Mount Cook, Franz Josef & Fox Glacier Holidays

Alpine in the purest sense, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all under a star-studded sky; while in Westland National Park, on the west coast, are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, two giant rivers of ice which still flow almost to sea level.

Snow-capped the year round, dazzling Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest peak at 12,218 feet and part of the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, an expanse of untouched, awe inspiring alpine landscape in South Island's Mackenzie region. Named Aoraki by South Island Maori, it is one of 28 mountains that make up the rugged Southern Alps which run the length of the South Island.

While climbing to the summit is best left to serious mountaineers there are many walking and hiking trails for the less adventurous that lead to alpine lakes with spectacular views, while other activities include scenic flights, helicopter hikes and mountain biking. If relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous scenery is more appealing, why not take a cruise on nearby Lake Tekapo or spend time rejuvenating in the Tepako Springs hot pools.

Encircled by a horseshoe of mountains, Mount Cook Village is a central base for visitors wishing to experience this beautiful place and home to the fascinating Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, which has an informative museum and theatre. Mount Cook also has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand, so head to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve for stargazing of the spectacular southern sky.

At the heart of Glacier Country on the west coast are the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, the most accessible rivers of ice in the world. Franz Josef Glacier descends from the top of the Southern Alps into rainforest close to sea level and provides a very rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacier in a temperate environment. Within a short distance of Franz Josef village are walks of varying length, a cycleway, kayaking and action adventures like rafting or skydiving.

Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier is longer and faster moving than Franz Josef Glacier. Fox also descends from the Southern Alps down into the temperate rainforest and the village of the same name is more intimate than Franz Josef village. There are plenty of options for activities close to the village including tranquil walks, ice-hiking adventures or incredible sightseeing flights.

    Why visit Mount Cook, Franz Josef & Fox Glacier?
  • Snow-capped mountains
  • New Zealand’s highest peak
  • Turquoise blue lakes
  • Accessible glaciers
  • Mesmerising landscapes
  • Hiking and walking trails
  • Stargazing


Travel Expert

Beth

Travel Expert

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Essential facts about Mount Cook, Franz Josef & Fox Glacier
Local Time

GMT +12 hours.

Currency

New Zealand dollar

Travel information

Mount Cook is around a 3 hour drive from Queenstown and 5 hours 45 minutes drive from Christchurch. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are around 2 hours drive from Hokitika on the west coast or around 5 hours drive from Queenstown.

Best time to go

As Mount Cook is so high, it often tends to ‘hide’ in the clouds, but you can visit year round. At any time of year you can see snow on the mountain, however the snow only tends to be lower down the mountain in early spring, late autumn and winter. Similarly, you can visit Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers year round, as unlike glacier regions of the northern hemisphere, temperatures are fairly mild – ranging from around 10-21ºC in summer and from 2-12ºC in winter.