Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

March 2019

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Tuesday

We arrived to Aokari Villge around 3PM and made our way to the Hooker Valley Track, a three hour return to the lake in front of Mt Cook. We could feel hungry starting to emerge so we took a few bits of the burgers before heading out- not the best pre-hiking food but we had to try these burgers! Other than being quite enormous, Fergburger offers so many different varietals of burgers. I ordered the Sweet Bambi (wild fiordland deer, brie cheese, boysenberry and caramelized onion chutney, aioli) and Kevin order the classic Fergburger featuring prime NZ beef.

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Even though they were not hot, these burgers were both amazing and definitely some of the best burgers we have had. My burger was very unique and I just loved the sweet flavors and Kevin said the tomato relish elevated the burger. We were happy to have not missed out on these and experience the fad! I wonder how far a Fergbuger has traveled- most people eat them immediately or munch on them walking around Queenstown. Has a Fergburger traveled farther than Mt Cook?

Excited to start the trail, we got ourselves in proper gear and filled our water bottles up at the base. It took us under an hour and a half to get to the lake, stopping what felt like every several feet to take a new breath-taking photo.

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Three suspension bridges take hikers up and over the river and they are quite shakey with high wind speeds- hold onto your things tight when you cross!

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This was such an enjoyable walk, there is not a way to take a bad photo when nature gives you this as a subject.

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Once we arrived at the lake, we spent some time relaxing here, photographing the landscape and examining the detail of Mt Cook.

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It was a very easy hike – now everything seems easy in comparison to the Tiki Trail- and what a rewarding view it gives visitors. It is easy to understand how crowded this trail can get given those factors. Recommend to either go first thing in the morning before 9AM (what we originally had planned) or go later in the afternoon after 3PM (what we did) to avoid the crowds and get the perfect photo.

After spending over a half hour exploring the lake area, including tasting the water- it was the best water ever- we made our pack to the car park around an hour’s time. Campervans were set up for the evening as well as several tents- I cannot imagine what the sky looks like a night here. Hopefully the clouds will wait until morning.

I checked for accommodations in Aokari Village five months before the trip and everything was booked. If your heart is set on staying in the village and for an affordable price, make sure to book very early. We ended up staying an hour south of Mt Cook right outside of Twizel in a unique space ship Airbnb.

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Very neat experience that even had a sky light for the stars and a window that is perfectly positioned for a view of Mt Cook.

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While we were definitely sad to have missed Mildford Sound, we were happy to have salvaged this part of the trip. The scenery is just incredible. As much planning as one does, can’t control things like the weather but you can control how you handle the situation and compromise on how to make it better.

I originally had a few hikes marked for us to complete so we missed a few things. The Hooker Valley Track we did is the most popular trail at the park for the ease and the rewarding views. The Tasman Glacier Trail is great as it is only a one hour return. There a also many huts you can hike to or even stay in for an immersive experience. It is easy to spend multiple days here exploring! This is definitely a must stop for your New Zealand adventure.

Our Mt Cook Photoshoot!

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