Ridging the spine of the rugged South Island is 500 kilometres of breathtaking mountain majesty—the 28 peaks of the Southern Alps, including crown jewel Aoraki (Mount Cook).

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Named ‘Aoraki’ by the Māori iwi (tribe) Ngāi Tahu, which translates as ‘cloud piercer’, New Zealand’s highest peak is 3,724 metres above sea level and the summit of its opulent beauty, gleaming with glacial valleys and lakes beneath skies that dazzle equally by day and night.

Stay under sky-scraping crests in the Aoraki/Mount Cook village nestled at the base of the mountain, which offers a range of accommodation from camping and backpackers to self-contained chalets. Spend your days immersed in alpine life with walks and hikes that make the most of the views, or amplify the exhilarating mountain air with an additional adventure!

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Mt Cook Glacier Guiding

Mt Cook Glacier Guiding is a new, exciting joint venture from experienced companies Fox Glacier Guides and Mt Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters. Operating from the Aoraki Mount Cook Airport, they’re ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime over a jewel-scape of turquoise lakes, emerald valleys and glinting snow peaks before touching down on Tasman Glacier; New Zealand’s longest glacier at 23 kilometres long and up to 2 kilometres wide. Choose from their Tasman Glacier Heli-Hike, the Top of the Tasman Glacier Hike, or Tasman Glacier Ice Climbing. All three trips offer an incomparable experience in accessing and appreciating the natural tranquillity of the alpine environment, which is a world heritage area.

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The Helicopter Line

To visit some of the region’s other treasures, The Helicopter Line guarantees an unforgettable trip. Operating from Glentanner Park only 15 minutes from the village, The Helicopter Line attracts adrenaline addicts with heli-hikes, heli-skiing and high-rise vistas of the Hochstetter Icefall, Ben Ohau Mountains and Eastern face of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Or check out Tasman Glacier, then heli-hop across to the West Coast to take in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier on the same day.

How about a 301 kilometre ride from the sky to the sea? Get on your bike and coast all the way to the Pacific on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Ending at the historic beach town of Oamaru, the trail is New Zealand’s longest continuous cycle trail, taking 4-5 days to complete and suitable for all ages.

Finally, keen stargazers won't want to miss the unparalleled view of the Southern Cross, Magellanic Clouds and Milky Way provided by the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. One of only 8 such places in the world and with light pollution heavily restricted, the Reserve shows off a star-spangled Southern sky that magnifies the wonders of the universe as far as the eye can see.

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Earth & Sky Stargazing

Earth & Sky provides guests with the ultimate stargazing experience, operating a range of tours including exclusive access to the renowned Mt John, the world’s southernmost working observatory. Their newly launched Dark Sky Project brings science and tātai aroraki (Māori astronomy) together in a ‘Big Bang’ of awe and inspiration. Thought-provoking, educational and entertaining, their astronomy guides and multi-media installations will take you on a journey 13.8 billion years in the making. You can also now combine winter star-gazing with dining at their new Dark Sky Diner.
Website: www.earthandsky.co.nz