International National Parks

Travel Journal (9/26/2019): Mount Cook National Park

Today we continued our tour of New Zealand and moved from one absolutely gorgeous landscape to another. This stop was in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, which is known for its stunning vistas, massive glaciers, and excellent hiking trails.

We got up early in the morning so that we could start the roughly 1.5 hour drive from Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook. The drive actually took us a bit longer than that because we made several stops along the way to take photographs. Most notably along Lake Pukaki and on the stretch of road leading up to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

once inside Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, we set about getting prepared to do some hiking. The weather was a comfortable 50 degrees, but you can never be too certain in the mountains. We both put on layers and readied our other hiking and camera gear.

We had to decide between the Hooker Valley Track and the Sealy Tarns Track, as those were the two tracks that peaked our interest when doing the preliminary photography research on Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. We decided on the Hooker Valley Track because we loved the bridges and loved the views down the valley we would get.

The track is roughly 9 miles out-and-back, which takes the typical hiker between 3-4 hours to complete. There isn’t much elevation change on the hike, nor any rock scrambling or any technical sections, so it is rated as a beginner to intermediate level hike.

The Sealy Tarns track isn’t as far, but it has quite a bit of elevation gain, so it is rated as a difficult hike. However, both are well marked trails, so there is little worry about navigation issues.

Just as we thought, the views of Mount Cook and the Hooker Valley were absolutely breathtaking. Not only that, but the three bridge crossings didn’t disappoint either. We could have spent hours at the Mueller Lake Lookout and at the end of the trail just admiring the beauty.

When we finished our hike we were both fairly hungry, so we headed back to Mount Cook Village to find something to eat. As you can imagine, the dining options in a village so small are rather limited. Our options were the upscale restaurant in the Hermitage Hotel, the Chamois grill and bar, or the Old Mountaineers Cafe and Bar.

We ate lunch at the Old Mountaineers Cafe and dinner at the Chamois Bar and Grill, and both were fairly good.

That’s all the updates for now. Tomorrow will be another early morning for us as we have to make the three hour drive South to Queenstown. Until then!

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