Hooker Valley Track: Guide to the Fun & Easy Mt Cook Walkway

Hooker Valley Track

While there are so many amazing trails on New Zealand’s South Island, the Hooker Valley Track should be at the top of your list! This famous Mt Cook walkway snakes its way through a massive valley, crosses over three bridges, and ends at the beautiful Hooker Lake. Here you can enjoy an unbelievable view of Mount Cook with the Southern Alps all around you. Let us tell you all about our sunny winter day walk, and why we consider the Hooker Valley Track so great for all ages!

Why You Should Walk the Hooker Valley Track 

Start: White Horse Hill Campsite
Distance: 5 Km
Time Needed: 3 Hour Return
Difficulty of Hike: Easy

Aside from being surrounded by incredible nature, one thing that makes the Hooker Valley Track so popular is that anyone can do it. The day we visited we saw every age from young children to older adults walking the trail.

With very little elevation and well-built wooden walkways, the Hooker Valley Track is truly New Zealand’s best hike for families. Also, the simple 5km trail has some of the most beautiful views that we experienced on the South Island.

Most day hikes in New Zealand are longer and much more challenging, but not this one! Honestly, after taking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing it felt like more of a leisurely stroll.

Hooker Valley Track Start

Early Morning on the Mt Cook Walkway

Since it’s known as one of New Zealand’s best hikes, it won’t come as a surprise that this Mt Cook Walkway is often packed with tourists. This is why it’s best to get an early morning start and hopefully beat some of the crowds driving in for a day trip.

We did the Hooker Valley Track in June which meant it was a little chilly. At first the sun hid behind the giant mountain peeks as we started over the three bridges. Luckily, we continued on and it started to warm up by early afternoon.

Hooker Valley Track New Zealand

Hooker Lake Mt Cook Walkway

3 Bridges of Hooker Valley Track

Another thing that makes the Hooker Valley walk in New Zealand so unique are the three suspension bridges that zig zag over the Hooker River. Also referred to as the “swing bridges,” these thin metal and wooden structures gently sway back and forth as you make your way over them.

The second and most steep bridge is the one to watch out for if you’re scared of heights. We’d be lying if we told you weren’t a little intimidated looking down at the river from high above!

The bridges en route to Hooker Lake only have a maximum capacity of 20 people. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for a bit on a busy day.

Hooker Valley Track Walk

Brunch at Hooker Lake 

We arrived at this gorgeous glacier lake around 10am and ended up having a small brunch overlooking Mount Cook. Hundreds of people filled the rocks taking a break after the Hooker Valley walk to enjoy some food with a view.

No matter where in the world we are hiking our daypack is often filled with the same things. A fresh sandwich, nuts, dark chocolate, fruit, and chips!

This Mt Cook walkway is only 5 km so you can easily do it without packing food. However, the view of the Hooker Lake with Mount Cook shining in the distance is likely one of the reasons you came to New Zealand in the first place… So it’s best to sit back and enjoy it!

Before heading back, walk down to the waters edge and get a photo. Depending on the weather you may even see some large ice chunks floating Hooker Lake behind you.

Hooker Lake New Zealand

After the Hooker Valley Track

While Hooker Valley Track is considered one of the best near Mount Cook, know that there are so many more to experience! After an early morning you can easily visit Kea Point in the same day which also starts from the White Horse Hill Campground parking lot.

For more tips about planning a visit to Mount Cook National Park be sure to check out our post below. We cover everything from the trails to the information center, and general tips for your visit.

10 Helpful Tips For Your First Visit to Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Where To Stay in Mount Cook National Park

Ultra Luxury – Hermitage Hotel – The historic Hermitage Hotel offers awesome tours, restaurants, and spacious rooms with a view of the snowy peaks. Here you’ll be in the best place to set off on all the best Mount Cook hikes from. It’s unique location also makes for the perfect place to stargaze from at night! 

Fun VacationAoraki Court Motel – This modern accommodation inside Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is just minutes walking distance to the restaurants and cafes of the village. All rooms have views of the mountains, heat, and private bathrooms. 

Hostel Life – YHA Mt Cook – YHA is a budget lodge which backpackers and travelers alike can enjoy. It’s complete with a fully equipped kitchen, common area, and both dorms and private rooms. 

For more places to stay near Mount Cook New Zealand you can also explore the latest prices here!

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Have any questions about Hooker Valley Track or want to share your own experience on this Mt Cook walkway? Leave us a comment below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Hooker Valley Track

New Zealand Travel Planning 

Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.

 Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll still need a vehicle to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.

 Flights: It’s easy to find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Auckland to Queenstown for $40 USD, and New Zealand to Fiji for less than $150! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from a Milford Sound cruise with underwater observatory, to a Otago wine tour with gourmet wine & lunch, and even a Kaikoura whale watching cruise

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

South Island New Zealand

Travel Tips & Guides:  10 Helpful NZ Travel TipsNorth Island ItinerarySouth Island Itinerary25 Beautiful BeachesWellington to Picton Ferry15 Freedom Camping Tips27 Delicious Food & Drinks7 Milford Sound Tips5 Can’t Miss Lake Tekapo 

Queenstown: Ben Lomond TrackFergburger (Is it Worth It?)Tiki Trail HikeFun Wine TourQueenstown Hill Hike18 Fun Queenstown Things to DoQueenstown RestaurantsArrowtown NZ

North Coast: Abel Tasman Day HikeWharariki Beach & Archway Islands6 Picton Things to Do 

East Coast: Banks PeninsulaFrench Town of AkaroaTunnel Beach DunedinHanmer SpringsKaikoura

Explore all our North Island New Zealand Travel Tips & Guides

South Island New Zealand

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