The Southern Alps are a mountain range that spans almost the whole length of the South Island of New Zealand. The highest peak is Mount Cook. Near Mt Cook, you will find 3 alpine lakes with a distinctive blue colour.
Mt Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3700m. It is named after James Cook, one of the first Europeans to arrive in New Zealand. More recently, the mountain has been appropriately given an alternative Maori name, Aoraki. You can reach the foot of the mountain range by car, then hike the Hooker Valley to get to the base (an easy 3hr return).
The blue lakes
In the vicinity of Mt Cook are 3 alpline lakes, Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. They were formed by receding glaciers and their blue colour is caused by fine particles of glacial rock known as glacial flour.
The night sky is stunning and near Tekapo, there is an observatory. Tekapo is also famous for a small church with a statue of a dog, which has become an instagram favourite in recent years.
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