Winter Wonderland is the Hooker Valley Track

Winter Wonderland is the Hooker Valley Track

Walking round the corner the words escaped my mouth before my eyes could fully appreciate the view. Wow! I was truly in Winter Wonderland! (or Narnia, as I first thought). Just like that, The Hooker Valley Track became my favourite day hike in New Zealand (so far!).

A perfect cloudless day allowed the incredible sun make the snow even more blindingly white. The contrast of the dazzling white and the dark rock of the bare Mountains made the views all that more captivating. It felt almost magical and somewhere that isn’t quite real! – yep, Narnia – Winter in New Zealand was very different to the miserable winters I’m used to in Scotland.

Photo Credit: Janey Mae
Photo Credit: Janey Mae

The Hooker Valley Track is a 4 hour round trip hike from Mt Cook Village (in winter, I would add-on an additional hour for the WOW stops!). Unless you have some serious good core muscles or, like me, are unprepared (always) then I would definitely bring hiking shoes – although I did do the whole thing in my trusty running shoes, it made for wet feet and many a slip. –  and possibly a pole if you’re not used to winter conditions. Other than that the hike itself doesn’t require a huge level of fitness. YAY!

Make sure that you start the day hike with enough time so that toward the end you aren’t losing the light. The sunset from Hooker Glacier is incredible to witness and one I would encourage all hikers to aim for – because, I’m really not a morning person let alone wake up early enough to get there before sunrise. 

So what can you expect from The Hooker Valley Track?

If swing bridges over huge river beds with roaring streams and giant boulders are your thing, you’ll love it. Only doing it for the view, yep, also for you. Photographers dream or just here for instagram yes for you too (although, c’mon guys!). Like a challenge and here to see what New Zealand has to offer, then man, you’ve found it.

Want more? Read This:  Walking on Glaciers - Fox Glacier
Photo Credit: Janey Mae
Photo Credit: Janey Mae

In winter this walk is tricky. The stairs are slippy and basically within the first 20 minutes you’ll come to a steep uphill which, (thanks to the well trodden track) is completely iced over. Enjoy. But still I would say that those with little fitness could do it, just take your time – fyi, crampons are not needed, it’s not that extreme guys.

Not only does The Hooker Valley track offer all of this, you can basically tick off a bunch of New Zealand Bucketlist Goals in one go.

Bucket list checks on The Hooker Valley Track are:

Hiking: State the obvious huh?

New Zealand attracts the adventurous type. People that are here to get out of comfort zones, stay active, do something stupid and ultimately have an adventure. I mean, if Bilbo can do it, you can too.

For those that don’t have time to do the multi day tramping adventures, this is the must do, day hike in New Zealand.

Mt Cook: Well, do I really have to say anymore? New Zealand’s highest (and most spectacular) peak, the hooker valley track really makes you feel in the presence of the mountain, its inescapable, but beautiful.

And obviously, the entire town is called Mt Cook Village, so. yeah.

Icebergs. So you wanted to see the famous Icebergs in the Tasman Valley but the road was iced up and you didn’t have chains for the car (*cough thisisme cough*). Well, don’t fret, the Glacier Lake at the end of the Hike has more treats in store!
Glaciers sadly are in retreat so a lot more parts of them are tumbling off. In this case, they tumble (or slam) into the Glacier Lake creating, Icebergs!

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Make sure you get here before you lose the sun. Sunset bouncing off the ice and through the icebergs is incredible.

Glaciers. Yep, the gold at the end of the rainbow is the incredible Hooker Glacier. Measuring around 11kms in length it’s one of New Zealand’s largest and most accessible Glaciers.

New Zealand has over 3000 Glaciers! This day hike lets you experience the incredible beauty of it, without paying for it. Hear it crack, move and even collapse through the mountain pass as it pushes its way into the lake.

DSC_0457 DSC_0380 DSC_0365

Are you convinced yet?

Standing still and spinning around, the view of the mountains surrounding you is incredible. Walking up stairs, steep hills, navigating minimal track, windy inclines and deep snow always had its rewards. Looking out onto impossible swing bridges hidden in a snowy background and frozen river beds with giant boulders. The silence broken only by your footsteps, the deafening cracks of the Glacier in the distance or the thunder of the avalanches above. Hooker Valley is a place so mystical it will take your breath away.

Photo Credit: Janey MAe
Photo Credit: Janey Mae

The Hooker Valley Track is how I imagined winter in New Zealand. Dramatic Mountains Peaks, blinding dazzling snow (and lots of it) with glaciers, icebergs and minimal people (YES!).

Want more day hikes in New Zealand? Well check out this post for some more ideas!

If you’re still not convinced (how?!) then take a peak at a video I made while out on the The Hooker Valley Trackyes, my running shoes make an appearance.

 

14 Comments

  • Ozh

    August 30, 2016 at 6:03 pm Reply

    Been on this track last summer, in February. It’s great to see what the place looks like in winter! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Profile photo of Janey Mae

      Janey Mae

      September 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm Reply

      How was it in summer? I can’t imagine it without snow, i’ll have to go and check it out 🙂

      Thanks so much for the comment 🙂

  • sophiamdb

    September 3, 2016 at 11:05 pm Reply

    Wow this looks really incredible! I wonder how different it would look in another season like summer? So great to see that you enjoyed it so much, thanks for putting this guide together! – Sophia from http://sophiawithoutborders.com

    • Profile photo of Janey Mae

      Janey Mae

      September 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm Reply

      I would love to see it in summer to, will probably go in a few months to check it out 🙂

      Thanks so much for the comment Sophie 🙂 glad you liked it!

  • Toni

    September 10, 2016 at 11:08 pm Reply

    Holy shit these photos are epic! Well worth the trek! I love NZ! I went there in November but it was just a snapshot. I have to go back and do this!

    • Profile photo of Janey Mae

      Janey Mae

      September 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm Reply

      They are incredible shots but being there was even more incredible! Aw you absolutely do need to come back and do it in winter, it’s so beautiful! What was it like to do in November?

  • abbi @ spinthewindrose.com

    November 7, 2016 at 6:58 pm Reply

    Aw man, I did this hike in summer and I am dying to see it with all the snow! Looks like you had gorgeous weather! When I did it in December 2015 there were icebergs even though it was quite warm. Did you hike up to the lookout and see the Tasman glacier? Thats a must if you go back! 🙂

    • Profile photo of Janey Mae

      Janey Mae

      November 11, 2016 at 9:00 am Reply

      Aw if you ever get back here you should definitely do it in the snow! It’s like narnia it’s so cool! Aw really still icebergs? that’s awesome! I went up to the look out yeah but it was pretty busy up there so didn’t get a great view, i’ll have to do it when i go back 🙂 i want to do it in summer as well to see the difference ha!

  • Air Conditioning Repair Atlanta

    December 8, 2016 at 1:33 am Reply

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  • metalliam

    April 3, 2017 at 7:22 am Reply

    Brilliant (priceless) info and amazing pictures! Thanks.

    One question – going from Omarama will you be okay in a sedan at the end of August?

    • Profile photo of Janey Mae

      Janey Mae

      April 3, 2017 at 11:15 am Reply

      Is it a four wheel drive? I got there in a two wheel drive but could drive down some of the other roads in mt cook as I didn’t have chains etc. Keep checking the weather as winter could be different this year. Nz met service and the nz transport are really helpful so keep checking with them before you go to be safe 🙂

      • L Shizzle

        April 3, 2017 at 12:21 pm Reply

        I am looking to get the chains from the rental place as I have read that you can be fined if you don’t have them further down towards Queenstown!

        I would say we’re looking at renting 2WD – 4WD is about 3x the price. Our itinerary does not have us rushing from place to place – better to get there in one piece.

        • Profile photo of Janey Mae

          Janey Mae

          April 4, 2017 at 5:27 pm Reply

          If you have chains and take your time you should be all good 🙂 just check on nz transport for the best info closer to the time 🙂

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