Tasman Glacier Viewpoint: Short Walk with Kids in Mt Cook National Park

Tasman Glacier Viewpoint: Easy Short Walk in Mt Cook National Park 

updated September 2023

The Tasman Glacier is home to a couple of great short walks in the Mt Cook National Park.  If you aren’t wanting to tackle the longer but still awesome, Hooker Valley Track (3 hours return) then a great walk for kids is the Tasman Glacier View track or the Tasman Glacier Lake.  It is a great family walk and beginners hike under the beautiful Mt Cook.

Both tracks start at the end of the Tasman Valley Road.  The Tasman Glacier View track (and side trip to the Blue Lakes) is a straight climb up the stairs to the viewpoint.  The Tasman Glacier Lake track veers off to the right, and is a pretty flat trail around to the lakeside.

Icebergs, Icebergs!

I’ve been super interested in Antarctica lately, so when I remembered the Tasman Glacier Lake had icebergs, I thought this was a fitting compromise.  Kipton had been telling everyone for weeks how excited he was to see the icebergs. But then he asked me “What do icebergs eat..” And then I wondered whether he really had any idea what icebergs actually were.  

Either way he was excited and it was a good learning curve for everyone. Now he tells me that icebergs eat ice blocks… so maybe we aren’t that good at teaching haha.

Tasman Glacier View Track

The view track is an uphill trek, mostly up stairs to a great viewpoint over the Tasman Glacier Lake.  You can see the glacier way up behind Tasman lake, and a number of awesome icebergs in the lake. There is no access to the lake from up here, so you do need to walk around.  This will be one of the best places to take photos of the lake as well as the valley. If you look up to your left facing the lake, you will see Mt Cook towering over you.

The Tasman Glacier View Track is a shorter walk than the lake track, taking around 40 minutes return.  It is an easy walk with kids, although there are quite a number of stairs. But it is totally doable for anyone. (with a few breathers on the way)

Side trip to the Blue Lakes

Halfway up the view track, there is a quick side trail to the Blue Lakes.  Apparently its good for swimming in the summer, although I’m not sure how warm it will be.  Could the kids swim in the Blue Lakes? Sure, but I’m pretty sure mine would freeze!  People often skip this short walk, as you can see it from above, but we found it to be a tranquil place to stop.

Different Colours of the Water

You may be wondering why the lakes are all different colours.  There is a great sign halfway up the stairs, but in essence… The green water is fresh rainwater, the greyish water is glacial melt, with tiny “rock dust” causing the grey colour, and the blue waters are glacial water where the “rock dust” has settled, or there is little of it.  Each time we have visited the Tasman Glacier Lake, it has been grey. So don’t think it’s dirty, it’s really just broken up mountain rocks.


Tasman Glacier River Track

This easy walking track will take you to the lakefront and is also where the jetboating departs from.  With kids, the walk will take about an hour return. The path is quite rocky and the trail itself isn’t particularly interesting but we really enjoyed the alternate view of the glaciers from here.  There were fewer people on this trail and we were easily able to take photos without others around obstructing the view.

You can also turn off to access the Tasman River which will take you right down to the lake.  The views from here are lovely and you might get a closer view of the icebergs here too.

Other activities and walks near Mt Cook National Park



Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 9 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

Backyard Travel Family New Zealand. Lets share these articles and spread the love

what you need to know


- 55 minutes from Twizel (although there are some great viewpoints along the way so allow for these)
- 80 minutes from Tekapo
- Tip: Be really careful along this road as many people stop to take photos, AND in crazy places so keep an eye on other cars.

The trail

- Gravel and compacted dirt on the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Track. Mostly stairs
- Gravel and small stones on the Tasman Glacier Lake Track. It is still flat, but a lot stonier on this trail. The kids tripped a few times.

Suitable for kids?

- Babies/Toddlers: Babies need to be carried and I would recommend a backpack. Toddlers could walk for as long as you could bear with the pace. Keep an eye on them up the top of the viewpoint track.
- Preschoolers: Can probably walk the majority of it. We ended up walking both tracks when we visited, so our 3 year old was a bit tired on the second track, so I backpacked him.
- 5 year olds + can walk it on their own without too many complaints.


- Toilets beside the carpark
- NO drinking water here
- No rubbish bins or places to dispose of your trash, so please take it with you. - No shade on either of these tracks. If its cool and windy, it will be quite a chilly walk. - Covered picnic table and shelter at the start of the walk near the toilets or wonderful big wooden picnic tables in the island in the carpark.

What to bring

- It's a short walk so you shouldn't need anything besides a camera and a jacket if it is cool.
- Kids may want a wee snack for motivation and a drink bottle for the top of the viewpoint.

Food options

- Just a couple of cafes/restaurants in Mt Cook Village, otherwise head back to Twizel or Tekapo for supermarkets and more extensive options.

Further information

Click the ? for the DOC guide for this walk

What the critics thought

We got to see Icebergs! But we couldn't touch them!
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
3 year old Firecracker
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