According to tradition the Southern Alps, reflected here in the Ōkārito Lagoon, were formed when the Ārai-te-uru canoe arrived from Hawaiki. As it travelled down the coast of the South Island, more than 150 passengers leapt ashore and became mountains. In one version of the story, Aoraki (Mt Cook) was a small boy carried on a relative’s shoulders, which is why that mountain is taller than all the others.
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Department of Conservation
Photograph by Philippe Gerbeaux
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