Climb to Mueller Hut

6.4 miles 3000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Crystal Brindle

Mueller is one of New Zealand's Best Alpine Huts. You'll enjoy exceptional views of the tallest peaks in the country and have access one of New Zealand's best alpine huts with a well-defined path.

This trek begins in the gateway town of Mount Cook Village, which is a must-visit destination in its own right, and serves as the jumping off point for most Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park ventures. Drive to the White Horse Hill Campground (follow the signs for the Hooker Valley) and park in the day use area. The trail begins at the back of the parking lot (the end opposite to the road entry) with a sign indicating the Sealy Tarns and Mueller Hut Route, as well as Kea Point. If you see signs for the Hooker Valley Track, you're on the wrong side of the lot.

The trail is gentle for the first ten minutes or so, and then turns into a series of steps. These steps (approximately 2,000 of them) lead you steeply out of the valley and up to the ledge that contains the Sealy Tarns. This is a great place to stop and re-group before tackling the next stage of the track. Enjoy views of the tarns and the glacial lakes below, framed by a backdrop of Aoraki/Mount Cook.

From this point on, the trail is considered the Mueller Hut Route and is signed as such. The trail is not benched, but is very easy to follow due to its frequent use. The trail braids substantially up the rocky slope, but all branches head in the generally right direction, and there are no obstructions to sight. Follow the pole markers up a scree slope to reach the top of the day's steep climbing.

From here, the route sidles over large boulders with minimal elevation gain before opening up to the flat area that contains the Mueller Hut. The hut is red and very visible from afar. The last approach to the hut reveals the best views as the valley containing the Mueller Glacier drops away to your right, and Mount Sefton and the Footstool tower above. Mount Cook is still visible, as it is through almost the whole of the journey.

The small, rocky summit behind the Mueller Hut is Mount Ollivier (1933 meters or 6,341 feet) and it is worth scrambling to the top if the weather is fine. It is best climbed before sunrise so that you can watch the peaks turn pink with morning light. The ridge and summit also afford views of Lake Pukaki to the east.

Important note on weather: This is a straightforward route that can turn dangerous in foul weather (which the area is known for). When you check in for your booking at the visitor center you will be advised of the current conditions. The usually dry trail can turn into a cascade in heavy rains (learned from experience). Don't attempt this route until mid-December or later, unless you are skilled with an ice axe and crampons.

Reservations: It is best to book in advance, which can be done online. Bookings are required and the hut can fill up in the busy season. Backcountry hut passes do not apply to this hut.

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Fitness
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

10 days ago

...in complete awe

I remember this day pretty well because I had spent the night before outside the Aoraki NP and when I looked across Pukaki the next morning, I didn't think it seemed too nice. However, I played along and waited for a potential change of weather and evaluated when I got to the village... sure enough, the weather pushed back for later in the evening. Once I was at the trailhead, I was devoted for a reward of climbing to the hut. It track starts off chill, but when it splits left towards Sealy Tarns, the climb begins at the base of the Mueller Range and then it's a steady steep climb when you reach the stairs. I worked with the "slow and steady" mentality for this hike balance energy as needed because this will be a climb! The Sealy Tarns is a gorgous mountain lake and good spot to take a break. Evaluate your time from here because you're only about half way at the tarns and the terrian changes to a less maintained track following orange markers (every 200m) and you will climb through rock fields, tussocks, scree, etc. Stay aware when you climb here, especially around others. Once at the scree, you're getting close to the ridge. When I hiked it in November, there was a fair amount of small. I followed the already made footsteps and a traverse across to the ridge. And at the ridge I had the most wondering and rewarding time chatting with other travlers, snacking, and witnessing an avalanche happen off of Mount Sefton, in complete awe. After my break, I went south and continued following the track to the hut and looped around the same way. Then back down I went, but I treated my knees with a little bum slide down the snowy face - a solid 1 minute ride and the rest was history. Check out NZ Mountain Safety Council's video on Mueller Hut for an awesome informative video!

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

over 4 years ago

Epic

Just a magnificent spot. The day before it had snowed and the second half of the trek was done under bright blue skies and pure white snow underneath. Everybody in my crew couldn't stop saying how excellent the entire thing was. Spectacular views, easy enough hike, and just a brilliant day all around. One of my best days in NZ

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