• Join us on
5

The more than 700 km2 big National Park is a hikers and photographers' dream. You get blown away in this beautiful scenery.

Mount Cook - Aoraki in Maori, one of the most famous places in New Zealand is exceptional in all types of weather. It is the highest mountain of NZ at a height of 3.724 m/12217 ft. The summiz of Mount Cook is covered in snow the entire year. Forty percent of the National Park is covered by the largest glaciers. Nineteen of the peaks are more than 3.000 m high. This park has lots of superlatives.

Read our season guide below, our advice why Aoraki/Mount Cook is worth visiting and our 5 Amazing Must-Do Walks and Hikes as well as our 9 Tips for Mount Cook

Weather and Crowds Mount Cook

Mount Cook view from Hooker Lake

Rain and snow can occur throughout the year; however; the summer is the sunniest time. The weather is changing quickly in the South Alps of NZ. So even if the forecast is excellent be prepared for strong winds, rain, and snow. The mentioned temps for each season are for Mount Cook Village on 760 m elevations.

Spring (September - November)

Mount Cook during spring view from Hooker Lake

In spring the Mount Cook Village can still experience minus degrees in the night and day temps are pleasant on average between 15-18°C degrees. Nowadays, with climate change temps in the high 20 can occur. Rain is increasing; showers are likely to happen, but it doesn’t mean it’s raining the entire day.

Summer (December - February)

Aoraki - Mount Cook in summer view from Sealy Tarns Track

December and January are the wettest and warmest months of the year. Rain is already decreasing in February. During summer day temps are on average around 20°C degrees. On a clear and sunny day, temps can climb up to 35°C. Night temps are on average around 10°C. Summer is the busiest time of the year. The limited accommodation options are usually fully booked far in advance.

Autumn (March - May)

Mount Cook during fall - view from the Hooker Valley

There is less precipitation during autumn. March is still pleasant with day temps around 20°C on average. It gets colder in April and May with day temps around 15°C but one-digit temps can occur as well. Nights are cold, and minus degrees can happen. It’ a little quieter already and again packed with tourists during Easter. We spent three nights here on Easter and experienced all-weather; blue sunny skies, rain, snow, and hail on the day we left.

Winter (June - August)

Mount Cook - Aoraki covered in snow during winter

It’s chilly here during winter on average 10°C and colder, however, 20° C can happen but that’s rare to experience. Nights are pretty cold, especially if you plan to camp. Expect minus degrees during the night. Some huts and trails on higher elevation may be closed but the most popular ones are less busy.

Exact weather forecast for Mount Cook

Accommodations and Camping in the Aoraki – Mount Cook National Park

Campground in the 'Aoraki - Mount Cook Village

Mount Cook village is easy to reach but there is just one long road leading along Lake Pukaki to the village and out. If you don’t stay in the village it is quite a journey. You need at least three hours from Queenstown and four from Christchurch. There are very few accommodations the reason that advanced booking is utterly necessary throughout the year. Lodges, Chalet, and Motel for Aoraki (Bookmark the Link for price guarantee at booking.com). Stay at least 3 better 4 days in case of poor weather. The weather can change very quickly here in the NZ Alps. We experienced sunny blue skies, rain, hail, and, snow on our last day-

The doc campground is huge - 60 non-powered sites. You can pitch your tent wherever you want. It's first come first serve. There is one public shelter for cooking which is quite small in the peak season during rain or hail. Hot showers are only at the village available. However, nights are cold; temps can drop below zero. I know what I am talking about. The price is $15 per adult and children half.

Hiking
NZ New Zealand
4.42857

Located in Westland National Park, this is one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural attractions. 12 km long, 7000 years old.

The glacier is open year-round. The best time to visit Franz Josef depends on what you’re looking for. Mild temperatures? Ice highlights? Fewer Crowds? Read on for our detailed ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips below. In addition, make sure to check our complete season guide and must-know tips for the breathtaking heli tours!

  1. Season Guide | Monthly Weather - Busy Times
  2. Avoiding Tourist Crowds | Time of Day
  3. Helicopter Tours | 2 Types (Recommended!)
  4. Hotel Tips | + Hotel Deals with Low Price Guarantee
  5. Walks and Hikes (Main Hike, Treks, Valley Walk)
  6. 10 Must-Know Tips | + Things to Do


Special Tip: Planning to visit Milford Sound as well?  Check out our detailed guide with many tips: 7 Tips for Milford Sound| A Complete Guide Link to our article.  If you need  tips about combining Queenstown - Milford Sound and Franz Josef Glacier, read this TripAdvisor Post: How to combine Queenstown - Milford - Franz Josef — TripAdvisor. If you're looking for a New Zealand guide book. This is our tip: Fodor's New Zealand (via Amazon)

 
Seasons | Weather - Busy Times 

In general, the weather is highly unpredictable in this region, regardless of the season. Within one day it can change radically. Always bring rain gear, despite a sunny weather forecast. The Franz Josef town experiences more than 5 liters of rain each year and 10-15 meters of snow at the top of the glacier. However, in the winter it’s more stable.

Winter (June - August)
Temperatures are low: 5 – 15°C (41-57°F), but the weather is more stable than during other seasons. Winter has the clearest days; everything is clean and pristine. Highlight: The ice moves less in winter, resulting in amazing ice features like crevasses and ice caves which stay much longer. There are significantly fewer tourists, and it’s a lot quieter than in summer months.

Spring (September - November)
Temperatures are rising: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). September is still quiet but also still a cool month with 6-13°C. October gets a little more busy and warmer. November is already peak season which means it gets crowded during the day.

 

Summer (December - February)
Mild daytime temperatures between 12 and 25°C (53-77°F). Great for exploring. However, the weather is very unpredictable and can quickly change from sun to heavy rainfall which can last for hours or a whole day. It’s also the very busy peak season: Starting in November (spring) and lasting until March with up to 2700 tourists each day. Be prepared for crowded tracks and photo spots.

Autmn (March - May)
Temperatures continue to be pleasant: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). However, be prepared for rain like in the summer. In March it’s still busy. The heavy crowds start to dissipate during April and thin out even more in May.

 
Avoiding Tourist Crowds | Time of Day

It’s usually very busy and crowded in high season between November and March with one million visitors each year. Especially if you want to take the popular 45 minutes walk to the glacier (90 minutes round trip). Although there is plenty of parking space, it fills up pretty quickly by mid-morning. In peak season it can become quite difficult to find a parking spot after 10 AM. The main track itself gets crowded as well, although it thins out a little as you near the glacier. When parts of the track are closed during or after heavy rainfall, it feels even more crowded. Moreover, the helicopter sightseeing and hiking flights start at 8 AM making a lot of noise. Expect one helicopter each minute during the peak season. To dodge the crowds and avoid the disturbing helicopter noise be there early around 7 AM. You’ll experience a much more peaceful walk to the glacier and enjoy the fascinating sights in solitude. You might also try to go after 6 PM in the summer or after 4 PM in the winter when the crowds dissipated again and heli flights are terminated soon for the day. However, the views sometimes can get worse since when clouds descend later in the day. But still, a late hike, still daylight etc., is a great way to dodge the crowds.

Hiking
NZ New Zealand