Hooker Valley Track

Hooker Valley Track - Aoraki/Mount / Mt Cook Village

Hooker Valley Track

Aoraki/Mount / Mt Cook Village


313 Rankers Reviews

289 Face-to-Face

10 Mount Cook

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Mt Cook in the background of the Hooker Valley
Mt Sefton poking through halfway along the Hooker Valley
On the track
Hooker valley, beautiful
Magnificant Mt Cook in the morning


10 km return | 3 hours return

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.


Feature Value Info


DOC Canterbury

Central government organisation


South IslandMount Cook - MacKenzieMount Cook


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 299.

Terrence's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

The best 5k walk I’ve ever done. Flat, breathtakingly beautiful. 3 swing bridges. Doesn’t get any more epic. An absolute must. One of the highlights of our holiday

Reviewed 8 months ago

Guru's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Nice wee little walk that can be completed in a few hours. Good idea to carry gloves during winter. Note that the direction coordinates given on the app would take you to Mt. Cook Village carpark, not the actual Hooker Valley Track cp. Refer to Google

Reviewed about 2 years ago

Melanie Bunch's avatar

Melanie Bunch


Ranking: 10/10

Awesome, well marked walking track. 10km/3hrs return to the end. 3x swing bridges. Lots of good spots to take photos. Gets colder the further along the track you go - wishing we had taken gloves with us! There were icebergs in the hooked lake at the end of the walk - was freezing! So worth the trek though, and would imagine would have been even nicer with warmer weather. Small fuel stop in the local town also to top up.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Andrew Hammond's avatar

Andrew Hammond


Ranking: 10/10

Stunning scenery around every bend and every rise of the track. Easy hike but there is no shade so if its sunny make sure you have a hat and sunscreen. Track was very well maintained. Always busy but if you start before 10am you should beat most of the tour buses. Make sure your memory card has plenty of space as you will take SO many pictures. One of the best hikes every

Reviewed over 2 years ago

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Davina's avatar


Ranking: 7/10

A lovely easy walk with stunning scenery but wow does it get busy!! There’s a toilet on the path. Big beautiful bridges and immediate mountain views. Lovely! But You must start it before 10am to avoid the mega busy crowds. We started at 10am and it was busy but tolerable. On our return watching the masses walk past us was crazy. There’s no shade either so bring a hat.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Cynthia Liew's avatar

Cynthia Liew


Ranking: 10/10

It was great. Light drizzle and very cold but we saw BEAUTIFUL scenaries. One of the highlights of my trip!

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Ben H's avatar

Ben H

Ranking: 9/10

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.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Car R's avatar

Car R

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

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.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in February 2017

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Moe Bouchard's avatar

Moe Bouchard


Ranking: 10/10

We can be close to the iceberg.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in March 2017

Roland Eggli's avatar

Roland Eggli


Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in March 2017

Jayni L'Azou's avatar

Jayni L'Azou

United States

Ranking: 9/10

Amazing views at the end, but super busy foot traffic. Easy walk.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Hannibal Winther's avatar

Hannibal Winther


Ranking: 9/10

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!

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Barb Steadman's avatar

Barb Steadman

United States

Ranking: 10/10

Well maintained path.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

DOC Managed

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 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner