Aoraki / Mount Cook
This 70,696 hectare (174,694 acre) park is located in the central part of the South Island, deep in the Southern Alps. Aoraki / Mt Cook was formally established as a national park in 1953, formed from reserves that were established as early as 1887. In 1851, Captain J. L. Stokes, sailing down the West Coast, gave the mountain its European name, Mt Cook, in honour of the English navigator Captain James Cook.
Here are the highest mountains and the largest glaciers in New Zealand. Glaciers cover 40% of the park. The park encompasses 65 km (40 mi) of the Southern Alps and has the longest glacier in New Zealand. The mountains are seen as ancestors by the Tangata Whenua – the Ngai Tahu people. Aoraki is sacred above all, and Maori do not believe that it is appropriate to climb onto it. There is virtually no forest in the park. Instead, it is covered with the beautiful alpine plants.