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Aoraki, Mount Cook

Mt Cook, Canterbury-2

Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3754 metres.

According to Māori legend, Aoraki was a young boy who, along with his three brothers, were the sons of Rakinui, 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. Aoraki, the tallest, became the highest peak, and his brothers created the Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, the Southern Alps.

The Ngāi Tahu, 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.

~ Wikipedia on Aoraki / Mount Cook

The park is a harsh land of ice and rock. Glaciers cover 40% of it. There are 19 peaks over 3,000 metres including New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook. The park is also part of Te Waipounamu - South Westland World Heritage Area in recognition of its outstanding natural values.

The glaciers that have helped shape the park's landscape include five major valley systems: Godley, Murchison, Tasman, Hooker and Mueller. The Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's largest and longest glacier, is clearly visible from the main highway at the entrance of the park. Its 27 km long, up to three km wide and 101 sq km. Although covered with rock material in its lower reaches, the ice of the Tasman is about 600 metres deep near the Hochstetter Icefall.
Aoraki/Mt Cook

Tōpuni

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. Aoraki/Mt Cook has Tōpuni status, a public sysmbol of Ngāi Tahu manawhenua and rangatiratanga.

~ Department of Conservation

Mt Cook, Canterbury-1

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South Island Māori Myths and Legends 

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Documentaries and films on Aoraki, Mount Cook

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