Hooker Valley Track [NZ]

Mount Cook area walk

This page outlines a walk in Mount Cook area of South Island. New Zealand. It goes from the last car park, near the original Hermitage, over three swing bridges to Hooker Lake which sits below Mount Cook itself.

10 Nov 2013 above the first bridge: Looking back down the valley to Lake Pukaki

Description of the walk

There are several day walks based on Aorkai (Mt Cook) Village as well as many more overnight and high mountain treks. The danger of the mountains is brought home in visiting the climbers memorial (just off this path) - with names of many young people who have gone out onto the mountains and never came back.

The start is at the last car park on the sealed road near the old Hermitage buildings (now long gone - destroyed on a major flood) - it then follows the Hooker Valley to the Hooker Lake, crossing the Hooker River three times by long narrow suspension bridges. It is a super walk - full of magnificent scenery: mountains, glacial lakes, moraines, snow, glaciers, wild flowers ...

On the day of the walk the plains and Lake Pukaki were warm and sunny, but the conditions on the West Coast and mountain tops lees pleasant. The temperature difference generated string to gale force winds which shook and swayed the suspension bridges. It was not possible to wear loose clothing like hats - we also came across a couple groping on the shrubbery next to the middle bridge looking for a pair of sunglasses that had been ripped off the woman's face by the winds.

On crossing the final moraine - Hooker Lake comes into view, the glacier and above it the bulk of Aoraki. The lake was littered with ice - broken off from the end of the glacier - which now ends further up the valley some way beyond the snout position shown on most maps,

Walk Stats

The path

Stage Title Comment
Walk start White Horse car park
Passage point Alpine Memorial - for climbers lost on Aoraki/Mt Cook
Passage point Hooker River Bridge
Passage point Mueller Lake
Passage point 2nd Swing Bridge
Passage point Upper Hooker Bridge
Walk end Hooker Lake
Distance 5.7 km [each way]
Terrain type undulating mountains
Total ascent [m amsl]
Total descent [m amsl]
Lowest point 749 Car Park [m amsl]
Highest point 886 Hooker Lake (bench-viewpoint) [m amsl]

The walk

Date walked Who Walking time Direction
10 November 2013 HMM; KJM 1.35 hours [one way] south-north (& return)

Points of Interest

Aoraki over Lake Pukaki Aoraki (Mt Cook)r: Taken from the southern end of Lake Pukaki the previous day.
Mt Cook Village - Visitor Centre Aoraki Village:The Information Centre in the village is well worth a visit - not only to check the weather conditions but there is also a small museum
Tasman Valley Tasman Glacier: the expansive Tasman valley, lake and glacier reaching far into the high mountains.
Lake Pukaki Lake Pukaki:The blue-green waters of the lake arise from the glacial content

Getting there & back

For this stage we drove from Twizel, where we were staying. After visiting the Mt Cook Village and information the car park is a short drive north of the village (all on sealed roads).

We returned to Twizel - following the blue green waters of the hydro canal.


Start: 10 November 2013
End: 10 November 2013

References & Links:

Date Title
20140511 Dept Conservation Mt Cook Walks page

Updated KJM 04 June 2014