A bit of a comparison of locations in the Mackenzie Country:

Lake Pukaki - an emerging destination and one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand.  There are a number of B&B and luxury lodges on the lake including at Pukaki itself and also at Glentanner. There is no light pollution at Lake Pukaki and one of the luxur lodges has an observatory.  Mt Cook is at the northern end of the lake and most accommodation facilities have superb views over the lake to Mt Cook. It is peaceful but jsut 30 minutes drive to Mt Cook glaciers and walks.

Mt Cook - limited accomodation options, but you are right there at Mt Cook (no ski field at Mt Cook - but excellent Tasman Glacier day skiing or heli-skiing, and ski touring based at high alpine huts). Good short and longer walks not too far from the village. Ball Pass Trek great way to get up into the mountains if you're a fit hiker. For an easy walk the Hochstetter Glacier is an easy short 15min walk to the first swing bridge. This can be extended to a longer walk either to the second swing bridge (less than two hours return) or right up to the Hooker Glacier less than 4 hours return from the camping ground. If you are going to stay up here buy your grocery type items elsewhere and bring them with you.

Accomodation is available either at the Hermitage www.mount-cook.com/  and its associated chalets or Aoraki Alpine Lodge  /www.aorakialpinelodge.co.nz/  or Glenntanner holiday park

Twizel - really a service town for the McKenzie Country. Originally built as a village for the construction workers on the hydro stations in the area. It was meant to be dismantled at the end of construction, but the town refused to die. Stop in for coffee and pizza at Shawty's or Poppies... ...not many places get views of Mt Cook.

Tekapo - No views of Mt Cook except from the top of Mount John, but nice lake and mountain views from just about everywhere. More touristy than Twizel. Good walkways and some mountain bike trails - free! Star watching unique because sky so clear. Scenic flights over Southern Alps good value. It also has 2 ski fields near by, Roundhill and Mt Dobson

Ohau - this is a developing little ski village which is also popular with locals during the summer holidays. Right next to Lake Ohau. Ohau mean 'wind' in Maori - this is an accurate description. 

Omarama - A small town world famous for gliding. Gliding is offered at local airfield in the summer months for those wanting to have a go.