A fabulous UNESCO World Heritage area measuring 700 square kilometers (434 square miles), Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park stretches from Westland to Fiordland in the South Island.
There are 22 of New Zealand’s highest mountains soaring over this park, including mighty 3,755-meter (12,316-foot) Mount Cook itself, the tallest peak in the country. Perhaps the best way to take in the mountains’ grandeur is from the air on a helicopter tour of the park. A mecca for climbers, hikers, skiers and lovers of natural beauty, the park’s attractions include the Tasman Glacier and the warm and welcoming Heritage, New Zealand’s most famous hotel.
The highest peak in New Zealand, the magnificent Mt. Cook (Aoraki) stands 12,349 feet (3,764 meters) tall. The Maori name Aoraki means "cloud piercer" and its striking beauty makes it one of the island's finest mountains. Of New Zealand’s 27 mountains over 8,400 feet (3,000 meters) 22 of them are in this mountain range offering a spectacular display of snow-capped peaks and lush rainforested slopes.
The mountains glacial lakes are popular with people wanting to fish and sail while the rest of the mountain offers horse riding, 4x4 safaris, scenic flights and excellent mountain climbing for experienced climbers. Sir Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mt. Cook in 1948 before climbing Everest in 1953.
The Tasman Glacier falls down the east side of the mountain with the Hooker Glacier falls to the west. It is possible to take guided skiing trips on Tasman Glacier while Hooker Glacier offers some excellent walking tracks.
Don’t miss the chance to stay in New Zealand’s most famous hotel, the Hermitage. In prime position with fabulous views of Mount Cook, there’s been a hotel on this site since 1884. Several incarnations later, the current building dates from the late 1950s, with a new multistory wing which was added in the past decade. A visit is a must even if you’re not staying here. The hotel has a well-regarded restaurant, offering a la carte, buffet or informal cafe-style dining. And, of course, a drink with mountain views at the bar, beside a crackling fireside, is another essential Mount Cook experience.