A visit to Mt Cook isn't complete without an outdoor experience. This is the heart of the training ground of perhaps the most famous mountaineer of all time. Whatever the fitness level there is a walk suitable for everyone nearby. Respect the conditions and Enjoy!
The following DOC publication is recommended: Walks in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park (PDF, 622K)
[Note: Mt Cook Village altitude is 762 metres above sea level]
3 hours return from White Horse Hill car park (at the end of Hooker Valley Road just north of Mt Cook Village). Fairly flat track along Hooker River valley floor to Hooker Lake with exciting swing bridge crossings. (It is just a half hour return trip to the first swing bridge.)
Sealy Tarn (Altitude: 1250 metres)
3 to 4 hours return from White Horse Hill car park; very steep track but rewards with high level views of Hooker Valley below and Mt Sefton adjacent and Mt Cook up the valley. (Sealy Tarn is a pond or small alpine lake that can provide mirror images of the surrounding mountains in the right conditions.)
Mueller Hut (Altitude: 1800 metres)
Another 2 hours above Sealy Tarn; very steep at first with poled route across rock and snow. People have perished up here so respect the very changeable weather conditions and stick to the marked route. You can stay overnight in the hut but book in advance.
Mt Ollivier (Altitude: 1900 metres)
Half an hour or so above Mueller Hut. Ed Hillary's first 'conquest' and a key source of inspiration for future achievements.
Half an hour fairly easy walk (each way) from Hooker car park or an hour from the Hermitage at Mt Cook Village. Provides a good vantage point to view the Mueller Lake and Hooker Valley without too much effort.
Tasman Glacier Lake
About 20-30 minutes (uphill) from the car park at the end of Tasman Valley Road. Views over the terminal lake with icebergs (probably till about January when they may have melted) and up the Tasman Valley toward the Tasman Glacier. Also the 'blue' lakes can be viewed, visited or swum in nearby.
Ball Shelter, Tasman Glacier
3 to 4 hours (each way) from car park at the end of Tasman Valley Road. Check conditions with the Visitor's Centre at Mt Cook Village before proceeding on this route. Follows the Tasman Valley up toward Ball Hut and can provide a view of the start of the Tasman Glacier.
Various short pleasant bush walks are located near to Mt Cook Village. (Governers Bush Walk - 1 hour return, Glencoe Walk - 1/2 hour return, Bowen Bush Walk - 10 minutes return)
Red Tarns (Altitude: 1143 metres)
2 hours steeply uphill from the southern side of Mt Cook Village. Another option for a commanding view of the Hooker Valley.