Tackling 2,000 Stairs on the Sealy Tarns Track
August 25, 2018
The Sealy Tarns Track is a challenging climb up 2,000 stairs within Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand. Although it is quite the climb for a one-day hike, the views are incredible! This blog is about everything you need to know about the Sealy Tarns Track.
Sealy Tarns Track
Mount Cook National Park is a hiker’s dream. From more challenging overnight hikes to the classic day hike in the Hooker Valley, the national park does not disappoint! However, one hike that is easily missed by those not planning any overnight treks is the Sealy Tarns Track.
The track takes you up the side of the Sealy Range and finishes with magnificent views of the entire valley floor including Mount Cook and the surrounding lakes. After completing the track myself I realized that this short hike needed a little more attention because it is just that spectacular!
What is the Sealy Tarns Track?
The Sealy Tarns Track is actually the first part of the hike to the Mueller Hut. In my opinion, I think that’s why it gets missed. Most people think that the overnight track is too much but don’t realise that you can get some of the amazing views on the Mueller Hut Track without the overnight trip.
All those steps…
The most common question someone has before they embark on a hike is “how hard is it”? It’s a hard question to answer because of personal fitness levels but luckily I can put a number on it when it comes to the Sealy Tarns Track….2000. That’s 2000 steps! Yes, although this number may sound huge, with plenty of regular breaks I would rate the Sealy Trans Track as easy for fit people, medium for the less experienced hikers, and hard for those who have never hiked before.
Where does the trek start from?
The track starts from the same car-park as the Hooker Valley Track (the Whitehorse Hill Campground and cap-park.) The area is really well signposted and the tracks very clear. It would almost be impossible to miss it!
Hiking the Sealy Track in Winter
The Sealy Track is open both in the winter and summer. I actually did the hike in winter and it was stunning. There are, however, a few other hazards in winter. The main one being avalanches. Although the track (even in the dead of winter) does not collect massive amounts of snow, the ridge above does. It is important to speak to the DOC (Department of Conservation) before attempting the hike in winter.
During my hike as we reached the top, the path became completely covered in snow. That mixed with the steep edges made the last part a little more hazardous.
Those views though!
The highlight of the Sealy Track is forsure the magnificent views of the entire valley floor, the surrounding lakes and, of course, Mount Cook. From the top, you truly realise how high you are, and even if the 2000 steps almost make you cry, the views will put a smile on anyone’s face!
The Sealy Tarns Track was my favourite hike in Mount Cook. Although hikes like the Hooker Valley end with those spectacular views of Mount Cook above a turquoise lake, for me, it’s all about getting above the clouds and looking down at everything around you. It’s the challenge that in the end makes those views so much more rewarding, and of course, getting away from the large crowds and enjoying the peace and quiet of nature!
Tips for hiking the Track
During the winter months, I highly suggest getting hiking poles. Crampons were not really necessary but the poles would definitely help with some of the icy parts, especially on the way down. In summer, bring lots of water and sunscreen! New Zealand’s sun is harsh and you will burn easier here than other places due to the hole in the Ozone layer.
With the stunning views and the well-maintained path I thought the Sealy Tarns Track would be filled with other hikers, instead, I was welcomed with a quiet track where I saw only very few other hikers. This along with the spectacular views and of course all the snow at the top made it my favourite hike in Mount Cook. I highly recommend tackling the 2000 steps, it’s totally worth it!