Mueller Hut is a shelter established near the summit of Mount Ollivier, built high above Mount Cook Village in the heart of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. While Mueller Hut is the destination for most hikers who take on this trek, others may want to go only halfway up the track to the Sealy Tarns. Additional spurs to Kea Point and a scramble to the summit of Mount Ollivier itself are also available from the Mueller Hut track, and are all very popular.
The trek to Mueller Hut has two very distinct segments. Starting 2 kilometers north of Mount Cook Village at the White Horse Hill Campground and trailhead, the same trailhead as Hooker Valley Track, the trek begins relatively gently before entering thick subalpine forest and climbing virtually straight up the mountainside. There are roughly 2,200 stairsteps on the first section of the trek to the Mueller Hut that ascend into the thinning forest and eventually to the Sealy Tarns, which is essentially the halfway point of the hike both in terms of distance and altitude.
From Sealy Tarns the well-defined trail turns into a scramble up the remaining half of the mountain. Some route finding is needed in this section: Look for orange posts to guide you and your party up the mountain. Most of this hike has a relatively gradual incline, and the routes are well maintained, but there are a few areas requiring both hands and legs. Eventually the trail reaches the ridge of the mountains at a viewpoint prone to extremely strong winds, and then it proceeds across a few snowfields to Mueller Hut. Be sure to look and listen for glacial calves and landslides across the large canyon to the east!
Mueller Hut is a great lunch spot for day hikers, who account for the vast majority of the hikers on the hike. Vault toilets and fresh water can be found at the hut and are available for use for all travelers. Mueller Hut has 28 bunk beds for overnight stays; spaces are limited and must be booked at the Department of Conservation's website. For those wishing to summit Mount Ollivier, route finding and intermediate bouldering abilities are essential. It is wise for most hikers to leave their gear at Mueller Hut due to the exposure and very rocky nature of the ascent. The ascent is short in distance, and it should not take more than an hour round trip.