Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It lies in the Southern Alps range, which runs the length of the West Coast of the South Island. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. The Tasman Glacier and Hooker Glacier flow down its slopes.
Aoraki/Mount Cook from Hooker Glacier
Aoraki/Mount Cook from Mt Cook/Salmon farm road
The mountain is in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The park was formally declared in 1953, and in combination with Westland National Park is one of the United Nations World Heritage Parks. The park contains more than 140 peaks standing over 2,000 m (6,500 ft) and 72 named glaciers, which cover 40% of the park's 700 km² (173,000 acres).
The settlement of Mount Cook Village (also known as The Hermitage) is a tourist centre and base camp for the mountain. It is 7 km from the end of the Tasman Glacier, 12 km south of Aoraki/Mount Cook's summit.
Lake Benmore with Aoraki/Mount Cook in the distance. Popular photo spot for tourists
The alpine village of Mount Cook (also known as The Hermitage), located in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park 7 km from the end of the Tasman Glacier and 12 km south of the Aoraki/Mt Cook summit. It provides a range of accommodation from an international style hotel to motels, backpackers and camping.
Aoraki means "Cloud Piercer" in the Kâi Tahu dialect of the Mâori language. Historically, the Mâori name has been spelt Aorangi in the "canonical" Mâori form.
The first European to see Aoraki/Mount Cook was probably Abel Tasman, during his first Pacific voyage around December 13, 1642.
The English name (Mount Cook) was given by Captain John Lort Stokes and honours Captain James Cook, who first surveyed and circumnavigated the islands of New Zealand in 1770. Captain Cook did not sight the mountain during his exploration.
Following the settlement between Kâi Tahu and the Crown in 1998, the name of the mountain was officially changed from Mount Cook to Aoraki/Mount Cook to incorporate its Mâori name, Aoraki. As part of the settlement, a number of South Island placenames were appended with their Mâori name. Signifying the importance of Aoraki/Mount Cook, it is the only one of these names where the Mâori name precedes the English. Under the settlement the Crown agreed to return title to Aoraki/Mount Cook to Kâi Tahu, who then formally gifted it back to the nation.
The Southern Alps on the South Island are formed by tectonic uplifting and pressure as the Pacific and Australia-Indian plates collide along the island's western coast. The uplifting continues, raising Aoraki/Mount Cook an average of 7 mm (just over a quarter of an inch) each year. However, erosive forces are also powerful shapers of the mountains. The severe weather is due to the mountain's jutting into a trade wind pattern known as the Roaring Forties, which is characterized by powerful winds that run roughly around 45°S latitude, south of both Africa and Australia, so that the Southern Alps are the first obstacle the winds encounter after South America as they blow easterly across the Southern Ocean.
Aoraki/Mount Cook was 10 m (33 ft) higher until approximately 10 million cubic metres of rock and ice fell off the northern peak on 14 December 1991
Map of Aoraki/Mount Cook area
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