A Mighty View from Mueller Hut (NZ)

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If you like glassy lakes, remote red huts and eye-bulging mountain views then you’ll want to pay a visit to Mueller.


Highlights

  • The view to end all views
  • Mirror lakes
  • Falling asleep to the sound of glaciers crashing down mountains around you

The Lowdown

If you’ve been to New Zealand (or even spoken to people who have) you’ve probably heard about all of its mountain huts where you can bunk up for the night. These are located all over NZ in remote locations where, for the most part, the only way in or out of them is to hike. No roads, no wifi and no hoards of tour buses!

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to many of these mountain hideaways, but there is one little red hut that takes the biscuit in my opinion as the best out there. This little red shed on stilts is called the Mueller Hut, and boy is it a sight for sore eyes and tired legs.

Hidden just up the Mueller Valley, this bunkhouse has undoubtedly the best view I have had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes. Pointing straight up the Hooker Valley, the hut has views of Mount Cook piercing the clouds straight out the front windows. This view in itself would make the day hike up there worth the thigh-burn, however your views also encompass snowy peaks, so riddled with glaciers out of every window that it’s sometimes hard to know where to look. To add even more to its repertoire there is also the Mueller glacier down in the valley below, with splashes of blue ice peeking through its blanket of grey scree.

The hike itself has a lot of stairs, and I mean a lot of stairs. After a short walk from White Horse Campsite, which is just a few minutes drive from Mount Cook Village, they begin. Up, up, up you go with little respite, until you reach Sealy Tarn.  If the wind dies down you’ll get idyllic mirror reflections of the snow capped peaks across from you and, if you’re lucky, Mount Cook itself in the distance. This can be a quick, worthwhile hike in itself if you’re strapped for time. It’s only 2 hours up to Sealy Tarn.

It’s a further 2 hours from the tarn up to the hut on a less maintained track, through tussocks and scrambling up boulder fields with the odd bit of scree. Once you reach the ridge take a moment to head up to the small peak on your right for spectacular views of hanging glaciers snaking off of Mount Sefton. If you hang about like we did then you’ll see large chunks of the glaciers break off with almighty booms, crashing down the slope opposite you. Well worth a break there in my view (its well needed as well).

20 minutes along the ridge from there and you’re at the hut. Take your boots off, crack open a cold one (if you brought one) and sit out on the deck taking it all in.

If you’ve booked in, you can stay the night on simple bunks (you have to bring all your sleeping bags etc. with you).   Then savour a hot meal you’ve cooked on the gas stoves provided. You can lie in bed listening to the distant crashes of glaciers cracking and tumbling down the slopes around you. It probably won’t be the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had but its undoubtedly one of the most memorable.

Essential Gear

  • If you’re booked in to stay the night then sleeping bag, torch, toilet paper, food and that sort of thing (a bottle of wine or a few beers don’t go amiss).
  • There is a water tank up there so you can refill your bottles, but no running water so washing options are limited!  The loos are in a separate hut and getting there at night can be very cold!
  • All weather gear. We walked up in the sun and low cloud and it was quite mild. We woke up the next morning and snow was covering the ground. Be prepared for everything.

How To Get There

You can start the walk from either Mount Cook Village or the White Horse campground nearby.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Swimming (if you’re brave enough)

Skill Level

Intermediate. It is not too technically difficult. There are a few bouldering sections and some scree, but physically it is tough on the legs. Like I said. A lot of stairs!

Distance Covered

5.2km on way to the hut. Return the same route.


Other epic hut-hiking experiences

A Room With A View // Craig’s Hut, Mt Stirling (Vic)

The Green Gully Track // Hut Hiking in Northern NSW

Night Mission // Scott-Kilvert Hut (Tas)