Luxury Tours in Aoraki Mt Cook
Get ready to see the tallest mountains and longest glaciers, those that make up the sort of scenery on your New Zealand bucket list, in the most glorious ways. Ski planes, helicopters and passionate mountaineering guides get you higher into the commanding landscapes of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, while the nearby luxury lodges, well, they’ll show you how to relax with soothing spa treatments afterwards. Start curating your dream Mt Cook itinerary with these luxury experiences in Mt Cook.
1. Land on the Tasman Glacier in a Ski Plane
An all encapsulating scenic experience awaits on the scenic flights available in Mt Cook. INFLITE Experiences offers an array of ski plane and helicopter tours, either flying alongside Aoraki Mt Cook and landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier in a ski plane or circling the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park in a helicopter. If you have a go-big-or-go-home mantra, however, you might be more interested in both in what’s called “The Ultimate Alpine Experience“.
Location: Mt Cook Airport, Mt Cook Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
2. Soar the Skies in the Helicopter
If you want to see the stunning Southern Alps and its glaciers without having to drive all the way to Mt Cook Village, then one of your best options is a helicopter excursion with The Helicopter Line in Glentanner. Take off from the shores of the vibrant Lake Pukaki and circle Aoraki Mt Cook to see the three most famous glaciers in New Zealand – Franz Josef, Fox and Tasman. This 50-minute excursion (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday) is the most comprehensive, but there is an alternative 35-minute flight (on Viator and Tripadvisor). We also recommend this in our 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids.
Location: Glentanner Park, approximately 22km (14 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
3. Feel the Adrenaline on a Scenic Skydive
Another way to hit the skies is to combine a scenic flight with a must-do for adrenaline-seekers in New Zealand, skydiving! Departing from Pukaki Airport, your flight with Skydive Mt. Cook ascends to 9,000ft, 13,000ft and even as high as 15,000ft before you take the leap with your professional tandem master for the jump of your life. After a thrilling freefall, your tandem master will release the parachute where you’ll then have the opportunity to soak it all in; the vibrant blue waters of Lake Pukaki and the backdrop of Aoraki Mt Cook and the snowcapped Southern Alps.
Location: 2 Swallow Drive, Pukaki, approximately 61km (38 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
4. Do a Heli-Hike on New Zealand’s Longest Glacier
Despite the Tasman Glacier being the longest in New Zealand, it’s actually a hidden gem when it comes to glacier heli-hiking. Franz Josef and Fox Glacier take all the limelight on the other side of the Southern Alps but the Tasman Glacier offers an alternative glacier experience with smaller tour groups exploring the ice caves, tunnels and other formations of this ever-changing river of ice. Heli-hikes are available with Mt Cook Glacier Guiding (INFLITE Experiences) and The Helicopter Line (on KKday and Tripadvisor).
Location: Both depart from the Mt Cook Airport, Mt Cook Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
5. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
A rainy day in Mt Cook means a spa day, especially as most activities are cancelled in bad weather. Join one of the luxury lodges, like Lakestone Lodge, for their massage therapy treatments amidst their soothing Therapy Room. Guests staying in the Ashley Mackenzie Villa of Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat have access to their own private spa complete with a sauna, massage room, fitness room and an outdoor hot tub with glorious lake views. For more rainy day inspiration, take a look at the 6 Things to Do in Mt Cook on a Rainy Day.
Location: Lakestone Lodge – 4589 Tekapo-Twizel Road, Lake Pukaki, approximately 59km (37 miles) from Mt Cook Village. Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat – 86 Mt Cook Road, Lake Pukaki, approximately 53km (33 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
6. Do a Guided Hike in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
Don’t just see a place, get a deeper understanding of it on a guided hike. Ultimate Hikes at The Hermitage Hotel offer two mesmerising guided hiking tours, where their passionate and knowledgeable guides tell you about the unique flora and fauna seen along the way that most hikers miss. Either enjoy an easy-going walk on the Hooker Valley Track or do the more adventurous Mcnulty’s Tarns Track leading to mirror-like alpine tarns. Your guides also provide tea, coffee and a packed lunch for full-day walks. Learn more about Mt Cooks walks in the 10 Must-Do Hikes Around Mt Cook.
Location: Pick-ups available from Mt Cook Village accommodation.
7. Go on a Guided Climbing or Mountaineering Excursion
Turn the adventure level up a notch and experience the alpine landscape in a more traditional way with Alpine Guides. Scale the famous rock climbing and mountaineering peaks of the national park, like Malte Brun, the Hochstetter Dome and Mt Wakefield in one of the full-day and multi-day expeditions. They have options for all abilities and include all of the gear.
Location: 81 Bowen Drive, Mt Cook Village.
8. Do Some Epic Backcountry Skiing
During the winter season (July to September), the ski season is on across the country, but nowhere is as blissfully uncrowded yet accessible as the backcountry slopes of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. Alpine Guides, along with INFLITE Experiences‘ ski plane or The Helicopter Line‘s helicopter, offer access to fresh and untouched powder among New Zealand’s highest peaks. Lunch is included in the experience and there are always options to do more runs if you can’t get enough!
Location: Either from Mt Cook Airport, Mt Cook Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Mt Cook Village, or Glentanner Park, approximately 22km (14 miles) from Mt Cook Village.
9. Tackle the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Aoraki Mt Cook also marks the start of the 300km (190-mile) Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, a premium multi-day bike trail from the slopes of Aoraki Mt Cook to the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Oamaru. While the whole trail is an inspiring and rewarding journey, you can simply soak in some of the best trail scenery on a day ride instead. The first part of the trail begins at the White Horse Hill Campground and includes crossing the Tasman River via helicopter, provided by operators at the Mt Cook Airport. Then it’s 11km (9 miles) of off-road cycling until you meet the quiet Hayman Road alongside the vibrant waters of Lake Pukaki. Bike hire and shuttles can be organised with The Jollie Biker in Twizel. Learn more about organising a mountain biking trip using Mountain Biking in New Zealand: A Complete Guide.
Location: The start of the trail starts at White Horse Hill Campground, end of Hooker Valley Road, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Mt Cook Village. The Jollie Biker offer pick-ups from local accommodations.
10. Indulge in Some New Zealand Cuisine with a View
Welcome to some of the most striking scenery-absorbing architecture you’ll experience at a New Zealand restaurant! Mt Cook’s restaurants and cafes all capture the commanding scenery of Aoraki Mt Cook and the surrounding Southern Alps with grand floor-to-ceiling windows being a staple. None quite capture the views quite like The Panorama Restaurant of The Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook, with panoramic windows encircling a large dining room. Enjoy beautifully-presented plates of seasonal dishes made from fresh local ingredients. Booking is essential.
Location: The Hermitage Hotel, 89 Terrace Road, Mt Cook Village.
More Luxury Experiences in Mt Cook
That’s it for the best luxury experiences in Mt Cook. For more experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “luxury” category but are just as good, check out the following guides:
- 10 Romantic Activities in Mt Cook for Couples
- 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids
- 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Mt Cook
- 10 Unmissable Things to Do in Mt Cook
Finally, find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.