Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier...

Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks

Aoraki/Mount / Mt Cook National Park


23 Rankers Reviews

18 Face-to-Face

13 Mount Cook

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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A view up the Tasman
Tasman Glacier


40 minutes return | 2 km return

A view down the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier - New Zealand longest glacier at over 23 km - is not only spectacular, but graphically demonstrates a glacier in retreat. This is a wild and raw place, high mountains but close to the trimmings of civilisation.


Tasman Glacier is signposted 7km along Tasman Valley Road, 1 km from the settlement of Aoraki/Mount Cook. There’s a large, but sometimes not large enough, parking area with toilets.


From the carpark, the metalled track climbs over 70 metres to the top of the terminal moraines above the lake.

Two side tracks are possible on this walk:
The Tasman Glacier Lake (1 hour return 2.6 km), which branches off shortly after the start of the walk on the right.
And a short detour to Blue Lake (5 minutes return).

Blue Lake is also visible from above as you climb the steps to the lake viewing area. Floating icebergs stud the grey waters of the lake and in the distance the ice cliffs of the glacier’s terminal face occasionally calve. Rock debris covers the glacier, so it is difficult to make out the white of the ice flow.

On the opposite side of the valley are peaks such as Mount Blackburn, The Nuns Veil and The Acolyte. Mount Tasman is concealed in the far distance.


Previous to glacial action, many valleys were characterised by a system of interlocking spurs protruding into the valley floor – the legacy of water’s erosion carving V’s into the land. Glaciers worked differently and having no regard for these obstructions, simply bulldozed through the rock, truncating spurs to leave a triangular face bisecting the former ridgeline.

Glaciers filled the valleys and joined in the upland areas to form ice caps. The last Ice Age was known as the Otiran and occurred between 80,000 and 10,000 years ago. Ice was up to 2 km deep. Sea levels were up to 120 metres lower and ice reached over 10 km off today’s shoreline. At least 5 glacial advances and retreats are evident. At the conclusion of the last glacial between 35,000 and 14,000 years ago, a Glacial Maximum occurred, a short but intense episode of global cooling. This spurred on the glaciers in a final pulsing advance, which built up the vast terminal moraines, filling the McKenzie basin and extending glaciers 10 km past the current southern shores of Lake Pukaki. These details give some fuel for thought on the rapidity of climate change that occurs without the influence of humankind.

The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest. A series of Photoshopped photos on a revolving sign at the lookout show the glacier’s height in recent times. And it’s staggering rate of retreat. Currently the glacier is 23.5 km long, covers 101 square kms and is around 600m thick at it’s maximum depth. The terminus is 200m deep.


Feature Value Info


DOC Canterbury

Central government organisation


South IslandMount Cook - MacKenzieMount Cook


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 21.

Andrew Hammond's avatar

Andrew Hammond


Ranking: 9/10

Stairs are a bit more of a workout than expected but there are only about 300 so its ok. The view at the top is definitely worth the effort. Great tables for a picnic located at the bottom of the track in the car park. Enjoy the view at the top

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Raphaele's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

The Tasman glacier lake looks so surreal, almost like from another planet - I'm really glad we made this spontaneous stop. It's only a few minutes walk up to the viewpoint, so it's doable even after a long day in the Mt. Cook area.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Romy de Boer's avatar

Romy de Boer


Ranking: 10/10

Safe and beautiful! The view is amazing. Make a picnic stop here.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Kathi's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Short walk, saw the Blue Lakes from an upper view point which are not blue anymore (you can see a description why there). Good view of the icebergs of the glaciers.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Suzanne Vermeulen's avatar

Suzanne Vermeulen


Ranking: 8/10

The blue lakes are actually green - there is an explanatory board 'why are the blue lakes green' - and you can't see the glacier terminal from the top. That being said, the views from the top were nice both ways. The track is mostly made of brand new steps - some 400 steps, we counted them to see what to expect on the 2200 steps of the Sealy Tarns track . The road to the Tasman glacier is brand new as well. It was a nice short walk. Took us 20min to get to the top.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

James Webster's avatar

James Webster

Ranking: 5/10

Ok but not great.

Reviewed about 7 years ago

Nora Zeitz's avatar

Nora Zeitz


Ranking: 9/10

Short as well but steep so you have a good view on the glacier and the lake.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in January 2014

Marcel's avatar



Ranking: 6/10

It is a nice little walk and you will get a nice view of the Tasman Glacier, but nothing from another world.

Reviewed about 9 years ago

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jessica newton's avatar

jessica newton

New Zealand

Ranking: 9/10

great view when you get to the top. You climb up lots of rocks so be careful not sure I would want to try in the wet or with small children but there is an easier track around the side.

Reviewed about 9 years ago

Peter Moederer's avatar

Peter Moederer


Ranking: 10/10

Nice bridges, some not so long tracks, swimming in the lakes, not so many people.

Reviewed over 9 years ago

Sabrina Germany's avatar

Sabrina Germany


Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful view and lake with ice but the way was long and unsealed.

Reviewed almost 10 years ago and experienced in March 2012

Delore's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

A great view of the glacier for a short walk.

Reviewed almost 10 years ago and experienced in March 2012

Linda Kosters's avatar

Linda Kosters


Ranking: 9/10

WOW, never seen such a thing in my life before.

Reviewed almost 10 years ago and experienced in February 2012

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner