Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Aoraki/Mount Cook, seen from the SSW. This picture was taken from a glider flying at an altitude of 4000 m (13000 ft). The glider had flown from Omarama, a commercial gliding site 100 km (62 mi) from the mountain.
|Elevation:||3,754 metres (12,316 feet)|
|Latitude:||43° 36′ S|
|Longitude:||170° 10′ E|
|Location:||South Island, New Zealand|
|First ascent:||1894 by Tom Fyfe, George Graham, Jack Clarke|
|Easiest route:||glacier/snow/ice climb|
Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Aoraki/Mount Cook is a peak in the Southern Alps, a mountain range that runs the length of the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. The Tasman Glacier and Hooker Glacier flow down its slopes.
Following the settlement between Kāi Tahu and the Crown in 1998, title to Aoraki/Mt Cook was returned to Kāi Tahu, and it was then formally gifted it back to the nation. At this time, the name was also officially changed to Aoraki/Mt Cook. As part of the settlement, a number of placenames were appended with their Māori name. Signifying the importance of Aoraki/Mt Cook, it is the only one of these names where the Māori name precedes the English.
The mountain is located within the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The park was formally declared in 1953, and in combination with Westland National Park, is one of the United Nations World Heritage Parks. The park contains more than 140 peaks standing over 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) and 72 named glaciers which cover 40 percent of the park's 700 km² (173,000 acres).
The settlement of Mount Cook Village (also known as The Hermitage) serves as a tourist centre and base camp for the mountain. It is located 4 kilometres from the head of the Tasman Glacier, 12 kilometres south of Cook's summit.
Aoraki means "Cloud Piercer" in the Kāi Tahu dialect of the Maori language. Historically, the Māori name has also been spelt in the "canonical" Maori form: Aorangi. The more English name honours Captain James Cook, who first surveyed and circumnavigated the islands of New Zealand in 1770.
The first recorded European attempt on the summit was initially attributed to the Irishman Rev. W. H. Green and two Swiss mountain guides on 2 March 1882, but it was subsequently established that they were 50 m short of the true summit. On 25 December 1894, New Zealanders Tom Fyfe , James (Jack) Clarke , and George Graham , all from the South Island town of Waimate, successfully reached the summit via the Hooker Valley.
It remains a challenging ascent, with frequent storms and very steep snow and ice climbing to reach the peak. Strictly speaking, it is a triple peak, with the north peak being the highest, and the central and southern peaks being slightly lower. A traverse of the three peaks was first accomplished by New Zealand's most famous mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary.
Aoraki/Mount Cook was 20 m (65 feet) higher until a large section of rock and ice fell off the northern peak in January 1992.
The Southern Alps
The Southern Alps on the South Island are formed by tectonic uplifting and pressure as the Pacific and Australia-Indian plates collide along the island's western coast. The uplifting continues, raising Mt. Cook an average of 10 mm (slightly less than half an inch) each year. However, erosive forces are also powerful shapers of the mountains. The severe weather is due to the mountain's jutting into a trade wind pattern known as the Roaring Forties, which is characterized by powerful winds that run roughly around 45 degrees south latitude, south of both Africa and Australia, so that the Southern Alps are the first obstacle the winds encounter after South America as they blow easterly across the Southern Ocean.
Forests and Glaciers
The average annual rainfall in the surrounding lowlands is around 300 inches (7,600 mm). This very high rainfall leads to temperate rain forests in the coastal lowlands and a reliable source of snow in the mountains to keep the glaciers flowing. These include the Tasman and Murchison Glaciers to the east and the smaller Hooker and Mueller Glaciers to the south.
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