The Blue Lakes and Tasman glacier walk is the shortest and easiest walk in Mount Cook National Park. It offers stunning views of the Tasman glacier and Tasman Lake, floating ice bergs and snow capped mountains. This hike is easy to do for everyone and can’t be missed on your New Zealand itinerary. It’s the combination of the stunning reflection in the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier viewpoint that gives you a variety of things to see along this hike. Read in our complete guide everything you need to know about Tasman Glacier walk and the things you can’t miss along this track!
How to get to Tasman glacier viewpoint
Tasman Glacier trail is located in Mount Cook National Park, just outside of Mount Cook village. To get to the trailhead, head to Tasman Valley Road and drive until the end where you will see the Tasman Glacier car park. There is plenty of space to park and a public toilet with an incredible back ground.
Here are several trails signposted. Follow the signs towards Tasman Glacier view to get to the elevated viewpoint. You can also walk to the Tasman river viewpoint which brings you to where the river meets the lake. With the right circumstances, and especially in the early morning with sunrise and around dusk, you can see stunning reflections in the lake.
Best time to hike Tasman glacier viewpoint
To get good views on the surrounding mountain range and especially the Tasman glacier in the far distance it has to be a clear day. But if you’re a photographer or you just like extra magical circumstances, then going with sunrise is the best option.
Another thing to keep in mind if you’re coming to Mount Cook National Park during the day is that it can be busy with day trips. Therefore you should try to start as early as possible. Another important thing to keep in mind is that there is no natural shade along the Glacier view track. So in the summer months it can get really hot and you’ll might want to use sun protection.
Tasman glacier viewpoint hike key facts
Before we dive into the details about Tasman glacier view walk, let’s first have a look at the key facts of the trail.
Tasman glacier view walk time and distance: With only 1.8 kilometers (1.1 mi) return, the Tasman glacier view track is a very easy walk which doesn’t take longer than 40 – 50 minutes to complete. Depending on how long you spend at the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier viewpoint.
Tasman glacier view walk difficulty and incline: There are only a few stairs to climb over 85 meters (280 ft) elevation gain. So yes, there is a little incline but nothing too serious.
About Tasman Glacier New Zealand
The story of Tasman Glacier goes back to the Ice Age about 2 million years ago. While the glacier has advanced and retreated several times, it left behind great moraine deposits and carved out Lake Pukaki. This is the main reason why Lake Pukaki has its phenomenal blue color.
The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s largest glacier with currently about 27 kilometers in length, 4 kilometers width and 600 meters depth at its thickest part. But unfortunately the glacier is retreating every year with 477 to 822 metres (1,565 to 2,697 ft). It is estimated that the Tasman Glacier will eventually disappear and the terminal Tasman Lake will reach a maximum size in 10 to 19 years time.
When you visit Tasman glacier viewpointyou will only see a tiny bit of the glacier. But the views on Tasman glacier lake and the surrounding snow capped peaks are impressive anyway. Tasman glacier viewpointis considered being one of the most beautiful glacier viewpoints in New Zealand and the surroundings make this place much more impressive than Fox glacier viewpoint for example.
What to expect on the Tasman glacier viewpoint hike
From the parking lot it is only a 10 – 15 minute walk up to the viewpoint. There is a public toilet at the start of the trail which has some of the most incredible backdrop views.
The well maintained gravel path is surrounded by tussock grass and easy to follow. The Tasman Glacier walk can be done on sneakers, just make sure to bring a hat or visor on sunny days as there is nowhere natural shade along the trail.
The first sideway you see is going to the Blue Lakes. You can walk this path down to enjoy the serene surroundings. If you’re lucky then no one else is around which makes it a truly magical experience. But further than that there isn’t much to see around. It’s a very short detour so it’s worth it if you’re here anyway! And on a calm day you might see the beautiful reflection of the mountains in this lake.
Tasman Glacier viewpoint
Tasman glacier viewpoint is just a few minutes away from Blue Lakes. While walking up the stairs you have to look around you as the views are getting more and more impressive. Although you don’t climb a lot in elevation, the views are getting incredibly spectacular.
Once you get to Tasman glacier viewpoint the views on Aoraki Mount Cook and the surrounded snow capped peaks are just incredible. You can see Tasman glacier in the far distance, but unfortunately it’s retreated so much that you can only see a tiny bit. I wonder how long it’s still possible to see the Tasman glacier from this viewpoint as the glacier will retreat between 500 and 800 meters per year…
Another point of interest which you can easily combine with the Tasman glacier view track is a visit to Tasman lake. There are actually two viewpoints on Tasman Lake. One that brings you to the departure place for kayaking on Tasman Lake, and another viewpoint that brings you to the source of the Tasman river.
The first spot is signed as ‘Tasman Lake’ and the second spot as ‘ Tasman River’. The last mentioned spot is famous to go for sunrise as you can see stunning reflections in the lake on a calm morning. Icebergs can usually be seen floating in the lake in summer while during the winter months the lake freezes.
Instead of walking between tussock grass on the way to Tasman Glacier viewpoint, the path is now much more rocky. However it’s still easy to follow and with a bit of incline at some parts.
Make sure to keep your eyes open for birds as you can spot some beauties here. I think I captured the Yellowhammer bird which you can see on the pictures below. But I’m not a bird expert, so if you’re reading this and you can tell me what type of bird it is (in case it’s not the Yellowhammer bird), leave it in the comments!
Once you have finished checking out these spots it’s time to go back via the same way as you came from the parking. Because checking out these spots doesn’t take hours, you can easily combine other Mt Cook walks.
The Hooker Valley track is the most famous walk on the South Island and highly recommended. Another great walk is Sealy Tarns track, however that one is much harder than Hooker Valley.
Hooker Valley track
This stunning and easy hike in Mount Cook National Park is something you can’t miss. With incredible views on Mount Cook and Hooker Lake, you will feel completely absorbed by the mountains. The 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) each way takes about 3.5 hours including some photo stops. There is little incline and the path is very well maintained. Crossing the suspension bridges gives that extra ‘adventure’ feeling to this easy but very beautiful hike.
Sealy Tarns track
The Sealy Tarns track climbs 2,200 steps to a stunning viewpoint facing Muller Lake, Mount Cook and Hooker Lake. It’s the same route you take up to Muller Hut which is a much harder hike than the previously discussed hikes. Sealy Tarns is absolutely worth the climb to see the glacier lakes and Mount Cook from a different perspective. The 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles) round trip hike will take you anywhere between 3 to 5 hours to complete. You will come back via the same way as you hiked up. But with these incredible views all around you it will never get boring!
Be insured during your travels!
A slip can happen during hiking before you realize it, and the consequences can be bigger than you want to think of.
We are very happy with SafetyWing and highly recommend getting an insurance with them!
Where to stay near Tasman Glacier viewpoint
Tasman Glacier viewpoint is located in Mount Cook National Park where only a few accommodations are available. In fact, there are only 7 lodging options in Mt Cook National Park and they book up super fast! Especially in the summer months. Therefore it is highly recommended to book your accommodation far in advance to secure a room. Here are our recommendations to stay in Mount Cook National Park.
Another great hotel in Mount Cook village is Aoraki Court Motel. This modern accommodation features great views of the surrounding mountains. All rooms have a patio with mountain views and a fridge with kitchenware. With an average of 9.3 on Booking you know this accommodation is a great choice, so book fast!
The best value for money hotel in Mt Cook National Park is Alpine Lodge. With stunning views on the mountain range and a communal dining area you can prepare your own food and relax at the lounge area with warming fireplace.
If all accommodations in Mount Cook National Park are fully booked, then don’t worry, because you can stay in the nearby town of Twizel. This small town is a 45 minute drive from Mount Cook NP and has more accommodation options and facilities than Mt Cook village. We stayed here for a few nights to explore the different hikes at Mount Cook and were happy to have plenty of restaurant options nearby in Twizel. Check here all Twizel accommodations, availability and prices.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads.
We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car! The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower or not because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
Best tours on the South Island
New Zealand’s South Island is full of adventure, stunning scenery and fun experiences to be made. There are few experiences which are an absolute must when you’re traveling New Zealand’s South Island. Below a summary of the best tours you can book.
An absolute unforgettable experience in New Zealand is a helicopter flight over the highest mountain of the country. During this tour you will glide over Aoraki/Mount Cook and down the Tasman glacier. You will land in pristine snow and walk around to take in the impressive views of the snow capped mountains and glacier. A once in a lifetime experience!
Depart during a morning cruise on a smaller boat that travels outside of peak hours. This will give you prime viewing and more time on the water than other tours. You will listen to the informative commentary from the passionate skippers of Southern Discoveries and enjoy a provided picnic lunch. If you want to, you can include a kayak excursion and paddle Harrison Cove in a small-group. Limited to 8 people you will have a very intimate experience to really take in the immense scale of the bluffs and explore Milford Sound in a unique way.
The lesser known and quieter version of Milford Sound is Doubtful Sound. During this full-day tour you will journey across the clear waters of Lake Manapouri to Doubtful Sound. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife while taking in the scenery. If you’re lucky you might see fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and crested and little blue penguins. You naturalist guide will tell you everything and point out interesting sights.
A Milford Sound scenic flight is the perfect way to see the impressive landscape of Fiordland NP from the air. Depart from Milford Airport and track west along Milford Sound. Climb alongside Bowen Falls and Mitre Peak for some great views of the fiords and its towering peaks. After the 20 minute helicopter flight you will return to Milford base.
Another way to see Fiordland National Park from above is when you booked the scenic fly-cruise-fly tour from Queenstown. You will get a round trip flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound followed by a boat cruise in Milford Sound. Take in the spectacular views of the snow capped mountains of the Southern Alps, remote valleys and waterfalls. During the flight you will have an amazing aerial view of Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls as can be seen on the picture below. This experience will take your breath away and is a must do if your budget allows it. Without a doubt some of the most scenic flights in New Zealand.
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about Tasman Glacier viewpoint in Mount Cook National Park. Make sure to put this awesome little hike on your New Zealand South Island itinerary!
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the South Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides and read more!
Mount Cook National Park
Sealy Tarns track – The Complete Guide