The national park is situated in the Southern Alps, in the central region of the South Island. Twizel is the nearest town to the park on State Highway 8, the road from Christchurch to Queenstown. Mt. Cook village lies within the park's boundary.
The park is home to the great mountains of the Southern Alps with 19 peaks over 3,000 metres high. The highest is Mt. Cook/Aoraki, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Due to the park's natural values it is part of Te Waipounamu, the South Westland World Heritage Area.
The park is mainly ice and rock with little forest. However this means the park is full of beautiful alpine plants including the Mount Cook buttercup, mountain daisies and spaniard or spear grass. One of New Zealand's rarest birds, the black stilt (kaki) lives near the Tasman River.
There is an abundance of tramping tracks and huts within the park. The tracks vary from short walks through alpine meadows, to multi day alpine crossings only for experienced trampers. Mueller Hut is a popular location and fit hikers can get there and back from Mt. Cook village in a day. The hut provides a spectacular 360 degree view of the national park.
Mountaineering is also popular, however the peaks in the park should only be attempted by experienced climbers.
There is a mountain bike route from the village to the old Ball Hut site, a trip of 34 km, taking 3 to 5 hours.
A great way to see the park is on a scenic flight. These leave regularly from the Aoraki Mt. Cook airport.
Mt Cook village provides a full range of accommodation from backpackers to luxury housing.
Day trip or overnight stay at Mueller Hut.
For experienced trampers the Ball Pass Crossing, a three day hike crossing the Mount Cook Range between the Tasman and Hooker valleys.