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Aoraki Mt Cook


Among the celestial visitors were four sons of Raki who were named Ao-raki , Raki-roa , Raki-rua, and Raraki-roa . They came down in a canoe which was known as Te Waka o Aoraki. They decided to return to their celestial home, but the karakia which should have lifted the waka back to the heavens failed and the canoe fell back into the sea and turned over onto its side. The waka listed and settled with the west side much higher out of the water that the east. Aoraki and his brothers clambered on to the high side and were turned to stone. They are still there today. Aoraki is the highest peak and his brothers are the next highest peaks near him – Rakiroa (Mount Dampier), Rakirua (Mount Teichelmann), Rarakiroa (Mount Tasman).
To Ngāi Tahu, Aoraki represents the most sacred of ancestors, from whom Ngāi Tahu descend and who provide the iwi with its sense of communal identity, solidarity and purpose. The ancestor embodied in the mountain remains the physical manifestation of Aoraki, the link between the supernatural and the natural world.
The tapu associated with Aoraki is significant to the tribal value, and is the source of the power over life and death which the mountain possesses. Standing on the very top the the mountain denigrates it's tapu status, and climbers are encouraged to stay off the true summit.
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet). It sits in the Southern Alps, the mountain range that runs the length of the South Island. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits: from south to north, the Low Peak (3,593 m or 11,788 ft), the Middle Peak (3,717 m or 12,195 ft) and the High Peak. The summits lie slightly south and east of the main divide of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the southwest.
Despite its modest height relative to other mountains internationally, to approach Aoraki from 700 metres above sea level is involves technically challenging climbing with a high level of glaciation. Its level of difficulty is often underestimated and can change dramatically depending on weather, snow and ice conditions. The climb crosses large crevasses, and involves risks of ice and rock falls, avalanches and rapidly changing weather conditions. The approach is often avoided by helicopter due to difficult travel and route-finding. Aoraki has claimed the lives of 70+ climbers since the first ascent in 1894 by New Zealanders Tom Fyfe, Jack Clarke and George Graham. The climbing season traditionally runs from November to February, and hardly a season goes by without at least one fatality.
The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) runs the Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Rescue Team (AMCART) and the Visitor Centre at Aoraki Mount Cook Village. DOC maintains an intentions system which national park users are encouraged to use, to aid in search and rescue. Intentions can either be filled out at the Vistors Centre in the foyer, or sent via e-mail to
Mountain conditions can be found by calling the Visitor Centre, Alpine Guides Ltd, or on various conditions pages spread throughout social media. The Mountain Safety Council runs a website with public avalanche forecasting and public observations.

POINT (170.14219572 -43.5955671)
BX15 693 691
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Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
Aoraki Mount Cook Grand Traverse 3+,V
Zurbriggen Ridge 3+,IV
Bowie Couloir 3+,IV
Bowie Ridge 13,4,V
Bowie Face 18,5+,IV 500m
Linda Glacier 3,IV
Gunbarrels 4,V
NR North Ridge 4+,V
Earle Ridge 3+,V 900m
Alex Palman
Photo by Clayton Garbes