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13 Epic Mount Cook View Locations To Add To Your Itinerary

13 Epic Mount Cook View Locations To Add To Your Itinerary

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Aoraki/Mount Cook is New Zealand’s tallest mountain and her distant peak always dominates the South Island backdrops. Here are the best Mount Cook viewpoints across the island.

Today, people flock from all over the world to catch a glimpse of this impressive 3,724-metre peak. And nobody is asking “why“?– This mountain is absolutely incredible and easily the most beautiful peak in the country.

After exploring the South Island’s best hikes and viewpoints, I’ve written this guide sharing some of the epic lookouts and viewpoints I’ve found to see Mount Cook in all her glory.

Where Can You See Views of Mount Cook?

Mount Cook's faces are visible from the interior and from the West Coast, meaning you'll get a different view depending on where you are. My personal favourite viewpoint is at Peter's Lookout on the road to Mount Cook National Park, however there are plenty more below.

In a rush and prefer to have your trip to Mount Cook organized in advance? Check out these three unmissable Mount Cook experiences!

Hooker valley suspension bridge

1. Mount Cook Small Group Tour

The best way to experience the best of Mount Cook National Park on an epic day trip from Queenstown and includes the Hooker Valley Track.

Helicopter flight over mount cook national park

2. Mount Cook Ski Plane & Helicopter

A surprisingly affordable experience including a thrilling aerial tour by both ski plane and a helicopter!

Franz josef glacier south island 1

3. Tasman Glacier Heli Hike Top-Pick

See the Tasman Glacier from above and land on the Franz Josef or Tasman Glacier for an epic Glacier Hike (all gear provided)

1. Hooker Valley Track

Known as one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand, the views from the Hooker Valley track simply has to be seen to be believed.

Following the Hooker Valley, this hike leads to the very edge of the Hooker glacial lake, where Aoraki/Mount Cook stands tall above its glacial lake. The best part is, you'll have epic Mount Cook views along the entire length of this hike!

Did you know? Aoraki/Mount Cook was recognised for its splendour and beauty by both traditional Maori settlers and European explorers. Due to Mount cook being significant to both parties, the official name has been combined to reflect the unified history that is shared by all New Zealanders.

Hiking the hooker valley track, views of mount cook

2. Mount Cook Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing

You can't really beat a helicopter flight and snow landing when it comes to epic views of the New Zealand Alps.

This helicopter tour on Get Your Guide is very affordable and flies directly past Aoraki Mt Cook, over the icebergs of Tasman Terminal Lake and the Tasman Glacier before landing on an adjacent mountain.

The aerodrome is conveniently positioned just 5 minute's drive from Aoraki Village. I'd suggest taking the first flight of the day after breakfast at one of the hotels nearby.

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View of new zealand's mountains from a helicopter

3. Mueller Hut Route

One of my personal favourite hikes in New Zealand also arguably offers the best views of New Zealand's tallest peak!

This popular overnight tramping route leads to the Mueller Hut, which is widely considered as one of New Zealand's most scenic alpine huts. It departs from Mount Cook National Park and climbs the Sealy Range, directly opposite Aoraki/Mount Cook and the glacial lakes and valleys below.

The best part is you'll get Aoraki as a onstant backdrop during the entire hike!

Tip: Freedom camping or staying in the Mueller Hut overnight is the best place to see Mount Cook during sunset. Read my guide linked above to find out how.

Mueller hut mount cook view for sunset

4. Sealy Tarns Track

If the Mueller Hut route is too long or steep for you, then I'd suggest climbing up halfway to the Sealy Tarns. This track actually makes up the first section of the Mueller Hut hike and therefore offers a very similar view (albeit from a lower point).

The tarns themselves are also a great place to capture Mount Cook in the alpine lake reflections! Aim to get here just after sunrise or just before sunset to get the clearest reflection photos and to avoid the crowds. Oh, and prepare for a steep ascent of over 2,200 stairs!

Sealy tarns track new zealand

5. Kea Point Track

Another shorter and much easier, family-friendly hike in Mount Cook National Park is the Kea Point Track. Departing from the main hiking area in the National Park, this roughly 1-2 hour hike leads to an impressive viewpoint looking over Mount Cook and the Mueller glacial lake and moraine.

Although views are arguably more impressive from the steeper and higher hikes, the Kea Point track is a good option for those with little time, or if you want a decent Mount Cook view for limited effort!

Hooker valley moraine glacial lake mount cook national park, kea point

6. Peters Lookout

Ahh, the iconic Mount Cook road photo. Peter's Lookout on the road to Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki is arguably the most scenic view of Aoraki that you'll get.

The lookout is perfect for those on a New Zealand road trip, since it's just a simple matter of pulling up to the lookout car park. The frame from here is absolutely amazing, with the crystal clear blue Lake Pukaki on the right, and the winding road leading into the park.

Road to mount cook at peters lookout, mount cook road photo

7. State Highway 80

Driving the Pukaki to Mount Cook Village road along State Highway 80 offers so many amazing viewpoints of Mount Cook superimposed above Lake Pukaki.

While Peter's Lookout above is arguably the most famous, you can get creative and find some amazing spots along the way. Just remember to be safe and keep a look out for traffic.

Not only is the road itself incredibly scenic, it also ends at Mount Cook National Park. This is the area where you will need to come for some of the best hikes in New Zealand including the Hooker Valley track and the Mueller Hut route!

Girl standing on the road to mount cook national park in new zealand

8. Tasman Valley

The Tasman Valley runs from the Aoraki/Mount Cook range on the other side of the Hooker Valley.

Although the Hooker Valley is much more popular, the Tasman Valley hike is also one of the best places to see Mount Cook in all her glory. Furthermore, there are a few short hikes that allow visitors to check out the largest glacier in New Zealand; the Tasman Glacier!

Tasman glacier viewpoint hike to the moraine wall

9. Lake Matheson

Located on the South Island's West Coast, Lake Matheson is very popular due to its perfectly positioned reflections of Mount Cook.

During a short walk around the lake, you'll find a wooden viewing platform known as Reflection Island.

From here, Mount Cook reflects magnificently in the calm waters of the lake. Again, for the clearest reflection photos, make sure to visit during golden hour, either just after sunrise or just before sunset.

Matheson lake new zealand

10. Fox Glacier Village

Besides opportunities to spot the Fox Glacier, the village and surrounding countryside also offers great views of Mount Cook's western face.

If you have a car or camper, I highly recommend driving towards Lake Matheson, just outside the village. There are multiple spots along the road where you can see Mount Cook's Western face, which might seem unrecognizable to you if you've just come from the interior!

This area is great for the amazing and unique countryside views with Mount Cook backdrops.

Fox glacier village view of mount cook aoraki

11. Mount Fox Route

My personal favourite hike in New Zealand is the Mount Fox route. This challenging and steep climb to the summit of Mount Fox ends with breathtaking views of Mount Cook and the Fox Glacier.

Similarly to Lake Matheson, this Mount Cook view location is located on the West Coast. Therfore, a good itinerary idea is to hike up to the Mount Fox summit for sunrise, and finish the day with a sunset at Lake Matheson.

Tip: For the best chances of having a clear view, leave before sunrise to avoid midday and afternoon fog.

Mount fox hike viewpoint of mt cook
Peter's lookout drive we seek travel

Tip: How to Get Around in New Zealand

Rent a car! New Zealand is very safe for motorists & driving is the best way to explore the country.

I always DiscoverCars to get the best deals. Or, if you want a camper, I've had good experiences in NZ with Spaceships & Travellers Autobarn.

12. Lake Pukaki Lookout

The most beautiful lake in New Zealand - the otherworldly turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki is the perfect foreground to complement New Zealand's tallest mountain.

The lookout at Lake Pukaki is also a large campsite that is completely free for self-contained campers. You'll find it along State Highway 8 between Lake Tekapo and Twizel. We stayed here overnight during our recent road trip around the South Island and the sunset views did not disappoint!

Girl looking at a view of mount cook in new zealand
Aoraki mount cook at lake pukaki, new zealand

13. Twizel to Pukaki Road

Another great location to see Mount Cook from the road is the road from Twizel, SH8 (Tekapo-Twizel Road). I've taken this road several times during my visits to New Zealand and every time the views have blown me away.

Then again, cloud cover tends to spoil the view in the afternoons. For the best road views, I'd suggest heading here in the early morning.

Mount cook view at lake pukaki

Where to Stay Near Mount Cook Village

With so many amazing hiking opportunities in Mount Cook National Park, it's worth staying at least a night in the nearby Mount Cook Village. Below are the 3 top-rated options with links to check availability & pricing.

Bedroom views at aoraki court motel in mount cook village

1. Aoraki Court Motel

A spacious motel offering small, affordable rooms and large, two-bedroom apartments in the Mount Cook Village.

Mount cook lodge

2. Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge Top-Pick

A beautiful lodge with spacious rooms accommodating everyone from couples to large families, just a 5-minute walk from the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Landscape views around the hermitage hotel

3. The Hermitage Hotel

An incredible hotel with mountain views & a warm fireplace, just a drive to the start of the Hooker Valley Track.

Alternatively, if you'd like to camp you can stay at the White Horse Hill Campsite near the Mount Cook National Park walking tracks.

Here, there are 60 unpowered sites and you’ll need to arrive early in peak season to secure a spot. It’s not possible to book online as it operates on a first-come-first-serve basis.

I hope that you have enjoyed this quick guide to the best Mount Cook (Aoraki) viewpoints in the South Island. If you find some new lookouts, share them with everybody in the comments! Otherwise, check out my guides below for more New Zealand travel inspiration.

11 best places to see mount cook
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.