Day walks in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

Day walks in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

Five stunning hikes in Aoraki Mount Cook National ParkThere are so many amazing places to walk in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. These are all the walks that we tried over two days when we stayed the night in Mount Cook Village.

I have written them in order of difficulty, from the easiest stroll to the jelly-leg-inducing-epic-tramp. If you are heading to the area, you can choose the tracks that are best for you.

We found a map for all of thee walks at the Mount Cook Lodge, and the NZ government has a brochure about all these hikes here. Remember when you are hiking into the wilderness, you should always carry the 10 essentials.

1. Kea Point

This is the easiest walk, but it finished with a gorgeous viewpoint. You can either start in the village, or at the White Horse Hill campground.
Time: 30 minutes
Elevation gain: 100m
Can you do it: Yes! This is super easy.

Kea Point map

This is a perfect introduction to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. The walk starts in the same way as the walk to Sealy Tarns and the Mueller Hut Track. You have pretty views of Mount Sefton the whole way along the path. There are plenty of berry-filled bushes, flowers and blossom-covered trees.

This doesn’t take long, you’ll only be wandering for 15-20 minutes. Once you reach the end of the walk – you’ll be rewarded with beeeeautiful views of the Mueller lake, Hooker Valley and of the glacier on Mount Sefton.

If the clouds aren’t too heavy, you’ll also get some pretty amazing views of Aoraki / Mount Cook.

2. Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View

Time: 40 minutes return (it took us less than 30 minutes.)
Elevation gain: 100m (ish)
Facilities: There are toilets at the start of the walk
Can you do it: You need to go up quite a few steps, but if you take it slowly, it’s very easy.

Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Map

This walk is the other side of Mount Wakefield, in the Tasman Valley (so a little further away from Mount Cook village, but still within Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park.) This means you’ll get totally different views of the surrounding mountains. On the way up, you can see some pretty “blue lakes.” While we were there, the lakes were more full of rainwater than glacial water, so they were green. Apparently when these lakes were first named in the 1900s, the lakes were fed by the glacial water, so they were a bright turquoise blue.

This walk finishes with these amaaaazing views of the Tasman Glacier and Terminal Lake. We spoke to some New Zealanders who told us the glacier has retreated massively even in the last 10 years. Apparently, when the path was first made, the glacier was all the way down to this view point. The rate of retreat is up to 800m per year(!)

We sat back, had a snack and admired the view. It is so sad that the effects of global warming could mean this glacier will slowly (or not so slowly!) disappear.

I also took some photos back into the Tasman Valley so you can see the amazing views in both directions.

We treated this walk as an easy extra stop-off before our drive to Wanaka, but you could easily spend an entire afternoon here and explore a few of the different walks near the glacier and the lake.

3. Hooker Valley Track

Distance: 5km (so 10km in both directions)
Elevation gain: Not much at all. 120m, spread over 5 km.
Time: 3 hours. We did it in 2 and a half hours.
Facilities: There are toilets at the start at the White Horse Hill Campground
Can you do it: YES! Seriously! You can bring your granny and your kids on this one. It might take a bit longer, but the path is pretty flat and easy to follow.

Hooker Valley Map

This is one of the most famous walks in the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park area. I wrote a whole separate post about this amazing walk as it is simply gorgeous. You follow an easy path that winds along the Hooker River, over several pretty swing bridges.

The walk finishes with views over Hooker lake over to the Hooker Glacier and Aoraki / Mount Cook. This is one of my favourite views in New Zealand. Isn’t it gorgeous!?

4. Sealy Tarns

Elevation gain: 600m. This one is a bit more knackering as it has 2200 steps up.
Time: 3 hours return (or 2 if you are feeling super speedy! We made it to the Sealy Tarns in just over an hour)
Facilities: There are toilets at the start at the White Horse Hill Campground
Can you do it: This one is harder but we saw quite a few families with young children managing it.

Sealy Tarns Map

This walk is all about the steps. Near the start, the steps are close together and quite steep, which means it is easy to get stuck behind other walkers in a long stepping line. You might hate this walk for the first 20 minutes, but it gradually gets easier and flattens out a little as you get closer to the Tarns. If you’re not sure what a tarn is, they are small mountain lakes – you’ll find a couple on the ridge which let you know you’ve made it.

There is a picnic bench right at the top so bring some food and pat yourself on the back for reaching such a pretty view down to the Hooker Valley.

5. Mueller Hut

Elevation gain: 1038m. The previous walk to Sealy Tarns is the half way point for this walk.
Distance: 10.5 km (return)
Time: 6-10 hours return
Facilities: There are toilets at the start at the White Horse Hill Campground and at the Mueller Hut.
Can you do it: This hike is not easy. Be ready to climb constantly for the first 3-4 hours. I wouldn’t recommend this hike as your first long walk of the summer, but the path is not very hard to follow, so if you are reasonably fit, and you really want to see epic views, you’ll manage it!

Mueller Hut Map

This was my favourite hike in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. It was actually my favourite hike in New Zealand! I loved the amazing views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The scenery really blew me away. I was especially impressed by the moments when parts of the hanging glaciers broke off and crashed their way down the mountains. It made me feel tiny and insignificant, but also in love with this amazing planet.

This is where you’ll hike up to, the famous Mueller Hut. The final photo, is just a little higher than the hut, near the top of Mount Ollivier.

Hopefully I’ve persuaded you to try out a few of the hikes in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. I loved this area so I really hope you’ll have some fun tramping there too! Click on the following link if you’d like to read about our other adventures in New Zealand.

32 thoughts on “Day walks in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

    1. Thanks Katie!

      I bet you’ll get there at some point. It really is a gorgeous place so I’m really excited to keep sharing piccies. <3

  1. This looks so beautiful. I would love to do this one day to just forget all the stress and just relax. Great post!

    1. Thanks Liz!

      I has to admit that I was a little stressed before we arrived as I was sure we’d have terrible rainy weather. Once we arrived to see patches of blue skies, all my stresses melted away and it was an amaaaazing place to explore.

      I do hope you can get there too!!

  2. How badly do I want to go to NZ! I love your photos and the way you have broken down all the different gorgeous walks is awesome. I am so making a note of them coz I wouldn’t wanna return without doing it 🙂

    1. Thanks Zoe! I really was the kind of holiday I’d been dreaming of too! I hope you get a similarly amazing Kiwi holiday one day!!

    1. Yay! I am really glad you like the post Stephanie! NZ does seem to be a paradise for people that like the outdoors. 😀

    1. Aww thanks Cherie!
      You are living a better life with your amazing adventures in Germany! We’ve swapped continents for now, so it’s awesome that we can follow each other. 🙂

    1. Thank you Erin!! We had Sooo much fun in this area! Looking back, I’m glad we managed to find out feet on so many trails!

    1. I know, it sounds like it won’t be a long time before they are almost all gone. 🙁

      I heard that at least the hole in the ozone layer is starting to improve above Aus/ NZ, but there are so many other things we need to fix on this poor planet. 🙁

  3. Almost forgot to leave a real comment here, after replying to your Community Pool post! Oops 🙂 but anyway, great layout of what looks like some spectacular walks. NZ has been on my bucket list for a while, and you’ve gone and reinforced my NZ travel bug with this post – thanks for that! 😛

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