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Aoraki / Mount Cook

Mackenzie Region, Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand


Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, reaching a height of 3,754 metres (12,316 ft). It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits lying slightly south and east of the main divide, the Low Peak, Middle Peak and High Peak, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the west.

Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest peak is known as Aoraki by Maori. According to legend, Aoraki was a young boy in the canoe Te Waka a Aoraki, which was stranded on a reef and tilted to one side. Aoraki and his brothers climbed to the high side and sat on the wreckage. The south wind froze them and turned them into stone, creating the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana. In 1851 Captain J. L. Stokes, sailing down the West Coast, gave the mountain its European name, Mt Cook, in honour of the English navigator Captain James Cook.

The Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie region is situated in the centre of New Zealand's majestic South Island. The region is renowned for its incredibly clear starry nights, brilliant sunny days, remarkable turquoise blue lakes, valleys of emerald green and snow-capped mountains. Shaped by the giant forces of nature, massive glaciers have scoured the land leaving a trail of lakes and rivers across the landscape.

Aoraki / Mount Cook was formally established as a national park in 1953 from reserves that were established as early as 1887 to protect the area's significant vegetation and landscape. The park is a harsh land of ice and rock. Glaciers cover 40% of it. There are 19 peaks over 3,000 metres including of course New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook. The park is also part of Te Waipounamu - South Westland World Heritage Area in recognition of its outstanding natural values.