The Hooker Valley Track, New Zealand: An Easy Hike with Spectacular Views

the hooker valley track suspension bridge

The Hooker Valley Track in Mount Cook National Park is an amazing walk. It is fairly easy and offers stunning views. This blog is about everything you need to know to conquer the trail for yourself. 


The Hooker Valley Track, New Zealand

Most of the time, the easiest hikes offer very ordinary views. From my experience, I have found that the most incredible views come after long, tiring hikes uphill.

The Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand is an exception to this theory as it is a simple and short walk with views that you just have to see to believe.

I have personally hiked the Hooker Valley Track three times now, and I never get sick of the views both along the way and at the Hooker Lake.

If you are going to do one hike while you are in New Zealand, you should definitely consider doing the Hooker Valley Track. It is just that stunning and it one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

This blog will give you all of the information you need to complete the Hooker Valley Track, the attractions to look out for along the way and how to best enjoy it!

the hooker valley track new zealand
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Where is the Hooker Valley Track?

The Hooker Valley Track is within Mount Cook National park on New Zealand’s South Island. The track itself starts only a couple minutes outside of Mount Cook Village (the town in Mount Cook National Park) at the White Horse Hill Campground.

To find the campground, just punch it in on Google Maps, or if you have no service download Maps.me prior to entering the park and download the South Island of New Zealand map. On this map, it is clearly marked.

Once you arrive at the White Horse Hill Campsite just follow the signs to the track starting point.


How long is the Hooker Valley Track?

The track is about 5km each way. You return on the same trail as the way there.

It took us just over an hour each way, and we spent about 30 minutes at the end viewpoint. Overall, the entire 10km Hooker Valley Track can be completed within 3 hours including stops for photos.

the bridge along the hooker valley
Along the hike, you will cross three suspension bridges

How Difficult is the Hooker Valley Track?

The Hooker Valley Track is a relatively easy hike. That being said, I have still seen people struggle on the trial.

The best way to work out whether it’s right for you or not, is to ask yourself can you hike 10km at a park or in the city? If you can then this trail will be no problem for you.

The path is very well maintained with little to no inclines. It is a very flat trail that often goes over wooden walkways and bridges.

In the summer months, it can get very hot on the track and there isn’t much shade. In my opinion, this could pose as a risk or make the hike harder for those who are not used to or prepared for New Zealand’s harsh sun.

I highly recommend bringing at least 1 liter of water per person, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen regardless of what the weather looks like!

the walkway along the Hooker Valley Track
Once you reach this boardwalk your almost at the lake!
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4 Amazing Things you’ll See on the Hooker Valley Track

The Hooker Valley Track offers some incredible views that really have to be seen to be believed. A few things you will see and look out for are:

1. Mt Cook / Aoraki

Mount cook
Of course, the reason you here is for this stunning mountain – Mount Cook

Mt Cook or Aoraki (as it was first named by the Maori people) is New Zealand’s tallest mountain. It now stands at 3724m, 40m shorter than it was last recorded in 1991 after a few major slips and erosion caused it to lose some hight. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep shrinking!

The name Aoraki comes from the Maori legend of how the South Island was born. Aoraki is actually the name of a Maori ancestor. The story behind the mountain is very interesting and you can read more about the Aoraki legend here.

You’ll see Mount Cook as you drive into the national park but from the end of the hooker valley track is the best view in my opinion!

2. The Hooker Lake

The hooker LAke at the end of the Hooker Valley track
The Hooker lake in all her glory! I love this place!

The Hooker Lake is another stunning attraction to see on the Hooker Valley Track. This lake is actually a very new addition to the valley and only began to form in the 1970s after the Hooker Glacier began retreating.

The lake is glacier fed and sits directly beneath Mt Cook. In winter, the lake can freeze and in summer your likely to see icebergs floating on the surface. On a calm day, you can see Mt Cooks perfect reflection in the lake. It’s the perfect end to the track!

3. Hooker Glacier

The Hooker Glacier sits across the Hooker Lake and can be viewed for the edge of the lake. It has retreated quite far so you won’t get a close-up look but you’ll still see it! The glacier itself is 11km long and is only one of many that sit beneath Aoraki.

4. Mueller Glacier and Lake

Mount Cook national park is one of the most popular places to visit in New Zealand
The views on the way to the Mueller Hut looking down at the Mueller Lake and Glacier

If you look to your left as you start the trail you will notice another lake. This is the Mueller Glacier and Lake. The Mueller Glacier is located at the end of this lake down the small valley.

This glacier can be hard to see as it blends in with the surrounding mountains and is often covered in snow during the winter. However, you can spot it if you especially now that you’ll be looking out for it!

Another really popular hike in Mt Cook National Park that you should consider doing is the Mueller hut trail! The picture above is taken from about half way!

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3 Reasons you MUST hike the Hooker Valley Track!

What I loved most about the Hooker Valley Track was just how scenic it was from start to finish. It wasn’t one of those hikes that are only good at the end, the entire time the scenery is breathtaking!

1. The View at the End of the Track

the Hooker Lake and Mt Cook
The hooker lake and the end of the Hooker Valley Track

The amazing view of Mount Cook over Hooker Lake is the view at the end of the track or the main attraction. During clear days, Mount Cook reflects off of the lake making for an amazing picture.

2. You’ll cross the most beautiful suspension bridges in New Zealand!

the hooker valley track suspension bridge
The most beautiful suspension bridges in New Zealand

I love the suspension bridges around New Zealand! But, if I’m being honest none compare to the three on the Hooker Valley Track. They cross the Hooker River along the trail in some of the most scenic locations on the trail!

It’s one sure reason to add this hike to your NZ bucket list!

3. You’ll stand next to New Zealand’s tallest mountain

there are lots of different things to do in mount cook national park
Mount Cook is huge!

You can’t come to New Zealand and not come stand as close as possible to Mount Cook! I mean, how many other countries can walk 5km to their tallest mountain? I don’t know the answer, but my guess is not many!

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When is the best time to visit?

There really is no best time to hike the Hooker Valley Track. This is simply because it’s stunning all the time!

At sunrise, you will get an amazing glow as the sun rises behind Mt Cook. At sunset you see the last light disappear off the peak of Mt Cook.

During the day is beautiful and at night you can see the stars like you wouldn’t believe!

When it comes to the seasons, the track is open all year round. The trail is safe to hike in winter as it doesn’t pass avalanche risk areas at close proximity. So, no matter what time of year you visit, you can hike the Hooker Valley Track all year round!

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The Hooker Valley at Sunrise

The other day we got up at 4 am to hike the track for sunrise. We wanted to be at the lake to watch the amazing sunrise and it was well worth the early wake-up call. The mountains reflected off the lake as the sun rose over the mountains. We had the whole area all to ourselves! So peaceful and beautiful.

If you too would like to do this be sure to leave at least an hour before the sun is due to rise. Oh, and don’t get scared if you see a possum run past you they are common after dark!

mount cook is amazing
What an incredible hike!

Tips for walking the Hooker Valley Track

Avoid the Crowds

The Hooker Valley Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular hikes. With that comes hoards of people. If you want to enjoy the view with some peace and quiet I suggest you either hike first thing in the morning or wait till the end of the day and spend sunset at the lake!

What to Bring

A few things to bring along include your camera, a hat for NZ’s crazy sun, sunglasses, clothing to suit the season, a towel if it’s summer and you want to jump in the lake (or if it’s winter and your downright crazy), water (at least 1 liter) suitable footwear, and a smile! It’s not a crazy hard hike so try not to overthink it!

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Accommodation in Mt Cook Village (near the Hooker Valley Track start)

Accommodation is very limited in Mt Cook Village (where the Hooker Valley Track starts). In fact, you only have 5 options and they book up fast. For this reason, it’s best to book them asap! They are:

White Horse Hill Campground – This is the DOC run campground at the start of the Hooker Valley Track. It’s perfect for those in campervans, motorhomes cars, or tents. It cost $13 per person per night but they have deals for students and kids.

The YHA Hostel – This is your most budget accommodation in the park, however, it is a really nice place to stay. They have large and small dorm rooms that start at $38 a night per person.

Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge – A great hotel with awesome mountain views. The reviews here are really good and it’s only a 1-minute walk to the visitor center.

The Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook – If you can afford to stay here then do it! I dare say they have the best views of Mt Cook! The rooms are very luxurious and the foods amazing!

Aoraki Court Motel – I actually don’t know much about this place to be honest, but they have the best reviews out of any hotel in the park and that’s usually a good sign!

If all of this accommodation is booked out, consider staying in Twizel instead. It is the closest town to Mount Cook Village and there are a couple of hotels there. Check out the accommodation available in Twizel.

Many people actually stay in Lake Tekapo as opposed to Mount Cook Village. In Lake Tekapo, there are a lot more hotels to choose from, but the downside is that it is a 1.5-hour drive from Mount Cook. Check out the accommodation available in Lake Tekapo.


Other things to do in Mount Cook National Park

Hike to the Mueller hut – the Mueller hut is one of the best alpine huts in new Zealand. It’s located in the most stunning location high above the valley in Mount Cook. To date, it’s my favorite hike in New Zealand!

Visit the Tasman River for sunrise – The short walk to the Tasman River makes it the perfect opportunity to enjoy a sunrise over the Tasman Glacier. From the viewpoint, you have the most breathtaking views!

the mueller hut is one of the best things to do in New Zealand's Mount Cook National Park
The Mueller Hut

tasman river walk
The Tasman lake

Take the famous Mount Cook road photo – It’s such an awesome photo to take home with you and in our blog, we show you exactly where and how to take it!

Hike the Sealy Tarn Trail – The Sealy Tarn Trail is the shorter version of the Mueller hut. Both follow the same path but the Sealy Tarn is only halfway. However, the views from the top are still amazing!

sealy tarns track new zealand pinterest
The top of the Sealy Tarns Track.

Mount cook on our campervan road trip
The famous photo!

For more amazing things to do in Mount Cook check out bog on the 13 BEST things to do in Mount Cook National Park!


Overall the Hooker Valley Track was an awesome walk. I was thoroughly impressed with how beautiful it was! We will definitely hike the Hooker Valley Track again in the future, and you should too!

Don’t forget to check out all of our blogs about New Zealand!

-Bailey

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