How To Get Around…

Photo Credit: Juicy Rentals

Renting a Car: This is a MUST while visiting New Zealand, as most of its sights are very spaced out. Be sure to rent/bring a GPS, especially if you won’t have wifi on your phone. For 2 weeks, we rented a car for about $600USD (about $40USD/day). Note: New Zealanders drive on the opposite side of the road as Americans, so this is a BIG adjustment and takes some serious concentration!

RV Rental: Many people rent a camper van/motor home and utilize that as both their transport and accommodation (we’ll be doing this next time!). Juicy Rentals is by far the most popular in town. A standard camper van will cost about $1470 for 2 weeks (around $105USD/day).

Juicy Rentals Website

How To Get There…

You can absolutely take a day trip from Queenstown to Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook/Hooker Valley Trek & Lake Tekapo (Church of the Good Shepherd) then back to Queenstown, but it is a LOT of driving and exhausting. I recommend breaking them into two different days and staying at Mount Cook or Lake Tekapo (Lake Tekapo/Church of the Good Shepherd is in a separate post on the blog).

The recommended itinerary is:

Queenstown to Lake Pukaki: 2.5 hour drive

Lake Pukaki to Tasman Glacier: 30 minute drive

Tasman Glacier to Hooker Valley Track: 10 minute drive

 Note: The drive there is absolutely beautiful, but be SURE to have a full tank of gas and stop along the way when you see any restaurants (or pack food/snacks), because it’s quite desolate (we almost ran out of gas!). The sights are listed in the order in which you’ll drive to them. All sights are free!

Lake Pukaki:

This lake is INSANELY gorgeous and HUGE, totalling 69 square miles. It’s the largest of three lakes (with Tekapo and Ohau) occupying ancient glacial valleys in the Mackenzie Basin and is formed from glacier melt off, which gives it this stunning blue color. You’re drive to Mount Cook will follow along half of this beauty, so be sure to add an extra 30-60 minutes in your drive time to pull over for pics!

Lake Pukaki Info

Tasman Glacier: 

New Zealand’s longest glacier, at almost 17 miles. After parking, the glacier view is a 10-15 minute steep stair climb away (be sure to wear sneakers). Allow 1+ hour time at the glacier for the hike/photos, unless you’re taking the cruise.

Tasman Glacier Info

Glacier Explorers Boat Tour:

You also have the option of taking a boat tour out on the water to explore much more of the glacier itself, but this must be pre-arranged (see link below). The total tour is 2.5 hours and costs $105USD/Adults and $55USD/Children (age 4-14). The minimum age is 4years for the tour.

Glacier Explorers Boat Tour Website

Mount Cook: Hooker Valley Track

This is a MUST do while in New Zealand, especially the lookout point at the end.  It’s the closest any walking track comes to Mount Cook, and  gives epic views of the highest mountain in New Zealand, with Hooker Glacier in the valley below. Allow 3-4+ hours total for the hike. Start at the Visitor Centre or White Horse Hill campground/carpark (at the end of Hooker Valley Rd off State Highway 80).  TIP: Be SURE to bring water, food/snacks, a hat and sunscreen, as there are no shops along the way.

Hooker Valley Trek Info

Where To Stay:

You don’t have a large selection for hotels, as there are only 2 in all of Mount Cook, each running $110USD per night.

The Hermitage:

The Hermitage Hotel Website

Aoraki Court Mount Cook Village:

Aoraki Court Mount Cook Website

For $36 off your first Airbnb booking, click HERE:

What To Eat: 

Old Mountaineers’ Cafe, Bar & Restaurant:

Unique menu with epic views. Get the steak or lamb…you can’t go wrong!

Old Mountaineers’ Restaurant Website

One comment

  1. The view at the top looking down at the Tasman glacial lake is just stunning and you can see the solid blue ice wall at the end of the glacier leading up to the back of Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook. Usually there s a handful of icebergs floating around as well.

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