The most popular day walk in the park. And with good reason. Roaring rivers, glaciers draping of the highest peaks and superlative views of Aoraki / Mount Cook.
Early and late are the best times to avoid the masses. 70,000 per year walk the track.
The start of the walk is signposted from White Horse Hill Campground at the end of Hooker Valley Road.
Pass the memorial to those who have died in these high mountains. Another memorial shortly after celebrates Freda du Faur, the first female to summit Aoraki.
The well-maintained track recently underwent a $1.7 million upgrade, so is in great nick. Metalled all the way, boardwalks over the soft stuff and 3 of the most magnificent suspension bridges in the country.
Traversing the moraine wall damming Mueller Lake, the track then crosses the roaring river on the first of the swing bridges. Huge boulders disrupt the flow and froth the debris laden river a sombre grey.
A safe distance from the scree walls at the base of the Kirikirikatata / Mount Cook Range, the track then makes its first crossing of the Hooker River.
Boardwalks over the tussock and swamps protect the fragile vegetation. Some memorable views up to Aoraki with the rocky river in the foreground, are the photographers’ chosen spots.
Another crossing of the Hooker River, then a short side trip to an alpine tarn, before the track ends beside Hooker Lake.
You can see the terminal face of the glacier, all smothered in rock debris at the far end. Icebergs are blown down-lake by the katabatic winds and funneled westerlies. A short side track descends to the lake edge.
Return via the same track.
Previous to glacial action, many valleys were characterised by a system of interlocking spurs protruding into the valley floor – the legacy of water’s erosion carving V’s into the land. Glaciers worked differently and having no regard for these obstructions, simply bulldozed through the rock, truncating spurs to leave a triangular face bisecting the former ridgeline.
Glaciers filled the valleys and joined in the upland areas to form ice caps. The last Ice Age was known as the Otiran and occurred between 80,000 and 10,000 years ago. Ice was up to 2 km deep. Sea levels were up to 120 metres lower and ice reached over 10 km off today’s shoreline. At least 5 glacial advances and retreats are evident. At the conclusion of the last glacial between 35,000 and 14,000 years ago, a Glacial Maximum occurred, a short but intense episode of global cooling. This spurred on the glaciers in a final pulsing advance, which built up the vast terminal moraines, filling the MacKenzie basin and extending glaciers 10 km past the current southern shores of Lake Pukaki. These details give some fuel for thought on the rapidity of climate change that occurs without the influence of humankind.
Hooker Glacier sweeps down it namesake valley. Observe the side walls of moraine - lateral moraines - deposited during a time of relative quiescence in the retreat.
South Island ▷ Mount Cook - MacKenzie ▷ Mount Cook
Showing 13 reviews of 294.
It was great. Light drizzle and very cold but we saw BEAUTIFUL scenaries. One of the highlights of my trip!
Was very windy and a bit rainy when we went and couldn't see Mt. Cook but it was still a great and fun 3-hour track.
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We came up to Mount Cook area to see the scenery along the way, with the intention we'd turn back and find somewhere to camp up further along at Lake Takepo. We landed up staying as we realised there were several good walks here. We set off in late afternoon along the path.
Do leave 4 hours, you spend longer at the end than you intend and as experienced walkers we knew the likelihood was that we'd get back just as dusk was setting in. Although it's a well worn track we took plenty water, some food, torches and layers, just in case. A few people were heading in as we were heading out and didn't know how long it would take them - they did turn back when we told them it wasn't just round the corner.
Late afternoon is a lovely time to go, far less people around and a very pleasant walk. Good view of the glacier. From reviews of Franz Josef and Fox I'd say this is easily up there as just a stunning and enjoyable but just less well known.
We can be close to the iceberg.
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Pleasant three hour walk over three swingbridges to the Hooker Lake/Hooker Glacier. When we visited it on March 8 it was a little bit overcrowded.
Amazing views at the end, but super busy foot traffic. Easy walk.
Amazing views. Very easy to find the track and follow it. It was a really good and easy walk. I will recommend it to everyone!
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Well maintained path.
Well maintained paths, great walk, easy walk, beautiful waterfalls all around on the way.
Plenty of parking, bathroom facilities are clean and accessible. Beautiful scenery.
Well maintained path. Clean toilets. Beautiful day walking in the valley.
Stunning landscape with a view of the glaciers. Track ends at the glacier lake. But you must be very careful when it is windy (we heard that it happens often) cause it can be unpredictable.
Very beautiful track! We did this track in winter so amazing with snow everywhere but easy to access.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍