Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is situated in the centre of the South Island of New Zealand near the town of Twizel. Mount Cook village lies within the park. Because of its amazing 3754 metres of altitude Mount Cook is also called Aoraki, signifying "The Cloud piercer" in the local Maori Dialect. Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Trust.
At 3754 metres Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest point in New Zealand. It stands in the Southern Alps in South Canterbury in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Of New Zealand's twenty peaks over 3,000 metres, all except Mount Aspiring lie in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Parks boundary. The Southern Alps contain 360 glaciers, the largest of which is the Tasman Glacier, on the slopes of Mount Cook itself, it is 29 kilometres long. Glaciers cover 40% of the park area.
This region is celebrated for its "off the beaten track" activities and attractions, especially for the adventurous traveller. You can take a scenic flight over Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook giving you superb views over the Southern Alps. You can ski-plane and land on the Tasman Glacier. All sorts of ski and snowboarding options are available, including heli-skiing and ski touring with experienced guides. There is climbing, tramping and glacier exploration adventures. Mountain climbing is very popular here. With Aoraki/Mt Cook being the ultimate goal for the more adventurous climbers. Guides can organise your climb and supply all the necessary equipment.
Boatcruises, canoeing and kayaking tours of Lake Tekapo are a great way to see this area, also a good way to get a fish. Try out heli-fishing, which saves travel time and is awesome for sight seeing too. Mountain biking the Tasman Glacier Road from Mount Cook Village up to the old Ball Hut is a good ride, if preferred there are a couple of shorter rides too. With the right permission, in the park you can go Hunting for red deer and Himalayan Tahr, which can be seen throughout the park.
When in the park keep an eye out for the Kea, the Kea (Nestor notabilis) is one of the seven parrot species endemic to New Zealand. He struts around as though he owns the place, sticking his beak into anything left unguarded. Be careful not to leave your tent or backpacks unattended. Its beak is lethal and even windscreen wiper rubbers, tyres, the roof of convertible cars and motorbike seats are an easy target for the Kea with its heart set on mischief.
Accommodation in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village ranges from backpackers through to luxury hotels. Accommodation is in high demand year round, and visitors are advised to book in advance. There are 17 DOC huts in the park. Most are located for mountaineering use, therefore you need climbing skills to reach them.
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