Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on June 18, 2022 by ashleighsatlas

Are you thinking of doing the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks in Mt Cook? Looking for the best Mt Cook Glacier walk? 

The Tasman Glacier Track is one of the most popular walks in Mt Cook. There’s actually two walks: The Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track, and the Tasman Lake Walk.

If I’m honest, the Tasman Glacier Hike is not my favourite Mt Cook walk.

But both the Tasman Glacier View Walk and the Tasman Lake Track are easy, short, and have beautiful views of Tasman Lake and the Tasman Glacier. So, it’s still worth adding them both to your Mt Cook bucket list

(And if you’re looking for the best Mount Cook Glacier walk, read my guide to the Ball Hut Route and add it to your bucket list). 

Keep reading for my Ultimate Guide to the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks:

  • Honest review + what is the best Tasman Glacier Walk?
  • FAQ + top tips
  • How to get there
  • Best Mt Cook Accommodation 
  • Best things to do nearby 

RELATED: Ultimate Mt Cook Travel Guide, 7 Best Mount Cook Walks, 9 Best Things to Do In Mt Cook

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REVIEW + WHAT IS THE BEST TASMAN GLACIER WALK? 

The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walk is actually two walks. You can either turn left or right at the start of the track. 

1. Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track: If you turn left, you will walk past the Blue Pools to the main Tasman Glacier Viewpoint. This is quite high up and has views overlooking the Tasman Lake, with the Tasman Glacier quite far in the distance. 

2. Tasman Lake Walk: If you turn right, you will walk past the jetty that the Tasman Glacier boat trips leave from. At the end of the track you will be at the very end of the Tasman Lake, where it connects with the Tasman River. You can walk down to the shore and there are often icebergs floating nearby. 

See the map in the HOW DO YOU GET TO TASMAN GLACIER section below which shows both tracks.

Which walk is best?

Lots of people say they prefer the Tasman Lake Walk, and it’s a really popular spot for photographers at sunrise. 

The Tasman Lake Track was nice, but I thought it was a little overrated. You are further away from the glacier than the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint, and you can barely see the glacier. It’s nice to see the icebergs up close, but I’d already seen them even closer on the Tasman Glacier boat cruise (which I highly recommend). 

I preferred the Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track. You are closer to the Tasman Glacier and higher up so you have a panoramic view of the Tasman Lake which looks bluer from higher up. 

I don’t think the Blue Pools are worth visiting. They used to be blue, but now they are green because they are no longer fed by a glacier. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them, but they are on the way to the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint (which you shouldn’t miss), so you’ll see them anyway.  

But the walks are both very short and easy, and leave from the same spot, so I would recommend doing both. 

If you’re looking for the best Mt Cook Glacier walk, I recommend doing the first part of the Ball Hut Route. It gets really close to the Tasman Glacier and has much better views than the Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier Track.

There’s not much about the Ball Hut Viewpoint online (the DOC website only talks about the walk to the hut which is really difficult), so read my ultimate guide to it here

FAQ + TOP TIPS 

Distance: 1.2 to 2.6km return depending on track

Time: 20 to 40 minutes return depending on track

Round track or one way: Round track via the same track   

Difficulty: Easy 

How long is the Tasman Glacier Walk?

There are two Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks:

  1. Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Viewpoint: 2.6km/40 minutes return 
  2. Tasman Lake Walk: 1.2km/20 minutes return 

There is also a longer walk which leaves from the same carpark, the Ball Hut Route, which is one of the best Mount Cook glacier walks. It is 10km/2.5 hours return. 

Can you walk to the Tasman Glacier?

The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Walk has beautiful viewpoints of the Tasman Glacier, but it’s actually really far away from the glacier. You won’t walk anywhere near the Tasman Glacier.

If you want to walk to the Tasman Glacier, I recommend doing the first part of the Ball Hut Route. It’s the best glacier walk in Mt Cook. It gets quite close to the closer and has incredible views. There’s not much online about it, so make sure you read my Ultimate Guide to the Best Tasman Glacier Viewpoint

Can you walk on Tasman Glacier?

You can only walk on Tasman Glacier if you do a Mt Cook heli-hike

The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks don’t go up to the Tasman Glacier, so you won’t be able to walk on it from there. 

Can you swim in Tasman Lake?

Yes, you can swim in Tasman Lake. It is freezing though. It’s fed by a glacier and there are often icebergs on Tasman Lake. The icebergs can flip over, so don’t get too close to them. 

How difficult is the Tasman Glacier View Track? 

Both of the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Walks are very easy. The path is very well-formed and mostly flat. Even people that aren’t very fit should be fine. 

If you’re doing the Tasman Lake Walk and want to walk down to the lake shore, there is a little bit of a scramble down the rocks at the end of the track. It’s pretty easy, but if you don’t want to do this part, there are still lovely views from the proper track which is a very easy walk. 

You can just do it in normal clothes (just dress warm) and don’t need to wear any special hiking clothes or shoes. I wore this ridiculous outfit and I was fine.  

When is the best time to do the Tasman Lake Walk?

Best time of year?

You can do the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walk any time of the year. 

I recommend doing the Tasman Glacier Hike in Summer or Autumn, since the Tasman Lake freezes over in Winter. More importantly, you can’t do my favourite Mt Cook walks (like the Sealy Tarns and Ball Hut walk) in Winter because of avalanche risk, so you’ll miss out on those. 

Best time of day? 

My favourite time to see the Tasman Lake is in the middle of the day, since the lake will be the brightest blue then. Lots of my friends also recommend sunrise, although I didn’t want to get up that early. I’ve also been at sunset and it was a little disappointing. 

Can you do the Tasman Glacier Track in Winter? 

Yes, you can do the Tasman Glacier Walk in Winter, but be aware the Tasman Lake freezes in Winter. 

Should you do the Tasman Lake Track at sunrise v sunset? 

Lots of my friends and photographers have said the Tasman Lake Track is beautiful at sunrise. 

I didn’t want to get up that early, so I went at sunset instead. I found it underwhelming. There wasn’t really any amazing sunset colours, and the Tasman Lake lost its bright blue-grey colour it had during the day.

So, I would recommend going at sunrise over sunset. 

Can you take dogs on the Tasman Glacier Hike? 

No, dogs are not allowed on the Tasman Glacier Walk. 

HOW DO YOU GET TO TASMAN GLACIER?  

The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks start at the Tasman Glacier Carpark, which is a 10-minute drive from the Mt Cook Village. 

Search either “Tasman Glacier Carpark” or “Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks” on Google maps. There are also lots of signs directing you there from the Mt Cook Village and it’s very easy to find. 

There is a large free carpark with lots of parking. 

When you get to the carpark, you will see some buildings on the right-hand side. The Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Walks start here. You can then go either two ways:

  1. Left to the Blue Lakes and main Tasman Glacier Lookout
  2. Right to the lookout from the Tasman River 

Both are easy short walks, so I recommend doing both. 

There is also another less known walk which starts on the left-hand side of the carpark, the Ball Hut Route. It’s one of the best walks in Mount Cook and I really recommend doing this too. Read my Ultimate Guide to the Ball Hut Route here. 

There is no public transport to Mt Cook, so the best way to get there is driving. If you need to rent a car, I recommend rentalcars.com. It’s what I always use and compares all the different rental car companies. 

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MOUNT COOK ACCOMMODATION

I recommend staying in the Mt Cook Village. The accommodation is very expensive and there are only a few options, but it’s worth it. 

The weather in Mt Cook is very changeable, so it’s worth staying in the village so you can see when there is a break in the weather (and have somewhere to hang out when you’re waiting for the clouds to leave). There are also beautiful views of Mt Cook from the village. 

There are also a few beautiful luxury boutique hotels with amazing views of Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook. Just be aware they are about a 40-minute drive from Mt Cook Village. 

You could also stay in Twizel or Lake Tekapo. Personally I don’t love Twizel (it’s a fairly uncharming small town), but Lake Tekapo is one of my favourite places in New Zealand

Looking for the best places to stay in Mt Cook?

  • Hermitage HotelThe Hermitage Hotel is the best and most luxurious place to stay in the Mt Cook Village, and also has incredible food. 
  • Aoraki Court MotelI stayed here on my last trip, because the room had a spa bath and I wanted cooking facilities. It was a lovely modern apartment, and I would definitely recommend it and stay again. It’s in the Mt Cook Village.
  • Mt Cook Lakeside RetreatBeautiful luxury boutique hotel on Lake Pukaki. 
  • Lakestone Lodge TekapoAnother beautiful luxury boutique hotel on Lake Pukaki. 

BEST THINGS TO DO NEARBY? 

Looking for other things to do in Mt Cook? Read my guides to find the best things to add to your bucket list:

Planning a trip to other places in the South Island? Read my Ultimate Destination Guides for: 

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