Central Southern Alps

Majestic Mountains & Stunning Lakes

With soaring peaks, eternal glaciers and permanent snow caps, the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a true alpine environment.

Although a haven for mountain climbers, heli skiers and extreme sports enthusiasts, with 23 peaks over 3000 metres, the national park is accessible and offers something for everyone. The Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, situated beside scenic Lake Pukaki, provides a comfortable mountain base with abundant easy walking trails for the less adventurous, all of which still boast spectacular mountain and glacier views.

Perhaps one of New Zealand’s most scenic areas, the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo are flanked by the high Southern Alps and home to ski fields in the winter, and aquatic activities in the summer. Lake Tekapo is famed for the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, which stands on the shore of the lake. The altar window frames a perfect view of Mount Cook.

Mount Hutt rises above the Canterbury Plains and marks the start of the impressive Southern Alps. Snaking across the plains is the braided upper reaches of the Rakaia River and then the impressive Rakaia Gorge. A quiet town in the summer, the cafes, bars, and restaurants lie relatively dormant until the first snow falls, at which time the town, the closest ski resort town to Christchurch, suddenly comes alive.

Insiders' Tips

  • Follow in the footsteps of Hillary: The famous mountaineer trained on Mt Cook for his assault on Mt Everest. Learn more at The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.
  • Take a Spin around Twizel: The Twizel Frisbee Golf Course starts on Wairepo Road – frisbees and course information/score cards can be found at the Twizel Information Centre.
  • Soak in Tekapo Springs, on the Shores of Beautiful Lake Tekapo: This area features hot pools, a day spa, sauna and a skating rink (ice in winter, inline/roller over summer.
  • Mt Cook National Park: this national park has treks and walks for everyone, from seriously technical mountain climbs to gentle strolling on mountain trails.
  • Lake Tekapo: This is one of the most picturesque lakes in New Zealand. With its charming little church of the Good Shepard, be sure to have your camera handy.
  • Ring of Fire: the Southern Alps is about 30 million years old and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. the range is still uplifting.

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