Location - Mt Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand
Distance - 16 km return
Time - allow 2-4 hours
Difficulty - Easy

The Hooker Valley Track is located in the Mt Cook National Park (Aoraki) on the South Island of New Zealand. It's an easy walk on well-maintained gravel track and is a 16 km round trip and roughly one and a half hours each way. The scenery and views are stunning, but this is to be expected for New Zealand!

For anyone of moderate fitness and hiking experience, this is a very easy walk. Appropriate footwear (i.e. hiking boots), water, and snacks are essential. However, lunch at Hooker Lake and a camera are recommended items to bring. In New Zealand, the weather will determine what else you need to carry and can change rapidly, so wear adequate layers. In summer, you may also want to take sunscreen and insect repellent.

The journey

Walking along the valley between Mount Sefton (3,151 m) and Mount Wakefield (1,740 m), two huge mountains, and the valley leads towards the base of Mount Cook (3,724 m), also known as Aoraki to the indigenous. The trail follows Hooker River for the most part. The water course is crossed several times via suspension bridges. At the Stocking Stream Shelter is a composting toilet. The trail ends out at Hooker Lake.

This glacial lake at the base of Mount Cook / Aoraki is a beautiful greyish-blue from the ground rock and often has a few icebergs floating on the surface of varying sizes. Stay a while and watch the icebergs split if half and turn over, each section tipping over creating a mini-tsunami that crashed against the shore. You may even see or hear the sounds of avalanches crashing down the mountains. This is a perfect place to enjoy lunch and/or read a book.

Highlights

  • Hooker Lake at sunset
  • Walking through a mega valley
  • Suits almost all hiking abilities

Getting there

Drive to the Mount Cook National Park Via Twizel, taking the right just before the village onto Hooker Valley Road.

Essential Gear

  • Food and water
  • Suitable alpine clothing – Do not underestimate how cold it can get!
  • Sun protection (Sunscreen and a hat)
  • Camera and tripod

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Meditation
  • Sightseeing by helicopter or plane
  • Mountaineering (if you're experienced)