New Zealand Backpacking – Mt. Cook

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After the sublime views and walking around Lake Tekapo I was under the impression that Mt. Cook, surely, could not top it. Lake Tekapo was perfection.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

Mt Cook New Zealand
Rachel On Route at Lake Pukaki

So the day started as planned. We wandered to the local supermarket in Lake Tekapo to stock up on our food. We’d done our research about each stop, and found that Mt. Cook, being so small, didn’t have any shops. So we had to stock up a bit for our stay. (The volume of food we were already carrying made this interesting!) By the way, post to come about our healthy backpacking ‘diet’ and Ian’s not so crazy protein powder idea. (Intriguing eh!)

We found our way onto the bus, and the further we drove, the more beautiful the landscape became. We pulled over briefly next to Lake Pukaki for pictures – and you can just about make out our first sighting of Mt. Cook in the distance. My excitement level – insane!

Mt Cook New Zealand
First view as we drive into Mt Cook village

YHA Hostel – Our first shared room!

Upon arrival we checked into our hostel. Now, as Mt. Cook village is so small, there is very little accommodation.  I believe there are only 2 hostels in the whole place! So for this stay, for the first time we had to book a shared room at the YHA Aoraki Mt Cook. With bunk beds! I must say I’ve not slept in a bunk bed for a very long time, and I felt like I was a kid at camp again.

The first night we shared a Japanese father and son, who pretty much pretended we weren’t there. So that was different. the second night we shared with another couple, who I think were Korean and spoke VERY little English. I think on both camps it was a little awkward, as both couples clearly wanted to snuggle up in our respective pairs. But when it came to lights out, etiquette dictated we slept in our own beds.

Hooker Valley Track

Mt Cook New ZealandThe first day after arrival we wanted to make the most of our short stay, so we made our protein shakes (yes really) and headed out. We made straight for the Hooker Valley Track. I think it was the most spectacular walk I’ve ever been on.

The walk takes about 3 hours in total (so 1.5 hours in each direction) and crosses 3 swing bridges, across the Hooker River. Along the way you also come across a monument to the people that have lost their lives on the mountain. Which makes for a very poignant edition. In all it’s glory it’s easy to forget the danger of the mountain before you.


Mt Cook New Zealand


Very humbling. The track follows the Hooker valley, with the most gorgeous mountains towering over you on both sides.  And then the track ends suddenly at the glacier lake, where you see icebergs and the most insane view of Mt Cook.

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt. Cook

To be honest – I could go on about how crazily beautiful it was, and majestic and humbling. And how I couldn’t stop taking photos every few steps. But honestly, I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

Mt Cook New Zealand

After we reached the glacial lake and took a million pictures again. I had to do the typical Brit thing and got my feet wet in the freeeezing water. (It had to be done!) Then we headed back down the track towards the village, taking in the same track but from a different perspective.

I must say it was one of the most wonderful days I think I spent in New Zealand.

Kea Point Track and Mt Sefton

The next day we had a full day in Mt. Cook – but I’ll be honest we were a little knackered. We’d been on the go for 9 days now, and were starting to get a little weary from all the walking/low calorie diet. So we opted to have a slower day, taking in the Governors Bush Walk – a cute little track through the bush, and then Kea Point Track. Kea Point is a lovely little walk that takes you to great views of the Mueller Glacier, and Mt Sefton in the distance. (In places the ice was so blue – I’ve never seen anything like it!)

Mt Cook New Zealand Mt Cook New Zealand

After our long week doing various hikes, and particularly the last few days in Mt.Cook we were well and truly done in. We had to check out early the day we left and wait for our bus to our next destination – Queenstown. Luckily the hostel really kindly allowed us to hang around in their lounge area (thank you!) until it was due, so we had a little down time with WiFi and postcards. Which was quite fun actually!

And then we were off, heading to Queenstown for a slightly longer 5 day stay, so we could rest and recuperate for a few days!


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48 thoughts to “New Zealand Backpacking – Mt. Cook”

  1. Although I didn’t do that hike or see that lake, your photos are making me miss NZ so much! I’ll have to go back to check out this late sometime. I love hiking!

  2. wow, Mt. Cook is so mesmerizing, look at the landscapes, indeed they need no words to explain their beauty. I’m sure to visit NZ soon next year and explore its beauty!

    1. Haha thank yo for the lovely comment – definitely try and get there, you really won’t regret it, the views are stunning and people really friendly and fun loving.

  3. Your pictures are breathtaking!! I’ve never stayed at a hostel before, but it seems very adventurous!! New Zealand seems beautiful.. my favorite was your Key Point Track hike, the water with the glaciers and mountains.. Gorgeous!

  4. Your photos are amazing and I would love to do this adventure I must put it on my list of things to do. Honestly you should get your photos on a canvas and sell them.

  5. Stunning and Gorgeous Landscape. Loved all the views and I am sure it must have been a once in a lifetime experience for you guys. I can imagine your reaction to seeing the blue looking snow. New Zealand is the most beautiful place on Earth according to me. 🙂

    1. I think you might be right, most beautiful place I’ve ever seen (so far!) I did feel very special, but we’re hoping to return in the next few years, potentially!

  6. Wow!! What a truly amazing experience you got to have!! Your photographs are absolutely beautiful and I’d love to go here one day.

  7. That looks amazing! I totally understand what you mean about not being able to explain (or even fully capture on film) how gorgeous a landscape is. But this does a pretty good job 🙂 I really want to get back to New Zealand. I was there a million years ago, but it was winter so there was a lot I couldn’t do.

    1. Thank you, your very kind. If you can fund it, I would absolutely go back, there is so much beauty to see and fun things to do. I think we barely scratched the surface during our visit.

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  9. Looks like it exceeded your expectations, which is wonderful to hear! I’m not sure I’d be happy in a shared hostel room though, so that would definitely be something for me to consider if planning a visit. I love your photos though, it looks so glorious and not at all crowded either!

    1. I think they do have private rooms, but they book up fast. This was the only time we shared a room in a hostel – we normally go for private double rooms. But I was adamant I wanted to see the mountain adn it was all that was left. It was so worth it!

      There is also a hotel in the village, but I think its on the pricier side, we were going for budget rather than luxury!

  10. Look at that suspension bridge! I bet that felt a little sketchy. What an amazing experience, your photographs look amazing but I imagine it’s totally awe-inspiring in person. I totally would have dipped my feet in the water too tbh haha, just for the experience!

  11. The views are indeed breathtaking but I still don’t know if I’m ready for a shared room at the hostel, I’d feel so terribly awkward!

  12. I didn’t do a trek on Mt Cook while I was in New Zealand but I did see it from a distance but It was also pointed out to me while I did my sky dive from Franz Joseph and the views from up there were just amazing. If you have the chance you should definitely do it 😀 – With your first shared room experience out the way would you do it again ?

  13. As a hiker, this is one area I am interested in but havent got to New Zealand yet. Love reading your post here, you have given me some ideas, and I am loving the photos.

  14. Wow… your photos are amazing. I can imagine you had so much fun doing that adventure. It reminds me when I was younger doing great adventure along with my hubby. Thank you for sharing it.

  15. You have a pretty good and stunning pictures there. I can imagine how you have so much fun doing that adventure. It reminds me when I was a bit younger doing great adventure like yours. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. It is a fair bit cheaper yes. The more peopl you share a dorm with the cheaper it gets. But we usually get a private room to be honest, as we travel as a couple and like our privacy, but on this occasion they were all booked up. It was very much worth it though.

  16. Mt. Cook looks really ethereal. The pictures convey the beauty of the place. Of course, no pictures can actually capture the immense beauty of nature which needs to be experienced. I am sure you will agree.

  17. Wow! What a scenic hike! Love seeing all your pictures. Good to know that accommodations are sparse. I’ve shared a hostel room before and depending on who you are sharing with it can be a little awkward for sure. Thanks for sharing as I love to hike when I travel!`

  18. The glacier lake is absolutely stunning! Reminds me a little of our Lake Louise here in Alberta, Canada – not sure if you’ve been. New Zealand is definitely high up on my bucket list and this just gets me so excited to go someday! As for your awkward hostel experience, even though I grew up in Canada, coming from an Asian background, I totally understand why they didn’t really want to socialize. There’s nothing wrong with you but most Asians generally just aren’t as “friendly” in terms of getting to know strangers especially if English isn’t their forte hahaa.

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