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5 BEST Mount Cook Tours from Christchurch 

5 BEST Mount Cook Tours from Christchurch 

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Even though I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, New Zealand’s South Island will always have a special place in my heart. In fact, I love it so much, it’s where I’m living now! There’s so much to see and do around the island, and one of the most popular cities to start your adventures from is Christchurch. 

This city is located on the northeastern part of the island, and it’s a convenient spot for tours to Mount Cook and Queenstown. If you want to explore as much of New Zealand as possible, here are five of the best tours you can take from Christchurch to Mount Cook and other bonus amazing stops! 

Quick Pick: My Favorite Tour

If you don’t have time to read through all five options, I’ll skip the good part – this tour from Christchurch to Mount Cook is my pick! It’s a full-day tour in a small group with a perfectly crafted itinerary of some of the best stops on the South Island.

I love that you see beautiful lakes, stop for an included lunch at the sweetest bakeshop in Fairlie, and then have the flexibility to choose how to spend your time at Mount Cook. There are two hikes you can take or wander around the educational center instead. This is a highly-rated tour with 5-star reviews for $249 NZD. While it’s popular, there are bookings available as soon as tomorrow!

Best Mount Cook Tours from Christchurch

1. Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo, and Tasman Glacier Tour with Amazing Photo Ops

Bailey walks through the grass at Lake Pukaki Viewpoint (Mount Cook Road)
Can you spot Mount Cook?
Bailey with many lupins at Lake Tekapo New Zealand
Lake Tekapo is so pretty when the lupins are in bloom!

There are so many gorgeous places throughout New Zealand, and this top-rated day tour brings you to many of them! If it’s your first time visiting the South Island, I highly recommend booking this 13-hour tour. While the time commitment might seem intimidating at first, the hours breeze by as expert guides like Anuj lead you to various natural wonders throughout the Mount Cook area. 

The day starts with pickup at your Christchurch hotel. From there, you’ll be transported to some of the region’s most stunning landscapes in Geraldine, Lake Pukaki, Blue Lakes, and Tasman Glacier. You’ll also have the option to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Hermitage Hotel in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. 

While there are so many different highlights to this tour, it’s extra special if you can take it in the summer. During the warmest months, you’ll also get the chance to take some of your most memorable photos amidst the island’s lavender fields. I always love posing among the blooms, and this tour makes sure to stop by the flowers, too. 

However, even if you visit in another season, this tour still ranks highly for me – and so many others! It has HUNDREDS of 5-star reviews you can check out here. The views of Mount Cook and Tasman Glacier are unbeatable and there are so many photo ops. Tickets cost $225 NZD and can sell out in the busy season!

2. Small Group Tour to Mount Cook via Lake Tekapo from Christchurch 

Views of Lake Tekapo from the Church of the Good Shepard
The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo makes for the prettiest views!

I briefly mentioned this tour earlier as my top pick! This small-group day tour is an excellent way to visit Mount Cook and many other amazing places on the way. It’s a 13-hour tour, so it’s a long day, but I think the itinerary is well planned so you see lots, but don’t feel rushed. It’s perfect for travelers who want to take in the South Island’s scenery, but not worry about driving or organizing the details.

While seeing Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo are two of the undeniable highlights of this tour, I especially like this one because of all the different stops. Geraldine, for example, is an artsy town that’s easy to miss if you drive straight through to Mount Cook, but you get a glimpse of it on this tour. And the sweet treats and lunch that were included from the bakery in Fairlie deserve a special shoutout!

You’ll also get to stop by the most photographed church in New Zealand, The Church of the Good Shepherd, before you head on to Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook Village. I absolutely love taking a picture of this church with Lake Tekapo in the background! 

Afterward, you’ll enjoy the local scenery and grab a bite to eat at Mount Cook. From there, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure on how you want to spend your time at Mount Cook. There’s the option to visit Tasman Glacier or hike a section of the Hooker Valley Track, or check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre to learn about the area’s history and geography. 

I personally recommend the Hooker Valley Track – I’ve done this hike three times and the views still take my breath away! Tickets for this flexible tour cost $249 NZD and you’re guaranteed to be in a small group with a maximum of 16 people.

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3. One Way Tour from Christchurch to Queenstown via Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook

Bailey with lupins at Lake Tekapo New Zealand
Lake Tekapo might be the prettiest lake in New Zealand
Bailey stands on the road into Mount Cook National Park with Mount Cook in the Background
The road to Mount Cook National Park!

If you have plans to visit Christchurch and Queenstown, this one-way day tour is an excellent way to make the most out of your travel time between the cities. Plus, it stops by Mount Cook, so you won’t have to sacrifice visiting this incredible national park on your travel day!

I’m a fan of this tour because it stops by some of the most popular locations in and around Mount Cook, including Lake Tekapo, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Hooker Valley Track, and Tasman Glacier. You’ll also stop at a local salmon farm just before you leave the park, and it’s a fun place to taste some delicious seafood before you get back on the bus. 

Will and Dany are wonderful tour leaders, and they make this 13-hour day very enjoyable. I also like this tour because of how much is included in your ticket. While you’re on the bus for a long time, you’re frequently given snacks and other meals to eat throughout the drive. 

This tour is also an awesome option if you want to see some sights as you get closer to Queenstown. You’ll drive through Lindis Pass and see the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, the birthplace of bungy jumping. You probably won’t have time to take a leap on this ride, but it’s still cool to see. 

If you plan on traveling from Christchurch to Queenstown on your trip, this is the best way to do it! This one-way tour costs $370 NZD.

Related Read: I’m based in Queenstown, so if you need ideas on what to do here, check out my epic list of 75 things to do in Queenstown or what to do in Queenstown with kids!

Why I Book Tours on Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book all of my tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here

4. 5-Day South Island Tour from Christchurch 

Bailey stands on the shores of Milford Sound looking out at Mitre Peak in Fiordland National Park
Milford Sound is one of my all-time favorite places
Close up shot of the Franz Josef Galcier, New Zealand
Franz Josef Glacier!

If you want to explore as much of the South Island as possible, you can piece together your own itinerary but I think booking this comprehensive five-day tour is so much easier!

This packed tour starts and ends in Christchurch, and you’ll spend five days exploring the area’s incredible scenery. Once you’re picked up on the first day, you’ll visit Mount Cook and finish in Queenstown. This popular city is going to be your home base for the next two days, where you’ll have a day to explore Queenstown and another to take a day trip to Milford Sound. 

On day four, you’ll travel from Queenstown to Franz Josef, where you’ll get to see the town and glacier by the same name. Finally, on day five, you’ll head from Franz Josef to Greymouth and Arthur’s Pass before finishing back in Christchurch. 

The itinerary is busy, but having visited all these places, I love how much you get to see in a short period of time. One of my favorite parts of the tour is taking the TranzAlpine Express from Greymouth to Christchurch on the last day. This is considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides, and for good reason! It’s a memorable way to view the mountains before finishing the tour. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive experience to visit some of the South Island’s most beautiful natural wonders, this five-day tour is for you. If you’re traveling alone, tickets cost $2,925 NZD. However, if you’re traveling with a partner and plan to share a room, it costs $4,750 NZD for a double room. 

Related Read: If longer tours are your travel style, check out my favorite multi-day guided tours of New Zealand here!

5. One-Way Sightseeing Tour from Christchurch to Mount Cook

View of Lake Tekapo taken from town with views of the church
Lake Tekapo’s blue waters are stunning!

If you’re staying in Christchurch and are searching for a way to get to Mount Cook, this one-way sightseeing tour is definitely for you. The Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is enormous, and if you especially love the outdoors, I recommend spending a day or two exploring the hiking trails. 

It stops by the Geraldine Visitor Information Centre, The Church of the Good Shepherd, and Lake Tekapo before dropping you off at the Hermitage Hotel at Mount Cook. 

While you could also take an InterCity bus and cover the same route, I definitely prefer this day tour. It’s more comfortable and informative, and expert guides like Stuart teach you a lot about the area as you drive toward this scenic mountain. 

If you’re looking for transportation from Christchurch to Queenstown, this tour also goes there, too. Just make sure you select your final destination when you book online. A one-way ticket from Christchurch to Mount Cook costs $250 NZD, while a one-way ticket to Queenstown costs $350 NZD. 

Related Read: If you have more time in the park, check out all my guide on things to do in Mount Cook National Park!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey stands overlooking Mount Cook National Park from one side of Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
Thanks for reading!

The trip from Christchurch to Mount Cook has so many beautiful attractions that I hope you can fit this journey into your trip! The tours I’ve listed are all well-rated and make getting to Mount Cook easier – whether you’re returning to Christchurch or choosing a one-way adventure to keep traveling around the South Island.

Thank you for reading my blog! Traveling around New Zealand is my passion and I love sharing travel tips, so stick around and check out my other blogs on My Queenstown Diary or see if one of the blogs below catches your eye.

10 BEST Walks and Hikes in Mount Cook National Park

ONE Day in Christchurch Itinerary: How to Spend the Day in Christchurch

10 BEST Tours in Christchurch, NZ that You Don’t Want to Miss