Hiking Hooker Lake and Sealy Tarns Tracks in New Zealand

If you like hiking New Zealand is a perfect country to do it. There are, of course, hundreds of gorgeous tracks in New Zealand but Hooker Lake and Sealy Tarns tracks are two of the most beutiful we have come across. Both of these hikes start from White Horse Hill Campsite located in Mt Cook National Park. It is the starting point for several other hiking tracks as well which vary in difficulty and time it takes to complete them. We read about it in other blogs online and decided it would be a perfect place for us to start exploring the beautiful nature of New Zealand. Also there is a really cool campsite nearby (google Lake Poaka Reserve Area) where staying for up to 72 hours is completely free. White Horse Hill is a paid campsite and some might opt to stay here instead to save time but it gets very busy so we opted for a place where we could really enjoy the tranquillity of NZ nature.

The site itself is in a very nice location, surrounded by mountains (as you would expect), the facilities are great too which include free parking, toilets, drinking water, rubbish bins, sinks for washing dishes, a shelter with tables for people to cook and eat food, etc.. In the sitting area information can be found about various different tracks which I found very useful to read before our hikes.

KAtrippin white horse hill campsite

White Horse Hill Campsite from Above – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Hooker Lake Track

Hooker Lake Tracks is a great track for families with children or those who enjoy a more leisurely paced walks. It is pretty much flat all the way so it’s not strenuous, the views change quickly and there are three cool swing bridges that you need to cross to get to Hooker Lake.  You can see the (ramains of) glacier at the end too which makes this track interesting. I personally felt that the final lookout point did not have the ‘Wow effect’ we expected from a lake with a glacier, but the views of Mt Cook were amazing and the walk itself was very beautiful so we certainly did not feel disappointed.

Taking into account there were a lot of big groups and families with small children it felt we did it a bit quicker than the average person we saw on this track. It took us around 3.5h to go and come back, but this included a generous lunch break.

KAtrippin mount cook hooker valley lake

Remains of Hooker Lake Glacier and view of Mt Cook from Hooker Lake Viewpoint – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Sealy Tarns and Mueller Hut Track

The second hike that we’ve done in Mt Cook National Park was the Sealy Tarns track. Despite the fact that it can also be completed in 3-4 hours it is significantly more challenging than Hooker Lake Track because the elevation difference is a significant 547m. On the other hand the views are absolutely breath-taking! For us Sealy Tarns was a perfect lunch spot before the descent.

KAtrippin Mount cook sealy tarns

View of Mount Cook as Kristina walks towards Sealy Tarns – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Mountain lovers who can endure long 5h+ hikes up steep steps and rocks (not us!) may want to opt to go to Mueller Hut and stay in the mountains overnight or even attempt Mt Olivier (1993 meters above sea level). However, Muller Hut is another 3h hike from Sealy Tarns or around 5 hours one way from the campsite. For those wishing to stay in Mueller Hut booking is required.

And finally, although in summer Sealy Tarns and Mueller Hut can be reached without any equipment (shorts, t-shirt, hat and trainers would do) this was the first time I wished I had walking poles. There are a lot of steps on this track so it puts a lot of strain on your knees. On our way down we literally had to run down because our muscles were so tired!

As mentioned before, White Horse Hill campsite is a starting point for several tracks which vary in length and difficulty and I have no doubt others are as nice or even nicer than the ones we picked. Looking at all the things we have done in New Zealand these hikes were probably my favourite part of the trip so I would highly recommend them to everyone.

PS. I came across this website about hikes in New Zealand when I was doing fact checking – https://www.hikespeak.com/oceania/newzealand/southisland. Both Hooker Lake and Sealy Tarns/Mueller Hut tracks are described in a lot of detail so it might be worth taking a look.

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1 Response

  1. February 4, 2019

    […] lake, Hooker lake and glacier, and Mt Cook. I wrote a separate post about this hike – follow this link to read […]

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