Anyone wanting a mountain experience this is the walk for you. Mueller Hut at 1800 metres provides unbelievable 360-degree views of New Zealand’s highest peaks. Mt Sefton and it’s icy cliffs are right there in front of you…with outstanding views of the Hooker Valley and the Mt Cook Range in the distance. Sealy Tarns are a very popular walk and a great alternative if you don’t have the time or fitness, the tarns offer great views and are the halfway point for those climbing onto Mueller Hut.
Mueller Hut and Sealy Tarns are accessed from the Whitehorse Hill carpark. Walkers without their own vehicles can use the Kea Point Track, which begins at the Mount Cook Village. Allow an extra 1-1.5 hours return.
Description of the Mueller Hut track
Whitehorse Hill to Sealy Tarns 1.5 – 2 hours
The track starts from the carpark and heads towards the Sealy Range. After 5 minutes the track joins the Kea Point Track (from the Village) and turns northwards with Mt Sefton in the distance. The turnoff to the Sealy Tarns track is signposted a further 10 minutes along. The Sealy Tarns Track starts out gently and then climbs steeply, zigzagging up to the Tarns. Your reward will be the spectacular views of the Hooker Valley and the magnificent peaks of the Southern Alps, including Mt Cook. For those of you who are not familiar with the term “Tarn.” It’s the name given to a small mountain lake or pond.
Sealy Tarns to Mueller Hut 2 hours
From Sealy Tarns follow the orange markers on snow poles through the tussock. This is an alpine route and parts of the route are quite rocky, I recommend wearing a sturdy pair of hiking boots if you don’t already have them. The alpine trail zigzags through alpine scrub and tussock to a large rock field. From here the route climbs a loose gravel scree to the skyline ridge. Once on the ridge stop and enjoy the superb view of the Mueller Glacier and the stunning ice cliffs of Mt Sefton. The route from here turns south towards the hut. Follow the snow poles over the large rocks and into the basin where you will see Mueller Hut…about 20 minutes. The return trip will take about 3 hours.
Mount Cook Village is 42 kilometres or 26 miles from Twizel. Follow State Highway 8 and turn off onto State Highway 80. Just before reaching the village, turn right into the Hooker Valley Road, at the road end is the Whitehorse Hill camping area. Its well signed posted and there’s toilets, a shelter and picnic area.
If your backpacking or don’t have your own transport, check out The Cook Connect for other transport options.
What to Take on Your Walk
The climb to Mueller Hut isn’t a technical climb during the summer months but a steep 1000 metre walk which requires a good level of fitness, experience and the right gear. Much of the climb is up a route once you get beyond the Sealy Tarns…marked by rock cairns and snow poles with orange markers on them, it can be hard to navigate if the weather deteriorates, as it can at any time of the year. With that in mind the list of hiking gear below is what I recommend and would take on any alpine walk:
- Daypack (20-30 litres)
- Food and plenty of fluid
- Waterproof and windproof raincoat and trousers
- Sturdy footwear
- Warm clothing: thermals and fleece
- Hat and gloves
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- First Aid Kit
If staying the night, a sleeping bag, food, torch, matches and toilet paper also need to be carried.
For hiking gear check-out what to take hiking
Other information to know
- If planning to spend the night in Mueller Hut, it needs to be booked before you set off.
- For accommodation, there’s the Whitehorse Hill Campground for campers and campervans. A great spot and easy access to the Mueller Hut track. For accommodation in the village check out Booking.com or Cheap hotels.
- The information centre and dining options are available in the Mount Cook Village.
- If camping or staying in self-contained units, there is no supermarket in the village. Stock up at Twizel before going. The souvenir store next to the check-in area of the Hermitage offers a small range of food supplies.
- The best time to visit is February when New Zealand’s weather is at its most settled and the warmest. October to April are still good months to walk, with the average temperature during this period ranging from 15 to 21 degrees celsius. The summer season extends from November to February, where the temperature can be as warm as 30 degrees Celsius. In the cooler winter season, from June to September temperatures drop to below 0 degrees Celsius overnight, while sunny winter days average around 8 degrees Celsius.
To print the above map, click on Mueller Hut and Sealy Tarn Track highlighted at the top of the map. The printing and PDF option at the bottom of this page will print or download the post except for the map. Once selected, choose actions to print the map. This map gives great information for getting to the start of the track, however, it’s only a guide of the route, for more detail on the track click on the topomap below, and this can also be printed.
For more information on where the ascents and descents are. Plus the distance and height at any point on the map, click on Mueller Hut and Sealy Tarn Track highlighted at the top of the map. This will enlarge the map. Then click the box to show elevation, the graph will appear below the map. Run your cursor over the elevation graph, this will display on the map where the ascents and descents are. It will also give you the distance and height at any point on the map. It’s a useful tool for planning your walk. The topomap below gives similar information, especially the ascents and descents. However, you need to know how to read those maps to get that information. The mapometer map gives you that information and more by simply moving the cursor over the graph.
Learn more about NZ’s amazing walks!
Interested in seeing a North Island park? Take a look around the website to learn about other walks, such as the Tararua Forest Park. It’s close to Wellington and has some beautiful day walks.