There is a strong argument that Mueller Hut is the best public cabin in New Zealand. Perched at an elevation of 1,800 meters with 360-degree views of Mt. Cook and the surrounding peaks, the alpine scenery is reminiscent of the Himalayas. More, Mueller Hut is surprisingly accessible: the hike up is 3 to 4 hours each way from Mount Cook Village and can be completed as a day hike or overnight trip. The alpenglow and sunrises from Mueller Hut are legendary.
Distance: 5.2 km each way from Mount Cook Village
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging. The total elevation gain to Mueller Hut is approximately 1,000 meters. The route is very steep, including sections of off-trail scrambling between well-marked cairns.
Cost: Hut fees are $36 NZD per person during the summer and $31 NZD during the winter.
Reservations: There are no reservations; sign-ins are available at the DOC office in Mount Cook Village on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-in as early as possible: Mueller Hut has 28 bunks and is busy during the peak summer season. New Zealand backcountry hut passes are not valid for the Mueller Hut.
Camping: Camping is available in the area surrounding the hut (it’s $15 per person to use the hut facilities). The terrain is rocky and high winds are common; campers should come prepared for serious alpine conditions.
Services: Water and gas cookers are available at the hut (the gas is turned off during the winter).
Seasons: The route generally is clear from December through March, although snow can come at any time of year. Mueller Hut is open during the winter but access requires technical equipment and is for experienced climbers only.
Access: Mueller Hut is in Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the trail begins just north of Mount Cook Village at the White Horse Hill campsite. The first two hours of the hike are on the Sealy Tarns Track; from Sealy Tarns it’s another two hours to the hut.