Out of all the places we went in New Zealand, Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook would have to be my favorites. I’ve never seen a more massive and beautiful lake and mountain. The drive to Tasman Glacier will wind all alongside Lake Pukaki and you’ll have to pull the car over about 150 times to take photos because they get better and better with each turn.

Looking For More Info On Other Cities In The South Island, New Zealand? Check Out My Other Blog Posts!

How To Get Around: 

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Renting a Car: This is a MUST while visiting New Zealand, as most of its sights are very spaced out. Be sure to rent/bring a GPS, especially if you won’t have wifi on your phone. For 2 weeks, we rented a car for about $600USD (about $40USD/day). Note: New Zealanders drive on the opposite side of the road as Americans, so this is a BIG adjustment and takes some serious concentration!

RV Rental: Many people rent a camper van/motor home and utilize that as both their transport and accommodation (we’ll be doing this next time!). Juicy Rentals is by far the most popular in town. A standard camper van will cost about $1470 for 2 weeks (around $105USD/day).

How To Get To Lake Pukaki & Mount Cook:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

You can absolutely take a day trip from Queenstown to Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook/Hooker Valley Trek & Lake Tekapo (Church of the Good Shepherd) then back to Queenstown, but it is a LOT of driving and exhausting. I recommend breaking them into two different days and staying at Mount Cook or Lake Tekapo (Lake Tekapo/Church of the Good Shepherd is in a separate post on the blog).

The recommended itinerary is:

Queenstown to Lake Pukaki: 2.5 hour drive

Lake Pukaki to Tasman Glacier: 30 minute drive

Tasman Glacier to Hooker Valley Track: 10 minute drive

 Note: The drive there is absolutely beautiful, but be SURE to have a full tank of gas and stop along the way when you see any restaurants (or pack food/snacks), because it’s quite desolate (we almost ran out of gas!). The sights are listed in the order in which you’ll drive to them and, best of all is that all sights are free!

Lake Pukaki:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Lake Pukaki is INSANELY gorgeous and HUGE, totalling 69-square miles. It’s the largest of three lakes (with Tekapo and Ohau) occupying ancient glacial valleys in the Mackenzie Basin and is formed from glacier melt off, which gives it this stunning blue color. You’re drive to Mount Cook will follow along half of this beauty, so be sure to add an extra 30-60 minutes in your drive time to pull over for pics!

Tasman Glacier:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest glacier, at almost 17-miles. After parking, the glacier view is a 10-15 minute steep stair climb away (be sure to wear sneakers). Allow 1+ hour time at the glacier for the hike/photos, unless you’re taking the cruise.

Tasman Glacier- Glacier Explorers Boat Tour:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track
Photo Credit: https://www.newzealand.com/de/article/what-to-do-in-aoraki-mount-cook-village/

You also have the option of taking a boat tour out on the water with Glacier Explorers to explore much more of the glacier itself, but this must be pre-arranged. The total tour is 2.5 hours and costs $105USD/Adults and $55USD/Children (age 4-14). The minimum age is 4 years for the tour.

Mount Cook- Hooker Valley Track:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Hooker Valley Trek is a MUST do while in New Zealand, especially the lookout point at the end, so DO NOT turn around until you’ve reached the en!  It’s the closest any walking track comes to Mount Cook, and  gives epic views of the highest mountain in New Zealand, with Hooker Glacier in the valley below. Allow 3-4+ hours total for the hike. Start at the Visitor Centre or White Horse Hill campground/carpark (at the end of Hooker Valley Rd off State Highway 80).

 TIP: Be SURE to bring water, food/snacks, a hat and sunscreen, as there are no shops along the way.

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Where To Stay At Mount Cook:

You don’t have a large selection for hotels, as there are only 2 in all of Mount Cook and they both run between $200-$400 a night.

The Hermitage Hotel:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Aoraki Court Mount Cook Village:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track
Photo Credit: http://www.aorakicourt.co.nz/photo-gallery/

The Aoraki Court Mount Cook hotel is MUCH nicer than it looks on the outside. Each room is super modern.

What To Eat At Mount Cook:

Old Mountaineers’ Cafe, Bar & Restaurant:

New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track
Photo Credit: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/

The Old Mountaineers’ Restaurant has a unique menu with epic views. Get the steak or lamb…you can’t go wrong!

Check Out Our New Zealand Video!

Video: Australia & New Zealand

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Thank you SOOOO much for stopping by! 

XOXO The Traveling Blondie 

Peace ✌ Love ❤ Travel ✈

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