Hooker Valley Track, Mount Cook

The Hooker Valley Track may be an easy 10-kilometer flat trail, but it takes around 3 hours to hike the entire way (to the lake and back again).

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The Hooker Valley Track was one of our best day walks while visiting the Mt Cook area.

We experienced huge snow capped mountains, 3 swing bridges to cross, and a glacier lake with floating icebergs as we walked alongside the Hooker River – OMG how awesome is that. It took us about 1 hour 30 mins on a good quality track to walk the 5 km (10 km round trip) easy hike along the Hooker Valley walk. The views of Mueller Glacier, Hooker Lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook are just amazing.

This hike took our breath away (quite literally in some places), the Hooker Valley Track is definitely worth checking out. It wasn’t the middle of winter when we did this walk or we would have seen more snow. It also wasn’t the peak of summer, there would have been no icebergs to see then.

We started the walk from the car park at White Horse Hill Campground and climbed steadily up to Hooker Valley, where we enjoyed some stunning views of the surrounding Mt Cook mountains. There are also picnic tables just past the second swing bridge and at the Hooker Lake lookout, we took a break at both and enjoyed the views.

See below for way more details on our whole walk on the Hooker Valley Track.

How long does it take to hike the Hooker Valley Track?

Around 3 hours depending on your fitness level. That’s how long it took us anyway. The track is well-marked and relatively easy, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for a leisurely hike in beautiful surroundings.

We made sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, as there are no food or drink options along the walk.

Hooker Valley Track Weather

We also did a quick weather check before we headed out, we know the conditions can change quickly in the Mt Cook mountains. We packed a rain coat as well.

How difficult is the Hooker Valley Track?

We found the Hooker Valley Track a relatively easy walk and thought it could be completed by most people in a few hours. The track winds its way through the stunning Hooker Valley, on a good quality track. We didn’t get lost or anything like that on this walk, so I’m sure you won’t either!

We just need to mention the track can be quite icy and slippery in winter, so it’s best to go prepared with sturdy shoes, warm clothes, and a good rain jacket. 

Quick Facts about the Hooker Valley Track walk

  • Location: Mt Cook, South Island NZ
  • Distance: 10 kms
  • Time needed: 1 hour 30 minutes one way – 3 hrs return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Mountain Bike: No
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Double back
  • Elevation: 877m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Are there toilets on Hooker Valley Track? There are toilets at White Horse Hill and the DOC visitor centre as well as a self-composting toilet located 3.5 km point along the track!
  • Are dogs allowed on the Hooker Valley Track? Dogs aren’t allowed on this track so keep them home
  • Mobile Coverage:  Cellphone connection is possible for most of the track
  • Last Updated: Jan 2022
Stunning views up the river in the Hooker Valley
Stunning views up the river in the Hooker Valley

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

Summary points about the Hooker Valley walk

Here are our detailed points of interest along our walk of the Hooker Valley Track.

Where does Hooker Valley Track start?

The track starts at the beautiful White Horse Hill Campground, located a couple of kilometres from Mount Cook National Park. The beginning of the walk is just off the car park at the end of Hooker Valley Road.

As you drive up to the Hermitage village take the road to the right out to the Hooker Valley and campground. The track will be easy to find, just follow all the other walkers. You can stay the night at the Hermitage Hotel before setting off on your walk, it’s very nice. 

Hooker Valley Track - Stocking Shelter & Toilet

The walk starts off on a well maintained track, but that was short lived. It only took us 35 minutes to reach the first swing bridge, then the track turned to rocks and more rocks. Just before the swing bridge is the turn off to Mueller Lake, we started the Hooker Valley Track walk at 3 pm so as not to miss out on the sunlight shining on Hooker Lake, we gave Mueller Lake a miss.

The view looking up the Hooker Valley was so spectacular we forget to look where we were putting our feet, hence the sore toes at the end of our walk.

Swing bridge number two was just as spectacular, if only the Hooker River was in flood. From this swing bridge to Stocking Shelter was only 15 minutes of rock walking.

Hooker Valley Track - Arriving at Hooker Lake

20 minutes of walking over even bigger rocks will see you at Hooker Lake, it’s truly fantastic.

Make sure you get to Hooker Lake before you lose the sun otherwise you might freeze. Now turn around and go back the way you came. This is where we saw those amazing floating icebergs. We really enjoyed this walk.

What do you wear to Hooker Valley?

  • It’s important to wear comfortable sturdy walking shoes, in particular, proper hiking boots as there are a few uneven rocks to climb over.
  • It is also recommended that you wear waterproof clothing regardless if you are going during summer or winter because there will be periods when it might rain and get cold. 
  • You should bring sunblock as well as a hat/beanie combo since the sun can be quite fierce.
  • Gloves would be handy in winter.
  • Even in summer, it’s not that warm in the Hooker Valley, so long pants, a long sleeve top with a shorter sleeve top under would be perfect.

Where should I stay for Hooker Valley Track?

The closest place to stay near Hooker Valley Track is at Mt Cook Village.  There is a great choice of accommodation ranging from the high end Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook to alpine chalets. 

You’ll find a great selection of places to stay at Mt Cook Village here.

What sort of walking and hiking gear will you need

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

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