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Hooker Hut reopens in Aoraki

The newly relocated and reopened Hooker Hut. Photo: DOC

The 111-year-old Hooker Hut has reopened in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park six years after it was removed due to the crumbling moraine wall.

The hut, the oldest in the park, has been restored and relocated to a terrace in the Hooker Valley, about 20-minutes off the popular Hooker Valley Track and about a two-hour walk from the White Horse Hill campground.

The eight-bunker, which opened at the end of April, has a fire, gas cooking and a large deck. Bunks can be booked for $15/night.

Aoraki operations manager Sally Jones says the hut is accessed via a short unformed marked route to retain its sense of isolation and to discourage people from visiting it as a day walk, but it will still be very accessible.

“It’s a wee walk along a riverbed and over some tussock, but is really achievable for most people,” Jones said. “If we were to put a track in there I think there’s a risk that it’d become a day shelter and we’re keen for it to be a destination that’s a little more authentic and not just for a popular Instagram spot.”

She said the hut has been carefully restored to ensure it remains in the original style, with original materials.

“It was really dilapidated. A lot of work had to go into sourcing the right materials that were complementary to its heritage and ensuring it was as original as possible.”

Jones said waste from the hut would have to be helicoptered out, as with all alpine huts, but helicopter flights to service the hut would be kept to a minimum.

It can currently only be booked at the DOC visitor centre in the park, but will eventually be added to DOC’s online booking system.

The original hut was built in 1910. It was located on the moraine wall beside Hooker Glacier and was popular with people doing the Copland Pass. But the retreat of the glacier and erosion of the moraine wall has meant it has been moved four times.

The hut was expected to open last year, but the relocation work was halted by covid-19.