263km (163 miles) NE of Queenstown; 331km (205 miles) SW of Christchurch

A land of rugged peaks capped by icy glaciers, Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is the main access point for Aoraki/Mt. Cook. At 3,724 meters (12,218 feet), the peak is NZ’s highest; Aoraki translates to “cloud piercer.” Owing to its height and technical difficulty, it’s used by mountaineers to train for Everest, including by Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to summit Everest alongside Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

There are 19 peaks overs 3,000m (9,840 ft.) found throughout the 72,000-hectare (178,000-acre) Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, and about a third of the park is permanent snow and ice, including the Tasman Glacier.

The village itself is diminutive in size—even by New Zealand standards—with a population that swells from 100 to a whopping 300 in the summertime. As a consequence, eating and accommodation options are limited and prices reflect the remote location. While it’s definitely worth visiting (the vistas, even on an overcast day, are amongst the most superlative in the country) a day trip or one night is more than enough time, unless you plan on doing a longer hike or multiple tours in the park.