250 metres)

 3 to 4 hours return from White Horse Hill car park; very steep track but rewards with high level views of Hooker Valley below and Mt Sefton adjacent and Mt Cook up the valley. (Sealy Tarn is a pond or small alpine lake that can provide mirror images of the surrounding mountains in the right conditions.)


Mueller Hut (Altitude: 1800 metres)

 Another 2 hours above Sealy Tarn; very steep at first with poled route across rock and snow. People have perished up here so respect the very changeable weather conditions and stick to the marked route. You can stay overnight in the hut but book in advance.


Mt Ollivier (Altitude: 1900 metres)

 Half an hour or so above Mueller Hut. Ed Hillary's first 'conquest' and a key source of inspiration for future achievements.


Kea Point

 Half an hour fairly easy walk (each way) from Hooker car park or an hour from the Hermitage at Mt Cook Village. Provides a good vantage point to view the Mueller Lake and Hooker Valley without too much effort.


Tasman Glacier Lake

 About 20-30 minutes (uphill) from the car park at the end of Tasman Valley Road. Views over the terminal lake with icebergs (probably till about January when they may have melted) and up the Tasman Valley toward the Tasman Glacier. Also the 'blue' lakes can be viewed, visited or swum in nearby.


Ball Shelter, Tasman Glacier

 3 to 4 hours (each way) from car park at the end of Tasman Valley Road. Check conditions with the Visitor's Centre at Mt Cook Village before proceeding on this route. Follows the Tasman Valley up toward Ball Hut and can provide a view of the start of the Tasman Glacier.


Bush Walks

 Various short pleasant bush walks are located near to Mt Cook Village. (Governers Bush Walk - 1 hour return, Glencoe Walk - 1/2 hour return, Bowen Bush Walk - 10 minutes return)


Red Tarns (Altitude: 1143 metres)

 2 hours steeply uphill from the southern side of Mt Cook Village. Another option for a commanding view of the Hooker Valley.

Overnight in Mueller Hut or Ball Shelter


In summer, the fit and adventurous may consider an overnight experience at either the 30 bunk Mueller Hut above Mt Cook Village or the smaller (6 bunk) Ball Shelter above the Tasman Glacier. Each takes about 3-4 hours to reach, the Mueller Hut route rising about 1,000 metres in elevation. Refer: Mueller Hut Route Part 1 pdf (483KB) and Part 2 pdf (340KB)


Proceeding further is not recommended without a guide, however, Mt Ollivier can be clambered up just behind the Mueller Hut. A 7 hour day walk past the Ball Shelter toward the Ball Pass could be judiciously undertaken in perfect weather conditions with the right equipment. Refer: Day trip from Ball Shelter


The weather can change rapidly at any time of the year and extreme care is required at all times.


Hut bookings are essential and trip details should be left with the DOC Visitor Centre.


Alpine Courses & Expeditions


A number of licensed guiding operators provide alpine instruction courses and lead expeditions of varying degrees of difficulty. Options range from mountaineering, glacier exploration,alpine crossings such as the Ball Pass or Copeland Pass through to back country skiing or snow-boarding. Contact the DOC Visitors Centre at Mt Cook Village for further information.




Aorangi National Park and the MacKenzie Country below are far from city lights and therefore have some of the darkest skies in New Zealand  - perfect for viewing the night sky. Organised options include:


The Hermitage at Mt Cook Village

On clear evenings, an expert astronomy guide helps visitors explore the southern sky  from the Hillary Deck of the Hermitage Hotel.  Telescopes, binoculars and star charts are available. Be fascinated by a close look at stars, planets, moon craters and distant galaxies. Prebookings essential by contacting the Hermitage.


Planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

A 360 degree cinematic experience. Three different space films screen at various times during the day.


Mt John Observatory near Tekapo

An hour and a quarter from Mt Cook, Mt John overlooks Lake Tekapo and is located by turning off SH1 just south of Tekapo township. You can drive up or you can walk up from the shore of Lake Tekapo. The Observatory at the top of the mountain is world renowned for the quality of  images obtainable and scientists travel from across the globe to undertake research here. There is a cafe at the summit and they can arrange day tours of the observatory or night viewing of the stars from outside the observatory (it is usually only accessible by the scientists at night). Contact for further information and bookings.

Horse Trekking


 Glentanner Station offers horse trekking. Located about 25 km down SH80 south of Mt Cook Village.




Operators offer kayak trips on the Mueller Glacier Lake and raft-style boating on the Tasman Glacier Lake.


Scenic Flights


 Various helicopter, ski-plane and other small plane operators offer scenic flights from Mt Cook airport, a short drive from Mt Cook Village and Glentanner Station.




Guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier.


Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in Aoraki National Park for some wilderness experiences.


Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts. Alpine experience is required.





Mt Cook & Hooker Valley from Sealy Tarn



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To view the HD slideshow in full screen mode click on the  icon

Elevation above sea level 

  Mt Cook 3754m  
  Mt Sefton 3158m  
  Mt Ollivier 1900m  
  Mueller Hut 1800m  
  Sealy Tarns 1250m  
  Red Tarns 1143m  
  Kea Point   840m  
  Hooker Track   780m  
  Mt Cook Village   762m  
  Lake Pukaki   525m