Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

28 August 19

Source: newzealand.com

Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest.

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky.

According to Ngāi Tahu legend, Aoraki and his three brothers were the sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father. While on a sea voyage, their canoe overturned on a reef. When the brothers climbed on top of their canoe, the freezing south wind turned them to stone. The canoe became the South Island (Te Waka o Aoraki); Aoraki and his brothers became the peaks of the Southern Alps.

Key Highlights

Although it encompasses 23 peaks over 3000 metres high, this park is very accessible. State Highway 80 leads to Aoraki/Mt Cook Village which is situated beside scenic Lake Pukaki and provides a comfortable base for alpine activities. 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.

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.

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.

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