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Aoraki - Mt Cook , New Zealand

The name of Aoraki (Mt Cook) originates from an old Maori legend about Aoraki and his three brothers, who were the suns of Rakinui (the Sky Father). According to legend, the brothers were on a trip around Papatauanuku (the Earth Mother), when their canoe hit a reef, and they became stranded.

The brothers climbed on to the top of the overturned canoe, and waited for the arrival of their rescuers. Whilst they waited the freezing southerly wind turned their bodies to stone, and their hair white.

Legend states that the canoe became the South Island of New Zealand. The tallest mountain was named after the tallest brother, who was "Aoraki". The rest of the brothers and the crew of the canoe became the other mountains of the Southern Alps.

Inside Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is the village of Mount Cook. The village is dominated by majestic Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand, the highest mountain at 3754 metres. However besides Aoraki Mount Cook, there are a further 27 mountains in the park that are over 3050 metres, and hundreds of peaks that are close to this that make up the spectacular Southern Alps.

At Mount Cook village there is a range of accommodation available from camping and backpackers, to motel or hotel style. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park has numerous walking, hiking and climbing trips available. You can also go on a horse trek, scenic flight with snow landing on a glacier, fishing for trout or salmon, 4WD trip, boating or kayaking trips on the Tasman Glacier Lake. In winter there are heli-skiing trips up onto The Tasman Glacier. To gain information on the terrain, culture and history of the region, a visit to the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre is well worth while. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is also famous for its night sky, and on clear nights, far from city lights, you can see it as never before at the Planetarium.

Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook

Located only half an hour walk from the village is the Tasman Glacier terminal lake. As the Tasman Glacier melts, huge icebergs are carved from the face of the glacier. You can take a boat trip, or kayaking trip right to the ice face of the glacier. Your guide will tell you all about this unique place, and give you some memorable photographic possibilities.

Kaki Black Stilt Visitor Hide, Twizel

Near to the turn off to Mount Cook, outside Twizel and next to the Department of Conservation's captive breeding centre, is the Kaki/Black Stilt Visitor Hide. This is a great place to see the Kaki or Black Stilts, which is one of New Zealand's rarest birds. Kaki are extremely distinctive birds, with black plumage, long red legs, and a fine beak for catching insects, molluscs and small fish.

Weather in Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook weather varies between hot summers where the temperature often is above 30C, though average maximum temperatures are about 20C. In winter the days are clear and crisp with overnight temperatures below freezing, and day time temperatures averaging 8C. Rainfall is on average around 600 mm per year.