How to get from Auckland to Mount Cook

How to get from Auckland to Mount Cook (ALL the best options!)

So, you’re in Auckland and want to go to Mount Cook?

The first few times we tried to go to Mount Cook, something always came up. The first time we got snowed in, our flight was cancelled. When we tried driving there, we took a few wrong turns

But we’re persistent people over here at Top Reviews, so we got there eventually… and more than once! Fortunately, you won’t need to go through trial and error like we did, as we’ll show you how to make the trip easily. 

There are three main ways to get from Auckland to Mount Cook: by plane, car, and bus.

We’ll show you how to get from Auckland to Mount Cook, no matter how you decide to get there!

How to get to Mount Cook from Auckland by Plane 

DifficultyEasy ●●○○○
Number of steps8
Time to get to Mount CookVaries depending which airport you fly to
Things you needPlane ticket to Christchurch/QueenstownTransportation to Mount Cook Village 
  1. Decide which airport you’ll be flying into. While there are no direct flights to Mount Cook, you can fly to Christchurch International Airport (CHC) or Queenstown Airport (ZQN), the nearest airport to Mount Cook.
  1. Book a flight from Auckland to Christchurch or Queenstown. Major airlines operating flights between Auckland and Christchurch include Air New Zealand and Jetstar. You can choose Air New Zealand, Jetstar, and Qantas for flights between Auckland and Queenstown.
Auckland to Christchurch or Queenstown

We suggest booking your flight directly through the airline’s website or through a reputable third-party site—we ended up going with Jetstar.

  1. Prepare for your flight. Check the baggage allowance policies for the airline you’re flying with and pack accordingly. 

Make sure to weigh your luggage/carry on before you get to the airport. The last thing you want happening is being charged a hefty fee.

  1. Arrive at Auckland Airport at least 90 minutes before your scheduled departure for check-in and security screening.
  1. Fly to Christchurch or Queenstown. Board your flight and enjoy the journey to either Christchurch or Queenstown. Flights to Christchurch typically take around 1 hour and 25 minutes, while flights to Queenstown take approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.
  1. Arrange transportation from the airport to Mount Cook Village. After landing at either Christchurch or Queenstown Airport, you’ll need to arrange ground transportation to Mount Cook Village. 

You have two options to choose from: 

  • Option 1: Rent a car

Car rental companies operate at both Christchurch and Queenstown airports. Rent a car and drive to Mount Cook Village, approximately a 4-hour drive from Christchurch or a 3-hour drive from Queenstown. 

  • Option 2: Take a bus/shuttle

Book a bus or shuttle service from Christchurch or Queenstown to Mount Cook Village. Companies like InterCity and GreatSights offer services to Mount Cook Village from both cities. 

The journey takes approximately 5-6 hours from Christchurch and 4-5 hours from Queenstown. We recommend buying your tickets online—it’s less stressful. 

  1. Arrive at Mount Cook Village. Upon reaching Mount Cook Village, you can explore the area, visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, or join a guided tour to explore Mount Cook National Park.
  1. Hike to Mount Cook. The area has various hiking trails, including the famous Hooker Valley Track, which offers stunning views of Mount Cook. If you’re an experienced mountaineer, you can also plan a more challenging climb to the summit with a professional guide.

How to get to Mount Cook from Auckland by Bus 

DifficultyMild ●●●○○
Number of steps7
Time to get to Mount CookTime varies depending on where you leave from 
Things you needBus tickets
  1. Identify the closest bus station. The main bus terminal in Auckland is the SkyCity Bus Terminal, located at 102 Hobson Street, behind SkyCity Auckland. This terminal is the primary departure point for many long-distance buses, including those heading towards Mount Cook.
  1. Research bus schedules and routes.There are no direct bus services from Auckland to Mount Cook Village. 

You will need to take a bus to Christchurch or Queenstown and then transfer to another bus heading to Mount Cook Village.

  1. Purchase bus tickets. You can purchase bus tickets online through the bus operator’s website or at their ticket office.
Purchase bus tickets

Prices vary depending on which city you choose, but you can book your tickets with Intercity—like we did. 

  • Option 1: Auckland to Christchurch, then Christchurch to Mount Cook Village

Book a bus ticket from Auckland to Christchurch. The journey takes approximately 12-14 hours, and you can choose between daytime and overnight services.

  • Option 2: Auckland to Queenstown, then Queenstown to Mount Cook Village

Book a bus ticket from Auckland to Queenstown. The journey takes approximately 20-22 hours, and you can choose between daytime and overnight services. 

  1. Board the bus and enjoy the journey. Arrive at the bus terminal at least 20 minutes before your departure time. 

This will give you enough time to check in, store your luggage, and find your seat. 

  1. Relax, and enjoy the scenic journey through New Zealand’s stunning landscapes.
  1. Transfer to Christchurch or Queenstown. Upon arrival at Christchurch Bus Interchange or Queenstown Bus Terminal, book a bus ticket to Mount Cook Village with a company like InterCity or GreatSights. 
  1. Arrive at Mount Cook Village. Explore the area or head straight up to Mount Cook! 

How to get to Mount Cook from Auckland by Car

DifficultyHard ●●●●○
Number of steps10
Time to get to Mount Cook20 hours 
(Time can vary depending on traffic and starting point) 
Things you needCar Valid driver’s license 
  1. Determine your preferred route and time you want to go. The most popular and scenic route from Auckland to Mount Cook is via State Highway 1 (SH1), State Highway 79 (SH79), and State Highway 8 (SH8).

We recommend taking your road trip to Mount Cook during the summer (December to February) when the weather is warm, and the roads are clear. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, consider travelling during spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May). 

We don’t recommend driving during winter (June to August) due to potential snow and ice on the roads. But, it’s your choice!

  1. Take necessary safety precautions. Make sure you fill up on fuel, change your oil, and check your tire pressure before you start your road trip. 

Remember to check the weather forecast, road conditions, and to be aware of other drivers, huge trucks and buses. 

  1. Start your road trip by heading south on SH1 towards Hamilton.
  1. Continue on SH1 through Cambridge and Tirau, passing the scenic Lake Karapiro.
  1. Drive past the cities of Tokoroa, Taupo, and Turangi, following SH1 alongside the beautiful shores of Lake Taupo.
  1. Proceed south on SH1 until you reach the town of Bulls. Here, turn left onto State Highway 3 (SH3) and drive for a short distance before making a right turn back onto SH1.
  1. Continue on SH1 until you reach the town of Washdyke. 
  1. Turn left onto SH79 and drive through the towns of Geraldine and Fairlie.
  1. At Fairlie, turn right onto SH8 and continue driving until you reach Lake Pukaki.
  1. Turn left onto State Highway 80 (SH80) and follow the road along the western shore of Lake Pukaki until you reach Mount Cook Village.