Hooker Valley Track – an easy Mount Cook walk

While I was touring the South Island with Wild Kiwi last week, four of us from the tour decided to walk the Hooker Valley Track on our free afternoon in Mount Cook National Park.

We were told this particular Mount Cook hike would take around 3.5 hours return from our accommodation at Mount Cook Lodge, but already having painfully sore calf muscles from a 6 hour hike up Isthmus Peak in Wanaka two days earlier, I was relieved to find it was actually much shorter.

Start of Hooker Valley Track New Zealand

The Hooker Valley Track is mostly flat and an easy walk to a lake with icebergs and views of Mount Cook where the Hooker Glacier is breaking off. When we were dropped off at the start point by our tour guide we were already surrounded by snow capped mountain vistas and initially the terrain is quite rocky and not all that interesting.

The hike includes three high swing bridges over the green and rocky Hooker River which those afraid of heights may struggle with. Shortly before the first swing bridge there’s a viewing point over the bridge and of the Mueller Glacier.

First bridge Hooker Valley Track Walk

Swing Bridge Hooker Valley Track Walk

The vegetation kept changing as Mount Cook appeared in front of us. There was an open section of tussock where there was a boardwalk through the valley and even wildflowers at one point.

Hooker Valley Track Hike in New Zealand

The views at the glacier lake at the end including Mount Cook and the Southern Alps were absolutely stunning and well worth the journey, which only took just over an hour from the carpark including multiple photo stops.

End of Hooker Valley Track Hike

Girl at Glacier lake Hooker Valley Mount Cook National Park
Photo by Lilian Pang Film and Photography

I was extremely put off hiking for years after being forced into tramping at school until I did the Tongariro Crossing. If you’re not really a hiker, in terms of time and difficulty in exchange for reward I reckon this is the best hike I’ve done in New Zealand.

Have you done any of the Mount Cook hikes in New Zealand? What’s the best hike in New Zealand you’ve done in terms of reward for effort?

24 Comments

  1. January 29, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    We just did this hike last week (I didn’t write about it yet) I totally agree that it is fantastic for the effort to pay-off ratio! We went REALLY early in the morning to avoid the crowds, so it wasn’t quite as bright as your tramp.

    p.s. I really wanted to do Isthmus Peak too! Was it amazing! We only had time for one big hike in Wanaka so I went with Roy’s Peak…

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      January 29, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      Going early to avoid the crowds is a great idea! Super keen to read about your experience. I really want to do Roys Peak – it was closed for lambing the week I was there.

  2. January 24, 2018 / 11:07 am

    This looks SO amazing! I think my biggest regret in New Zealand is not getting to do this hike. It looks mindblowing!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      January 24, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      I didn’t even know it existed until the day I arrived in Mount Cook National Park! The scenery was just jaw-dropping.

  3. October 29, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    Wow, what beautiful photos! I’ve never been to New Zealand, so I need to get over there ASAP and experience its natural beauty!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      Yes you do Kristen! It’s as naturally beautiful as it looks in the photos 🙂

  4. October 29, 2017 / 9:21 am

    This looks like a great place to be! The national park looks so amazing and unreal! Would love to visit in the future

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      We visited five National Parks on the Wild Kiwi tour I went on so this was just one of them! They each had their own, beautiful and unique features.

  5. hapa roving
    October 29, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Incredibly scenic! Hard to believe it took you minimal effort to get there. New Zealand has so much to offer, we’re both avid nature lovers and can’t wait to go there!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 8:24 pm

      I know right?! Nuts how little effort it took to be in a completely different world. Hope you guys can visit soon!

  6. Amy
    October 29, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Wow! These photos are so gorgeous! I had no idea that New Zealand had places that looked like this – even more of a reason to visit, I guess! Thanks for sharing.

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      Thanks Amy! Yes the variety of scenery is unreal really.

    • October 29, 2017 / 9:16 am

      Andy that photo is amazing! I love the blue colour of the glacier! Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are epic too, it’s really hard to do everything in one trip, you’ll have to come back!

  7. Tasha Jacqueline
    October 29, 2017 / 12:08 am

    This looks like a stunning hike and good that it’s not too long either. I love the outdoors and seeing beautiful views so I’d love to try this one if I visit New Zealand one day.

    • October 29, 2017 / 9:14 am

      Definitely one to do if you visit Tasha! There were several longer hikes in Mount Cook National Park which go higher for different views as well.

  8. ngelean
    October 28, 2017 / 8:09 pm

    This is such a wonderful and scenic hike. I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand but am always not sure what I can do there. This seems to be something I’ll have to do !

    • October 29, 2017 / 9:13 am

      There’s plenty to do and definitely something for everyone in New Zealand! You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie or massively into the outdoors to enjoy the scenery.

  9. caroekg
    October 28, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    Looks like such an amazing hike! Those views are unreal. I hear that New Zealand has some incredible hikes, so I’d love to get down there sometime. Gorgeous photos!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      There are certainly incredible hikes all around New Zealand! I need to make it my mission to get out and do more of them. Thanks!

  10. October 28, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Those views are amazing! This will definitely go on my to do list for New Zealand! Will Pin It for later!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Awesome Odette! What else is on your New Zealand to do list?

  11. October 28, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Wow thanks for sharing this gem! I love finding a place that takes minimal effort in hiking and beautiful scenic view! I love the valley view with the snow capped mountains!

    • sarahkennerley@gmail.com
      Author
      November 2, 2017 / 9:37 pm

      Cheers Hanna! The valley and mountains were so beautiful – I love the fact that Mount Cook is snow capped year round.