Hooker Valley Track: New Zealand’s Prettiest Day Hike

The Hooker Valley Track is without a doubt New Zealand’s prettiest day hike. A lot of hikes in New Zealand require you to commit to a few days, whereas the Hooker Valley Track is just a few short hours of walking through some of the most beautiful scenery you would have ever seen! The hike leads through the Hooker Valley, along the Hooker River and ends at the glacial Hooker Lake, with Mount Cook towering in the distance.

Path along Hooker Valley

The walk is 10km in length and took us three hours return to complete. That included plenty of photo stops along the way! We had a beautiful day to do the walk but despite the sun shining down on us, it was still incredibly windy and chilly! Make sure you dress appropriately and wear good shoes, despite the path being relatively flat it was still muddy in a few places and some of the puddles were icy! Even with an average level of fitness, you’ll blitz this hike and we saw people from all ages and fitness levels doing it, as well as many families with small children.

The track starts at the White Horse Hill Campground and car park at the end of Hooker Valley Road, which is only a few kilometers from Mount Cook Village.

White Horse Hill Campground Hooker Valley Track sign Hooker Valley Memorial
It’s just a short walk to the first of the three swing bridges. The scenery at this point of the hike was absolutely stunning and offered breathtaking views of Mueller Lake. I’ll just point out here that the scenery along the entire hike was breathtakingly beautiful, but this was one of our favourite points along the hike.

Simone and Dan at Hooker Valley TrackHooker Valley SceneryHooker Valley StreamHooker Valley Glacial Stream
I mean, seriously, that is a pretty tough view to beat!
Hooker Valley Mountains and lakeDan looking at mountain in Hooker Valley

We were so in awe of the scenery that the second swing bridge appeared before we knew it!

Hooker Valley TrackBridge Hooker Valley TrackRiver Hooker Valley Track

There’s some picnic benches just after the second bridge which are the perfect place for a break! It’s also where you’ll start to see your first views of Mount Cook looming in the distance!

Couple on Hooker Valley with Mount Cook in Distance

From the second swing bridge, the landscape really opens up and a lot of the path is on a slightly elevated boardwalk. In Spring this is filled with native flowers and I can’t even imagine how stunning it would be. There aren’t many walks in the world that we would do again (simply because there’s just so many to do) but we would definitely do the Hooker Valley Track again when we visit in a different season!

We do however love travelling in off-season and in New Zealand, winter is considered off-season. We prefer travelling in off-season due to smaller crowds and cheaper prices! The smaller crowds mean we often have amazing places like this all to ourselves, or we only need to share them with a couple of others. To us, that makes a destination even more special.

Dan walking along Hooker Valley Hooker Valley Track scenery

Once you cross the third swing bridge you’re almost there, with just a short climb up a little hill left!

Mount Cook in Hooker Valley Suspension Bridge Hooker Valley TrackBridge with scenery Hooker Valley TrackMount Cook from Hooker Valley Track

The end of the track takes you to Hooker Lake. It’s one of the most picturesque and magical places we’ve ever seen in our travels. So much so that we’ve claimed Mount Cook as our favorite mountain!

Hooker Lake was filled with floating icebergs that had broken off the Hooker Glacier, with Mount Cook towering in the background in all its glory! I can’t think of a better view at the end of a hike!

After spending about half an hour simply taking in the view and exploring the waterfront, we turned around and followed the path back to the car park. The scenery is just as beautiful from the other direction, as we followed the path down the valley.

Hooker Valley Track beautiful sceneryHooker Valley Track Lake and MountainsGlacier Lake Mount CookGlacial Lake Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook in Hooker Valley Dan at end of Hooker Valley Track Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook and Lake Couple at end of Hooker Valley Track

The Hooker Valley Track was one of our favourite memories from our travels around the South Island! It’s a hike that is easily do-able by most (even with kids) and is so worth it for the stunning views both along the track and at the end once you reach Mount Cook!

What are your favourite hikes from your travels? x
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