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#1 Where to Stay
When in the Mount Cook region you have 2 options: you can stay in the Department of Conservation Campground (White Horse) for under NZD10.00 per person per night. This is a very basic service, but does have running water and toilets.
The other option is to stay at Glentanner Park Centre – Mount Cook’s only powered sites, and fully equipped campground. Prices start from NZD16.50 per person (add $2 per person for power).This includes hot showers, toilets, kitchen, dining area, TV lounge with Sky TV, laundry, a fantastic indoor/outdoor BBQ Pavilion with gas provided and panoramic views of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mt Cook National Park. Glentanner Park Centre also has a licensed café, information centre, merino retail and souvenir shop, and a helicopter flight desk.
For the added 'kiwi experience' Glentanner Park is set amongst a working high country sheep station.
If the weather is perfect, and you don’t mind not having facilities, then the DOC camping ground is fine and has beautiful views too, otherwise I highly recommend staying at Glentanner Park Centre. Please note that the DOC campground is often closed during the winter due to snow conditions.
Hint: Glentanner Park Centre is 22km before Mt Cook Village, so don’t miss it on your way past!
Photo above: Level Campervan sites with power, shelter and majestic views of Aoraki Mount Cook
#2 Where to Eat
There are lots of options in the Summer Months. In Mt Cook Village are the Hermitage Hotels Panorama room for fine dining and The Alpine Room for a large buffet. You can also have organic food at The Old Mountaineers and a good large cheap meal at The Chamois Bar and Grill. Please note the Glentanner Park Centre Cafe is currently not open - it will be opening up again in October 2013.
If you are travelling during the winter months then options are more limited with The Panorama Room, The Old Mountaineers and The Chamois Bar and Grill.
Hint: If staying at Glentanner Park Centre (especially in the summer) then a BBQ is a great option. The indoor/outdoor BBQ pavilion is designed especially to show off Aoraki Mount Cook, and gas is provided.
Photo above: The BBQ Pavilion at Glentanner Park Centre and the Glentanner Park Licensed Cafe
#3 Do your Groceries before you come!
If you don’t plan on eating out for every meal, or are travelling during the winter, then you must stock up before you come. A limited amount of packet and canned food is available at Glentanner Park Centre and The Hermitage Hotel, but this is of course expensive and designed for those that are ‘caught short’.
If coming from the South then you best option is to stop at Mackenzie Four Square in Twizel. If coming form the North then stop at Tekapo Services or Fairlie Four Square – if not before.
#4 Where to fill up with Petrol
Before you turn off onto State Highway 8 you must have adequate petrol to get you in and out again! There is petrol available in Mt Cook Village but it is very expensive! To use this you will need either a New Zealand EFTPOS card or a credit card with a pin.
As with groceries, to save money then fill up in Twizel or Tekapo. Mt Cook village is over 60km from Twizel and over 100km from Tekapo. Glentanner Park Centre is 40km from Twizel and 80km from Tekapo.
Hint: If you are staying at Glentanner Park Centre you will do at least one trip to Mt Cook Village and back so make sure you have enough petrol for this. Glentanner Park is 22km from Mt Cook Village
#5 Things to Do
The Mount Cook region is famous not only for the awe-inspiring scenery but for the fantastic outdoor activities! The walks are phenomenal (see #6) and the adventures unforgettable.
Top 3 Activities:
#1 A Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
The best way to see the mountains and amazing scenery is most certainly by Helicopter. There are 3 flight options depending on your budget. All take you up to the mountains where you have a snow landing, and the knowledgeable pilots point out all the famous geological formations. These flights leave from Glentanner Park Centre, and fly on demand all year round (they are of course weather dependent).
#2 Glacier Explorers Boat Trip
This fantastic trip provides great information on the Mount Cook region and includes a short walk to the ‘Tasman Terminal Lake’. On this trip you touch icebergs and learn about how they are carved off the glacier.
#3 Glentanner Horse Trekking
Glentanner offers guided scenic horse treks on a high country sheep station. This is suitable for beginners to advanced, and is a great way to enjoy the regions glory. Please note that you must be over the age of 10 and under 100kgs to take part.
Photos above: Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing, Glacier Boat Trip and Glentanner Horse Trekking
#6 Aoraki Mt Cook National Park Walks and Hikes
There are many different walks in Mt Cook National Park that vary in degree of difficulty and length, from half hour walks on wooden paths to alpine hikes that take days!
I recommend the Hooker Valley Track for everyone. It is beautiful, varied and takes you across 2 swing bridges. On the way you can view the Mueller Lake, and at the end of the track is the Hooker Lake which is picturesque with floating icebergs and Aoraki Mount Cook as the back drop. You may also hear avalanches rumble on Mt Sefton (New Zealand’s 3rd highest peak).
More challenging is the Sealy Tarns which takes 3 to 4 hours (return) and offers breath-taking views of Aoraki Mount Cook. From the top of the Sealy Tarns you can take the ‘alpine route’ (ie. not track) to the Mueller Hut (2 hours), from the Mueller Hut you can also scramble up rocks to Mt Ollivier (30mins). If you are going on a long walk or hike please state your intentions at the Department of Conservation, and if you plan on staying at Mueller hut then book ahead.
The Red Tarns is also a local favourite.
Hint: The weather in the mountains is very changeable so be prepared for everything regardless of the forecast.
To download a Mt Cook Village walking map visit http://www.glentanner.co.nz/mt-cook-activities/walks
Photo above: The Hooker Valley Track
#7 In Case of Unpleasant Weather
Firstly, if the weather is not as desired then definitely stay at Glentanner Park Centre. It is sheltered, you will have power and the weather is much better! Glentanner gets half the annual rainfall of Mt Cook Village.
Secondly, all is not lost! The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre and The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre provide you with entertainment and a great learning experience. All sorts of information on the history, culture, animal, bird and plant life etc of the Mt Cook region. These are also highly recommended even in good weather, if time permits.
Hint: The Mount Cook 3D Movie at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is fantastic
#8 How long to stay in the Mt Cook region
I recommend 2 to 3 nights. Of course it depends on how long you have in the South Island (make it as long as possible!), but if you can make it 2 to 3 – this will enable you to fit in all the ‘must do’s’ of the region, while allowing you to relax a bit, do some walks and hikes and simply take in the world renown scenery. Of course if you stay longer than this you won’t be disappointed!
#9 Dump Stations
Back to some house keeping! There is no dump station at Glentanner Park Centre, but the DOC campground has one for all to use. Aside from Mt Cook the nearest dump stations are at the Shell in Twizel (South) and at the Holiday Park in Tekapo (North)
#10 How to see the Aoraki Mount Cook Sunset
The famous Mount Cook sunset can be enjoyed from both Mt Cook Village and Glentanner Park Centre. To ensure you ‘see it’, the sun sets around 9pm in the summer and 5 to 5.30pm in the winter (very approximate!)
Check out this video from Scenery Station of the Glentanner Sunset – taken in autumn at around 5.30pm http://www.youtube.com/user/scenerystation?blend=18&ob=5
To book your Mount Cook Campervan experience, please visit www.glentanner.co.nz or email email@example.com.
I hope this article has been helpful. Please leave any comments and let me know if there are things you would like me to add. See you in the high country!
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