Ultimate Guide to the Mueller Hut Hike
September 27, 2018
If you love hiking and views of mountains then the Mueller Hut hike is for you! This blog includes everything you need to know about the hike including extra information on staying in the Mueller Hut in winter!
Ultimate Guide to the Mueller Hut Hike
Last weekend Dan and I finally embarked on a hike we had been talking about and anticipating for months – the Mueller Hut hike in Mount Cook National Park. We once saw pictures of the views from the hut and since then we wanted to do it for ourselves. We were too excited to wait until the summer to check out this incredible hike, so we did it now – in winter!
This blog is our complete guide to the Mueller Hut hike including extra info if you want to go during the off-season (June to October.)
Where is the Mueller Hut Hike?
The Mueller Hut hike is in Mount Cook National Park. To get to the Mueller Hut you must start on the Sealy Tarns Track and then at the top of the Sealy Tarns Track you continue onto the track to the Mueller Hut.
The Sealy track starts from the same car park as the Hooker Valley Track at the Whitehorse Hill car park and campground only a two-minute drive from Mount Cook Village.
Mueller Hut Hike Difficulty
In my opinion, the Mueller Hut hike is moderately difficult.
The first half of the hike is 2,000 stairs. This part can be quite tiring but isn’t overly difficult. After the stairs, there is a section of rocks which involves some climbing followed but a couple steep uphill sections. In the summer, these uphill sections would be fairly easy, but in the winter the ice and snow add an extra challenge.
The Mueller Hut hike is 5.2km long one way and takes about 3.5 hours in the summer. But in the winter, allow up to 5 hours one way. The hut is located at 1800m above sea level!
The Mueller Hut Hike in One Day
To me, the purpose of the Mueller Hut hike is to stay the night in the hut and enjoy sunset up in the mountains, but to my surprise when we did it lots of hikers were actually going on just a day hike. If you are fit and leave in the morning there is no reason why you couldn’t make to the Mueller Hut and back in one day.
Hiking in Winter
As I said before, hiking to the Mueller Hut in winter adds extra challenges and even dangers. In the winter, there can be severe avalanche risks in the area. It is important to check with the Department of Conservation before you leave about the avalanche risk for that day.
In the winter you also need to bring crampons and an ice axe with you in case it gets icy. If you have no experience using these then it may be wise to hike with a guide or at least someone who knows what they are doing.
In winter many of the streams freeze so ensure you bring enough water with you to get all the way to the hut. I would recommend at least 2 litres per person. Once at the hut, there is no running water in winter so you must melt snow. The hut has gas so you just need to make sure you bring a pot.
Preparing for the Mueller Hut Hike
The weather up at the Mueller Hut can change with a moments notice. Even in the summer, it is possible to get snow! So, make sure you prepare properly and that means bring the right things.
Make sure to pack warm clothes and plenty of layers. Waterproof clothing and shoes will also come in handy. When hiking, my number one rule is to always pack more socks then you think you’ll need as having warm and dry feet will be a life saver!
Bring a large bottle of water, pots and cooking equipment, and plenty of food!
If you are spending the night make sure to bring a sleeping bag, but no need to worry about a mat as the hut already has sleeping mats available for use.
As I said before, in the winter you need to bring crampons and an ice pick with you. When we went we didn’t think we would need them but rented them just in case. It was a good thing we did as on the way back down the weather changed for the worse and the snow turned to ice and we wore our crampons pretty much the whole way down!
If you need to rent crampons and ice picks then visit Alpine Guides in Mount Cook Village. They have all the equipment you could possibly need available for rent for reasonable prices (WE paid $25 for 24 hour rental of crampons and an ice pick.)
Don’t forget to check in with the Department of Conservation (DOC) before you leave as well. Even if it is summer and you are camping at the top it is good to let them know you are going in case something happens. They will take your information and when you return you sign back in. This is part of their process to ensure everyone who goes on the hike returns safely.
Booking the Mueller Hut
If you plan on spending the night in the Mueller Hut you must book it. In the summer (November to May) you must book in advance, but in winter you can only book on the day of. The hut costs $36 per person per night.
There is a DOC office right in Mount Cook Village. Their contact details are here.
Facilities at the Mueller Hut
The Mueller Hut is a really nice hut. It is large and sleeps up to 28 people with a huge kitchen!
At the hut there are sleeping mats, plenty of gas cookers, drop toilets and water (the water freezes in the winter though.)
In the summer there is a hut warden who stays there permanently to take care of the hut.
The Mueller Hut hike is one of my favourites in New Zealand! The views from the hut are absolutely incredible. Climbing in winter also made this all the more rewarding a it was our first winter alpin hike!
The hut itself is comfortable and makes for a great place to spend the night. While it isn’t an easy hike, it is totally worth it! And the challenge limits the number of people who go (especially in winter) so you have the trail almost all to yourself!
I would highly recommend the Mueller Hut hike to anyone who is up for the challenge!