Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

On a short trip to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, staying in Mt Cook Village, we photographed just a slice of the scenery as it was, in the summer of 2012.

Aoraki Mt Cook in the evening sun, wearing her hat

At 3754 metres (12316 feet), Aoraki Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain. This is the South Face, showing the low peak, one of three peaks of the mountain. The lenticular cloud seen here (hogsback) is an indicator of high winds at altitude.  This photo was taken from Mt Cook Village.

Click once on each photo for full size.

In another of her moods, she lives up to her Maori name (Aoraki), which means ‘cloud piercer’.  Photo taken from the Kea Point Track, at  about 700 metres.  This is a colour photo.

Kea Point Track in the Hooker Valley

This walk is less than two hours return from the Mt Cook Village.  Here it provides views of the hanging glaciers and icefalls of Mt Sefton.

View from Kea Point Track Lookout

At the end of the Kea Point Track, there is a picturesque view of Aoraki Mt Cook (peeking out of the cloud), and the lateral moraine wall of the Mueller Glacier, cutting across the Hooker Valley. The grey-coloured water is direct from the Mueller Glacier.  In the blue-coloured water, the sediment has had time to settle out.

Kayaking on the Mueller Glacier Lake

Kayakers can be seen from the Kea Point lookout.  Visitors can spend three hours on this guided kayaking trip on the Mueller Glacier Lake.

Hooker Valley Walk

The Hooker Valley walk is accessed at the same point as the Kea Point walk.  This is the first bridge on the track, just 15 minutes from the carpark.  This lookout  gives another view of the terminal lake at the end of the Mueller Glacier, cutting into the Hooker Valley.  In the background are hanging glaciers descending off Mt Sefton’s Footstool.

Red Tarns Track

The Red Tarns Track winds high above the village, about two hours return up some steep steps.  The tarns (small lakes or pools) have actually dried up this summer, but the view of the valley below is well worth the effort. Mid photo in the skyline is the Copland Pass.  On the left is The Footstool again. Aoraki Mt Cook is on the right (the top in cloud).  The green hillock in the centre of the photo is glacial moraine (rocks) deposited by the Mueller Glacier during The Little Ice Age (1400 – 1900 AD). The village can be seen directly below. The larger grey building is The Hermitage Hotel.  Some 20,000 years ago, this whole valley was covered 700 metres deep in ice.

There are many alpine plants and flowers to be seen on the tracks in the summer months.

Aoraki Mt Cook from the Glencoe Stream Walk

The Glencoe Stream Walk is a zigzagging hill walk of only 30 minutes, accessed from behind the Hermitage Hotel.  It emerges to this bird’s eye view of the valley and Aoraki Mt Cook with the white ice of the Hooker Glacier visible at her foot.

Tasman Glacier  Lake

A major terminal lake has been growing in the Tasman Valley.  The first sinkholes appeared in the retreating ice about 1960.  The water is held there by the Tasman terminal rock moraine which was deposited  during The Little Ice Age from about 1400 to 1900 AD.   Icebergs break off the rubble-covered ice at the head of the lake just behind the water.

Icebergs float down the lake, driven by violent nor’west storms.

Blue Lakes Walk

The Blue Lakes, actually green these days, have formed amongst moraine walls in the lower Tasman Valley.

Wind clouds over the Burnett Range

This photo was taken from the Mt Cook Village, looking across the Tasman Valley.

6 thoughts on “Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

  1. Wij gaan naar NZ maart 2013, is een vraagje, het Kea Point en Hooker Valley track, lopen die over dezelfde weg en hoeveel km meer is de Hooker Valley dan nog?
    Trouwens prachtig fotos!! 🙂 Er lag wel niet zoveel ijs in het Tasman lake…of is dat normaal?

    groetjes Pascale Heremans (Belgie)


    • The Kea Point Track takes about one and half hours return. The Hooker Valley Track is about two and half to three hours return. They start at the same point. The ice in the Tasman Lake can vary, depending on whether large blocks of ice have recently broken off from the glacier. Sure hope you enjoy your trip to New Zealand next year. Thank you for your comment and smiley!


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