Welcome to Mt Cook and South Canterbury
Follow the main road south from Christchurch and the first towns you’ll pass through are Ashburton and Timaru. Head west and you’ll find the unique inland farming towns of Geraldine and Fairlie as the landscape in front of you becomes more engaging and the peaks of the Southern Alps get closer. The jewel in the Southern Alps crown is, of course, NZ’s tallest peak – the 3754m/12315ft Mount Cook. Look out for for your first glimpse from the shores of the turquoise Lake Pukaki. The towns and countryside, from beach to mountains, make up the region known as Aoraki District. Aoraki is a Maori word for Mount Cook, meaning ‘cloud piercer’.
You can visit local galleries or follow Geraldine’s arts trail to view potters, leadlighters, woodturners, painters, sculptors, the medieval mosaic and our famous glass blower. Popular museums include the Vintage Car and Machinery Museum. If you’re into the outdoors, Geraldine is home to rafting (grade 5 - experience recommended), off road tours, horse riding, quad biking and beautiful bush walks, biking and picnic spots. What’s more, it’s just an hour’s drive from no less than eight local ski areas! Pleasant Point Just 20 minutes drive from Geraldine or Temuka, this is a small, friendly township. Highlight is the town’s museum and fully restored and functioning steam locomotive as well as the world’s only Ford Model T railcar. Look out for Pleasant Point family events, such as ‘Friends of Thomas’ or visit anytime and take a ride on the steam train or railcar.
A vibrant town with an Edwardian heart, a mountain backdrop and sweeping beaches. The beachfront has a traditional flavour with promenades, playground and picnic areas, making it an ideal family stop-off. Other activities include dolphin watching cruise, climbing, biking, the South Canterbury Museum with its famous Maori rock art, mini golf and maze.
Lake Tekapo lies in the heart of Mackenzie country, on the Queenstown-Christchurch route. It's on the shore of a breathtakingly beautiful, turqoise lake, just an hour from Mount Cook village, close to ski areas and host to salmon farms, hot pools, ice skating, bike tracks, observatory and lively restaurants.
Aoraki Mount Cook
A 55km (45 minutes) detour off the main highway will bring you to the tiny Mount Cook village – end of the road and at the foothills of Mount Cook, Tasman and Sefton. A highlight is the view of the awe-inspiring, 3754m/12315ft Mount Cook, from the shores of Lake Pukaki as you drive in. There’s accommodation in Mount Cook village, or at Glentanner nearby and plenty of outdoor activity. There are walks galore – from Mount Cook village you can walk just 20 minutes to the Tasman Glacier, or to the shores of its terminal lake, complete with resident icebergs!
You can even take a boat tour to get up close to the icebergs. Other activities are also based around taking in the unique landscape – fly and land on a glacier, or take a 4WD tour and let a local show you the sights. Horse trekking and kayaking are also available. The Hermitage Hotel is home to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the world's greatest explorers, the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region. The Centre's 126-seat custom-designed theatre is the world's only theatre with 2D, 3D and a Digital Dome Planetarium, contained within the same space. In the foyer you'll find our museum showcasing the history of the Mount Cook region through transport, climbing, The Hermitage Hotel and pioneer extraordinaire, Sir Edmund Hillary himself.