Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook © C.M. Lynch
Mount Cook National Park is known for its exquisite alpine beauty and is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook. Its Maori name, 'Aoraki' means 'cloud piercer' and at 12,218 feet (3,724m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snow and the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions. Glacial melt gives the lakes their beautiful milky, turquoise colour and there are many walks in the area to take in the dramatic beauty. Mount Cook has always been the focus of climbing and mountaineering, most notably the expeditions of Sir Edmund Hillary, who went on to be the first man to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.