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Free Walks & Hikes in Aoraki/Mt. Cook

Here's Our List of the Top 9 Free Walks and Hikes You Can Do in Aoraki/Mt. Cook Village!

Take a Hike!

At 3,764 metres, Aoraki/Mt. Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It is higher, by more than 1,500 metres than Australia’s highest peak, Mt. Kosciusko (2,228 metres). Aoraki/Mt. Cook sits at the heart of New Zealand’s Alpine country, within the 700 square kilometres of Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park.

It has been climbed by New Zealand explorer and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first man to scale Mt. Everest. The national park includes 19 peaks that are over 3,000 metres high and glaciers that cover 40 percent of the park.

Translated from Maori to English, Aoraki means ‘Cloud Piecer’

Aoraki/Mt. Cook Village is home to a huge range of walks, allowing you to explore this special place. We’ve been flying in this region for 58 years (and counting) so we certainly know a thing or two about the best walks to do. Here’s our list of the Top 9 Walks in Aoraki/Mt. Cook!

1. Hooker Valley Walk

Renowned as one of the greatest day hikes in New Zealand, this walk will take you around 3-4 hours, return. The grade is easy and the track is well maintained by DOC. You’ll enjoy the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana on this spectacular walk – wind up the Hooker Valley, past alpine streams and glaciers in the humbling shadow of Aoraki/Mt. Cook.

If you want to see the glaciers up close and personal, be sure to check out the multiple Aoraki/Mount Cook experiences here.

Mountain hike in hooker valley in New Zealand

2. Tasman River Walk

This easy, flat walk is pushchair friendly and only 1-hour return. Icebergs can usually be seen floating in the lake in summer, and in winter the lake freezes over. At the far end of the lake, you’ll see the end of the Tasman Glacier – NZ’s longest. If you’re after the experience of a lifetime, you can book a ski plane tour that lands on the Tasman Glacier here.

Mountain covered with snow in Tasman, New Zealand

3. Red Tarns Track

A favourite of Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters Base Manager, Lisa Chambers, this steep track rises 300m above the village and is about 2 hours return. The vegetation changes as you ascend from the valley floor to a superb panoramic viewpoint of the valleys below, the village and Aoraki/Mt. Cook. The tarns are named for the red pondweed that grows in them. An aptly placed seat allows you to recover your breath and enjoy the views. This is a magnificent spot to view the sunset in summer.

Mountain hike in hooker valley in New Zealand

4. Sealy Tarns

This track rises 600m and is 3 hours return – faster if you run it! The Sealy Tarns isn’t for the faint-hearted, steep in some places but the hard work is worth it. From the top you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mt. Cook and the Hooker Valley. The track passes through some popular nesting areas. Therefore, if the stars align you may even spot some Keas, a native New Zealand bird.

Lake surrounded with mountains covered with snow

5. Mueller Hut

This steep, untracked walk will take 3-5 hours one way. But at the top of the 1000m gain (similar to the Tongariro Crossing), you’ll find the iconic Mueller Hut – the most incredible views you can observe without being in the sky. A favourite of Mt. Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters Customer Service Manager, Hannah James. Be sure to take plenty of water, and make a booking for the hut so you can stay the night and enjoy the incredible sunset and sunrise. You might even get lucky and see the Aurora Australis/Southern Lights!

Green landscape in Mueller Hut in New Zealand

6. Kea Point

This cruisy 1.5 hours return track winds gently through subalpine grasslands to the Mueller Glacier moraine wall. You’ll be greeted with stunning views of Mt. Sefton, Mueller Glacier lake, and Aoraki/Mt. Cook.

Mountains covered with thick snow in mt cook

7. Governors Bush

A short walk, of only 30 minutes return, leads a gradual climb to a lookout point of Wakefield Ridge and Aoraki/Mt. Cook. This popular walk offers birdlife, a great view of the mountains, and a sheltered place to experience the outdoors in poor weather.

A mountain covered with snow surrounded by water

8. Blue Lakes & Tasman Glacier View

A 40-minute return walk, with a few steps but overall relatively easy. This walk leaves from the same place as the Tasman River walk. Meander up the track to the moraine wall for views of the Tasman Glacier and the terminal lake with icebergs!

Mt haidinger covered with snow

9. Glencoe Stream Walk

An easy paced walk, shaded by some of New Zealand’s beautiful bushland. The final destination being a viewpoint which overlooks the Hooker Glacier and Aoraki/Mt. Cook. If you’re after an even more special experience be sure to embark on the stroll at sunrise or sunset for spectacular views.

Statue of man with snowy mountain in the background
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