7 Day Support 1300 935 532
Experience now, pay later
Rating
English
AUD ($)

Please note: currency conversion prices are an approximate guide only and are updated daily. All transactions are processed in AUD.

  • AED د.إ.‏
  • AUD $
  • BRL R$
  • CAD $
  • CHF SFr.
  • CNY
  • DKK kr
  • EUR
  • GBP £
  • HKD HK$
  • IDR Rp
  • INR Rs.
  • JPY
  • KRW
  • MYR RM
  • NZD $
  • PHP Php
  • SEK kr
  • SGD S$
  • THB ฿
  • TWD NT$
  • USD US$
  • XPF
  • ZAR R
more
  • AFN
  • ALL Lek
  • AMD
  • ANG
  • AOA
  • ARS $
  • AWG
  • AZN
  • BAM КМ.
  • BBD
  • BDT
  • BGN лв.
  • BHD د.ب.‏
  • BIF
  • BMD
  • BND
  • BOB B$
  • BSD
  • BTC
  • BTN
  • BWP
  • BYN Руб
  • BYR
  • BZD
  • CDF
  • CLF
  • CLP Ch$
  • COP $
  • CRC C
  • CUC
  • CUP CU$
  • CVE
  • CZK
  • DJF
  • DOP RD$
  • DZD د.ج.‏
  • EGP ج.م.‏
  • ERN
  • ETB
  • FJD
  • FKP
  • GEL
  • GGP
  • GHS
  • GIP
  • GMD
  • GNF
  • GTQ Q
  • GYD
  • HNL L
  • HRK Kn
  • HTG
  • HUF Ft
  • ILS ש"ח
  • IMP
  • IQD د.ع.‏
  • IRR
  • ISK kr.
  • JEP
  • JMD
  • JOD د.أ.‏
  • KES
  • KGS
  • KHR
  • KMF
  • KPW
  • KWD د.ك.‏
  • KYD
  • KZT
  • LAK
  • LBP ل.ل.‏
  • LKR
  • LRD
  • LSL
  • LTL
  • LVL
  • LYD د.ل.‏
  • MAD د.م.‏
  • MDL
  • MGA
  • MKD Den
  • MMK
  • MNT
  • MOP
  • MRO
  • MUR
  • MVR
  • MWK
  • MXN $
  • MZN
  • NAD
  • NGN
  • NIO $C
  • NOK kr
  • NPR
  • OMR ر.ع.‏
  • PAB B
  • PEN S/.
  • PGK
  • PKR
  • PLN
  • PYG G
  • QAR ر.ق.‏
  • RON LEI
  • RSD din.
  • RUB руб.
  • RWF
  • SAR ر.س.‏
  • SBD
  • SCR
  • SDG ج.س.‏
  • SHP
  • SLL
  • SOS
  • SRD
  • STD
  • SVC C
  • SYP ل.س.‏
  • SZL
  • TJS
  • TMT
  • TND د.ت.‏
  • TOP
  • TRY TL
  • TTD
  • TZS
  • UAH грн.
  • UGX
  • UYU NU$
  • UZS
  • VEF Bs.F.
  • VND đ
  • VUV
  • WST
  • XAF
  • XAG
  • XAU
  • XCD
  • XDR
  • XOF
  • YER ر.ي.‏
  • ZMK
  • ZMW
  • ZWL
Want it

Choose the items you love and select Zip at checkout

Get it

We pay the store, you get the goods, nothing to pay today

Own it

Choose how you pay us back over time, interest free

*A $6 monthly account fee applies. Pay your balance by the due date (the end of next month) and we'll waive the fee. See full Ts & Cs.

Feefo is working hard to be the world's most trusted supplier of ratings and reviews to registered merchants and to consumers. This means generating genuine feedback that businesses and consumers can rely on.

Users rate Experience Oz

4.5/ 5
Visit Feefo.com

The Top Things to do Mackenzie & Aoraki / Mt Cook, NZ


When people see postcards or travel posters of New Zealand, imagery similar to what the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park region will likely proudly feature. With its glacial surrounds, pristine blue lakes and towering alpine peaks of which Mt Cook is both the largest and most striking, the Mackenzie area of the greater Canterbury region is one of the most impressive examples of alpine New Zealand on offer to travellers.

The term “adventure country” is thrown around a lot, but it's entirely true here – you won't find much entertainment indoors, but there's a huge variety of epic opportunities for natural exploration available for anyone who pays a visit. The landscape is truly majestic and regardless of which direction you choose to head – be it towards valley, mountain or lake - hiking opens up opportunities for some of the most photogenic spots in the entire country. With a breathtaking view and an opportunity for further adventure around every corner as well as some of New Zealand's clearest skies, the Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park takes the word “pristine” to new levels.

If you're planning to visit this alpine wonderland, here's our recommendations for the Top Things to do in Aoraki / Mt Cook, NZ:

5

The Church of the Good Shepard

Church of the Good Shepherd New Zealand

New Zealand's nature is spectacular in and of itself, but it's those rare moments when man-made architecture combine perfectly with the natural world that produce some particularly wonderful scenes – and there are few places in NZ that are a better example of this than the Church of the Good Shepherd.

A relatively simple and humble building, it's the location that sets the church apart; perched on the shores of the stunning Lake Tekapo and surrounded by the region's snow-capped mountains, the Church of the Good Shepherd ranks up there with the likes of Dunedin's train station as one of the most-photographed buildings in New Zealand, and with good cause – the humble stone facade contrasts with the natural surrounds and an incredibly starry sky to form one of the most ideal spots for a photograph that you're ever likely to find.

"The Church of the Good Shepherd ranks up there with the likes of Dunedin's train station as one of the most-photographed buildings in New Zealand, and with good cause - it's in one of the most ideal spots for a photograph that you're ever likely to find. "

Given the picturesque nature of its position, the church is highly accessible, being just a light walk away from the centre of Tekapo town which makes it a favourite spot for weddings both domestically and abroad. You don't have to be a spiritual person to appreciate the gravity of the spectacle, as the window behind the altar perfectly frames the majestic visage of Mount Cook in the background and gives off a sense of peace that can be felt regardless of your religious affiliation.

Perhaps the only downside is the masses of tour buses that frequently visit the church, which can quickly shatter the ambiance, so if you're wanting to visit and feel a true sense of solitude, it's best to make your visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd as early in the day as possible.

The church itself boasts a simple, minimalistic interior that is charming in its own way, with a respectable amount of craftsmanship having gone into its construction back in 1935, and serves is proof that a building doesn't have to have the ridiculous amount of ostentation of the large cathedrals of Europe and beyond in order to still feel profound. In addition, while the church and its surrounds look great at any time of day, it's sunset when the dying glow of the light and the gradually increasing twinkle of the stars – particularly on clear nights – makes for the most magical moment available.

If you're after a spectacle that is so ideal you'll get goosebumps, then the combined vista of the church/lake is an essential stop – even if just for a short time - on your travel itinerary to the Aoraki / Mt Cook region.

4

Do some Stargazing with Big Sky Stargazing

Aoraki Mt Cook Stargazing

Image courtesy: Big Sky Stargazing

As the world's largest dark sky reserve, it's no surprise that the night skies are a huge drawcard for visitors to the Mackenzie region as its almost complete lack of pollution – both light and air - makes for one of the highest levels of night sky visibility on offer in the southern hemisphere.

Stargazing is popular in the region both via the naked eye, with binoculars and - given the area's distance from any dominant city lights that may obscure the view - it was also chosen as the site for the construction of the Mount John Observatory which sits above the town of Tekapo, making it one of the world's most easily accessible to the public. The Observatory has six separate telescopes which can take in a staggering 50 million stars on the clearest nights as well as planets and even other distant solar systems.

"It's a favourite spot for photographers both professional and aspiring as well, with some of the most famous shots of the Milky Way in existence having been taken from this exact spot. "

It's a favourite spot for photographers both professional and aspiring as well, with some of the most famous shots of the Milky Way in existence having been taken from this exact spot. The lunar cycle plays a large role in the quality of the viewing process; interested stargazers will want to do their best to avoid a full moon as its radiance can greatly impact the quality of the star viewing experience, while cloudy weather can obviously also have a negative effect, so keeping an eye on the forecast before making a commitment is a good idea. If you book to stay in the Mount Cook region for several days, you're almost certain to have at least one night with an optimal clarity of sky that will allow you to enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Those wanting to take part in the stargazing experience have two options; staying at Aoraki / Mt Cook and then taking a walk at night as far away from the hotel lights as possible before looking up, or booking one of the available tours with the likes of reputable operator Big Sky Stargazing that depart from the Hermitage Hotel in the Aoraki/Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. These are tours that begin with a southern night sky planetarium show in the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, and after which will take you to a predesignated viewing points for optimal night skyviewing. Once here, you'll have the chance to look through quality telescopic equipment and astronomy binoculars, which may be the better option should you not have/have not brought your own along for the trip.

Tours also offer the added benefit of giving you some additional insight from knowledgeable guides on exactly where to look and what you're looking at - this additional layer of context and background only serves to enhance the experience as a whole. Tour photographers can also assist you in coming up with some decent pictures of the stars, which is an added bonus.

As a wonderful window into just how immense our universe is, stargazing in the Aoraki / Mt Cook area is justifiably one of the best ways to while away an hour or three at night – and come away with a realisation of just how small we all really are.

3

Take a Scenic Flight with Wanaka Flightseeing

Mt Cook Scenic Flights New Zealand

A trip to such an alpine area wouldn't be complete without viewing the mountains themselves, and there are few better ways to immerse yourself so completely in the atmosphere of the region that to view them from the most stunning of vantage points – the air - with operator Wanaka FlightSeeing.

It's hard to gain a true appreciation of the clash of colours that make the Aoraki / Mt Cook region so special from afoot, as taking in the panorama – such as the turqoise of Lake Pukaki against the ghost-white snow of the mountain ranges – simply isn't possible without ascending to higher altitudes that a scenic flight offers. Many of the scenic flight itineraries available in the area also offer glacier landings to areas that are otherwise in accessible – or at least, extremely hazardous to attempt to access – on foot unless you're a veritable Sir Edmund Hillary, with trips that encompass the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers a possibiliy.

"All it takes is a brief trip from the helicopter or light plane departure point (around 15 mins from the heart of Mount Cook Village) and in a mere matter of minutes you can find yourself surrounded by mountain peaks and walking on pure, white snow. "

All it takes is a brief trip from the helicopter or light plane departure point and in a mere matter of minutes you can find yourself surrounded by mountain peaks and walking on pure, white snow. Ancient hanging glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, rivers of moving ice, and fearsome rocky outcroppings round out the scenery, while views of the towering Mount Cook itself make you realise the sheer scale of the peak. Each of the Tasman, Franz Josef and Fox glaciers – among the other smaller and lesser-knowns – are some of the most famous natural sights in the region, although reaching the further ice floes will obviously take a longer trip and therefore cost more.

The more adventurous among us can take the scenic flight experience one step further by signing up for an adrenaline-packed heli-ski experience that will allow you to experience the thrill of skiing down some of the best – and least-populated – ski terrain in New Zealand; the surrounding Ben Ohau mountain range that exists within the borders of the Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park. This part of the Southern Alps is known for its high quality of snow that its continually refreshed due to the high altitudes and frequent falls, making conditions that allow for longer and better overall ski runs. While it's an activity that's only reserved for upper-intermediate to advanced skiers, there are few runs in NZ that can blend the isolation and great conditions of a heli-ski in this region.

While scenic flights are by no means a cheap option for exploration, the unmatched perspective is well worth it considering most visitors will never return again in their lives, and Wanaka Flightseeing will get you there in experienced style and comfort.

2

Hike around Mt Cook / Aoraki

Mt Cook Hiking New Zealand

Most country's highest mountains are an easy default go-to destination for a “must-see” list, however Mt Cook differentiates itself from the standard fare for a variety of reasons: A) its spectacular surrounding area of lowlands and fields of flowers, B) it's relatively accessible compared to most other “tallest” mountains, and C) its high level of annual rainfall creates a halo of greenery at the base that contrasts beautifully with the near-perpetual white of the mountaintop – all of which combine for some great hiking.

The mountain – which was named to honour famed explorer Captain James Cook and then later adjusted to include its traditional Maori name of Aoraki – towers above the area around it, and is high enough (3724m) that attempting to gaze to the top is likely to strain your neck.

Visitors to the mountainside are presented with a range of tracks that wind their way around varying courses surrounding the mountain, with the settlement of the aptly-named Mt Cook Village serving as the departure point for journeys of anywhere from ten minutes up to four hours. Perhaps the most popular of these is the walk through the Hooker Valley, which heads into the heart of the Southern Alps and combines a wonderful blend of the scenery that's typical to this region. This track is well-maintained yet fairly lengthy, particularly if you're willing to take the type to pause for photo opportunities along the way – expect around a 3-4 hour round-trip if you're travelling the full length to its awaiting glacier-fed lake (if you're not looking to push yourself too hard). While the track is only of moderate difficulty, there are a few steep slopes dotted throughout the journey. One of the highlights of the trek are three bridges, swinging above rivers rushing with rapids, that can make for a bit of a thrill to cross.

"Perhaps the most popular of these is the walk through the Hooker Valley, which heads into the heart of the Southern Alps and combines a wonderful blend of the scenery that's typical to this region."

Shorter tracks, meanwhile, make for a quick dose of scenery for those not wanting to invest too much time; the Governors Bush Walk takes you on a quick yet scenic 1.5km walk through silver beech forest culminating in an enjoyable lookout point, while the Glencoe Walk makes its way through a ferny stretch of totara trees culminating in an outlook of the Mt Cook Village below and white of the Hooker Glacier beyond – this can be completed in 30 minutes return.

Of course, more strenuous and in-depth guided walks that span multiple days and take you deeper into the alps are also available for those both willing and able, with climbs up the likes of the Ball Ridge that will allow you to get as close to Mt Cook as possible without actually being on the mountain.

Both short and longer hikes have their pluses and minuses, but regardless of how far you wish to go, it won't take long before you'll soon be rewarded with some amazing sights.

1

Visit Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo New Zealand

The view of the aforementioned Church of the Good Shepherd would be nothing without its accompanying natural feature of Lake Tekapo, which forms one of the most spectacular highlights on New Zealand's south island and lies around an hour's drive from Mt. Cook itself.

Widely known for its vibrant turquoise waters that exist due to rock flour from the surrounding glaciers, its colour is only further enhanced by the near-constant clarity of the region's sky. Lake Tekapo is the name of both the body of water and the nearby settlement, which serves as the ideal springboard from which to enjoy the lake and its many potential activities.

The waters of the massive lake itself, of course, present opportunities for marine activities of all kings; boating (that allows for waterskiing) and kayaking are immensely popular and make for a wonderful way to explore while surrounded by such a wonderful panorama, while fishing is a mainstay of those who enjoy dangling a line as large numbers of both Brown and Rainbow Trout make their homes in the lake - although a license is officially required to take part which can be purchased from Tekapo village nearby. Cruises of the lake are also available to take you out for an aquatic journey if you don't have access your own vessel, and these allow you to gain an even better vantage point of the likes of Mt John and the various other high tundra landscapes that the Mackenzie countryside is renowned for.

"Widely known for its vibrant turquoise waters that exist due to rock flour from the surrounding glaciers, its colour is only further enhanced by the near-constant clarity of the region's sky."

If you're after the chance to relax and unwind, Lake Tekapo also has you covered here, as there are hot pools available at Tekapo Springs that allow you to kick back in the water and soak in the amazing 360 degree views all around you, or perhaps indulge in a massage or spa treatment to go that extra mile in terms of pampering.

On land, meanwhile, horse riding is a great way to explore that allows you to take in the area in true “back-country” fashion as you journey past and through the tussock grasslands that border the lake, while cycling and mountain biking allow for faster exploration – and the ability to take more in in a shorter time – than regular hiking on foot.

Of course, nothing can truly compare to simply standing or sitting back and admiring the beauty of Lake Tekapo itself; the waters of the lake are so aqua-blue they are almost hypnotic, and a sunrise here is simply a must if you're wanting witness a truly unforgettable spectacle. Wildflowers which bloom around the shores only serve to complete the tableau of colour which – when all put together – makes for one of the most impressive and serene vistas in the country.

In addition, if you're looking for more things to do at Aoraki / Mt Cook including some of the best tours, attractions and activities, be sure to check out our main region section to browse for more information online.
BROWSE THINGS TO DO