Everyone who visited New Zealand (and especially did Mt Cook hike) kept telling me how this is the most beautiful place in the world. I smiled, nodded but to be honest never truly believed it. I’ve already seen some of the so-called most beautiful places in the world and while they were spectacular indeed I could name only one place that literally blows me away every single time I visit it and that’s Kotor, Montenegro.
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Twizel – a great base for the Mt Cook hike
I started my 10 days in New Zealand with visiting my dear friends from Poland in Twizel – a charming, small town located not far from some of the most incredible views New Zealand has to offer. I was tired and jetlagged after the long journey but overexcited to spend time with some of my favorite people.
Twizel stole my heart right away – it was the prettiest and reminded me a bit of quirky little towns we know from the tv shows, with one main square and everything you need for a living there but nothing more. I pictured it kind of like Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls.
I felt so good that I could have as well spent my time only in Twizel (and I really wanted to do that!) but I knew I’m at the doorstep of spectacular places and I simply couldn’t miss them.
Lake Pukaki – one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see
Twizel is only one hour away from Mount Cook Village, the starting point of Hooker Valley Track – the most incredible Mt Cook hike you can do, right in the heart of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park! But before you get there you pass by Lake Pukaki (be sure to seat on the right side for the most amazing views!) that is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand and I can definitely see why.
On the sunny day the color of the water is just surreally turquoise and serves as a mirror to surrounding mountains and clouds hanging above. At the end of the road the majestic peak of Mt Cook towers above the surroundings, inviting for the spectacular hike with unforgettable views.
Mt Cook hike – walking in the Photoshoped pictures
I’m not much of a hiker. In fact I haven’t done a proper hiking trip in years and I was slightly afraid I will not manage. But numerous sources claimed Mt Cook hike is one of the easiest and best hikes in New Zealand with mind-blowing views. It’s also not too long, some 13kms for a roundtrip from The Hermitage hotel where the bus drops off tourists.
It took me around 4 hours to complete the Mt Cook hike – I bet it can be done faster but it took me ages to look around, take hundreds of photos and admire the incredible views. For most of the time I felt like I’m in a Photoshop and everything around was just too beautiful to be real! I had to pinch myself this is actually happening, I’m doing a Mt Cook hike!
The adrenaline rush
The most exciting part, when I could literally hear the adrenaline buzzing in my ears, was when I had to cross the three suspension bridges. The first one was really stabile and even if I was slightly nervous at first it gave me some confidence – well, these were only the appearances.
Two remaining bridges were really shaky, it took me only few steps to completely lost my groove and somewhere in the middle of both crossings I felt like I’m drunk-walking. I can’t even say I was scared, more like surprised what’s happening here! And again the beautiful views around didn’t help as I was too distracted with them and forgot to fully focus on walking.
But each bridge I passed (6 crossings in total) was easier and easier as eventually I knew what to expect and I found a way to walk swiftly. To be honest those bridges were probably the coolest things during Mt Cook hike! Now looking back in time I remember them as so much fun!
Lunch with the incredible view
The end of the Mt Cook hike is really rewarding (well, just like the whole hike…) Hooker Lake, with icebergs floating, and Mt Cook itself standing proudly right on the opposite shore, makes a perfect scenery for the well deserved rest.
Since it was the lunch time I spent much more time than needed in the area but on the other hand I don’t think I’ve ever eaten in such a beautiful scenery. It was just unforgettable.
While the hike to the Hooker Lake felt a little bit longish at times the way back passed by really quickly – this could be because I didn’t take that many pictures anymore. I was considering hiking to another spectacular place in the area – Kea Point – as well but at that time the whole exhaustion from past days and sleepless nights got me.
I was actually really glad when I returned to the starting point – Hermitage hotel – where I could just sit on the bench and relax with the view over Mt Cook. It was simply amazing.
Mt Cook hike in pictures
Now, with the whole certainty, I can say that New Zealand and especially Mt Cook hike is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I can’t even describe how stunning it was, words can’t do the justice to this scenery. Instead let me just show you couple of pictures from Mt Cook hike so you can see what I mean!
Mt Cook hike – practical information
You can sleep in Mt Cook village – there are four options to choose from, ranging from youth hostel to fancy hotel. Click here to see the details and best deals on Mt Cook village accommodation!
The tourist information is located in Mt Cook village. That’s also where you will be dropped by bus (if you arrive by one). If you have a car the parking lot is some 1km away from Mt Cook Village, even closer to the best part of the hiking trail. The trail is clearly marked all the way to Hooker Lake.
In the Hermitage Hotel you can find a shop with some of the most necessary things.
Entering the Hooker Valley trail is free of charge.
Don’t travel without a travel insurance! I’ve learnt my lesson that you never know what might happen and I don’t leave the house without being insured. Click here for more info and best rates on travel insurance at World Nomads!
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