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Destinations - Mount Cook

The highest peak in New Zealand, Aoraki Mount Cook is situated within Mount Cook National Park and is an extraordinary alpine environment that appeals to visitors all year round. The area around the park offers a range of accommodation for visitors, including charming holiday rentals for self catering, full freedom holidays.

Mountain high
Vinyard Wine Tour, MarlboroughMount Cook National Park was established in 1953 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has 19 peaks that stretch more than 3,000m, including Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak at 3,754m above sea level. The peaks are part of the Southern Alps that run the length of South Island and they are a major challenge for climbers keen to test themselves on their slopes. Māori legend says Aoraki was a young boy in a canoe stranded on a reef. With his brothers he climbed on to the high side of the canoe but the south wind froze them into stone and they became the Southern Alps.

Vinyard Wine Tour, MarlboroughThe region around Aoraki Mount Cook is known as Mackenzie Country with the massive, 27 kilometre long and as much as 4 kilometre wide, Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the west. This harsh and stark land is also quite beautiful and a captivating sight no matter what time of year you visit, reflected in the excellent choice of holiday accommodation available.

Hiking and walking are among the most popular activities in the Mount Cook area and the alpine views, particularly of the neighbouring glaciers, are simply breathtaking. From simple one hour walks such as the one to Kea Point to the more difficult three-four hour hike to the Mueller Hut, Mount Cook offers trails that appeal to the novice and the experienced hiker and climber. If hiking or walking seems a little too much like hard work, take a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft flight that will let the awesome beauty of the landscape unfold from the air.

Natural wonders
Vinyard Wine Tour, MarlboroughGet up close and personal with the Tasman Glacier with a tour that takes you to the heart of the world's only accessible glacial lake with icebergs. From your custom-made boat, you'll watch as icebergs of all shapes and sizes drift away from the glacier into the ever-growing Tasman Lake that is currently 16 kilometres long and 600 metres deep.

The lakes and peaks of the Mackenzie Country are a draw all year round. The area around Fairlie is renowned for its winter skiing while Twizel and its lake are fabulous for summer fishing and sports.

Lake Tekapo, Mt CookLake Tekapo, a stunning turquoise lake, has an abundance of activities and attractions for visitors. The peaks overlooking it are havens in winter for skiing and snowshoeing, and in summer for trekking and climbing. On the water, scenic cruises are a laidback day out or you can try your hand at fishing, water skiing and swimming. In winter, try skating or kicking back in one of the many hot tubs dotted around.

Mt Cook LilyThe wildlife of Mount Cook National Park is outstanding. There is virtually no forest but more than three hundred species of alpine plants growing across the park, such as the mountain buttercup and the Mount Cook lily, the world's largest buttercup. There are around forty species of birds, including the distinctive playful kea, a mountain parrot with a mischievous nature, and the rock wren along with falcons and black-backed gulls.

Vinyard Wine Tour, MarlboroughHigh land, hard rain
The Aoraki Mount Cook and Mackenzie region has a fantastic climate of long, hot summers and cold, snowy winters. In summer, from November to February, daily temperatures often rise to more than 30°C while from June to September, winter nights can get below freezing with daytime temperatures around 8°C. As this is an alpine region, visitors should pack accordingly, ensuring they have appropriate warm clothing and footwear before they set off from their Mount Cook holiday accommodation.

Getting here
There is no airport at Mount Cook - the nearest airports are at Queenstown and Christchurch, both around a two and a half hour drive away. The road links to the region are excellent and offer visitors a splendid opportunity to explore Mount Cook before settling into their holiday accommodation. A particularly lovely route is from Christchurch to Fairlie, the gateway to Mackenzie Country, which takes you towards the Southern Alps and Mount Cook.

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