There was but one hut in the running for the 2019 Hut of the Year award.
Blowing away the competition with a third of all votes, the spectacular Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mt cook National Park was never in doubt for the prestigious title.
Perched 1800m up on the Sealy Range, the iconic firetruck red hut boasts incredible views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and surrounds.
The original hut was built in 1914, and the current hut is the fifth to bear its name – the previous huts having either deteriorated or been lost to avalanches.
The current 28-bunk hut was opened by Sir Edmund Hillary in July 2003.
It’s a special spot for Sir Ed, who attained his first summit on Mt Ollivier – right behind Mueller Hut.
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park operations manager Brent Swanson says the hut’s accessibility and views are the reasons it’s booked up most days of the summer season.
“Within three hours you are in an alpine environment with majestic views of the park, the glaciers and Aoraki,” he says.
Despite its steep and potentially dangerous terrain, Swanson says visitors are usually well-prepared and don’t tend to get caught out.
“Fortunately at the road end there is the visitor’s centre and because it’s a bookable hut, most people come in and talk to us before they go,” Swanson says.
While it’s possible to make a return trip to Mueller Hut in a day, the sunrises are “spectacular,” Swanson says.
The 5.2km track to Mueller Hut takes 3-4 hours in summer, and around five in winter.
Bookings are required year round through the DOC website, and a bunk costs $45 a night.
Runner-up: Balloon Hut, Kahurangi National Park