Aoraki / Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain, reaching 3,724 metres or somewhere over 12,200 feet. It sits within a national park, established in 1953, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to 140 peaks that are over 2,000m tall as well as 72 glaciers.
According to Maori legend, Aoraki and his three brothers were sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father. On a voyage around The Earth Mother, their canoe became stranded on a reef and tilted upwards. Aoraki and his brothers climbed to the tip, but the south wind came and turned them to stone. Their canoe became the South Island of New Zealand, Aoraki became the highest mountain and his brothers became the Southern Alps. Aoraki is seen as the most sacred of ancestors for the ngai tahu tribe of New Zealand’s southern region.