Hiking Mt Cook / Mackenzie
At the centre of the South Island the expansive high ground from which the scenic peaks of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park protrude is known as Mackenzie Country and within its boundary is Lake Tekapo, a highland lake and township sitting at 710 metres (2329 Feet) surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock. The lake itself is known for its amazing turquoise colour.
As many as 150 glaciers are found in the Southern Alps, slowly moving their way down to lower altitudes, where they melt into running rivers and on this eastern side of the southern alps there happens to be one glacier in particular that excites hikers in the region and that’s the Tasman Glacier New Zealand's largest glacier. You don’t need to be a mountaineer to enjoy the splendours of this great alpine park, this massive outdoor playground has many multi-day hikes and gentle short walks or day hikes for those with a bit more huff and puff, and lengthier tramps over alpine passes for the more intrepid. From here you can head out and experience native bush, vast panoramic views of the Alps including New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook and an ever changing glacial landscape.
For those who want a serious hike the Ball Pass is a challenging 3 day alpine traverse over the Mount Cook Range from the Tasman to the Hooker Valleys. The hiking route follows the Ball Ridge sitting high above the Tasman Glacier, opposite the Caroline Face of Mount Cook, the countries highest ice face. Guided hikers spend two nights at the private Caroline Hut at 1820 meters (6000 feet) using the middle day to climb up Kaitiaki Peak.
For those with limited time or fitness the Mount Cook Encounter is a half or full day walk up the Hooker Valley, providing spectacular views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks and will get you to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier. The track passes over the turbulent Hooker River by Swing Bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers.