A step-by-step guide to the Mueller Hut Route

Don Herron —  23/03/2015

On a fine summer’s day, the route up to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, is a fantastic way to experience New Zealand’s mountains without needing to be a mountaineer.

The alpine landscape on the way to Mueller Hut. Photo: Don Herron.

Enjoying the alpine landscape

Mueller Hut sits on the Sealy Range, in the shadow of Mt Ollivier, and was opened in 2003 by Sir Edmund Hillary.

Hillary had a special bond with Mueller Hut and Mt Ollivier, as this was the first mountain that he climbed.

Mueller Hut. Photo: ActiveSteve | CC BY-ND 2.0.

Mueller Hut

Make sure that you call into the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park Visitor Centre before you begin your hike.

You’ll want to sign into the intentions system and get up to date information on weather and mountain conditions.

Mueller Glacier Lake, from Kea Point Track | CC BY 2.0.

Mueller Glacier Lake, from Kea Point Track

You start your walk on the Kea Point Track either outside the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park Visitor Centre or at White Horse Hill campground and car park, at the end of the Hooker Valley Road.

Aoraki/Mount Cook. Photo: Don Herron.

Aoraki/Mount Cook

Follow the Kea Point Track, then take the Sealy Tarns turnoff.

The Sealy Tarns Track begins gently until you reach the foot of the Mueller Range, then starts climbing up steeply.

Stick to the obvious track and you’ll zigzag your way right up to Sealy Tarns.

Aoraki/Mt Cook from Sealy Tarns. Photo: digitaltrails  | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Aoraki/Mt Cook from Sealy Tarns

A tarn is the name given to a small mountain lake or pond and Sealy Tarns is a great place to stop, check out the impressive views of the Hooker Valley and the peaks in the area, catch your breath, and bask in the surrounding alpine landscape.

By this time you’ve been walking about two hours and you’re at the half way point. You’re probably tired, but it’s worth pushing through—there’s a lot more still to be seen.

Sealy Tarns and Valley. Photo: ActiveSteve | CC BY-ND 2.0.

Sealy Tarns and Valley

From Sealy Tarns follow the orange markers (every 200 metres) through the tussock.

This is not a maintained track but an alpine route and parts of it are quite rocky.

It zig-zags through alpine scrub, herb fields and tussocks to an impressive boulder field. Then, up a loose gravel (scree) slope of about 50 metres, to the skyline ridge.

Once on the ridge you can relax and enjoy the magnificent view of the Mueller Glacier sweeping down the valley past smaller hanging glaciers and the stunning ice shelf on Mount Sefton.

Mueller Hut. Photo: Don Herron.

Mueller Hut

From here you’ll turn south and follow the orange markers through the basin for an easy 30 minutes to Mueller Hut.

You’ve made it! Told you the views are worth it. Sit back, relax and enjoy the fabulous view. And remember, it’s all downhill from here.


Know before you go

Even in the best conditions a climb to Mueller Hut demands a fair degree of fitness and experience, plus good equipment.

You’ll need strong footwear, spare warm clothing, and a good windproof jacket. A sleeping bag, food, torch/lantern, matches and toilet paper also need to be carried.

Mueller Hut is the only hut on this route and bookings are required between 17 November 2014 and 30 April 2015. Outside these dates, during the winter period, bookings are not required.

Camping is permitted—for those prepared for cold and wind. Bookings are not required to camp.

Call into the Aoraki/Mount Cook Visitor Centre on the day of your stay to sign into the intentions system, and obtain up to date information on weather and mountain conditions. Sign out after your trip to avoid triggering an unnecessary search.

It’s not necessary to sign in at the visitor centre for summer day trips, although it is advisable to let someone know.

Find out more.

Don Herron

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Don works in the Poneke/Wellington Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in Wellington city. Don loves tramping, riding his mountain bike, travelling and planting natives in his garden at home.

One response to A step-by-step guide to the Mueller Hut Route

  1. 

    Just another thing on my “to do” list. Have been up as far as Sealy Tarns and that was fantastic in itself. Went to go to Mueller on my next visit and stay over but weather wasn’t co-operating so spent night at Braemar Station instead – oh well 🙂 To-do though!