Hooker Valley Line in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand

Hooker Valley Track is the 4th and final road of our New Zealand trip, and by chance is the easiest of all. I guess we are really lazy after a tiring (super) rise to the top of Ben Lomond. But just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s not an easy road to remember! The Hooker Valley Track is a 10 km walk from the mostly very flat lane, but has become one of the most popular lanes in the area because it offers beautiful views of the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

How to get to Hooker Valley Track
Getting to Hooker Valley Track is quite easy – just follow State Highway 80 to the north and you will find traces of trail at the end of the highway.

The journey to Highway 80 took us along the waters of Lake Pukaki. Lake Pukaki is a glacial lake, and like all glacial lakes, it has an unusual color that I have never seen before. This is the bright color of bright blue / turquoise, so bright that it almost looks fake!

We definitely made a few stops for some amazing blue water photos from this lake. It helps that it is a sunny day too, the sun’s rays bring out the color of the lake even more.

What makes Lake Pukaki and other glacial lakes have brilliant colors? The greenish blue of the lake is caused by glacial flour from very fine rock particles originating from surrounding glaciers. And when the sun touches the surface of the lake, it reflects particles and turns the lake into the brilliant blue you see above.

The Hooker Valley Track Walk
Track overview
Distance: 10km
Change in height: 124m
Recommended time: 3-4 hours drive home. It took us 1.5 hours to reach Lake Hooker, but our entire trip took 4 hours because we stayed for more than an hour on the lake.

Hooker Valley Track takes you to the foot of Mount Cook. This is an area that has long been known by Maori as Aoraki, which means “Cloud Piercer”. In 1851, the name was changed to Mount Cook after James Cook, but the name Aoraki rejoined in 1998 because it respected Maori history. Aoraki is also part of Te Wahipounamu and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Hooker Valley Track is definitely the easiest of all the trips we make on the South Island. I say it’s easy because most of the walking is sprinkled with wooden roads, wooden suspension bridges, or clear and flat gravel paths. This can be done by small children – in fact, we see many children aged 8 to 12 years on the track. There are also many picnic tables along the trail and on the side of Lake Hooker. It must make this song child friendly and perfect for family activities.

You still need to be aware of the weather. We were lucky in this aspect of the day – it was a great day. The sky is clear, we get sunlight and are not too windy. I hear the valley can be very scary if it’s a windy day.

There are a total of three suspension bridges on this road. For me, they served as a good milestone especially on the way back. You can estimate where you are on a route based on how many bridges you have passed.

We began to see Lake Mueller about 20 minutes walk. Just like Lake Pukaki, Lake Mueller is very visible because it has unusual colors due to rock particles from the Mueller Glacier.

Unlike Lake Pukaki, the color of Lake Mueller is not too blue. For my eyes, it looks more like a very bright mint green. You can also see the same color on the river that comes out of the lake.
After about an hour walking on a flat gravel road, we then reached the wooden sidewalk. You can begin to see Aoraki / Mount Cook getting closer and closer to the view. Almost there!
Then finally, about half an hour later, we reached the end of the path on Lake Hooker, which offered a brilliant view of Aoraki / Mount Cook. We visited in mid-September (precisely September 15) and there are still large blocks of ice floating around the lake. It was the first time I saw ice floating on a large body of water! A real sight to see. Amazing word adventure.

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