10 autumn must-dos in the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie Region

The rich golden autumnal landscapes flanked by the striking powder blue canals and mountainous backdrop make the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region a must.

The rich golden autumnal landscapes flanked by the striking powder blue canals and mountainous backdrop make the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region a must visit in this picturesque season. We asked the locals what they loved to do in autumn. These are their top 10 picks.

1. Enjoy a brisk walk up Mt John. Savour the spectacular panorama over Lake Tekapo and the mountains beyond and grab a coffee at what Lonely Planet describes as “possibly the best place on the planet for a coffee”. The Mt John Summit Track begins on Lakeside Drive near the main township of Lake Tekapo and takes 30-45 minutes each way.

2. Pick a starting point and cycle a section of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. Boarded by the lake and mountains with views capturing the rich vibrancy of autumn. This cycle trail is the perfect way to capture the essence of the Mackenzie region.

3. Take in the clearest skies and darkest nights soaking in an outdoor hot pool at Tekapo Springs. With pool temperatures ranging from 36 – 40 degrees Celsius, it’s the perfect place to relax and breathe in the fresh alpine air. Then be guided through the galaxies on an evening star gazing tour. Experience the largest International Dark Sky Reserve with Earth & Sky based in Lake Tekapo or The Hermitage at Aoraki Mount Cook.

4. Nothing sums up autumn better than fly fishing at sunrise. Capture the sun’s first rays dancing over the ripples of the mountain fed streams at the top of Lake Tekapo or Lake Pukaki. Breathe the fresh alpine air as you net your first catch.

5. Hike up the Hooker Valley to the Hooker Glacier Lake and enjoy grand views of Aoraki/Mt Cook. The track begins at Whitehorse Hill camping ground near Mt Cook Village. After a four hour round trip relax and enjoy a cool drink at The Hermitage.

6. Head to the annual Lake Tekapo New Zealand made Fete, hosted in the stunning grounds of Mt John Homestead. The stalls are filled with locally-made furniture, jewellery, children’s wear, toys, gifts and much more. Combined with great food and entertainment, it’s the perfect family day out

7. Pack a picnic and relax lakeside in the afternoon sun at the Lake Tekapo Regional Park. 

8. Get a group together and spend a Thursday evening climbing at the Twizel indoor climbing wall.  After climbing enjoy a craft beer or glass of wine at the Twizel central marketplace.

9. Autumn's a great time for bird-watching in the Mackenzie region. There are many species of birds to view at this time of year, feasting on autumn seed heads.

10. Enjoy the weather!  The predominately settled weather of autumn provides crisp clear mornings, high sunshine hours and little wind. This is the season for outdoor lovers to make the most of Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region’s huge landscapes and dramatic scenery.

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