The Guide to Mt Cook for Families© Unsplash
The Guide to Mt Cook for Families

The Travel Guide to Mt Cook for Families [2024]

© Unsplash

Plan a Family Trip to Mt Cook

Home to New Zealand’s highest peaks and longest glaciers, Mt Cook is a worthy detour for families road tripping around the South Island. There’s no better place to lap up the most dramatic of the Southern Alp’s alpine scenery that is even better if you bring the kids along. There are short walks to enjoy, stargazing experiences with cool telescopes and a dome planetarium, and even epic helicopter and ski plane flights should you really want to spoil yourselves. All in all, there’s a lot in Mt Cook for families. The village is small, however, so accommodation needs to be booked quickly no matter what time of year you visit.

Continue reading our family trip-planning advice in this travel guide to Mt Cook for families.

Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids

  • See the Tasman Glacier on the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Track
  • Roam around in the forest on the Governors Bush Walk
  • Take the skies in a helicopter or ski plane (more info on ViatorTripadvisor or Klook)
  • Check out a planetarium and use powerful telescopes on a stargazing tour
  • Whiz around a glacier lake with giant icebergs on a boat tour
  • Check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
  • Relax in a family-friendly restaurant.

For more details on each experience, check out the 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids.

The Guide to Mt Cook for Families© Unsplash

Family Adventure Activities

Get into the adventure spirit of New Zealand and discover the breathtaking landscapes of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park on one of its family-friendly tours.

Tasman Glacier Lake Tours

A good place to start is a boat tour on a glacier lake with Glacier Explorers. On the terminal lake of New Zealand’s largest glacier, you’ll encounter giant icebergs that have broken away from the Tasman Glacier. The tour begins with a 30-minute walk on a gravel track with a steady gradient before embarking on a MAC boat that has been custom-made to navigate the lake. Learn about the interesting formation of the lake and its everchanging nature from your knowledgeable guide. All in all, it’s a pretty special experience to share with your loved ones, as it’s the only accessible glacier lake with icebergs in New Zealand.

Family-Friendly Mt Cook Flights

To see the towering mountains, rivers of ice and dramatic valley landscapes from another perspective, how about a scenic flight? Take the kids to play in the snow atop the Tasman Glacier with INFLITE Experiences (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) and their ski plane tour. Soar over the Tasman Valley and touch down on the upper snowfield of the glacier where you’ll get time to jump out into the snow. Alternatively, kids usually find riding in a helicopter is pretty darn cool, so treat them to a scenic flight with The Helicopter Line (see Viator and Tripadvisor for more details). Their 20-minute trip over the Ben Ohau Range is a good one for those with short attention spans.

Stargazing Tour and Planetarium

Wrap up an epic day in Aoraki Mt Cook with a mesmerising and educational experience with Big Sky Stargazing. Kids love the Dome Planetarium during the first part of the tour where your guides get you orientated with the night’s sky in the Southern Hemisphere. Then it’s over to their secret stargazing spot where you’ll get to observe the night’s sky of an International Dark Sky Reserve using powerful telescopes!

For more family activities, head to the 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids.

The Guide to Mt Cook for Families©

All-Weather Family Activities

Admittedly, most of Mt Cook’s attractions require good weather to be enjoyable and safe, so if you find yourselves stuck in Mt Cook on a rainy day, it could be a good time to relax and do some of the less active experiences.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

A tribute to the New Zealander who was one of the first to summit Mt Everest, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is an interesting museum inside The Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook. Check out the transport, mountaineering and hotel memorabilia and watch educational shows on the 2D and 3D Dome Planetarium cinema.

Family-Friendly Dining in Mt Cook

If all else fails, you can always relax with a bit to eat in Mt Cook. The most family-friendly option is the Old Mountaineers’ Cafe (3 Larch Grove) with crowd-pleasers that even the fussiest kids will enjoy and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the majestic scenery of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

The Guide to Mt Cook for Families© Unsplash

Free Family Activities

Families on a budget will find that the short walks around Mt Cook are a great way to enjoy the scenery for free.

Family Walks in Mt Cook

While the three-hour Hooker Valley Walk is a popular choice, families looking for something better suited to kids are best to venture up the Tasman Valley Road. There, you’ll find the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Track, just a 40-minute return walk to get spectacular views of the Tasman Glacier and its lake full of icebergs.

Branching off the Blue Lakes track, the Tasman Glacier Lake Track is a flat one-hour walk to get another perspective of the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier.

Finally, accessible from Mt Cook Village, the Governors Bush Walk delves into stunning beech forest where kids may be able to spot fantail birds and kea parrots. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

For more walks, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Mt Cook.

More About Mt Cook for Families

That’s it from the travel guide to Mt Cook for families. Get more travel advice that doesn’t necessarily fall under the “family” category but is just as useful in the following guides:

We hope this guide to Mt Cook for families had everything you needed to plan the perfect trip. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families and plan the rest of your South Island road trip using South Island Family Itinerary: One Week or South Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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