Instead of this route Alpine Recreation recommends an alternative route over the Main Divide to link with the Copland Valley: FitzGerald Pass.
The Copland Pass used to be one of New Zealand's greatest alpine tramps, linking the grandeur of Mount Cook, with the West Coast bush and the hot springs at Welcome Flats. Since the erosion of Stewart and Copland Gullies on the eastern side of the Main Divide Hooker Hut has been sitting on an inaccessible piece of lateral moraine. Climbers should not attempt to climb Copland Pass via Hooker Hut. Access to the hut via the old track is impossible and access to it from the glacier up the moraine wall or via Copland gulley is very dangerous. The Department of Conservation has therefore decided to remove Hooker Hut in the future. Anyone wishing to access the Copland Spur should follow the route described below and depicted on our photo.
From White Horse Hill car park, 780m, Aoraki / Mount Cook village, follow the Hooker Valley track. Follow the western shore of the Hooker Lake on the bottom of the moraine wall. Beware of rockfall below the moraine wall. When the lake level is low there is no problem following the shore line. However, after heavy rain or snow melt when lake level is high, the shore line is under water! Follow the moraine covered glacier until reaching the gulley to the north of the Copland Spur. Climb up the gully until traversing to the grassy terrace half-way up the moraine wall becomes possible. Follow the grass terrace and climb steep to the moraine terrace proper and to the start of the track. The last 20 metres of the moraine wall are extremely steep and can be dangerous due to loose rock. A small camping site exists on the moraine terrace. There is no water. From car park, 5 - 6 hours hiking / climbing. Apart from the formed section of the Hooker Valley track this part of the route is very testing, it is rough underfoot and very unpleasant from the Hooker Lake to the top of the moraine wall.
An alternative route may be taken via the East Hooker Valley as far as the shingle fan opposite the Copland Gulley, followed by a rough descent down a steep moraine canyon onto the Hooker Glacier, across it, and up the West Hooker moraine as described above.This route takes about 1.5 hours longer than the route beside the lake. 6 - 8 hours from road end.
From the West Hooker moraine terrace climb up the steep shingle fan on the southern end of the terrace to the start of the old track. Follow zig-zags and ridge line to Copland Shelter (Very small emergency shelter only! 4 bunks with a squeeze, no toilet), 3 hours from moraine terrace. Straight up the snow slopes to Copland Pass, 2150m, 1 - 2 hours from Copland Shelter. Douglas Rock Hut is at least 5-6 hours down the Copland Valley.