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How to Hike the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand (2023 Guide)

How to Hike the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand (2023 Guide)

The Hooker Valley Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular day walks. Enjoy an easy walk with incredible views of the Southern Alps, glacial streams and the majestic Aoraki (Mount Cook).

When it comes to incredible day hikes, it’s honestly hard to beat the Hooker Valley Track in terms of both views and ease of access.

Located in the incredible Mount Cook National Park, the Hooker Valley track winds up the glacial valley, crossing several scenic suspension bridges over glacial streams with ice-capped mountains on every side.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the Hooker Valley Track, including how to get here, what to expect, trail directions, and more based on my personal experience.

Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler & adventure photographer for 6 years with 700+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

Where is the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand?

The Hooker Valley Track follows the Hooker River up the Hooker Valley within the Mount Cook National Park.

The trailhead is accessible from near the White Horse Hill campsite, located at the end of Mount Cook Road.

Hooker valley track map

How to Get to the Hooker Valley Track

Getting to the Hooker Valley Track requires a drive down one of New Zealand's most scenic roads; Mount Cook Road. This road branches off State Highway 8 (Tekapo-Twizel Road) at the junction just before Lake Pukaki.

The road to Mount Cook National Park is sealed and well-maintained. However, it does close occasionally during Winter due to storms.

Mount cook road
Peter's Lookout on the Road to Mount Cook National Park

No Transport? - Hike the Hooker Valley Track on a Day Trip

For those without their own car, or if you'd prefer to visit the majestic Mount Cook NP on a day trip instead, you're in luck. There are several awesome small group and private tours that you can book online in advance, saving the hassle of transport.

Peter's lookout drive we seek travel

Tip: How to Get Around in New Zealand

Rent a car! New Zealand is very safe for motorists & driving is the best way to explore the country.

I always DiscoverCars to get the best deals. Or, if you want a camper, I've had good experiences in NZ with Spaceships & Travellers Autobarn.

What to Expect on the Hooker Valley Hike

  • Hike Distance & Duration: 10 km in 2 - 3 hours
  • Elevation: 100 m elevation gain
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Hooker Valley hike is an easy track that is suitable to varying fitness levels. This is the most popular hike in Mount Cook National Park thanks to its ease of access and stunning views.

Additionally, the track is mostly flat, with only about 100 m of elevation change spread out over the 10 km track.

The trailhead is located just near the car park to the White Horse Hill Campsite, on the right side of the road as you drive into the large car parking area. The track leads up the Hooker Valley, with views of Mount Cook visible along the entire length of the hike.

Hooker valley new zealand

Shortly after departing, you'll reach a moraine viewpoint, with informative signposts that explain the alpine geology, courtesy of the DOC.

There are a total of three swing bridges on the Hooker Valley Track. The first one crosses the Hooker River with excellent views over Mueller Lake.

Hooker valley suspension bridge

After the second swing bridge, you will notice that the landscape changes to a tussock plain, with wooden boardwalks preventing hikers from trampling the native grassland.

Hooker valley track tussock plains

After a final river crossing over a once again, spectacular swing bridge, the track leads hikers toward Hooker Lake. On a clear day, it'll seem like you're walking directly toward Mount Cook herself, towering just behind a small hill.

Hiking the hooker valley track
Mount cook on the hooker valley track new zealand

Arriving at Hooker Lake

Hooker Lake marks the end of the Hooker Valley track. From here, you'll have incredible views of New Zealand's tallest mountain and far-spanning views across the glacier-dotted lake.

You can also walk further to the shore of the lake, where you can get a closer glimpse of the huge chunks of ice making their way to the source of the Hooker River.

Hooker lake

From here, the Hooker Valley track leads back to the car park, the same way you came in. This time, the predominant view is of the Sealy mountain range.

Hooker lake in new zealand
Hooker valley, south island new zealand

MORE: 11 MORE MOUNT COOK VIEW LOCATIONS ON THE SOUTH ISLAND


What if it's Too Cloudy?

Bad weather seems to be more common than a clear day in this region. When we visited, we waited days for a good opportunity to hike the Hooker Valley Track.

However, if you are low on time, don't skip this hike just because of a bit of cloud cover. Remember that this is an alpine region and the weather changes very quickly. Sometimes, this can be a blessing, especially when the clouds part perfectly for a brief moment revealing the grandiose peaks and glaciers of this incredible destination.

Mount cook

GPX File from My Hooker Valley Hike

Here is the GPX recording of the track that I took. I recorded this track using my Garmin GPS watch. You probably won't need it for navigation.

GPX File: Download

My Strava: Visit

Hiking in mount cook national park, new zealand

RELATED: COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE ROYS PEAK HIKE NEAR WANAKA


More Unmissable Experiences at Mount Cook National Park

In a rush and prefer to have your trip to Mount Cook organized in advance? Check out these three unmissable Mount Cook experiences!

Hooker valley suspension bridge

1. Mount Cook Small Group Tour

The best way to experience the best of Mount Cook National Park on an epic day trip from Queenstown and includes the Hooker Valley Track.

Helicopter flight over mount cook national park

2. Mount Cook Ski Plane & Helicopter

A surprisingly affordable experience including a thrilling aerial tour by both ski plane and a helicopter!

Franz josef glacier south island 1

3. Tasman Glacier Heli Hike Top-Pick

See the Tasman Glacier from above and land on the Franz Josef or Tasman Glacier for an epic Glacier Hike (all gear provided)

Where to Stay in Mount Cook National Park

With so many amazing hiking opportunities in Mount Cook National Park, it's worth staying at least a night in the nearby Mount Cook Village. Below are the 3 top-rated options with links to check availability & pricing.

Bedroom views at aoraki court motel in mount cook village

1. Aoraki Court Motel

A spacious motel offering small, affordable rooms and large, two-bedroom apartments in the Mount Cook Village.

Mount cook lodge

2. Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge Top-Pick

A beautiful lodge with spacious rooms accommodating everyone from couples to large families, just a 5-minute walk from the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Landscape views around the hermitage hotel

3. The Hermitage Hotel

An incredible hotel with mountain views & a warm fireplace, just a drive to the start of the Hooker Valley Track.

Camping in the Mount Cook National Park

By far, the best place to stay overnight at Mount Cook National Park is the White Horse Hill Campsite.

Here, there are 60 unpowered sites and you'll need to arrive early in peak season to secure a spot. It's not possible to book online as it operates on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Hiking at hooker valley, new zealand

More Photos From the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand

Here are some more of my favourite photos from the hike. We were very fortunate to have good weather to be able to capture some clear shots!

Hiking the hooker valley track in new zealand
Hooker valley track
Hooker valley track new zealand
Hooker valley suspension bridge
Hooker valley swing bridge
Hiking the hooker valley track
Mountains in mount cook national park

More Things to do in Mount Cook National Park

I hope that you enjoyed this quick and easy guide to hiking the Hooker Valley Track New Zealand.

If you have any track updates or questions, make sure to help other travelers out by leaving a comment below.

For now, why not check out some more travel guides and articles around Mount Cook and the incredible Lake district. Also, get some more hiking inspiration by checking out this guide to the 6 Best Hike in Mount Cook National Park and this guide to the 31 Best Hikes in South Island New Zealand.

Hooker valley hike in new zealand
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

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