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Hiking the Hooker Valley Track

I was most excited for the Hooker Valley Track because I knew it would bring me so much closer to the highest mountain in New Zealand – the famous Mt. Cook, also known as Aoraki. Obviously, IT DIDN’T DISAPPOINT. This extremely popular and rewarding ‘walking track’ is obviously a must-do in NZ’s south island, especially if you are a sucker for mountains, lakes and glacial lakes! 🙂

Difficulty level: Easy
Duration: 3~4 hours return

If you’re worried about it being a potentially difficult hike… fret not. It’s mostly flat trek with occasional uphill slopes and stairs but I never really notice them much because I was too busy taking photos and basking in the extremely picturesque surroundings. I went on a family trip, so I had to make sure there weren’t any difficult treks anyway so trust me, you’ll fine. Just need comfortable walking shoes!

There is really nothing quite like the Mount Cook National Park. Happy and feeling lucky to have experienced it in its full glory on a clear and sunny day. The WEATHER on the other hand was pretty erratic though.

I was staying in Twizel (one of the closest town to Mt Cook without needing to stay inside Mt Cook area!) and the weather was absolutely miserable. No view of the mountains as they were all shrouded by grey clouds, so it didn’t feel very promising. Just 15 minutes drive away from Twizel and onwards to Aoraki side, the skies were completely different. What a relief!!!! Be sure to check the forecast and watch the weather development like a hawk. Clouds are gonna be your enemy!!!


Making our way to Mt Cook National Park

Hands down one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever done. We were greeted by Lake Pukaki first, and drove alongside it all the way in. Had trouble keeping my eyes on the road, to be honest.

Coming in from Twizel, this drive should take you about 45mins to an hour?

Right from entrance of Lake Pukaki should take about 30-45mins.

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We took about an hour to get to the visitors centre because we kept stopping for photos. Particularly at Peter’s Lookout for THIS amazing view of Lake Pukaki and Mt. Cook working their magic together on a clear day. Absolutely unreal and not to be missed. There are signs, don’t worry.

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The road just gets better and better as Mt. Cook gets closer and bigger. The scenery here is just amazing, and sort of reminds me of Iceland.

Finally, we’ve reached the starting point of the Hooker Valley track. It is not at the visitors centre but at a carpark just a few minutes’ drive from there.

Aaaaaand the hiking begins!

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We visited during winter time in August so some of the paths were covered in ice. It was pretty slippery during the initial 15 minutes of the trek, but it got better as we progressed. The gravel paths were very well maintained, and there are some occasional stairs and some fun swing bridges. There are total of three bridges to be crossed and they do feel pretty dramatic to be on!

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We were finally greeted with spectacular views of Mt Cook for the second half of the trek (the first half was covered by other mountains). Woohoo! This is the only toilet stop on the track, by the way!

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The final part before reaching the glacial lake. I feel so small!

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And we have finally reached the glacial lake! Mt. Cook is right in my face. What a rewarding hike with a million dollar view. I could hear some of the ice falling off the mountains though. At first it sounded like a gunshot echo, but my brother saw the ice falling into the lake. Kinda cool, and slightly worrying.. Just kidding!

This spot is amazing, and will always have a special place in my heart.


Random things to note

For the perfect shot:

One thing that annoyed me was the lighting on this part of the track. The iconic grassy fields and wooden planks were something I wanted to take a photo with but unfortunately, the lighting conditions were absolutely NOT ideal.

The sun was close to setting when we got here (we started late) and the hills have blocked light shining on this part. Mt Cook is still pretty much lit from the sun and that meant uneven exposure. I tried to take photos of my family standing on the path with Mt Cook behind but we just didn’t have the strong lighting on us. It’s either we’re well lit and Mt Cook is overexposed – or Mt Cook is perfect and we’re underexposed. So frustrating!!!!!!!! I mean, I can edit it and all but it wouldn’t look as good, you know?

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So that’s something to consider. Go when the sun is not blocked by the hills!!!

Have fun! 🙂

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3 comments on “Hiking the Hooker Valley Track

  1. Pingback: 9 Awesome Experiences in New Zealand’s South Island – GIRL WANDERNAUT

  2. We’re going in late Noevember and this is actually going to be one of the highlights of our road trip. I can’t wait. By the way, I think your pictures are terrific 🙂 If you are worried about the lighting situation, a pol-filter might help 🙂

    Like

    • GIRLWANDERNAUT

      That’s great!!!! I’m sure you’ll have such great weather during the spring/summer time! Have a great holiday! Maybe I should consider getting the polariser… Dang I should’ve gotten it before the trip haha. Thanks for the heads up.

      Liked by 1 person

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