The Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region is situated in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island. It is around 2.5 hours from Christchurch and 2.5 hours from Queenstown when travelling by road. The Mackenzie Country is dramatic, its vast landscape punctuated by stunning glacial lakes, valleys of emerald green, snow-capped mountains contribute to a truly breathtaking experience. Fairlie is the main town of the Mackenzie District situated just over 2 hours drive south of Christchurch and on the main highway to Queenstown.
The Mackenzie Country, is a high inland basin beneath the Southern Alps and Mount Cook. The region may be accessed through a number of airport gateways. International airports at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown all provide convenient and regular access to the Mackenzie District.
European pioneers moved to the area in the 1850s and began extensive grazing of sheep and cattle. The Mackenzie Country is named after New Zealand's most famous outlaw: James Mackenzie, a sheep rustler who, along with his sheep dog Friday, was accused of sheep stealing. He was captured in 1855, and jailed for five years. He escaped twice, but he was pardoned and released in 1856 and promptly disappeared to Australia.
Just sitting in a quiet place to admire the view of Mt Cook is an amazing site to behold. If something more demanding is what you are looking for then there are various mountain walks and hikes, to suit every persons fitness. Showing off the parks rich flora including the Mount Cook ‘lily’, the biggest buttercup in the world. All skiing activities are available.
The Mackenzie District- is home to numerous artists, adding local flair to knitwear, paintings, pottery, wood-work and much more. Visit one of the area's craft shops or galleries and take home a piece, of this wonderful part of the world. Visitors to the area are well catered for, with services and retail stores.
Maori Mythology of Mackenzie
The Māori legend of Mount Cook is the story of Aoraki and his three brothers. They were the sons of Rangi (the Sky Father) and were on a voyage around Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother), when disaster struck and they became stranded upon a reef. The voyagers climbed on to the top side of the canoe, where after a time the south wind froze them, and turned them into stone. Their canoe became the South Island (Te Waka o Aoraki is the oldest name for the South Island), and Aoraki who stood tallest of the brothers is now seen as the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook with the Southern Alps as his brothers, and other members of the crew.