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Aoraki/Mount Cook

Aoraki/Mount Cook

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Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, reaching 3754 metres (12,316 ft).
It lies in the Southern Alps
Southern Alps
The Southern Alps is a mountain range extending along much of the length of New Zealand's South Island, reaching its greatest elevations near the island's western side...

, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island
South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...

. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits lying slightly south and east of the main divide, the Low Peak, Middle Peak and High Peak, with the Tasman Glacier
Tasman Glacier
The Tasman Glacier is the largest of several glaciers which flow south and east towards the Mackenzie Basin from the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island. It is New Zealand's longest glacier.-Geography:...

 to the east and the Hooker Glacier
Hooker Glacier
Hooker Glacier is one of several glaciers close to the slopes of Aoraki/Mount Cook in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Though not as large as its neighbour, the Tasman Glacier, it is still impressive, and is some 11 kilometres in length...

 to the west.

Location


The mountain is in the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, which was gazetted in 1953 and along with Westland National Park
Westland National Park
Westland Tai Poutini National Park is located on the western coast of New Zealand's South Island. Established in 1960, the centenary of the European settlement of Westland District, it covers 1,175 km², and extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps to a wild and remote coastline...

, Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring National Park is located in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand, north of Fiordland National Park, and between Otago and south Westland. The park forms part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.-Geography:...

 and Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park occupies the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, with an area of 12,500 km², and a major part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site...

 forms one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park contains more than 140 peaks standing over 2000 metres (6,561.7 ft) and 72 named glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s, which cover 40 percent of the park's 700 square kilometres (172,973.6 acre).

The settlement of Mount Cook Village
Mount Cook Village
Mount Cook VillageUrban AreaPopulation:Extent:Territorial AuthorityName:Mackenzie District CouncilPopulation:Mayor:Website:Extent:Regional councilName:Environment Canterbury...

 is a tourist centre and base camp for the mountain. It is 7 km from the end of the Tasman Glacier and 12 km south of Aoraki / Mount Cook's summit.

Naming and European discovery


Aoraki is the name of a person in the traditions of the Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi of the southern region of New Zealand, with the tribal authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, being based in Christchurch and Invercargill. The iwi combines three groups, Kāi Tahu itself, and Waitaha and Kāti Mamoe who lived in the South Island prior...

 iwi; an early name for the South Island is Te Waka o Aoraki (Aoraki's Canoe). In the past many believed it meant "Cloud Piercer", a romantic rendering of the name's components: ao (world, daytime, cloud, etc.) and raki or rangi (day, sky, weather, etc.). Historically, the Māori name has been spelt Aorangi, using the standard Māori form.

While the mountain was known to Māori centuries before, the first European known to see Aoraki / Mount Cook was Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman
Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the VOC . His was the first known European expedition to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand and to sight the Fiji islands...

, on December 13, 1642 during his first Pacific voyage. The English name of Mount Cook was given to the mountain in 1851 by Captain John Lort Stokes
John Lort Stokes
Admiral John Lort Stokes, RN was an officer in the Royal Navy who travelled on HMS Beagle for close to eighteen years.Stokes grew up in Scotchwell near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. He joined the Navy on 20 September 1824...

 to honour Captain James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 who first surveyed and circumnavigated the islands of New Zealand in 1770. Captain Cook did not sight the mountain during his exploration.

Following the settlement between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown in 1998, the name of the mountain was officially changed from Mount Cook to Aoraki / Mount Cook to incorporate its historic Māori name, Aoraki. As part of the settlement, a number of South Island placenames were amended to incorporate their original Māori name. Signifying the importance of Aoraki / Mount Cook, it is the only one of these names where the Māori name precedes the English. Under the settlement the Crown agreed to return title to Aoraki / Mount Cook to Ngāi Tahu, who would then formally gift it back to the nation. Neither transfer has yet occurred; Ngai Tahu can decide when this will happen.

Geology



The Southern Alps on the South Island were formed by tectonic
Tectonics
Tectonics is a field of study within geology concerned generally with the structures within the lithosphere of the Earth and particularly with the forces and movements that have operated in a region to create these structures.Tectonics is concerned with the orogenies and tectonic development of...

 uplifting and pressure as the Pacific
Pacific Plate
The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At 103 million square kilometres, it is the largest tectonic plate....

 and Indo-Australian Plate
Indo-Australian Plate
The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters...

s collided along the island's western coast. The uplifting continues, raising Aoraki / Mount Cook an average of 7 millimetre (0.275590551181102 in) each year. However, erosive forces are also powerful shapers of the mountains. The severe weather is due to the mountain's jutting into powerful westerly winds of the Roaring Forties
Roaring Forties
The Roaring Forties is the name given to strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40 and 49 degrees. Air displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, which travels close to the surface between the latitudes of 30 and 60 degrees south, combines...

 which run around approximately 45°S latitude, south of both Africa and Australia. The Southern Alps are the first obstacle the winds encounter after South Africa and Australia, having moved east across the Southern Ocean.

The height of Aoraki / Mount Cook was established in 1881 by G. J. Roberts (from the west side) and in 1889 by T. N. Brodrick (from the Canterbury side). Their measurements agreed closely at 12349 feet (3,764 m). The height was reduced by 10 metres (32.8 ft) when approximately 10 million cubic metres of rock and ice fell off the northern peak on 14 December 1991.

Climbing history


The first recorded European attempt on the summit was made by the Irishman Rev. William S. Green and the Swiss hotelier Emil Boss and the Swiss mountain guide Ulrich Kaufmann on 2 March 1882 via the Tasman and Linda Glaciers. Mt Cook Guidebook author Hugh Logan considers they reached within 50 metres of the true summit.

The first ascent was on 25 December 1894, when New Zealanders Tom Fyfe
Tom Fyfe
Tom Fyfe was a self-taught New Zealand mountaineer from Timaru. He led the first group of three people named Jack Clarke and George Graham climbers who made the first ascent of Aoraki/Mount Cook on December 25th, 1894.-References:...

, James (Jack) Clarke and George Graham successfully reached the summit via the Hooker Valley and the north ridge. Despite an earlier failed attempt on 20 December, the local climbers were spurred on by their desire for the first ascent to be made by New Zealand mountaineers amid reports that an Englishman Edward FitzGerald had his eye on the summit. The party reached the summit at approximately 1:30pm after bounding up the last leg of the mountain full of excitement at reaching the top. The route they had successfully traversed was not repeated again until the 100th ascent over 60 years later in 1955. Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen
Matthias Zurbriggen
Matthias Zurbriggen was one of the great 19th-century alpinists and mountain guides. He climbed throughout the Alps, and also in South America, the Himalayas and New Zealand...

 made the second ascent on 14 March 1895 from the Tasman Glacier side, via the ridge that now bears his name. This is credited as the first solo ascent, although Zurbriggen was accompanied part of the way up the ridge by J Adamson. After Zurbriggen's ascent it was another ten years before the mountain was climbed again. In February 1905 James Clarke with four others completed the third ascent following Zurbriggen's route. So Clarke therefore became the first person to do a repeat ascent.

The first woman to ascend the mountain was Freda du Faur
Freda du Faur
Emmeline Freda Du Faur was the first female mountaineer to climb New Zealand's tallest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook.-Early life:Du Faur was born in Croydon, Sydney, Australia...

, an Australian, on 3 December 1910. Local guide George Bannister, a descendant of Te Koeti Turanga of Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi of the southern region of New Zealand, with the tribal authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, being based in Christchurch and Invercargill. The iwi combines three groups, Kāi Tahu itself, and Waitaha and Kāti Mamoe who lived in the South Island prior...

, was the first Māori to successfully scale the peak in 1912.
A traverse of the three peaks was first accomplished in 1913 by Freda du Faur and guides Peter and Alex Graham.

Ed Hillary
Edmund Hillary
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, KG, ONZ, KBE , was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953 at the age of 33, he and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest – see Timeline of climbing Mount Everest...

 made his first ascent in January 1948. In February 1948 with Ruth Adams, Harry Ayres and Mick Sullivan, Hillary made the first ascent of the South Ridge to the Low Peak In order to celebrate the life of Hillary the South Ridge was renamed as Hillary Ridge in August 2011.

Māori history, legends and traditions


According to Māori
Maori culture
Māori culture is the culture of the Māori of New Zealand, an Eastern Polynesian people, and forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture. Within the Māori community, and to a lesser extent throughout New Zealand as a whole, the word Māoritanga is often used as an approximate synonym for Māori...

 legend, Aoraki was a young boy who, along with his three brothers, were the sons of Rakinui
Rangi and Papa
In Māori mythology the primal couple Rangi and Papa appear in a creation myth explaining the origin of the world. In some South Island dialects, Rangi is called Raki or Rakinui.-Union and separation:...

, the Sky Father. On their voyage around the Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, their canoe became stranded on a reef and tilted. Aoraki and his brothers climbed onto the top side of their canoe. However, the south wind froze them and turned them to stone. Their canoe became the Te Waka o Aoraki, the South Island
South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...

. Aoraki, the tallest, became the highest peak, and his brothers created the Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, the Southern Alps
Southern Alps
The Southern Alps is a mountain range extending along much of the length of New Zealand's South Island, reaching its greatest elevations near the island's western side...

.

The Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu
Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi of the southern region of New Zealand, with the tribal authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, being based in Christchurch and Invercargill. The iwi combines three groups, Kāi Tahu itself, and Waitaha and Kāti Mamoe who lived in the South Island prior...

, the main iwi (tribe) of New Zealand's southern region, consider Aoraki as the most sacred of the ancestors that they had descended from. Aoraki brings the iwi with its sense of community and purpose, and remains the physical form of Aoraki and the link between the worlds of the supernatural and nature.

Forests and glaciers


The average annual rainfall in the surrounding lowlands is around 7.6 metres (299.2 in). This very high rainfall leads to temperate rain forests in the coastal lowlands and a reliable source of snow in the mountains to keep the glaciers flowing. These include the Tasman
Tasman Glacier
The Tasman Glacier is the largest of several glaciers which flow south and east towards the Mackenzie Basin from the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island. It is New Zealand's longest glacier.-Geography:...

 and Murchison Glacier
Murchison Glacier
The Murchison Glacier is an long glacier flowing through Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the South Island of New Zealand. Lying to the east of Aoraki/Mount Cook, high in the Southern Alps, it flows southwestwards. The Murchison River, which takes its meltwater, flows under the larger Tasman...

s to the east of the mountain and the smaller Hooker
Hooker Glacier
Hooker Glacier is one of several glaciers close to the slopes of Aoraki/Mount Cook in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Though not as large as its neighbour, the Tasman Glacier, it is still impressive, and is some 11 kilometres in length...

 and Mueller Glacier
Mueller Glacier
The Mueller Glacier is a long glacier flowing through Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the South Island of New Zealand. It lies to the south of Aoraki/Mount Cook, high in the Southern Alps, and flows north...

s to its south.

Area history



  • 1642 - Aoraki sighted by Abel Tasman
    Abel Tasman
    Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the VOC . His was the first known European expedition to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand and to sight the Fiji islands...

  • 1770 - Captain Cook named the Southern Alps
  • 1851 - Captain Stokes of the survey ship HMS Acheron
    HMS Acheron (1838)
    HMS Acheron was a Hermes-class wooden paddle sloop of the Royal Navy. Between 1848 and 1851 she made a coastal survey of New Zealand, the first such survey since Captain Cook.-Career:...

     gave the name Mt Cook to Aoraki
  • 1884 - First Hermitage built under the direction of Frank Huddleson
  • 1894 - First ascent of Aoraki/Mount Cook, on Christmas Day, by Jack Clarke, Tom Fyfe
    Tom Fyfe
    Tom Fyfe was a self-taught New Zealand mountaineer from Timaru. He led the first group of three people named Jack Clarke and George Graham climbers who made the first ascent of Aoraki/Mount Cook on December 25th, 1894.-References:...

     and George Graham
  • 1910 - Freda du Faur
    Freda du Faur
    Emmeline Freda Du Faur was the first female mountaineer to climb New Zealand's tallest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook.-Early life:Du Faur was born in Croydon, Sydney, Australia...

     became the first woman to climb Aoraki/Mount Cook
  • 1911 - The vital swing bridge is built in the Hooker Valley
  • 1913 - First ascents of the footstool and Mt Sefton made by Freda du Faur's climbing party
  • 1913 - Hermitage first ravaged by floods in January, then destroyed beyond repair by floods two months later
  • 1914 - First fatal accident, when three men caught in avalanche on Linda Glacier
  • 1914 - Second Hermitage opened, on different site
  • 1957 - Second Hermitage razed to the ground
  • 1959 - First school opens, Aoraki Mt Cook School
  • 1981 - Passenger flights begin by Mount Cook Airline
    Mount Cook Airline
    Mount Cook Airline is an airline based in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is wholly owned by Air New Zealand and operates scheduled services throughout the country under the Air New Zealand Link brand...

    , now part of Air New Zealand
    Air New Zealand
    Air New Zealand Limited is the national airline and flag carrier of New Zealand. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, the airline operates scheduled passenger flights to 26 domestic destinations and 24 international destinations in 15 countries across Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania, and is...

     Link
  • 1982 - Mark Inglis
    Mark Inglis
    Mark Joseph Inglis is a mountaineer, researcher, winemaker and motivational speaker. He holds a degree in Human Biochemistry from Lincoln University, New Zealand, and has conducted research in Leukemia...

     trapped in snow cave
    Snow cave
    A snow cave is a shelter constructed in snow by certain animals in the wild, human mountain climbers, winter recreational enthusiasts, and winter survivalists. It has thermal properties similar to an Igloo and is particularly effective at providing protection from wind as well as low temperatures...

  • 1991 - Avalanche of 10 million cubic metres of snow and rock causes 10 metres to be lost off the top of Aoraki/Mount Cook
  • 1998 - The Ngāi Tahu
    Ngāi Tahu
    Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi of the southern region of New Zealand, with the tribal authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, being based in Christchurch and Invercargill. The iwi combines three groups, Kāi Tahu itself, and Waitaha and Kāti Mamoe who lived in the South Island prior...

     Claims Settlement Act officially recognises the original name, renaming the mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook

Transport


Access to the area nearby is usually by Mt Cook Road
New Zealand State Highway 80
State Highway 80 is a South Island State Highway in New Zealand. Known as Mount Cook Road, it is a tourist road between the settlements of Twizel and Mount Cook Village. About 55 kilometres in length, it is mostly two lane, with a few single-lane bridges...

, along the western shore of Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki is the largest of three roughly parallel alpine lakes running north-south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin on New Zealand's South Island. The others are Lakes Tekapo and Ohau...

. A small airfield is also nearby. Aoraki / Mount Cook will be the starting point of the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail
Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail
The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is a cycle trail funded as one of the projects of the New Zealand Cycle Trail system in Otago and Canterbury, New Zealand...

 to Oamaru
Oamaru
Oamaru , the largest town in North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, is the main town in the Waitaki District. It is 80 kilometres south of Timaru and 120 kilometres north of Dunedin, on the Pacific coast, and State Highway 1 and the railway Main South Line connects it to both...

, the trail to be constructed in the following years after approval in 2010 by the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

External links