It is hard to talk about the incredible landscapes of New Zealand without Mt. Cook being mentioned. As one of New Zealands crown jewels, Mt. Cook is one of the iconic peaks of the world. At 12,218 feet high, Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand and one of the main tourists destinations of the South Island.
Coming into this trip, I had seen many images of Mt. Cook, but for some reason they left me underwhelmed and without much excitement to experience it. I still made the effort to check it out though! The first night in the area I freedom camped on the northeast side of Lake Pukaki. Sleeping along the glowing glacier water’s edge and not a person in sight, it was one of my favorite nights in New Zealand. I purchased some fresh salmon down the road and it was by far the best salmon i’ve ever had, fresh from bright blue waters flowing form the glaciers of Mt. Cook.
The next day I set off to the mountain, stopping off at the famous Peter’s Lookout on the way to snap a few shots. I eventually arrived at the DOC run White Horse Hill campground in Hooker Valley…and I was blown away by the incredible views! The mountains were jaw dropping and the campground was in a stunning location. I was able to take a nap and then hike along the Hooker River and the Hooker Valley Track, which leads right to Hooker lake. The hike is easy and stunning, with multiple suspension bridge crossings over raging meltwater rivers below.
Visiting Mt. Cook was such a memorable experience, and I hope to return someday to stay in the nearby Mueller Hut.