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Best Mount Cook View: Peters Lookout & Picnic Area

Best Mount Cook View: Peters Lookout & Picnic Area

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.

Mt Cook Road gently snakes its way under the Ben Ohau Range beside the turquoise-colored Lake Pukaki, providing a great photo opportunity from Peters Lookout.

Peters Lookout on the road to Mount Cook offers one of those bucket-list road trip photo snaps that you have definitely seen on social media. On a clear day, views from the lookout and the road reach far out to the incredible Aoraki (Mount Cook).

Below, I detail where to go and tips for getting the perfect New Zealand road trip shot.

The Road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook, appropriately named Mt Cook Road, is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand, and up there with one of my favourite in the world.

Following the edge of the turquoise Lake Pukaki, the road leads directly toward Mount Cook National Park.

As you drive along, it seems as if the mountains get larger and larger with each passing kilometre.

There are plenty of spots to spot and admire the view. The best and most iconic is Peters Lookout.

Van driving along peters lookout road to mount cook
Road to Mount Cook National Park

How to Get to Peters Lookout

Peters Lookout is located approximately 13 km down Mount Cook Road (SH80) near the Ben Ohau Range (driving towards Mount Cook). There are several signs on the road before the lookout car park, so you won't have any trouble finding it.

For those driving to the lookout from Wanaka, expect around 2 hours of driving. From the turnoff at Pukaki, it should take less than 15 minutes to reach the lookout.

Location: Peters Viewpoint

The car park is located on the right side of the road if you are driving towards Mount Cook. There is adequate parking for dozens of vehicles here. However, it can get busy, especially during peak season.

Map showing the location of peters lookout in new zealand

Best Photo Spots

There are plenty of photo opportunities on the road to Mount Cook for both aspiring photographers and opportunistic road-trippers.

For Peters Lookout, I found that the best angles that capture the road, Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki were from the wooden fenced viewing area near the car park (angle shown in the image below).

Road to mount cook at peters lookout with lake pukaki views

For immersive road photos, you can snap some great shots from the road just after the turnoff to the car park. Just be mindful of cars and don't stand out on the middle of the road.

Tip: I had Haylea on standby looking for traffic as I snapped the shot below!

Peters lookout mount cook view

Continuing the drive to Mount Cook, there are a few more excellent photo spots as you get closer. Get creative and don't be afraid to pull over when the opportunity arises.

Tip: Make sure there is adequate space to pull over. We saw a car that had been bogged when they pulled over on the side of what they thought was a grassy area.

Aerial views over lake pukaki with mount cook road and mountains.

Tips for Capturing the Perfect Mount Cook Road Photo

Below are some useful tips to get the best shots possible.

  • Shoot during golden hour (the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise)
  • Get creative - low and high angles
  • Wait for weather clearing - those clouds around Mount Cook are annoyingly persistent
  • Shoot in Winter - this is one I couldn't help but I've seen some crisp shots of the low Mount Cook snow line which looks fantastic
Girl traveling to scenic location in south island of new zealand

Can You Fly Drones?

The short answer is no. Well, unless you have a permit, which is difficult to get unless you are a professional photographer.

There are signs all around Peters Lookout warning people not to fly drones. I'm not sure if there are DOC that patrol the lookout, but it's best to respect local restrictions.

We were working with a company at the time and had special permission to fly my drone on Mount Cook Road.

Spaceship rental van driving along mount cook road near peters lookout with lake pukaki views

More Epic Experiences at Mount Cook National Park

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)

Camping at Mount Cook National Park

Looking to camp under the stars? The best place to stay overnight at Mount Cook National Park is the White Horse Hill Campsite.

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.

Fees are $15 per night per person.

The drive here takes roughly 33 minutes from Peters Lookout.

Location: Campsite

Where to Stay Near Mount Cook

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.

More Photos of Peters Lookout and Mount Cook Road

Below are some more photos from Peters Lookout, the road to Mount Cook, and other Mount Cook views. I hope they inspire you to capture some great, unique shots.

I'd also love to see the photos that you guys take. Tag a link to your Instagram in the comments below if you capture a banger.

Done views over lake pukaki, south island new zealand.
The road looking towards mount cook from peters lookout
Spaceship rental car driving along mount cook road with mountain and lake views

I hope you found this quick guide to Peters Lookout and the Mount Cook Road photo opportunity useful.

For more free travel guides check out some of the links below.

Pinterest pin for the best mount cook view locations in new zealand
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.