Standing at a height of 12,218′ is Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Also known as Aoraki to the Māori, which are New Zealand’s original inhabitants.
I took this image from the well-defined and extremely popular Hooker Valley Track. This is a fairly easy 3 hour total out and back hike to the foot of the Hooker Glacier Lake. The lake itself is a great destination, but this is one of the most scenic and well laid out trails I have ever hiked. It has 3 swinging bridges over glacial streams and gorges. It has these board walks over the swampy fields and reflective tarns (alpine ponds). The entire hike is surrounded by peaks capped with glacial snow. While my wife and I were on this hike we heard two small avalanches high in the mountains above. It was a perfect way to spend the limited time we had in this area.
If you plan to visit the Aoraki area make sure to stay the night as this is a part of the world’s largest dark sky reserve. It is perhaps the best place to see the southern night sky. More on that later.