Touching Icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Boat Trip
Experience New Zealand’s only glacier boat tour
Just a few hours aways, the drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook is an incredible drive with the type of scenery you conjure up in your mind when thinking about New Zealand. You'll pass by the stunning lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki and towering mountain peaks before reaching Mount Cook Village.
The 700sqkm national park is the location for all but one of New Zealand's 20 highest peaks, including the highest and eponymous Aoraki/Mount Cook. Together with the neighbouring Westland Tai Poutini National Park, it forms the Te Wahipounamu South Westland World Heritage Site.
The Tasman Glacier
The Tasman Glacier is unquestionably one of the great wonders of the Kiwi landscape. Carving a deep cleft between New Zealand's two highest mountains, it's the longest glacier in the country spanning more than 25 kilometres through the midst of the Southern Alps.
With colossal Aoraki (at a breathless 3,724 meters above sea level) looming on one side and the eponymous Mount Tasman (a formidable 3,497 meters up) arching its rock-ribbed granite backbone on the other, this shifting, forever re-shaping sheet of ice crashes down to the lower valleys of the Mount Cook National Park.
The Glacier Boat Tour
Those heading for the Mount Cook National Park between September and June May can explore the Tasman Terminal Lake aboard specialised MAC boats. This 'bucket list' trip sees you cruise across the Tasman Glacial Lake and its ice cold waters as you weave between the towering icebergs high above, while learning about the history of the region.
During the trip you will be able to reach out and touch the 300-year old ice that is a continual reminder that over 90% of this incredible natural wonder, is below the surface of the lake.
Along with commentary on how glaciers and icebergs are formed, your guide will offer insight on plate tectonics, mountain climbing in the area, and the area's beautiful flora and fauna.
Need To Know:
- The boat trips depart by coach from the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook Village.
- The boat trips take place during September to June only.
- The boats trips are weather dependent, so the tours can be cancelled when the weather is not playing ball. An alternative cruise time or, full refund is offered under such circumstances.
- The icebergs on the lake are as a result of glacial calving activity so at times the size and quantity of icebergs on the lake vary.
- The trips include an initial 1.5km walk which needs to take around 25 minutes to ensure the trips can run on schedule. A relative amount of mobilty / fitness is required.
- Bring layers of clothing as you are in a mountainous region exploring a glacial lake!
- Bring sunblock & sunglasses
- Bring a waterproof jacket (& trousers if you have them)
- Bring suitable hiking shoes (trainers at the minimum)
Where To Stay:
There are a number of hotel and motels in Mount Cook Village. The main hotel (and where all the activities can be booked) is the Hermitage Hotel which offer a higher value stay and features restaurant, bar, planetarium, musuem and more. Another good option we recommend (which we have stayed in) is the Aoraki Cook Motel that has clean , modern rooms with great mountain views.
Further out from the village (22km) and a lower budget option is Glentanner Park which offers budget accommodation and camping along with a large range of outdoor activities. The White Horse Hill campground (3km from village) has over 60 non-powered camping spaces. White Horse Hill conservation campsite: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Canterbury region (doc.govt.nz)
The nearest towns to Mount Cook Village are Twizel and Tekapo which have budget to luxury accommodation options and are good bases to explore Mount Cook. They both have more restaurants, bars, shops than Mount Cook Village.
The prices (as of March 2022) are NZD$149 for an adult and NZD$75 for children.
Visit the Hermitage website to book a trip and get the latest pricing information.
- Photo Gallery - view more photos of the boat tour and Mount Cook in the below gallery.
- Read our Mount Cook Guide
- Read our Tekapo guide
- Read our Twizel Guide
Discover More Christchurch Activities:
Check our Christchurch Experiences to find out the best activities and take advantage of the best prices.