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Sealy Tarns Track



1.2 mile 1.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,717' 523 m
Descent: -36' -11 m
High: 4,282' 1,305 m
Low: 2,596' 791 m


Avg Grade: 28% (16°)
Max Grade: 71% (35°)


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Trail shared by Kristen McGlynn


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This climb is merciless. The good news is that you don’t even care because the views are out of this world.

Kristen McGlynn

Features Views · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked

The trail has some very steep stairs and exposed sections. Not ideal for inexperienced hikers or those with a fear of heights.


2000 steps. No seriously, I counted, and other people counted, and it is what they say on the website. And even if it really is only 1,999 steps, you can go ahead and round it up by the time you finish the climb up this lung-and-leg-burning stair stepper.

To access the track, start your hike on the Kea Point Track. Sealy Tarns Track branches off to the west and starts easily enough, although there are signs warning of the strenuous nature and potentially hazardous terrain that you are about to encounter.

Once the stairs start, they are unrelenting. The logistics and labor involved in the construction of this staircase is fairly staggering—the higher you climb, the more impressive it becomes as the stairs contour along the steep hillside, winding in and out of sections of trees and bush that become more and more sparse as you climb.

The good news is that the views are outstanding, so you'll have plenty of excuses to stop and catch your breath. The higher you climb, the better your vantage point for views of Mueller Lake, Hooker Valley, Hooker Lake, and the impressive summit of Mt. Cook / Aoraki. As Mt. Cook Village recedes to a small speck on the valley floor, expansive views open up to the south as well, as the braided Tasman River winds its way across the plain back toward the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki.

The trail does eventually leave the stairs behind and levels out briefly to pass by the tarns themselves. The trail ends at a picnic table with another outstanding view, so bring a snack to enjoy before the punishing descent back down all those stairs.

Flora & Fauna

If you are lucky, you may enjoy the company of Kea. These cheeky high alpine parrots like to hang out around the picnic areas and cause mischief. They make for a great photo opportunity, but keep an eye on your snacks and your packs as they enjoy causing trouble.

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May 12, 2019
Josh Pan
Apr 14, 2019
Emily Leland KH
Dec 27, 2017
Junyi Julia Zhang
Dec 11, 2017
Kelsey Kiley
Dec 1, 2017
Rich Field
Set a slow and steady pace as I have a bust groin. This was a good strategy as I climbed to the tarns and back in 2 hours. 2.4mi — 2h 00m
Nov 1, 2017
Kate Meyers
Oct 20, 2017
Nga Huynh
Beautiful views and soooo many stairs. This is before Muller’s hut trial.

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  4.5 from 11 votes


  4.5 from 11 votes
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