Introduction

One of the South Island’s most popular day walks, with views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, has been given the green light for a major upgrade.

One of the South Island’s most popular day walks, with views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, has been given the green light for a major upgrade.

Hooker Valley Track.
Hooker Valley Track

Approval in principle has been given to the Department of Conservation to upgrade the Hooker valley track in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, over the next three years.

Area Manager Richard McNamara says that stage one will cost around $1 million dollars to get the plans, designs and resource consents in place for two new bridges, a new 400m-long section of track and a new viewing area at Hooker lake.

“This track sees around 60-80,000 visitors a year and most make it all the way to Hooker lake,” said McNamara.

“But this alpine backcountry environment - the one they all come here to see - presents a number of dangers to walkers along this track.”

“The bluff section has a long history of rockfall. Just last winter we had a number of people trapped behind a rockfall blocking the track. It was only sheer luck that no-one was underneath it - and with so many people walking this track, the odds are against us.”

Mr McNamara said that plans include a new bridge to cross the river to avoid the bluff section. The end of the track at Hooker lake is also a focus of the upgrade, with plans to re-route the track over to the east side of the lake via another swing bridge.

“The track will follow an old gully up onto a high point overlooking the lake - this will be a better position for viewing the lake and terminal face of glacier.”
 
“Where the track ends now is a high risk zone for avalanches. It is also right in the flood zone if a large piece of ice broke off the glacier face and created a surge down the lake - a phenomenon that we saw last year on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.”

Planning, detailed design work and all consents will take place in 2010/11. Stage two will involve tendering for the work. The construction phase of the project will occur in sections to avoid track closures as much as possible, from 2011-13. The completed project is expected to cost around $1.6 million.

“These upgrades shouldn’t mean losing that sense of adventure that walkers get on this track,” said Mr McNamara.

“Our hope is that we will manage the risks of an extreme alpine environment as much as possible, without ‘cotton-wooling’ the experience and it should be a better experience for it.”

back to top

Back to top