A Photo Essay of a Scenic Walk along the Hooker Valley Tack to the Hooker Lake Viewpoint for Stunning Vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook
It was a cold misty November day when my wife and I left Aoraki Cook Village for the 4Km drive to White Horse Hill car park, the start of the 10Km round-trip scenic walk through Hooker Valley to the Hooker Lake Viewpoint of Aoraki Mount Cook. The track is an easy going gravel path with a boardwalk section and starts at an elevation of 760m gradually climbing to 880m at Hooker Lake Viewpoint.
When we started our walk, around 9:45, the mist had cleared and it was sunny spring day with a clear blue sky but still a little cold so a third layer was the order of the day. Initially the track runs through alpine scrubland with some small trees and shrubs; it's here we got our first view of Aoraki Mount Cook and then spot a dead brush-tailed possum on the track. The track soon becomes open tussock grassland with impressive vistas of Mount Sefton, after about 1.2Km from the start we reached the first of the three swing bridges over the Hooker River.
After crossing the first bridge the track begins to climb with views of the Mueller Glacier Lake and looking back in the direction of Aoraki Mount Cook Village there are spectacular views in the direction of the MacKenzie Basin.
The second swing bridge, the Hooker Bluff Bridge is about 2.6Km from the car park. From here the track runs through the step sided valley tracking the Hooker River; there are some magnificent views of the glacial valley, the Hooker River, tussock grassland and Aoraki Mount Cook.
The last of the three swing bridges is the Hooker Bluff Bridge at 4.3Km from the start; it crosses the Hooker River to the east. The final leg to Hooker Lake Viewpoint is just a further 800m; that rack passing a small stream, a tarn and you ever closer to breathtaking views of the mountain.
We reached the Hooker Lake viewpoint after many photo stops around 12:15 ready for a picnic lunch. There is a picnic bench and strikingviews of Aoraki Mount Cook. Off to the left of the viewpoint is a small track that leads down to Hooker Lake, which has rewardingviews of the Glacier. We returned to the car park by the same track taking more photographs along the way.
We didn't see much animal wildlife along the route just four introduced animal species; a dead possum, a chaffinch, a yellowhammer and a thrush. There was however, much more plant wildlife such as the endemic Aoraki Mount Cook lily and many alpine scrubland and tussock grassland species.
Environmental Note: New Zealand indigenous mammal species include several dozen marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals and sea lion. Indigenous land mammals are limited to two bats species, a third the grater short-tailed bat is thought to be extinct. All other land mammals have been introduced; the most damaging of these is the brush-tailed possum, which destroys the native forest; four carnivore species and the black rat predate native animal populations especially birds.