New Zealand: Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook & Hooker Valley Track

Out of all the places we went in New Zealand, Lake Pukaki would have to be my favorite. I’ve never seen a more massive and beautiful lake. The drive to Tasman Glacier will wind all alongside Lake Pukaki and you’ll have to pull the car over about 150 times to take photos because they get better and better with each turn.

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 and, best of all is that 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

Tasman Glacier- Glacier Explorers Boat Tour:

Photo Credit: https://www.newzealand.com/de/article/what-to-do-in-aoraki-mount-cook-village/

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 4 years 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, so DO NOT turn around until you’ve reached the en!  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 and they both run between $200-$400 a night.

The Hermitage:

The Hermitage Hotel Website

Aoraki Court Mount Cook Village:

Photo Credit: http://www.aorakicourt.co.nz/photo-gallery/

This hotel is MUCH nicer than it looks on the outside. Each room is super modern.

Aoraki Court Mount Cook Website

What To Eat:

Old Mountaineers’ Cafe, Bar & Restaurant:

Photo Credit: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g658483-d1595746-i91806863-Old_Mountaineers_Cafe_Bar_and_Restaurant-Mt_Cook_Village_Aoraki_Mount_Coo.html

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

Old Mountaineers’ Restaurant Website

Check Out Our New Zealand Video!

Australia & New Zealand

Thank you SOOOO much for stopping by! 

XOXO The Traveling Blondie 

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