When-Where-Why?

We couldn’t go to New Zealand without seeing this wonderful valley where Mount Cook is located! In 1953, Aōraki / Cook National Park of New Zealand joined the UNESCO world heritage. Mount Cook, which is called Aoraki in Maorii, is the highest peak in New Zealand. It rises to 3,724 meters above sea level, above the Tasman Glacier, and is located in the Southern Alps on the South Island, in the Canterburry region. We came in January 2020 and spent one night there to explore the area.

History (from the website « destination-nouvellezelande »)

“The name” Cook “of the mountain was given by the crown of England in honor of the navigator James Cook, who passed through New Zealand many times during his various voyages around the world. However, today the name of the mount is not only Mount Cook but Aoraki / Mount Cook. This name became official after the return of the mountain and its surroundings to the Ngāi Tahu tribe. This tribe names the mount: Aoraki, in reference to a Maori legend. The Southern Alps, the mountain range of which Aoraki / Mont Cook is a part, is the result of plate tectonics. Indeed, the Pacific plate pushes from East to West the Australian plate and makes rise Aoraki / Mount Cook by approximately 7 millimeters per year. The Maori legend The Maori legend tells us the story of a young Aoraki man and his three young brothers, sons of Rangi and Papa (the heavenly father and the earth mother) who sail on the ocean by canoe around Papatuanuku ( mother earth). After hitting a reef, their canoe capsizes, the brothers find refuge on it when an icy wind comes to change them into stone. Their canoe, Te Waka o Aoraki, today represents the south island of New Zealand, Aoraki, the largest of the brothers, Mount Cook and his brothers Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, the chain of the Southern Alps. Some highlights of the history of Aoraki / Mount Cook Even if, even today, Mount Cook rises every year by several millimeters, history has not spared this mountain. Since its first measurement in 1881, the altitude of Mount Cook has risen from 3,764 meters to 3,724 meters. This drop in altitude of more than 40 meters is, in fact, due to various landslides that have planed the summit of the mountain over the years. The largest, which occurred in 1991, displaced more than 12 million cubic meters of rock. It was on December 25, 1894 that a team of three New Zealanders successfully reached the summit. “

Before Coming

Download the “Campermate” application. You will have free and paid campsites, showers, toilets and many other useful information for your stay. The telephone company “Vodaphone” offers plans with unlimited internet and social media.

Transports

We rented a campervan to travel to New Zealand. We rented it from “escape” through “Frogs” but there are other agencies that rent. On the road you will pass magnificent turquoise lakes in front of which you can see the mountains rise: Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. You can come with organized tours.

Housing

There are plenty (of) accommodation in the village but the best, if you can, is to find a place at the DOC (White Horse Hill Campground) campsite, which is at the foot of the mountains and from almost all hikes.

-WC / Shower: only WC

-Price: $ 15 per person.

-Web: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/aoraki-mount-cook-national-park/things-to-do/white-horse -hill-campground /

You can sleep at the Mueller Hut for $ 35 per person. There are toilets. The panorama is breathtaking!

Food

There is a small supermarket in the village; at the campsite there is nothing.

Activities

The place is suitable for hiking. There are three beautiful hikes / walks to do, the ride is in another place. We were lucky to do all three.

*Hooker Valley Track

What: This is the most popular hike to admire Mount Cook and the surrounding glaciers. You will pass over suspension bridges over lakes and rivers. The landscapes are impressive and magical!

Departure: White Horse Hill Campground. You can start it from the village but it will be much longer.

Elevation gain: 80m over 5km… therefore quite flat.

Difficulty: Easy, accessible to everyone except people in wheelchairs because of the stones and suspension bridges.

Duration: Maximum 3 hours round trip.

*Mueller Hut

What: It is for me the most beautiful of all the hikes in the area and for the moment one of the most beautiful that I have done in my life! The panorama is of indescribable beauty.

Departure: White Horse Hill Campground. You can start it from the village but it will be much longer.

Elevation: 1000m D +, 600m just stairs (220 steps) to Sealy Tarns, and 400m on stones and rock to the Mueller Hut. You can walk even higher but if there is wind drop it.

Difficulty: Difficult because the slope is very steep.

Duration: We will tell you between 6-10am the round trip, probably because of the significant elevation gain, your possible physical condition but also the wind! There can be gusts of wind at more than 100km / h, just after we went back down it was blowing at 120km / h. We did it in 4:30 round trip …

Tip: If it is too windy, don’t risk injuring yourself by trying to get to the hut. Go only to the first point of view, the Sealy Tarns. Go to the sunrise, the light will be beautiful and it is generally clearer in the early morning! Do not go in little shoes because the rocks are not stable everywhere, you may have mud and water, and you will certainly walk on snow.

*Blue Lakes & Tasman Glacier

What: It’s more of a ride than a hike. You will have to climb stairs for a few minutes but once at the top, wow !! You will have a magnificent panorama of the Tasman glacier and Tasman Lake. The glacier is covered with gravel. Below there is a short hike that allows you to reach the lake and observe icebergs.

Departure: Tasman glacier car park in the right valley of Mount Cook National Park.

Duration: Less than an hour.

Difficulty: Medium because of the steps.

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