Home / Articles / Waypoints

A high country charmer

Image of the June 2022 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2022 Issue

Cupola Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

My first visit to Cupola Hut was one winter when the snow was so deep we had to dig our way inside. A shovel mounted above the hut’s door is there for a good reason. So when I returned, again in winter, my memories were of a very cold spot. This second time though, there was no snow to dig and a potbelly stove had been installed.

The hut was built in 1957 as a base for scientific research. There are eight bunks and one quite unusual feature is sliding windows at the north-west corner. From here, you can gaze out from the comfort of your sleeping bag on the top bunk, while breathing in fresh mountain air. The windows were installed so researchers could observe the birdlife. 

The hut is situated just below the tree line, amongst beautiful beech forest, and the view to the south face of Mt Hopeless, with its intimidatingly exposed couloir route to the summit, is spectacular. 

Just a minute’s climbing above the hut and you’re on a rolling tussock shelf with views of peaks above from north to south when looking west; and more open vistas down Cupola Creek to the St Arnaud Range when looking east. 

For climbers, Cupola Hut gives ideal access to Mt Cupola and Mt Hopeless, as well as several high points along the craggy ridge running between those two well-known peaks.

19.1km from Coldwater Hut
Total Ascent
Coldwater Hut to John Tait Hut, 4-5hr; John Tait Hut to Cupola Hut, 2-3hr
Cupola Hut ($5, eight bunks)
By water taxi from Saint Arnaud to Coldwater Hut or via the Lakehead Track from St Arnaud

GPX File

Cupola Hut via Coldwater Hut (gpx, 18 KB)

GPX File

Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.