Mount Cook was calling and we had to go! This trip was already on my to do list before we left to NZ and living in Haarlem, NL. We had been planning for this trip a few days in advance, hoping for the weather to turn around. The crew included Bernard, Nick and myself and we planned on staying the night in the Mueller hut. At 1800 meters on the Sealy Range, Mueller Hut provides a 360-degree panorama encompassing glaciers, ice cliffs, vertical rock faces and New Zealand’s highest peaks.
As New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,724m, the weather is unforgiving and the forecasts are usually pessimistic, so often it’s rare to get beautiful sunny days in this alpine area. Aoraki (the Māori name) is a very shy mountain; it doesn’t always show his beauty and is often covered in thick clouds.
We were so lucky to have a clear sky for the next 2 days, while we were heading up to the Mueller Hut to see Mt. Cook up close. The weather was just magical and Mt. Cook really showed it's best sides with some fresh snow on top of the mountain.
Although the track is only 4 hours (one way), it is quite a harsh one. This track goes straight up to the mountain. No flat parts, so I dread going up the track, hoping I could make it to the end.
The track is divided by 2 parts. The first part is a track with 2200 stairs and it will take you up to Sealy Tarns. (They call it “stairway to heaven” for a reason) From there you already have an epic view on the Glacier lakes. The second part of the route is quite rocky. It zig-zags through alpine scrub, herb fields and tussocks to a large rock field.
From there the route ascends a loose gravel slope of about 50 meters, to the skyline ridge. Once on the ridge we enjoyed the magnificent view of the Mueller Glacier sweeping down the valley past smaller hanging glaciers and the stunning ice shelf on Mount Sefton. We watched and enjoyed the sound of avalanches.
After 5 hours of constant climbing, we finally got to the Mueller hut. I couldn’t believe my eyes, this was the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever been to. I instantly forgot about the pain in my legs, my heavy backpack and sore knees. We dropped our backpack in the hut, ate some pasta and went out to see the surroundings. We didn’t go back to the hut until the sun went down, and we took heaps of pictures. A memory that will stay in my heart forever.
Elisabeth Va for Travel New Zealand
Each photo of this series is available as print.
Special thanks to Bernard & Nick and to The Department of Conservation, New Zealand