Mount Cook - Mackenzie, New Zealand
The drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook has some very scenic areas but it can also be long and boring. The road covers the Canterbury Plains which is very flat farm land. Once you start reaching the Southern Alps, the scenery improves dramatically. Coming into the Mount Cook area, by way of Tekapo and Pukaki however is spectacular. Many people fly into Mount Cook rather than drive. This is a personal choice, my suggestion is to fly.
This area is called the Southern Alps with the highest peak being Mount Cook. If the weather is good, which is seldom, you can fly up into the mountain and land on a glacier. The flight is really spectacular. Often the routing will fly over the range to the ocean on the other side and you can see the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. This is expensive but really worth it if you happen to be at Mount Cook on a pretty day.
The entire base of Mount Cook has changed drastically over the last ten years. At one time, the only hotel was called The Hermitage. The lounge area has a window with a a view that is breathtaking. Over the years, additional motels, hostels, and hotels have sprung up everywhere, so now it is called Mount Cook Village.
You will still hear New Zealanders saying are you going to the Hermitage, rather than are you going to Mount Cook. You should go into the Hermitage even if you are not staying there and check out this famous old hotel.
The area around Mount Cook has numerous walking and hiking trails. The mountains have many hiker’s huts that people can use who are doing extended walks in the area.