Governors Bush Walk
Time: 1 hr return (loop track)
Height gain: 100 m - steps plus well gravelled track
Start this walk at the public shelter. It's a delightful bush walk, which joins with Bowen Bush Walk to form a nature trail and explores one of the few stands of silver beech/tawai (also known as tawhai) forest in the park.
A gradual climb leads to a lookout point of Wakefield Ridge and Aoraki/Mount Cook. This popular walk offers birdlife, a great view of the mountains and a sheltered place to experience the outdoors in poor weather.
Bowen Bush Walk
Time: 10 min return (loop track)
Height gain: Predominately flat with some steps
This walk starts opposite the petrol pumps. It's an easy forest walk that can be joined with Govenors Bush Walk to form a nature trail. This track wanders through tōtara and celery pine/mountain toatoa forest, and has an alternative exit/entry towards the Mount Cook Backpackers. A ‘Bird Song’ sounds system enhances the experience.
Time: 30 min return
Height gain: 40 m - steps and some zigzags
Start behind the Hermitage Hotel. The walk zigzags through tōtara trees with a ferny understorey, emerging at a lookout near the prominent water tanks above The Hermitage. A short climb rewards with a bird’s-eye view of the village and beyond to the white ice of Hooker Glacier and Aoraki/Mount Cook. Sunrise and sunset are good times to catch the light-play over the mountains.
Red Tarns Track
Time: 2 hr return
Height gain: 300 m - mainly stepped
Follow the track downhill from the public shelter to cross the bridge over Black Birch Stream and then climb steeply to the Red Tarns. The vegetation changes as you ascend from the valley floor to a superb panoramic viewpoint of the valleys below, the village and Aoraki/Mount Cook. The tarns are named from the red pond weed that grows in them. An aptly placed seat allows you to recover your breath and enjoy the views. This is a magnificent spot to view the sunset in summer.
Kea Point Track
Time: 2 hr return from the village, 1 hr return from the White Horse Hill campground and carpark
Height gain: 180 m over 3 km
Start at the DOC visitor centre and cross over the road to the Hooker valley. The walk gently winds its way through subalpine grasslands and scrub to the Mueller Glacier moraine wall.
The track passes through a landscape that was formed in 1913 when a stream cut through from the glacier to the original Hermitage site, damaging the building. The walk ends at a viewing deck that gives stunning views of Mount Sefton, The Footstool, Hooker valley, Mueller Glacier lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Hooker Valley Track
Time: 3 hr return (add 1 hr if starting from the village)
Height gain: 80 m over 5 km
Start across the road at the DOC visitor centre or at White Horse Hill campground and carpark. One of the most popular walks in the park, the track leads up the Hooker valley towards Aoraki/Mount Cook. It passes close to the Alpine Memorial (a great viewpoint) and Freda’s Rock before coming to the viewing point of the Mueller Glacier and the first swing bridge.
Cross the Hooker River here and carry on to the second swing bridge. Look out for many different wildflowers along the way, including celmisia and the Mount Cook buttercup/kōpukupuku.
The track from the first swing bridge to the second travels between old moraine ridges and humps. Past the second bridge, the vegetation changes to more open tussock and a wider valley floor. A third swing bridge leads to the East Hooker and the source of the Hooker River. The track ends at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views to be had of Aoraki/Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier and the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.
Return the same way, enjoying more views down valley and across to the Sealy Range.