Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, reaching 3,754 metres (12,316 ft). It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. 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 to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the west.
The mountain is in the Mount Cook National Park, which was established in 1953 and along with Westland National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park forms one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park contains more than 140 peaks standing over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) and 72 named glaciers, which cover 40 percent of the park's 700 square kilometres (170,000 acres).
The settlement of Mount Cook Village 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 Mount Cook's summit.
Mount Cook receives substantial orographic precipitation throughout the year, for breezy, moisture-laden westerly winds dominate all year-round bring rainclouds from the Tasman Sea with them. Annual precipitation amounts to an incredible 4,491 mm (176.8 in), approximately 36% less than the average annual precipitation total of Milford Sound, by far the wettest location in New Zealand.