White Horse Hill Campground is the place to camp in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and is located a couple kilometers from Mount Cook Village amidst extraordinary hiking tracks like Hooker Valley Track and Sealy Tarns Track. Named after an adjacent hill, the campground sits on a valley floor split by massive mountain ridges. Glacier-covered Mount Sefton looms large above the campsites, which have beautiful views day-in and day-out.
White Horse Hill Campground has 60 non-powered sites for tents and campervans, including a few sites with short walk-ins. The campground is first-come first-serve and does not take reservations. The campground has a large public shelter with tables, sinks, and counters where food can be prepared and stoves can be used. Toilets are spread throughout the campground. Running water is available, but there are no showers. To find showers, drive 2.5 kilometers to the public shelter at Mount Cook Village. While water in the campsite is generally safe to drink, the Department of Conservation recommends that you treat the water first by boiling it.
RVs and campervans can park in gravel spots along the campground roads. Tents can be set up on grassy plots. Bushes add privacy to some campsites, while others are out in the open. Picnic tables are dispersed throughout the campground, and can also be found inside the shelter.
Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the campground, Mount Cook Village, or on any of the tracks in the national park. Campfires are also not allowed, but you can use gas stoves. A dump station is available in the summer, but the campground has no electrical hook-ups.
There is a fee of $10 per person per night to camp at White Horse Hill Campground. Children 17 and under are $5 per night and young children under the age of five are free (all prices in New Zealand Dollars as of December, 2015). Pay on arrival, as the campground does not take reservations. A camping area registration booth at the entrance of the campground has fee envelopes so that you can deposit what is owed. It is best to bring exact change or write a check payable to the Department of Conservation. The campground warden may be able to provide change and you can pay at the Department of Conservation Visitor Center in Mount Cook Village instead. Display receipts clearly on the rear-view mirrors or cars, vans, and campervans, or attached to guy line and pole on tents.
White Horse Hill Campground has incredible surroundings. A short stroll up Hooker Valley Track, which heads east from the campground, leads to Freda’s Rock (where a famous photo was taken of the first woman to climb Mount Cook), an Alpine Memorial (where perished mountaineers are remembered), and Mueller Lake Lookout (overlooking the terminal glacier lake below Mount Sefton). The excellent day hike up Hooker Valley Track crescendos at an iceberg-filled lake below Mount Cook. In the opposite direction, campers can easily walk to Kea Point for a closer look at Mount Sefton or take steeper tracks up to Sealy Tarns and Mueller Hut for an incredible trek to renowned destinations in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Though there is a fee for the campground, there is no cost to enter the national park.
Directions: Take State Highway 8 to State Highway 80 (Mount Cook Road), at the south end of Lake Pukaki. Drive north on SH 80 for 54.5 kilometers. Before reaching Mount Cook Village, turn right on Hooker Valley Road. After 2 kilometers, the road ends at White Horse Hill Campground.
Campground address: Hooker Valley Road, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, Canterbury, 7999, New Zealand
Campground coordinates: -43.7183, 170.0934 (43° 43′ 05.87″S 170° 05′ 36.24″E)
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|Hooker Valley Track|
This superb 11-kilometer round trip hike heads up Hooker Valley to an iceberg-filled lake at the end of an impressive glacier below Mount Cook.
|Tasman Glacier View & Blue Lakes|
This pair of tracks combine for a hike of 1.85 kilometers round trip (or more) with views of small emerald pools and a large milky lake below Tasman Glacier.
|Sealy Tarns Track|
This incredibly steep and incredibly scenic 5.8-kilometer round trip hike uses a sting of staircases to ascend a mountainside to pools that reflect views of Mount Sefton and Mount Cook.
|Mueller Hut Route|
Ascend past Sealy Tarns on a rough route to a famed hut for a 10.5-kilometer round trip hike with spectacular views.
This 1,933-meter tall summit can be reached by ascending above Mueller Hut for even grander views.
|More trails in New Zealand|
Explore other destinations for walking and hiking (as well camping and lodging) in New Zealand.