Take in views of the tallest peaks in New Zealand: Aoraki/Mount Cook. This hike is best experienced at sunrise.

Once in Mount Cook Village follow the signs to the White Horse Hill Campground where you'll find the start of the Hooker Valley Track. Alternatively, you can camp in the campground and begin the hike before sunrise for the best experience. The sign says that the one-way hiking time is 1 hour and 35 minutes, however, Hooker Lake can easily be reached in 1 hour or less. The path is extremely well maintained and easy to travel in the dark. Once at the viewpoint for Hooker Lake (the dead-end of the track) follow a small track that leads down to the water's edge for the best vantage point for photography.

Enjoy the stunning 360 degree mountain views as the first rays of dawn illuminate the face of Aoraki/Mount Cook - New Zealand's tallest peak. If you're lucky you may arrive on a calm morning to experience an incredible reflection. However, even with strong wind the lake is a gorgeous subject to photograph. The floating glacial ice adds a special touch of frigid beauty. This hike is an absolute must-do for any visit to Mount Cook National Park.

Pack List

  • Warm layers
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Day pack
  • Water
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RT Distance 10 Miles
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy, stunna', whoa.

Every minute of the walk is beautiful and totally interesting. There is just so much going on and you'll understand why this walk is the most popular in Aoraki National Park. The views of Mount Sefton and Mount Cook will take your breath away. Especially when the clouds finally roll away from the peak of Cook!

Sensational scenery.

Maybe my favorite part of my trip to New Zealand's south island, the walk is absolutely stunning. It is a good idea to get a fairly early start before the tour buses start showing up with their hordes of people, but if you have a chance to do this hike, do it. The tallest snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps surround you as you cross the Hooker River multiple times on bridges. You'll probably hear intense cracking or 'booms' from avalanches off in the distance and if you're lucky, you'll see one.

Great Walk With An Awesome Backdrop

The walk up to hooker lake is pristine. The walk itself is easy, very level and following a clear path. All along it the views of the mountains, rivers, waterfalls and valleys are amazing and there's a picture op around every turn. Hooker lake is beautiful as well and the view of MT. Cook is worth every step!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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