Sealy Tarns Hike

Aoraki Mount Cook is an alluring destination. If you’re only in New Zealand for a short time, it’s one of those spots, alongside Milford Sound and Queenstown that you ‘must do’. And it’s the kind of place that once you’ve been, you’ll want to return to — the glacial valleys, the alpine tarns, the snow-capped mountains. It’s magic in the form of mountains.

One of the best ways to experience Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is to strap on some boots and start walking. On the afternoon I arrived at Mount Cook, and with golden hour quickly approaching, the Sealy Tarns track was the first on the agenda.

Hiking the Sealy Tarns Track

A tarn is a small mountain lake, and New Zealand — with its mountainous landscapes and alpine environment — is home to some real crackers. The Sealy Tarns track is so named because the track leads to a particularly beautiful tarn that stands in the shadow of the peaks of surrounding mountains, which, in the right light, throw rather special reflections.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation, the government agency that looks after places like Mt Cook, describes the Sealy Tarns walk as ‘energetic’, which would be accurate. Is it worth the climb? You betchya. The views across to Aoraki Mount Cook are epic.

Walking the Sealy Tarns hiking track is well sign-posted and takes about 3.5 hour return... a little longer if you’re constantly stopping to c̶a̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶b̶r̶e̶a̶t̶h̶ take in the view.

The track is a steep climb — a 2,200 steps up — but the view is unbeatable.

Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is about four hours drive from Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island — at over 3700 metres, Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain.

Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is about four hours drive from Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island — at over 3700 metres, Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain.

Sealy Tarns track in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Sealy Tarns track in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

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View from Sealy Tarns track.

View from Sealy Tarns track.

Afternoon light in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

Afternoon light in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

The view down, from part way up the Sealy Tarns track.

The view down, from part way up the Sealy Tarns track.

The Sealy Tarns track is a steep ascent up thousands of steps. The track offers views across Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

The Sealy Tarns track is a steep ascent up thousands of steps. The track offers views across Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

The view at the top of the Sealy Tarns track.

The view at the top of the Sealy Tarns track.

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Just a few of the thousands of steps on the Sealy Tarns track.

Just a few of the thousands of steps on the Sealy Tarns track.

A pink sunset in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

A pink sunset in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

Overnight Hike Mount Cook National Park

Conquered Sealy Tarns and hankering for an overnighter? This route actually continues on up the mountain (follow the orange markers) to Mueller Hut. Check out DOC for info and bookings.


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