If anyone asks me where they should go in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook is at the top of my list. I’m incredibly blessed to have been born in this crazy beautiful country, and I’m glad I finally got to see the bits that so many people rave about.
A long day of driving from Dunedin brought me to the stunning Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The sun was setting as I made my way down Mount Cook Road, my gaze flicking between the road and the incredible snow-capped mountains in the distance. I definitely recommend staying in the village for at least two nights if you are able to. This gives you at least one full day to explore, soak in the surroundings, and breathe the fresh mountain air.
The park falls within the largest dark sky reserve in the world, the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Needless to say, stargazing is phenomenal here. There are numerous places along Mount Cook Road that are designated for stopping your car to stargaze. If you want an even better view, perhaps go on a tour from Aoraki/Mount Cook Village. This will allow you the use of telescopes and a guide to point out the best bits.
Arguably one of the most popular activities in the park is good old-fashioned hiking! From the famous Hooker Valley Track to more challenging, overnight tramps – there really is something for everyone. Unfortunately for me, the Hooker Valley Track was closed after the first swing bridge due to storm damage. Thankfully, there are many other options in the park. I hiked the Governor’s Bush Walk, the Tasman Glacier Walk, and the first bit of the Hooker Valley Track. Usually the water in the glacier lake is bright blue, however I assume sediment had been stirred up during the storm. This gave it a beige colour that looked quite otherworldly among its surroundings. Take a packed lunch with you or take a break between hikes at The Old Mountaineer’s Cafe Bar & Restaurant in the village.