🚗 self-drive itinerary
🛏️ minimum 2 night stay recommended
🍽️ dining suggestions offered
📅 visit any time of year
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a land of ice and rock. Glaciers cover 40% of its area and there are 19 peaks over 3,000 metres. Snow topped mountains, turquoise blue lakes and tussock covered hills will have you enthralled when you visit this part of New Zealand.
Highlights can include:
- Mount Cook Glacier Guides offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to heli-hike, snowshoe or ice climb through the spectacular Tasman Glacier 🏔️❄️
- Tasman Valley 4WD Tours provide a unique adventure with close up views of the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine walls
- feed, pet, cuddle and photography hand-raised orphan wallabies at EnkleDooVery Korna 👪🐾
- feel the thrill on a rafting adventure with Rangitata Rafts a white water rafting trip that allows plenty of time on the water amongst incredible Lord of the Rings scenery 🛶🏔️
- immerse yourself in history and culture while exploring the ancient Te Ana Maori Rock Art sites, the original art galleries of Aotearoa 🎨
- grab a window seat on an Air Safaris scenic flight and take in the "Grand Traverse" - a magnificent flight that encompasses two World Heritage National Park and breathtaking scenery 🏔️🛩️
- set amongst the natural beauty of the lake and the mountains, the Church of the Good Shepherd entrances visitors, while the nearby Sheep Dog Statue is a tribute to the some of the hardest working of the first settlers to the region ⛪
- Lake Pukaki is an iconic glacier fed alpine lake with shimmering blue water that is sure to mesmerise 📸
- since 1931 Temuka Pottery has developed and evolved into a Kiwi favourite, created with clean designs and bright colourful glazes - a joy to the eyes, and a great top for coffee and food
- experience the freshest salmon in New Zealand at High Country Salmon where you can feed the fish, or just enjoy a scenic cafe stopover on your travels 🎣
- Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock, with 19 peaks over 3000 metres including New Zealand's highest mountain 🏞️
- take in Kea Point Walk which is one of the easiest trails you can do that offers mountain and lake views, or for the more adventurous hike up the Hooker Valley Track past alpine streams and glaciers in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook 👟
- picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo and hidden gem Lake Alexandrina are part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing 📸
- cruise between icebergs of every shape and size and view the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake with Glacier Explorers while taking in spectacular mountain views and scenery 🚤
- with its boardwalk, piazza and views to the mountains, attractive Caroline Bay Beach is a popular swimming beach and great place to reflect or spend recreational time 🐚👪
- those wanting to learn more about movie making will discover classic film locations from The Lord of the Rings trilogy with OneRing Tours - plenty of Tolkienist fan fun! 🎥
- Mount John Obsservatory is a window to the universe - discover the wonders of the Southern skies through powerful telescopes with Earth & Sky 🌌🔭
- perfect for taking in the lake, mountain and forest views Tekapo Springs hot pools provide the perfect place to sit back, soak and relax, with a day spa, skating rink and tube park in winter, and cooler pools and a waterslide in the height of summer ♨️⛸️👪
- Mackenzie Gateway Tours provide a handful of different farm experiences including a high country sheep station, free range chicken farm, witness dairy cows being milked and feed alpaca 👨🏻🌾🐑🐓🐄🦙
AT A GLANCE
📍 # of Visitors5.0
🌦️ Chance of Rain2.5
👨👩👦👦 Family Fun 4.0
🍽️ Food + Wine 6.5
🏳️🌈 LGBTQI+ friendly 👍
Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0
🎥video courtesy of Raw Cinematics on YouTube
Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you.
Day 1 : Arrive in South Canterbury
Upon arrival into South Canterbury, by either road or by flying into Timaru Airport, you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.
Be sure to take in the outstanding alpine scenery at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo and sneak away from the crowds at Lake Alexandrina. Later you might like to take up the challenge of hiking the Hooker Valley Track or you can opt for the easier Kea Point Walk - either way you'll be rewarded with ample photo opportunities inside the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
After dark, venture up to enjoy a feast for your eyes when you go stargazing up Mount John with Earth and Sky. You'll be fascinated by the stars you can see, even with the naked eye, in this UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve - keep your fingers crossed for a glimpse of the Aurora Australis.
Day 2 : Glaciers, Hot Pools + Stars
An absolute thrill awaits as you explore the immense beauty of the upper snowfield of the Haupapa / Tasman Glacier, with Mount Cook Glacier Guides. You'll fly up 2200 metres (7200 ft.) aboard either a helicopter or ski plane, marvelling at the rock and ice debris below you as it transforms to glistening white. Get ready to explore the glacier by walking, hiking and snowshoeing, you may even see an iceberg in the glacier lake.
After your experience, you'll have ample opportunity to explore more of the outdoors, before relaxing the afternoon or evening away in Tekapo Springs, perfect to help you wind down, relax and reflect on the events of today. Should you be here after dark, the night sky will have you gazing up looking out for constellations and leaving you with a sense of wonder.
We'll have you celebrating delicious New Zealand food and your last night in the South Canterbury region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area. Canterbury Lamb is bound to be a feature on many menus in the area.
Day 3 : Depart South Canterbury
This morning, those keen on fishing will want to take in the High Country Salmon before driving by Lake Pukaki which will likely leave you mesmerised by its unique colour and have you reaching for your camera. Others may want to try out the delicious meat pies at Fairlie Bakehouse before checking out some of the awesome inspiring items on display at Temuka Pottery. Whatever direction you're going, we'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.