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New Zealand MUST-DO: the Mueller Hut hike 

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All images were taken on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and edited in Adobe Lightroom with personal presets.

Majestic, snow-covered and standing above everything else – this is how New Zealand's highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook proudly presents himself to the world this morning. It's been a cold and windy night in our tent which we set close to hut. And still – the view pays off for all the pain. In the following blog you can find out more about the hike itself and what to pack, before you hurl yourself into the adventure. 

What's in my backpack? 

It's early afternoon when we arrive at the parking lot right at the foot of the mountain in Aoraki/Mt Cook NP. Checken the gear and the packing list is essential. Besides my #GalaxyNote8 the following things are on the list: 

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  • comfy backpack with enough storage (e.G. Osprey Stratos 35 and Osprey Atmos 65)

  • warm and light sleeping bag (e.g. Haglöfs Lupus -8) and a small pillow

  • tent (e.g. pump up Heimplanet Fistral)

  • camping mat, blanket from the airplane in case the ground will be too cold

  • changing clothes, warm pants, sweater, wind proof jacket

  • sun glasses, gloves, hat, suncream, tooth brush

  • small gas stove, foldable pot, tea bags

  • extra batteries (power bank), extra cable, head torch

  • Food and water (1.5l pP, you can fill up the bottle in the cabin) 

The hike

Shortly after we are already on the way. After a short bush walk, the most exhausting part of the hike already awaits us: almost 2000 stairs up the mountain, around half of the 1000 meters elevation to the Mueller hut.
During the summer months, the hike itself is rated as easy to medium, depending on your own condition. But in winter, the route becomes an advanced adventure where mountaineer experience is needed: walking on ice and snow with ice axe and spiked, finding routes, using avalange transponder etc. However, in both cases it's absolutely necessary to inform yourself about the weather forecast at the DOC visitor center in the park. 

 Sealy Tarns, half way to Mueller Hut. 

Sealy Tarns, half way to Mueller Hut. 

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With every step, the view gets better and better and after around one and a half hours pure stairs climbing, we reach the first plateau: the Sealy Tarns, two small lakes which invite to rest and breath. After that, another steep climb awaits you. There's no proper path, you need to find your own way over rough and smooth, big and bigger rocks, finally snow as well. Over the course of the last 500 meters distance there's almost no elevation gain, you can easily reach the cabin after 15 more minutes. In total you should calculate 2.5 to 3 hours for the whole hike. 

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We look for a wind proof place to set our tent. Previous hikers already built small coves in the rocks which save you from the harsh winds up there. Despite the storm our tent is set after a couple of minutes and we can finally focus on what we actually came here for: taking photos with the #GalaxyNote8 and enjoying the view. 

Dizzy heights

It's been a stormy night but less windy than during the day. The biggest challenge comes now: leaving the warm and comfy sleeping bag to find some snow outside to heat up and to make fresh tea. But as soon as you see where you just woke up, you wouldn't want to stay in your tent any longer.

In case you would like to enjoy a little more comfort and want to carry less, you can also book a place to sleep in the hut itself. Be sure to check out online if there's any free slot, especially in the high season you would need to book it months in advance. First come, first serve! 

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Costs for the over night stay:

  • in Mueller Hut: NZD 36 (ca. 21 EUR)

  • in your own tent within a 200m radius of the hut: NZD 15 (ca EUR 9). You can use the hut facilities as well.

  • in your own tent outside the 200m radius of the hut: for free. 

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The way down takes you approximately 2 hours. It's the same path you came, so be prepared for the steps, especially when you suffer from knee problems. Alltogether an easy-medium hike featuring fantastic views and unlimited photo ops along the way and on the top. An absolute MUST DO when in New Zealand. #nzmustdo

Leave a comment if you have any questions, I'll happily answer them. 

This article was supported by Samsung Deutschland #DoWhatYouCant. 

© 2018 Max Muench | Legal / Impressum