Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki

See a video of a snow-covered Mount Cook and a calm Lake Pukaki during the late hours of a sunny morning in spring on the South Island of New Zealand.

Where are Mt. Cook and Pukaki?

Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki are located on the South Island of New Zealand not too far from Lake Tekapo.

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Lake Pukaki is located just south of Mount Cook, and both can be seen from State Highway 8 when driving between Tekapo and Twizel.

The best view however is from the Lake Pukaki / Mount Cook lookout at the Information Center just before you reach the turnoff for State Highway 80 to Mount Cook National Park when you are coming from Lake Tekapo, or after the turnoff when you are coming from Twizel.

There is a second lookout called Peters Lookout – not sure if they forgot to add an apostrophe or not as in Peter’s Lookout – that is located on State Highway 80, about 10 km (6 mi) in from State Highway 8, where you can stop and enjoy more views of Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki.

The Lake Pukaki / Mount Cook lookout is a 2.5 to 3 hours drive away from Christchurch. You can reach it by driving from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, and then from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki.

There are several other less scenic routes you can follow to get to Mount Cook, but the one mentioned above is the shortest and most scenic driving route to Mount Cook.

If you are not coming from Christchurch but rather from another city or town on the South Island, you can make use of the South Island driving distances calculator to find out what the distance and driving time would be for the city of your choice.

Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki from Peters Lookout at sunrise in autumn on the South Island of New Zealand

Why visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki?

Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain at a towering 3,754 meters (12,316 ft) and an icon on the South Island of New Zealand, so no visit to New Zealand and in particular to the South Island can be seen as complete without paying Mt. Cook a visit.

Lake Pukaki takes up spot number six on the list of New Zealand’s ten largest lakes. It comes after Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury and before Lake Manapouri in Southland. Lake Pukaki is approximately 169 square km large and has a depth of 70 meters (230 ft).

Lake Pukaki is known for its exceptionally blue color, which it gets from suspended particles in the water.

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These particles which are formed by the grinding of rock as snow melts off the mountains and fills the rivers and lakes.

The color of Lake Pukaki by itself will mesmerize you.

This combined with the majestic view of Mount Cook on a sunny and cloudless day should make your trip to the South Island worth every penny you paid.

When is the best time to visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki?

Because Mount Cook is so high, it often tends to “hide” in the clouds. So any day with little to no clouds or with high clouds (cirrus or altocumulus) would be perfect to visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki.

You can visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki in any season and see snow on the mountain. However, in early spring, late autumn, and winter, the snow on Mount Cook tends to be lower down the mountain than at any other time of the year.

In winter however, you can get bonus views of a snow-covered Ben Ohau Range with Lake Pukaki in the foreground from Hayman Road, which lies west of Lake Pukaki.

Keep in mind, though, that because Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki are located at a higher elevation than, for example, Christchurch, the region can occasionally get snowed-in in winter.

Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki at sunset ont the South Island of New Zealand

Video of scenic views of Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki

The one-minute video of Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook shown below was shot on a beautiful sunny late morning in October (spring in New Zealand).



The following 30-second video was shot from Peters Lookout early in the morning late in April (autumn in New Zealand).

 

Note: Places can change and/or become inaccessible. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.

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