Day Walk | Hooker Valley Path

  • This page: description of the Hooker Valley Walk, South Island, New Zealand.
  • Status: Up to date
  • First Published: 19 December 2018

Walks: Hooker Valley Path

10 Nov 2015: Aoraki - Mt Cook:This is a Flickr album & can be viewed here or full size on Flickr using the nav arrows.

The Southern Alps

This page outlines a walk in the southern Alps area of South Island, New Zealand - very close to Aoraki [Mt Cook]. The path is a relatively easy walk from the last car park, near the original Hermitage, over three swing bridges to Hooker Lake which sits below Mount Cook itself.

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 of the path 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, passing Mueller Lake and 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 and even one toilets are provided along the way.

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 less pleasant. The temperature difference with respect to the east side of the Alps generated strong 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 searching 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 Route

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  

The Figures

Item Value Comment
Distance 5.7 km
Terrain type undulating mountains
Total ascent 332 m
Total descent 217 m
Lowest point 749 Car Park [m amsl]
Highest point 886 Hooker Lake (bench-viewpoint) [m amsl]

Walk Log

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

We returned via the same route - ie the total distance etc is double all the above figures.

Getting there & back

We were staying in Twizel, and drove to Mount Cook Village from there. After visiting the Information Centre the drive to the car park is close by to the north of the village (all on sealed roads). We returned to Twizel - following the blue green waters of the wide hydro canal.

Points of Interest

Aoraki over Lake Pukaki

Aoraki (Mt Cook) 3,724m: 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

References & Links:

Date Title
20181219 Dept Conservation Mt Cook Walks page

Last Updated:24 Dec 2018
Clearwater v1.01


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Walker's Notes


Please note that all walks described on these pages were passable at the time described.

However conditions change (weather, tides, landslips etc) and it is the walker's responsibility to ensure their own safety at all times.


Where used - the gradient classification is:

Easy: few gradients
Moderate: some uphill but < 10%
Strenuous: steep stretches > 10%

Site Version


10 May 2019