The Very Best Rainy Day Activities in Mount Cook National Park

The Very Best Rainy Day Activities in Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park is a beautiful place to visit if you want to learn about New Zealand’s history and culture. Unfortunately, bad weather can spoil even the most meticulously prepared trip.  

Fortunately, rain or shine, at Mount Cook National Park, you can choose from a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities. To save you time, we’ll guide you through the top indoor and outdoor activities for fun rainy days at Mount Cook National Park. 

Indoor Activities at the Park

1. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a fantastic choice if you’re searching for something to do inside on a rainy day in Mount Cook National Park. 

The museum’s displays provide information to guests about the geology, vegetation and animals, and cultural history of the park. There are plenty of hands-on opportunities to learn about the region’s rich heritage—perfect if you have kids and want to enrich their vacation. 

One of the highlights we always like seeing is their planetarium. It’s an immersive experience of the night sky and astronomy. 

But what’s not to be missed is their sky tour around the solar system and the galaxy using their state-of-the-art digital projector. 

If you prefer watching films, they also play a documentary commemorating Sir Edmund Hillary’s life and accomplishments in their digital theatre.

2. Take shelter from the rain at The Hermitage Hotel

If it rains during your trip to Mount Cook National Park, the magnificent Hermitage Hotel is a great place to hide from the rain for a bit. There are so many things to do inside! 

Whether you want to lounge around with a book or board game, explore the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, or pamper yourself at the spa, you can spend hours at this hotel. 

Sometimes when we’re waiting for the rain to stop, we also warm up with a meal at the hotel’s buffet restaurant, get a drink at the cafe, or unwind with a snack at the bar, all while taking in the snow-capped mountains. 

Outdoor Activities at the Park

A caveat for all our rainy-day outdoor activity suggestions: All of the suggestions below presume that the rain you’re facing isn’t from a serious storm. 

If the rain is heavy, has been going on for a while, or is predicted to last for several hours, we still suggest skipping all of the outdoor activity options and going with the indoor ones instead, to be safe. 

Things like landslides and flash floods can come out of nowhere when heavy or sustained rain is involved, so it’s better to err on the side of caution, especially where hilly or mountainous areas are involved.

1. Take a scenic drive and enjoy the sights

On a rainy day, a scenic drive to Mount Cook National Park can be a great way to enjoy the area’s beautiful scenery without getting wet. The drive to the park is beautiful in and of itself, with winding roads and beautiful views of the mountains and valleys in the area. 

We’ve stopped at different lookout points and scenic spots along the way to Mount Cook National Park to take in the views and take pictures.

The Lake Tekapo lookout has amazing views of the turquoise lake and the mountains, whereas the Church of the Good Shepherd is a beautiful church on the lake’s edge. We got some pretty good pictures, despite it being rainy.  

Once at Mount Cook National Park, you can still drive to different lookout points and scenic spots to enjoy the area’s stunning beauty.

For example, the Tasman Valley Road has beautiful views of the Tasman Glacier and the mountains too. The Hooker Valley Road takes people to the start of the popular Hooker Valley Track, which has beautiful views of the Hooker Glacier and Mount Cook. 

2. Go on an adventure to the Tasman Glaciers

Rain or shine, you can have an adventure to the Tasman Glaciers with Glacier Explorers.

You’ll be able to take a boat tour of the Tasman Glacier terminal lake, where you’ll see icebergs floating in the water and get up close to the glacier itself. 

For us, while the rain made the boat tour a little wet, we thought it added to the experience by making the area around the glacier misty. Even through the mist, you can see the glacier and the beautiful mountains around it. 

Depending on how gloomy it is when you go,  you may even get to see waterfalls cascading down the cliffs. 

The Tasman Glacier Experience also includes a trip to the Tasman Glacier viewpoint, which has a panoramic view of the glacier. 

It’s a breathtaking view and worthy of filling up your photo storage, but be careful when taking pictures because the viewpoint gets a little slippery because of the rain.

3. Go hiking in the rain and enjoy the views 

Even when it’s raining, you can still hike on many of the park’s trails, and in our opinion, the waterfalls and streams are even more beautiful. 

That being said, there’s some danger to this. When it’s raining, the trails at Mount Cook National Park can be slippery and muddy, and it can be hard to see what you’re doing. 

However, if you’re an experienced hiker and are ready for the weather, you can still hike on some trails on a rainy day.

Even on shorter trails, hikers should be ready for the weather by wearing the right clothes and shoes, bringing plenty of water and snacks, and always letting someone know what they plan to do and when they expect to be back.

So far, we’ve only done two of the hikes at Mount Cook National Park in the rain. 

The first one we tried was the Kea Point Track, which is a short 1.5km walk that has stunning views of the Mueller Glacier and Mount Sefton. The trail is well-kept and not too difficult, so hikers of all skill levels should be able to do it.

The Red Tarns Track is a 3 km walk in each direction and leads to a beautiful alpine lake. In some places, we found that the path was steep and difficult, yet we marvelled at the beautiful views of the mountains and valleys

4. Take a nature walk and lose yourself in nature 

Even in the rain, you can take a guided nature walk to learn about the plants and animals at Mount Cook National Park. Even though some of the longer and more difficult trails may be closed for safety reasons, you can still go on a few shorter walks that are safe to do when it’s wet outside.  

Who knows, you may even see the kea, a rare and endangered alpine parrot, while taking your nature walk. We ourselves have done a few different nature walks in the rain and spotted a couple of them! 

A simple and short walk that we can recommend is the Governor’s Bush Walk. It is a short 15-minute loop walk, and the path is well-kept and mostly flat, so people of all ages and levels of fitness can enjoy it.

Take a nature walk and lose yourself in nature

The Glencoe Walk is more challenging as it is a 30-minute walk. It goes through a beautiful alpine meadow and has stunning views of the mountains. 

But, those who want to go on a longer walk may still be able to use the Hooker Valley Track, depending on how bad the rain is. 

The track is a 10-kilometre walk in both directions that takes people through beautiful alpine scenery, including a swing bridge and views of the Hooker Glacier and Mount Cook. 

We recommend being ready for wet weather by wearing the right clothes and shoes, bringing lots of water and snacks, and paying attention to any warnings or closures from park staff.