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Mount Cook

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Mount Cook is one of the most famous land marks of the world. It is synonymous with New Zealand and every NZer identifies with it. Mount Cook is at the heart of the Mount Cook national park which is accessible from two directions. Either from the West Coast via the Copland track or along the 35 kilometre road leading upto the Mount Cook Hermitage.
If you walk over the Copland track you will walk into the Hooker Valley opposite Mount Cook.
Traveling up from the main highway there is a panoramic view of Mount Cook.
View of Lake Pukaki and a distant Mount Cook
There are three places you can stay in the Mount Cook national park. Either in the Mount Cook Hermitage hotel which is a five star hotel. You can camp at the site of the old hermitage at the foot of Mount Sefton, a camping ticket is needed before you pitch your tent and this can be obtained at the Mount Cook advice centre or you can camp at the Glenn Tanner camp site which is half way up the road to Mount Cook and gives commanding views of Mount Cook on a clear day.
The later is near the airport where you can take a flight in a small aircrsft up the Tasman Glacier and around Mount Cook for a breath taking flight. Dont forget your camera and spare film.
A view of Mount Cook from the Hermitage
There is a lot to see and do in the Mount Cook National Park. For the day visitor there are a number of short tracks which give you the opportunity to take in the scenery. There is the visitors centre which gives a short talk and slide show on the history of rock climbing in and around Mount Cook. Also there are some ideallic views of the surrounding area for the artist who wants to make a quick sketch. For those that wish to stay longer there are a number of longer walks. One up the Hookers Valley, another up to the Seally Tarns and also the walk upto the Tasman Glacier.
For those more adventurous there is plenty of opportunity to climb in the area. As well as all of this you can also take the previously mentioned scenic flights from the Glen Tanner air strip.
If you have the time I would recommend you stay at least four days in the area. One thing to bare in mind when you are at the Hermitage, the altitude is 3,000 metres. You should always be prepared for the weather to turn cold or even snowy, even in summer.

A view of Mount Cook from the Hooker Valley
For a basic days walking you need a good pair of boots, this may seem obvious but I have seen a woman in high heels walking up the Tasman valley. For the artist there is a lot of inspiration in the area, especially if you paint mountains or you want to try your hand at them.
If you are the more adventurous then you can climb up to higher altitudes and do some painting from there. What ever you do always have your sketch book at the ready.
For every body else make sure you have sufficient film for your camera, I am sure you will regret it if you dont.
If you are visiting New Zealand and your itinerary is flexible enough it might be worth considering being at Mount Cook for a full moon.
The moon light shining off the snowy peaks at night is spectacular offering an opportunity to take some award winning photo's.