International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany. https://indie-road.com
Published March 11th 2017
Sore legs and views that take the rest of your breath away
The Mueller Hut Hike is a popular 5.2-kilometre one-way hike in the Mt Cook area. It begins in the White Horse Hill car park/camping ground and ascends gently up the Sealy Tarns track until you reach the base of the range, at which point the track ascends steeply upwards until the ridge line at the top. After reaching this point you continue the track on the other side of the ridge to the hut. It takes an estimated 4 hours to ascend to the hut and a further three back down again, although a fit hiker can do this much quicker.
This hike is best completed in good, clear weather. It offers fantastic views of Mt Cook and beyond all the way up which is the highlight of the hike, and if the weather is clear and you cannot see any of this you will be seriously missing out. Before setting out you should ensure that you have plenty of snacks and water with you, sunscreen, windproof and waterproof layers and plenty of warm clothing. A sturdy pair of hiking boots is also recommended as, after the steps, you are scaling over uneven rocky surfaces all the way to the top.
There are toilets in the car park at the bottom and some long drop composting toilets at the hut. Some hikers opt to stay in the 28-bed hut for the night before hiking back down again (booking for this is essential through the DOC) however, it is possible to complete as a day hike if you leave early enough in the morning.
From the hut, there is an optional 30 minute add on hike if you want to scale the summit of Mt Ollivier, which, if you're one of those people who like to stand on top of the world for a moment like me, is well worth the difficult scramble up the ridge. This offers fantastic views of lake Pukaki and the rivers that feed it as well as Mt Cook and the national park.
The hike is difficult and tiring being entirely uphill one way and entirely downhill the other and you should only attempt this is you are feeling confident you can complete it. If you have any doubts it is worth speaking to the people in the DOC office in the Aoraki village beforehand. They will also be able to tell you the conditions of the track and help you out with any weather forecasts.