New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook (Aoraki in Maori, meaning ‘cloud piercer’) towers 3754 metres into the sky and provides a stunning backdrop to the beautiful Mt Cook National Park in the centre of the South Island.
Declared a World Heritage park in 1986, it sits within the Mackenzie Basin and boasts over thirty 3,000 metre-high peaks, which make up the Southern Alps. It also has five of New Zealand’s largest glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier at 21km in length. Scenic flights over the park provide unparalleled views of this spectacular spot.
The Mt Cook Alpine Village is inside the National Park and here The Hermitage Hotel offers a luxurious space in which to relax and soak up the atmosphere and the views.Read More..
The region is also renowned for its clear, starry nights and in June 2012 it was designated a Dark Sky Reserve, recognizing the clarity of the skies in the Mackenzie Basin. It is the first Dark Sky Reserve in the southern hemisphere and the world’s largest, encompassing a 4300 sq km area.
Travelling south from Mt Cook you’ll journey through the distinctive tawny tussock land of the Mackenzie Country, past the vivid blue glacier-fed Lake Tekapo, massive hydro-dams and onwards through the township of Cromwell, known as “The Fruit Bowl of the South” – keep an eye out for the giant fruit at its entrance!
From Cromwell it’s just a short drive to the world-renowned tourist destination of Queenstown, a four seasons alpine and lake resort with a wide variety of things to see and do, making it perfect for adventurers and leisure seekers alike. From bungy jumping to wine tasting, Lord of the Rings film locations to historic gold mining towns and heart-stopping jet boating on the Shotover River, there is something to whet every appetite.
Renowned as a four seasons alpine and lake resort, Queenstown draws visitors from around the world thanks to its proximity to a host of adventure and leisure activities. Queenstown itself is home to boutique shops and a wide variety of bars and restaurants, making it a great spot to relax and spend time.
It is the home of the world’s first commercial bungy jump at the historic Kawarau Bridge, where daring participants launch themselves into the air from 43 metres above the Kawarau River.
You can keep your adrenalin levels high with a jet boat trip on the Shotover River where the dramatically narrow canyons and high speed ride will take your breath away.
Movie buffs will want to visit the Kawarau Gorge, where scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed and which offers great photo opportunities.
Queenstown is located in the Central Otago wine region, where some of New Zealand’s best wines are made, particularly Pinot Noir. The award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery just outside Queenstown is a must-see for a wine tasting and to sample their excellent cheeses.
In the little township of Arrowtown, just 20 minutes from Queenstown, you’ll feel you have stepped back in time to the 1860s when this historic goldmining spot was booming. It is now home to historical sites, boutique shops, galleries and restaurants, and has three skifields close by. Close..
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