The Hooker Valley track is located in the very heart of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. It's a track that's well known for its beautiful Aoraki views, picturesque swing bridges, glacier views, iceberg filled lake and, in spring, a great place to see the Mount Cook Buttercups in bloom.

It's an easy track so is suitable for hikers of most abilities with a very gentle amount of incline (approx. 80m) over 5kms. It’s not a loop track, so you walk out the way you go in, making it just over 10kms round trip. However, it’s approachable and walkers are able to complete the hike at their own pace. Give yourself at least a couple of hours, or plan for half a day to truly make the most of it.

You start from the White Horse Hill campground car park (a 5 minute drive from the Hermitage hotel), through open grassland. Walkers have an opportunity for a slight detour to visit the Alpine Memorial, a memorial to the mountaineers who have died in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park over the years.

There are three swing bridges on the track, walkers can also expect boardwalks and wide valley floors as they adventure closer to the glacial lake. Listen out for Mount Sefton’s rumbles as small avalanches pop. You are able to access Hooker Valley track year-round, although the second swing bridge might close in excessive wind. The track is particularly beautiful to walk in winter and it is possible for those of at least average fitness to walk it if covered in snow.

The Hooker Valley is a beautiful hike at any time of day, but it’s particularly special at sunrise as the sun rises behind Aoraki/Mount Cook, making it glow. The glacial lake also reflects Aoraki until the sun pops over the mountain, turning the grey-blue lake into a shocking turquoise colour.

Our top picks for hiking Hooker Valley?

  • Don’t rush, take your time as you soak up the sights & serenity.
  • Take your phone/camera as there are lots of photo opportunities!
  • Be mindful of the weather. Suncream and rain jackets are great to pack year-round.
  • Have a bite to eat when you get to the Hooker Lake. The Sir Edmund Hillary café located at the Hermitage hotel has a broad range of grab & go items for you to enjoy.

Check out the Explore like a Local package currently available for keen explorers. It's an Aoraki/Mount Cook walk not to be missed.