So, you’ve got the chance to visit the stunning Mt Cook area – but you’ve only got one day, what to do?! You’re in luck, we’ve prepared the ultimate 1-day itinerary that would give you more than a taster of the Mt Cook surrounds and leave you feeling like you’ve truly gotten to know this incredible place. It’s going to be a ride so buckle up…
Start your action-packed day with an Alpine Breakfast buffet at the Hermitage Hotel where the generous portions will certainly fuel you up. The tables have amazing views of Aoraki / Mt Cook.
Pack lunch and a thermos, and head up the Hooker Valley Track. This 3-hour return day-walk takes you over swing bridges, forest, tussock and up to the iceberg-filled Hooker Lake, with views of Aoraki / Mt Cook and the Hooker Glacier. There’s the occasional cheeky kea so make sure your belongings/snacks are secure – these birds are as smart as chimps! In summer it is best to tackle this track early before it gets too hot, plus you get to see the glorious morning rays reflecting off the mountain.
Find a good spot for a picnic lunch on the Hooker Track. If you’re ahead of the game and have sped back down the track already, you could always enjoy a beverage at the Snowline Bar at the Hermitage.
Take a scenic flight. Heliworks Mt Cook has a range of packages that all provide an exhilarating air exploration of the area in all its grandeur: deep valleys, snow-covered peaks, glittering rivers and emerald forest. Some packages, such as our Mt Cook and Tasman Glacier Experience even land the helicopter atop the Tasman Glacier to explore and play in the snow (the snow is there all year round – take some warm clothes and gloves!).
Grab yourself a hearty organic meal at the Old Mountaineers Café – a large place with a warm and rustic atmosphere, friendly staff, cold beverages, and delicious meat or vegetarian menu options. They display a whole range of historic photos inside. In the winter season, closing times may vary so make sure you check in with the hosts beforehand.
If you’re staying the night, head out stargazing. Because the area is an official Dark Sky Reserve (no light pollution), on a clear night the sky is lit up by stars and nebula like nothing you have ever seen. If you want to learn more about what you’re seeing, the Hermitage has a resident astronomer who can bring it to life with telescopes.
If you’re leaving that night, however, make sure you stop your vehicle at Peters Lookout at the end of Lake Pukaki, before the sun goes down. This is THE postcard shot where Mt Cook is seen in its full glory above the lake and a fitting finish to an epic One Day at Mt Cook.