Hooker Valley Track – Mount Cook Walks

Hooker Valley Track – Mount Cook Walks

Hooker Valley TrackThe Hooker Valley Track is truly gorgeous. It is an easy tramp near Aoraki / Mount Cook Village. It also has the best effort-to-epic-view payoff of any walk I have ever done. Seriously, for a short walk, the views for this hike are truly stunning. The problem is, everyone knows about it. As we started our other amazing day hike to Mueller Hut the previous day, it seemed like hundreds of people were heading off towards the Hooker Valley Track.

So, although we loved the idea of a beautiful, easy hike, we didn’t really fancy walking in a large crowd. Our solution (even though we’d walked our legs off the previous day), was to wake up really early. We woke up at 5:30 am, and set off from Aoraki / Mount Cook Village before 6 am. This meant we had found a good parking spot and set off for our hike before 6:30 in the morning. On a holiday! I don’t really know what got into us! All I can say is, it was worth it!

Hooker Valley Track – the Basics:

Distance: 5km (so 10km in both directions)
Elevation gain: Not much at all. 120m, over 5 km.
Time: 3 hours. We did it in 2.5, but we were walking fast to make sure we made it back in time to check out from our hotel!
Facilities: There are toilets at the start at the White Horse Hill Campground
What to bring: The 10 essentials
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.

TheΒ Hooker Valley Track

When we started the Hooker Valley track, the valley was still quite dark, but the peaks of the surrounding mountains were lit up by the sunrise. I’m not sure if the weather often starts like this, but there were no clouds in the sky for the first hour of sunlight.

It turns out if you can get up early, you will get to meet a whole lot of furry friends on this walk! Bunnies were awake bright and early. It can be hard to catch them on film, but every time we turned a corner, there’d be white fluffy tails rushing off in all directions!

Beautiful Bridges:

The Hooker Valley walk winds along the Hooker river, and so is crisscrossed by several beautiful swing bridges.

Each bridge is high above the gushing river full of chilly glacial water. They all wobble a little bit. I suppose they probably wobble even more when there are more people!

Even early in the morning before there was much light in the valley, you can see that the water must be an amazing colour! It changed from grey to turquoise, depending on the direction you look at it. This water must be full of minerals that have been ground down from the local glaciers.

Glacial views in the Hooker Valley:

The track finishes by the Hooker lake with views of the Hooker Glacier at the base of Aoraki / Mount Cook. But in addition to that, you have some amazing views of the hanging glaciers on Mount Sefton. I love the way you can see the stripes of the dark rock, as well as the tracks that the glaciers have left behind on the mountain.

Views of Aoraki / Mount Cook

Now, I can’t promise that you’ll get to see Aoraki / Mount Cook! I mean she hid herself in the clouds most of the previous day. But, if the clouds are kind enough to allow you to view the area, the views ofΒ Aoraki / Mount Cook are gorgeous from the Hooker Valley Track!

Hooker Valley Icebergs

This was the first time I’ve ever seen an iceberg! These mini icebergs are created when parts of the Hooker Glacier crack off into Hooker Lake. It’s cool that each of them has a completely different shape. I’m also now really curious about what these must look like underwater! I mean, there must be a lot more ice in this lake!

So, those were the amazing views we found after walking for just an hour and a half. Would you wake up early so that you can enjoy these views in the quiet? We saw two joggers early on the walk, but we didn’t spot anyone else until we were almost back to the car park!

Can you see what I mean about the Hooker Valley Track being excellent effort-to-view ratio!?

The sun lit up the mountains on the walk back, so we were rewarded with gorgeous views over the Mueller lake. It’s funny to see the massive bank where the glacier has carved a huge scar into the mountain. We had not been able to see how massive that cliff was from our path on the mountain the previous day!

The clouds came down over Mount Ollivier at around 8:30am. But, even with clouds, if you click on the photo on the left below, you can see part of the path we hiked up onto that green ridge. If you didn’t already read that post, please do! That was easily the most epic tramp of our time in New Zealand.

As we got closer to the campsite and car park, more and more early walkers arrived on the track. At one point we walked past a group of ten hikers all trying to take the same photo of Mount Cook over the river. But somehow, my last few photos of the walk are still pretty devoid of people! I am not sure how I managed that!

This was close to the car park just before 9am, and you can already see the constant stream of people heading into the Hooker Valley.

If you can’t make it onto this walk early, I still think it is a stunning hiking track. Don’t let the crowds put you off – get out there and enjoy those views. BUT if you can wake up early and beat the crowds, I highly recommend it.

We made it back to our hotel just after 9:10am, so we had plenty of time for a morning cup of tea before check-out. I think this was the best tea-view of our trip to New Zealand.

We actually managed to fit in a few more Mini hikes around Aoraki / Mount Cook before our drive over to Lake Wanaka. But I hope you like this one. We both loved it.

If you fancy a much harder (but truly epic) hike, consider the Mueller Hut Day Hike while you’re in Mount Cook. Or, click on the following link if you fancy more ideas for exploring New Zealand.

41 thoughts on “Hooker Valley Track – Mount Cook Walks

    1. YES!! I mean it wasn’t even very much effort compared to other other walk in the area, so those views were totally worth it!!

  1. Josy, I just have to say that your blog is one of my favorites! The information you give is wonderful, your photos are beautiful, and I can feel your passion in each and every one of your posts. I like YOU as a person too. You’re so great about communicating with other bloggers.

    And, yes! I would definitely get up early to experience everything you saw. πŸ™‚

    1. Aww thank you so much Erin!

      That is SUCH a lovely comment! Especially coming from you as I feel the same way about your writing. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for giving me such a massive smile at lunchtime!

  2. Wow – that looks amazing. For sure the views can’t be beat. And swinging bridges. And ice bergs all in one short hike. Can’t beat that. Good for you for getting ahead of the crowds. I’m not sure I’d have to ambition to get up that early while on holiday.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. I don’t think we would have considered it if we hadn’t seen so many people heading towards that walk the previous day!

      We actually woke up early quite a few times in NZ. I guess it was the jet-lag allowing us to wake up early without realising just *how* early it really was!?!

    1. lol I actually have hardly any holiday…it’s just when we went to NZ we crammed so much into our time there that I’m still writing about it a month and a half later!! πŸ™‚

  3. I’ll be honest, I came here mostly to look at the gorgeous photos of that stunning landscape… I want to move to the mountains (at this point, any mountains will do, so tired of flat Lincolnshire) every time I read one of your posts!

    Beautiful. I always look forward to your posts. πŸ™‚

    1. Yay! I am so glad you are liking these Kiwi Mountain posts Frede! I do really love Lincolnshire (and Cambs) too, but I think my heart belongs closer to the mountains. You need to get yourself over to the Peaks for a weekend. You can have a mini mountain fix! πŸ™‚

      1. I love Lincolnshire too, but like yours, my heart belongs closer to the mountains… We are going tot he Peaks this weekend if the weather is not too bad, and planning trips to the Lake District and possibly somewhere in Europe with bigger mountains. πŸ™‚

    1. Lol there were soooo many bunnies! You mostly just get to see their white poofy tails as they run away from you!!

  4. This looks like such an incredible walk! There’s nothing better than an incredible view that doesn’t involve much effort – love that it’s easy AND has views like that! And those icebergs are beautiful!

    1. I know right! I guess that is why this walk is so popular. Anyone can manage it, and everyone should, because the views are sooo pretty!

      That just means you have to wake up early if you fancy a quieter walk!

  5. What a stunning part of the world! Your photos here are beautiful, and it’s great to see so much useful information in this post too.
    P.S. I love your little cat scarf πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks Anna!

      I love that cat scarf too! It was a gift from my work colleagues when I left London. They know my cat-lady-ness!

  6. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m trying to plan my honeymoon in NZ and was looking at all the walks/hikes in the South Island. I love all the photos you posted and the information you provided! I will refer back to this when I do this walk!

    1. Yaaay! You are going to have SUCH an amazing honeymoon! We did a lot of walking on our honeymoon too, so I’m pretty sure that makes a good start to a new marriage! <3

      It seems like NZ has amazing hiking options wherever you end up. Our best walks were Tongariro (in the North Island), near Lake Tekapo, around Mount Cook, near Lake Wanaka and near Milford Sound. Queenstown looked like it had loads of good hikes too but we ran out of time! Give me a shout if you need advice near any of those. πŸ™‚

  7. This only makes me want to visit NZ that much harder! Thanks for making me feel like I was on this hike with you with your gorgeous photos and narrative!

    1. Awww thanks Sage! That means a lot coming from you as the photos on your blog are gorgeous!

      I think you might need to head to Kiwiland. Your photos of this epic scenery would be stunning!! <3

    1. Those icebergs were pretty amazing. I think you might be able to see even more if you arrived slightly earlier in the summer. There were just a few teeny ones while we were visiting.

  8. I love the way you described everything, I could almost imagine myself walking along the same path and smelling the crisp mountain air πŸ™‚
    Lovely pictures by the way. I just might wake up early for such a view on my own holiday too!

  9. I’ve never been much of a hiker but this one looks worth it. If I did do I hike I wouldn’t want to be in a large group either. This place looks beautiful, what an incredible experience.

    1. It’s still totally doable if you’re not used to hiking, you might just need a couple of breaks along the way. The scenery is so pretty that you can stop to take photos if you’re feeling tired, and know one would ever know you’re tired. I mean, you have to take photos when the world is that pretty anyway!!

  10. The best kind of hikes! Enjoyable and not too straining πŸ˜‰ This looks beautiful! I really need to make it New Zealand!

    1. I quite like the more challenging walks too, but you’re right, it is always lovely to see such epic views with so little effort!! πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for popping by Katherine!

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