Mount Cook is officially renamed Aoraki Mt Cook in 1998 to honour its original Maori name which mean “Cloud Piercer”. Standing at 3,754 m, this iconic peak is the tallest peak in New Zealand. Located in the Southern Alps, Aoraki Mt Cook is one of the 23 peaks in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Aoraki Mt Cook is a place worth returning to simply for the magnificent views. Despite the remoteness of Aoraki Mt Cook Village, it’s easily accessible by road. Several bus operators run sightseeing tours to Aoraki Mt Cook with buses stopping at The Hermitage Hotel or Mt Cook Lodge. Self driving, however, gives one more flexibility to make pit stops to take in the splendid views especially along the remarkably blue Lake Pukaki.
Be sure to stay at least a night as there is plenty to do – from hiking to cruising on the glacier lake or stargazing. This will also provide more chances to see the mighty Aoraki Mount Cook given that it’s often shrouded by the clouds.
There are several walks around the village that provide views of Aoraki Mount Cook from the shorter trails of Kea Point and Hooker Valley to longer routes such as Mueller Hut and Sealy Tarn. It’s definitely recommended that one must go on at least one of these walks, especially when in good weather, for a mind blowing view of the mountain.
So on a sunny and clear morning, we set off for a hike on Kea Point trek from the White Horse Hill car park. This is an easy 30 minute track with a slight incline suitable for everyone.
The trek winds through some grasslands and shrub with view of the village. The trail ends at a viewing deck with amazing views of Mount Sefton, Mueller Glacier lake and of course Aoraki Mount Cook.
I went on the trail twice – one in the morning and again in the afternoon as Aoraki Mount Cook was covered by clouds the first time. On my second attempt, I patiently waited for a break in the clouds. It was truly a mesmerizing moment when the clouds broke and a stunning view of the snow capped peak stared back at me!
In between the two ascents to Kea Point, we also did a short walk on Hooker Valley trail towards the viewing point of the Mueller Glacier. I walked on this trail during my maiden visit many years back and I remembered the trail ends at the glacier lake. This trail also offers amazing and close views of Aoraki Mount Cook and Hooker Glacier.
I was lucky we had great weather during my stay as the area is notorious for its rainfall and foggy weather. The magnificent view of this majestic mountain followed us the next day as we drove away from the village.