Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of New Zealand's highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It's alpine in the purest sense-with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is significantly huge in size, encompassing 23 peaks over 3,000 metres high, and is one of our very favourite national parks. The quaint settlement at Mount Cook Village provides a comfortable base for alpine activities and adventurers. Far from city lights, the stargazing here is magnificent - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park forms the majority of New Zealand's only International Dark Sky Reserve.
At 27 kilometres in length, the mighty Tasman Glacier is a powerful piece of landscaping equipment. While it slowly carves the valley sides, it provides a landing place for small ski planes and helicopters. Surreal, milky lakes are a feature of the park - suspended, glacier-ground rock sediment makes the water opaque. Local kayak guides are happy to take you for a glide along these sparkling, alpine-blue lakes to get up close and personal with the ice.
Mountaineers regard the area to be the best climbing region in Australasia, while less skilled adventurers find plenty of satisfaction with the mountain walks that lead to alpine tarns, herb fields and spectacular glacier views. Encounters with cheeky kea (mountain parrots) are part of the fun. Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest.
The craggy peak of Mount Cook draws serious alpinists and mountaineers from around the world, and the surrounding region is a popular destination for stargazing, winter snow sports, cycling, summer hiking and walking, and romantic getaways all year round.
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. Lake Tekapo township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. The lake gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water. Whether you’re relaxing with a pizza and enjoying the panoramic lake views or taking a trip up to the Observatory, there’s something in Tekapo for every kind of traveller. If you’re looking for a touch of relaxation and luxury, you can have a soak in the hot pools after a hard day’s adventuring.
Church of the Good Shepherd
On the shores of the lake you'll see the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the lake. The church was built in 1935 for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie district and is still used as a place of worship, and so respect is needed from visitors.
Close by is the "sheepdog monument", a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district's debt to the sheepdog "without the help of which the grazing of the mountainous country would be impossible."
The Southern Lights
The Southern Hemisphere's equivalent of the Northern Lights, Lake Tekapo is one of the best places in New Zealand to see this symphony of colour come to life. Best seen between April and September, Lake Tekapo is known for it's clear nights and lack of light pollution, making it a great viewing destination for those hoping to witness the spectacular aurora australis. Head to Mount John Observatory - perched high in the mountains and south-facing - for your best chance of experiencing this spectacular natural light show.
A shimmering blue jewel set into a grand alpine playground - an iconic New Zealand landscape of high mountain peaks, glacier fed alpine lakes and golden tussocks stretched beneath an endless sky. At the head of Lake Pukaki, New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook dominates the turquoise ribbon of lake that fills an elongated ancient glacier-carved valley.
- Take the time to look up, study the galaxies and stars, and feel connected to the awesome history of the universe. Seeing this sky through a telescope is an experience here is unlike any other
- Soak up the incredible views from the Tekapo Springs hot pools
- Walk the trails at Mount Cook Village to the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers
- Visit the Mount Cook salmon farm, and savour the Freshwater King Salmon. From the purest fresh water on the planet, is one of our southern delicacies. Natures finest tasing salmon. Eat some!
- Flying scenic tours into the spectacular Mt Cook & Westland National Parks from Lake Tekapo and Franz Josef Glacier. Every seat is a window seat!
- Wander across the shores of the lakes and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Aura is a collection of carefully curated holiday homes and experiences. Live life to the fullest. Enjoy every second. We'll take care of the rest.