5 Must-Do Things in Mt. Cook, New Zealand

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Mt. Cook is a beautiful National Park located about 300 km North of Queenstown. The entire drive is absolutely beautiful, but once you arrive you will truly be amazed. There are mountains in every direction you look with so many opportunities for hiking and sightseeing. Here are 5 must-do things for your visit to Mt. Cook:

1. Hooker Valley Track

This is probably already on the top of your list because it is by far the most famous thing in the area. It is a gorgeous hike (more like a walk) with so many photo opportunities and sights to see! The ending point is at Hooker Lake where you can see mountains surrounding the water, and depending on the time of year, chunks of ice in the lake as well!

Duration: 3 hours round trip

Grade: Easy

2. Tasman Glacier/Lake Viewpoint

This one is a super quick & easy hike, but offers gorgeous views at the top. It'll take you about 20 minutes to get to the top, but it's all stairs. So just be prepared. The trailhead for this one is about a 15 minute drive from Mt. Cook Village, so if you have a car- awesome, if not-try to hitch a ride with someone from your hostel to avoid a long walk.

Duration: 40 minutes round trip

Grade: Easy

3. Red Tarns Track

This hike is actually a lot more difficult than I had anticipated because of one thing: stairs! It's a little over an hour to get up to the top, but it is literally all stairs. So it's pretty exhausting. Once you get to the top though, you'll have great views of the mountain and valley. If you continue up a couple more minutes there are some red pools that offer some great photo ops!

Duration: 2 hours round trip

Grade: Moderate

4. Go Stargazing

This area, along with Lake Tekapo, is one of the best areas in the world for stargazing. On really clear nights you can even see the milky way! You don't need to book a tour, just go outside and take a look for yourself.

Photo from mackenzienz.com ©

5. Famous Mt. Cook Road Photo Op

Either as you're coming in to Mt. Cook or as you're leaving, pull over and take the famous "Mt. Cook Road Photo." Just make sure that no cars are coming because it is a very busy highway!


- Bring groceries! There is NOTHING in the area- only 2 overly priced restaurants and no supermarkets. So bring groceries with you so you can cook.

- You can go camping for $13 NZD per person, or stay at the YHA Hostel for $41 NZD for a dorm bed (which is the cheapest accommodation in the area- crazy expensive right?)

- Bring warm clothes. When you get to the peaks of a lot of the hikes the winds get very strong and you'll be pretty cold.

- It is a common occurrence for the wind/bad weather to blow down the cell phone wires which means no cell reception or wifi in your accommodation. So just be aware of this and text any loved ones a "heads-up" message, so you don't just stop randomly responding to them.

Pin this to read again later!

#mtcook #mountcook #nationalpark #newzealand #mtcooknewzealand #southisland #guidetomtcook #guidetonewzealand #newzealandguide #travel #guide #travelguide #blog #travelblog #adventure #hike