With spectacular views over the Southern Alps, Lake Pukaki, and the omnipresent Mt. Cook—New Zealand’s highest mountain—Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is prime terrain for hikers. Whether you want a scenic stroll or an epic mountain trek, here’s our pick of the park’s best hiking trails.
Governors Bush Walk (easy)
This 1-hour circuit climbs up to a lookout point overlooking Wakefield Ridge, offering stunning views of Mt. Cook. It’s also a popular spot for bird-watching and links up with the 10-minute Bowen Bush Walk, which runs up to Mount Cook Lodge.
Hooker Valley Track (easy to moderate)
Postcard-worthy views of Mt. Cook are the star attraction of the Hooker Valley Track. Approximately a 3- or 4-hour round trip, depending on the starting point, it’s a stunning route through the Alps, passing a glittering glacier lake and three dramatic swing bridges.
Blue Lake and Tasman Glacier View Track (easy to moderate)
Gorgeous views of the Tasman Glacier await hikers on the 40-minute Blue Lake and Tasman Glacier View Track. Bring your swimsuit in the summer and you can cool off with a swim in Blue Lake, before climbing up to the viewpoint. The truly adventurous can even ride up to the Tasman Glacier snowfield in a helicopter or ski plane, and take a thrilling glacier hike.
Sealy Tarns (moderate)
This around 3- to 4-hour return hike affords views of the Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier lake, and Mt. Cook. Follow the Kea Point trail, and then climb the "Stairway to Heaven" with its 2,200 steps up to the dramatic viewpoint. In spring and summer, the trails are lined with colorful alpine flowers.
Mueller Hut (moderate to difficult)
It’s a steep and occasionally tricky hike up the Sealy Range to the Mueller Hut, but it’s worth the effort for the views alone—a stunning panorama of glaciers, ice cliffs, and soaring mountains. The hike can take up to 5 hours one way and many hikers opt to spend a night at the hut.