This is my second time in Mt Cook, and I absolutely loved this place. This is where I started the passion for hiking and it is absolutely amazing.
Mount Cook has very strong phone signal for some strange reason. I am able to send photos to my friends in Sydney along the hiking. What a great live experience!
If you come here during the winter season, make sure you bring proper snowshoes so you can walk further than us in the Sealy Trans track.
It is hard to get around here without a car because most of the hiking track starts from the camping ground or car park. I arrived by bus when I was here the first time and it added an extra 1.5 hour walk to the Hooker Valley track from Mount Cook village. The Tasman lake is not in walking distance.
So if you really don’t have a car, it is recommended to either join a tour or try to ask around for a lift.
How long will those track takes:
We did 3.5 recommended hiking tracks in one day, started from 8:30am, and backed to the hotel at 2pm, had a quick lunch and rest, and went out to blue lake & Tasman Glacier lake, and back to the hotel around 5pm.
All the main walking track can split into two major sections, one section started at the White Horse Camping ground, and including the famous Hooker Valley Track, the Kea Point, and the Sealy Tran, this part of the track is related to the Mueller Glacier. The other section is related to the Tasman Glacier, and require about 10-15 mins drive to the car park.
Check the DOC website for map and more info:
The tracks we did including:
Hooker Valley Track (3-3.5 hr return)
This is the most famous track in Mount Cook and probably the longest one among all the walking track. I actually prefer other tracks more, because most of this track is inside the valley, and walk on a flat ground. It is a very meaningful track because there are a couple of memorials on the track, including the first woman climb the mount cook and all those climbers that ceased here. Not to mean that Sir Edmond Hillary was trained here before he went the Mount Everest.
It won’t give you that over the mountain type of view, but it has some highlights to me:
Walk close to the Mueller Glacier lake, I felt this breeze, icy cold, and look at this creamy blue colour lake, this is in the fantasy. I was lucky enough to arrive here when the whole lake was frozen, and it was so pretty with the sun reflection on the blue ice.
This track also has three swing bridges. When I was here the first time, the wind was so strong that the bridge was just swinging non-stop.
Under the bridge, it is the river runs the glacier melting water.
The milky blue colour river merges into the Lake Pukaki, and make this lake famous for this tequila blue colour.
Another highlight was the landscape. Part of the track was in the middle of several mountains. It really gives this magnificent feeling.
Kea Point Track (1-1.5 Hr return)
Grade: have some steps, ice on the track during winter, proper shoes required.
Started at the same camping ground as Hooker Valley Track does. The entre is a little bit hard to find. It in the opposite direction of the car park entrance and require us to walk uphill.
This is the track I highly recommend everyone to do it. It has a bit of step but offers some serious view at the end of the track.
It has a viewing platform that oversights the Muller Glacier Lake and have a panorama view of the Mount Sefton, Mount Cook and other mountains.
Sealy Trans Track (gave up after around 4km)
Grade: Difficult. mainly steep steps. Require equipment during winter
This Track connects to Mueller Hut Route, which is the intermediate to advanced level. The Mueller hut route was one of the famously long and challenge tramping route in Mt Cook. We didn’t plan to go but saw the entrance sign in the middle of the Kea Point Track.
“Why not just try and see how far we could go?” DR. R asked
I agreed. And here we were.
It was extremely difficult for us because it was covered with snow, and was at mid-day, which means snow becomes ice and it was so slippery. The track is basically steps, or slops, all up hills.
The view at halfway was either the Muller Glacier lake or the Mount Cook Village.
After approx 4km, we gave up because it was getting dangerous even we used our hands already.
Downhill was even worse, I have to sit on my butt and slip down the slop because I just kept falling down on the snow (And that’s why I didn’t take too many photos!). Wasn’t a good idea at the end. But I would imagine it is a great track during summer.
Blue lakes and Tasman glacier lake
Grade: a lot of steeps, but mainly ok.
After the Sealy Tran track, we went back to the hotel and had some light lunch, had a short nap, and still have 2 hours to burn before the sunset. Tasman Glacier lake track went into the scene. It is short and oversight the different glacier lake – Tasman.
During the winter, the lake was frozen, so we can’t do a glacier explore boat trip. I did the boat trip in spring 3 years ago. It was pricey but worth the price. I touched and tasted the glacier in the lake (lucky I didn’t get poisoned!) and had a closer look at the glacier that was there for millions of years.
(ok that’s from 2015…)
On the way up, there is a T section, one way is continuous to the Tasman Glacier Lake, and the other side is to the blue lake.
The blue lake used to be the glacier lake, and have this glacier melt blue colour. Apparently, this is a popular swimming pool in the summer for locals. However, since glacier melted faster during the recent years, this lake is no longer filled with the melted glacier, and it just filled with normal rainwater now.
The other side of the T section is the Tasman glacier lake.
It’s all frozen now but we still able to see the glacier at the end of the lake. There is a small information board tells you how fast those glaciers disappear. Maybe in 30 or 50 years we won’t able to see those glaciers anymore…
Overall, Hooker Valley track is good for everyone, because its flat, but personally I would highly recommend Kea Point track. It is short, but fully packed with excitement and end up with a magnificent view of the glacier lake and mountains.