The perfect sunset climb. Red Tarns is located a ten minute walk from the Hermitage Hotel in Aoraki/Mount Cook Village. Alternatively, you can park up at the public shelter on Bowen Drive and start your hike from there, crossing the small bridge over Black Birch Stream.

At 4kms and with a 300m elevation gain, Red Tarns is a bit of a leg burner but perfectly suitable for anyone with moderate fitness. It's not a particularly long walk, just steep with plenty of steps to facilitate that incline. Choose your pace and slowly wind your way up the track, stopping to soak up the stunning scenery that surrounds you.

Once you get to the top you're greeted by a perfectly positioned bench to lap up those sunset soaked views (and rest those legs). You may even be joined by a family of curious kea, who call the Red Tarns home.

Behind the bench is the Red Tarns itself, a pool of water that is filled with a red pond weed, which perfectly reflects Aoraki on a perfectly clear night. 

Top tips for Red Tarns hike:

  • If you still have some energy left you can continue your hike up further to the Sebastopol Ridge above.
  • Take a snack or drink to enjoy at the top. Sunset at Red Tarns shouldn’t be rushed, it’s a moment to cherish.

Keen to continue the leg burn with another hike that delivers on elevation? We recommend you check out Sealy Tarns. It’s an Aoraki/Mount Cook hike not to be missed.