7 BEST Walks in Mt Cook

Last Updated on June 18, 2022 by ashleighsatlas

Are you looking for the best walks in Mt Cook?

I’ve done all of the popular Mt Cook walks (and some Mount Cook walks you’ve probably never heard of).

I know the best Mt Cook tracks and also what walks in Mt Cook are overrated and you should skip.

Keep reading for my Ultimate Guide to the Best Mount Cook Tracks.

RELATED: 9 BEST Things To Do in Mt Cook, Ultimate Mt Cook + Lake Tekapo Destination Guide

Female travel blogger standing on rock at Hooker Valley Track in Winter
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7 BEST MT COOK WALKS

1. Hooker Valley Track 

Must do 

If I had to choose a favourite walk in Mount Cook, it would be Hooker Valley Track (maybe tied with Sealy Tarns). 

The Hooker Valley Track is the most popular walk in Mt Cook, which usually puts me off. But this isn’t a tourist trap. It’s one of the prettiest (and easiest) walks in Mt Cook.

I’ve been both when there has and hasn’t been icebergs in Hooker Lake. It is definitely much better if there are icebergs, but it’s still a beautiful walk with lovely views of Mt Cook even if there aren’t any icebergs in the lake.

It’s also one of the easiest walks in Mt Cook, so almost anyone can do it. If you only have time for one walk in Mt Cook, do this one.

Distance: 10km return 

Time: 3 hours return 

Round track or one way: Round track on same track 

Elevation gain: 124m 

Difficulty: Easy 

RELATED: Read my Ultimate Guide to the Hooker Valley Track

2. Sealy Tarns Track 

Must do 

I can’t decide whether Sealy Tarns or the Hooker Valley Track is my favourite walk in Mt Cook.  

The Hooker Valley Track is a flat walk through the valley to Hooker Lake. The lake often has icebergs on it and on a calm down Mt Cook reflects on the lake. Sealy Tarns is a steep walk up a lot of stairs, so it has an aerial view of Hooker Lake and Mueller Lake.

They are both incredible views, just different perspectives. If you have time, I would highly recommend doing both Sealy Tarns and the Hooker Valley Track. I don’t think I could choose between the two.

Sealy Tarns is a harder walk up 2,200 stairs, so if that puts you off, stick with the Hooker Valley Track which is flat and easier.

Distance: 5.8km return  

Time: 3-4 hours return   

Round track or one way: Round trip via same track  

Elevation gain: 600m

Difficulty: Easy/medium 

RELATED: Read my Ultimate Guide to the Sealy Tarns Track

3. Ball Hut Road + Tasman Valley Walk

Highly recommended 

You’ve probably never heard of the Ball Hut Road Walk, but don’t let that put you off.

The Ball Hut Route has the best view of Tasman Glacier. It is much better than the Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier Walks.

The Ball Hut Walk is the closest you can walk to Tasman Glacier, whereas the Tasman Glacier Walk is really far away and you can barely see the glacier.

The first part of the walk to the viewpoint is easy, so don’t worry about the DOC website saying it’s an advanced track. Just make sure you check for avalanche risk beforehand and read my Ultimate Guide to the Ball Hut Road Walk so you know what to expect.

Distance: 10km return 

Time: 2.5 hours return 

Round track or one way: Round trip via same track 

Difficulty: Easy/medium 

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to the Ball Hut Route

4. Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track

Highly recommended

The Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track is one of the most popular walks in Mt Cook.

I think it’s actually quite overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, it has lovely views. But there are much better walks in Mt Cook with better views. If you want the best views of Tasman Glacier, do the Ball Hut Walk instead.

But I would still recommend it, since it’s a very easy short walk. Just make sure you prioritise doing the better walks above first if you only have limited time in Mt Cook.

Distance: 2.6km return

Time: 40 minutes return

Round track or one way: Round track via the same track   

Difficulty: Easy 

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to the Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track

5. Tasman Lake Walk

Highly recommended

The Tasman Lake Walk is another popular walk, which is part of the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View Walks.

I think it’s a bit overrated. It’s a pretty spot if there’s lots of icebergs in Tasman Lake, but I prefer the Tasman Lake Boat Trip (which gets right up to the icebergs) or the Ball Hut Walk.

If you have spare time it’s still worth seeing, but I prefer the other walks in Mt Cook better.

Distance: 1.2km return

Time: 20 minutes return

Round track or one way: Round track via the same track   

Difficulty: Easy 

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to the Blue Pools and Tasman Glacier View Track 

Travel blogger sitting on rock looking at icebergs floating on Tasman Lake on Tasman Lake Walk

6. Red Tarns Track

Recommended 

The Red Tarns Track isn’t very well known. I had heard amazing things about it, but I found it a little disappointing.

There is a nice view of the Mt Cook Village and valley. It’s interesting to see the whole area from a different perspective. You can also get nice reflections of Mt Cook on the lake.

But you get much better views at Sealy Tarns. If you have a lot of spare time I would do the Red Tarns track, but otherwise I think it’s probably not worth it.

Distance: 4.8km (the DOC website is wrong)

Time: 1.5 to 2 hours 

Round track or one way: Round trip via same track   

Elevation gain: 300m

Difficulty: Easy/medium 

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to the Red Tarns Track 

7. Kea Point Track

Recommended 

The Kea Point Track is good if you want a really easy short walk and can’t be bothered going up Sealy Tarns. It has a nice view of Mueller Lake and shows you a different perspective of Mueller Lake to what you see on the Hooker Valley Track.

But I would highly recommend doing the Sealy Tarns Track instead. Sealy Tarns is much harder, but the views are much better than the Kea Point Viewpoint. You are much higher and can see the whole valley and Hooker Lake, which you can’t see from Kea Point.

Distance: 3km return  

Time: 40-60 minutes return 

Round track or one way: Round trip via same track 

Elevation gain: 180m

Difficulty: Easy 

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to the Kea Point Track 

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MOUNT COOK ACCOMMODATION 

I recommend staying in the Mt Cook Village. The accommodation is very expensive and there are only a few options, but it’s worth it. 

The weather in Mt Cook is very changeable, so it’s worth staying in the village so you can see when there is a break in the weather (and have somewhere to hang out when you’re waiting for the clouds to leave). There are also beautiful views of Mt Cook from the village. 

There are also a few beautiful luxury boutique hotels with amazing views of Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook. Just be aware they are about a 40-minute drive from Mt Cook Village. 

You could also stay in Twizel or Lake Tekapo. Personally I don’t love Twizel (it’s a fairly uncharming small town), but Lake Tekapo is one of my favourite places in New Zealand

Looking for the best places to stay in Mt Cook?

  • Hermitage HotelThe Hermitage Hotel is the best and most luxurious place to stay in the Mt Cook Village, and also has incredible food. 
  • Aoraki Court MotelI stayed here on my last trip, because the room had a spa bath and I wanted cooking facilities. It was a lovely modern apartment, and I would definitely recommend it and stay again. It’s in the Mt Cook Village.
  • Mt Cook Lakeside RetreatBeautiful luxury boutique hotel on Lake Pukaki. 
  • Lakestone Lodge TekapoAnother beautiful luxury boutique hotel on Lake Pukaki. 

BEST THINGS TO DO NEARBY? 

Looking for other things to do in Mt Cook? Read my guides to find the best things to add to your bucket list:

Planning a trip to other places in the South Island? Read my Ultimate Destination Guides for: 

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