Hiking the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand

New Zealand is a hiking enthusiast’s dream, with hundreds of amazing hiking trails scattered all over the country. With New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery, hiking is one of the best ways to see it as the trails allow you to get up close and personal with the stunning natural landscapes that the country has to offer. One of the most popular short walks in the country is the Hooker Valley Track which takes you up the Hooker Valley to the glacial lake of the Hooker Valley, which sits directly beneath Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand.

We arrived in Mount Cook/Aoraki National Park in the late afternoon after driving from Christhurch and camped in the White Horse Hill Campground, which also happens to be the starting point of the Hooker Valley Track. The weather wasn’t great with the mountains shrouded by grey rain clouds, however we decided to head out on the track just in case the weather was worse the following morning.

It was a cold and windy afternoon as we hiked up out of the campground through lush vegetation, but the rain mostly stayed away for now. It wasn’t long until we reached the viewpoint overlooking the Mueller Glacial Lake and the ice capped mountains beyond. It is harsh but stunning scenery.

Mueller Glacial Lake View

From the viewpoint the trail drops down to cross a bridge over the Hooker River that exits the lake and eventually runs into Lake Pukaki further down stream. The rushing whitewater tumbled over rocks below as we crossed the bridge. Looking north-west, the blue grey water of the glacial lake shimmered in the dull light, the dark rain clouds casting a dramatic scene over the mountains.

Hiking Hooker Valley New Zealand

Hooker River and Mueller Lake

On the other side of the river the trail heads along the high moraine above the lake where the Mueller Glacier has receded way back around the valley beyond view. All around the lush greenery of the base of the mountains gave way to snow and ice above the tree line.

The rain came in quick spurts, the strong wind making it come at us head on and sting our faces, before subsiding as quickly as it came. We crossed another, longer bridge over the Hooker River at the point where it joins the two glacial lakes of the Hooker and Mueller Glaciers. The wind was so strong that we thought we might be blown off if we didn’t hold on.

Hiking Hooker Valley New ZealandAs the trail continued deeper into the valley, the vast Hooker Valley opened up to the north, where the massive bulk of Mount Cook (Aoraki) itself stood in view, its top covered by cloud. We fought on through the wind and rain until we reached a viewpoint that overlooks the rest of the Hooker Valley and Mount Cook, where, on a fine day, you can watch the setting sun illuminate the top of the mountain.

We wouldn’t get to experience that on this day, and with the weather getting worse and the daylight fading, we had to make the choice to turn back and head back to camp.

We managed to avoid getting blown off the trail and made it back to camp safely, just in time to make dinner with what remained of the daylight. The weather raged over the mountains, however looking south the calmer skies provided us with a beautiful sunset to end the day.

The wind raged all night and in the morning the weather was worse, so it turned out that we made the right choice to hike the Hooker Valley Track the day before.

We may not have had the best weather, however that couldn’t take away the absolutely stunning beauty of this place.

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7 comments… add one
  • Great, that place i looking like heaven and it is looking so beautiful. I really like beauty of that place and so stunning photos you shared.

  • that is an awesome palce and it is full with beautiful things. i really like beauty of that place and stunning photos you shared.

  • Nate Feb 3, 2017

    Wow, those are some incredible photos. I really need to find a way to get to NZ. Thanks for sharing your experience there!
    Nate recently posted..The 10 Best Day Hikes in the United StatesMy Profile

  • Wow! What a epic pics. I really like beauty of that place. So stunning pictures of that place. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • Wow! What a wonderful pictures you shared. Its looking like a heaven. i like a beauty of that place. Thank you so much for sharing it. keep sharing.

  • Bianca Feb 17, 2017

    What incredible photos, at least the weather made for some dramatic shots. New Zealand keeps calling to me, and your article only solidifies my need to get there. We plan to rent a camper and travel from the North to the South. I will be sure to include the Hooker Valley Track as a “must see” destination. Thanks for a great article and inspiring images.
    Bianca recently posted..Top 10 Hiking Essentials You Need to Climb KilimanjaroMy Profile

  • anna jennai Mar 8, 2017

    What a great photography so amazing thanks can’t take the eyes off

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