I love any opportunity to show off New Zealand hikes and I get a little pleased inside when I hear other people talking about how they love New Zealand too. We are a proud nation, us Kiwis. I recently asked a few travel bloggers what their favourite New Zealand hikes were and three travel bloggers shared their favourite New Zealand hikes.
Our World to Wander
Andra and Vlad from Our World to Wander stepped up to the plate to write all about the Mueller Hut Trek and doesn't it sound amazing? Andrea and Vlad have seen 17% of the world and plan on seeing the remainder. They are travellers who love backpacking and immersing themselves in local cultures. Go take a nosy at their Facebook page for more backpacking adventures.
The Mueller Hut Trek
It’s not difficult to start dreaming about New Zealand given all the photos that are out there roaming the internet. You see the perfect views, the perfect green, the perfect hills, and for sure you will want to hop on the next flight to New Zealand. It happened to us as well. But in our case, it was the mountains. The possibility of trekking in New Zealand was the number one reason we booked our tickets to Auckland.
And one of our favourite treks there was the Mueller Hut trek. A pretty famous one where you aren’t quite alone on the trail. But when you get there and look around, you quickly realize that it would be impossible to have those amazing views all for yourself. And if you are an Edmund Hillary fan as we are, you will enjoy the trek even more. Because you will have in the back of your mind those amazing stories he had from Mount Cook.
Where is Mueller Hut?
But where is this Mueller Hut? It’s in New Zealand’s South Island, in the Aoraki National Park, on the Sealy Range. Aoraki is the Māori name for Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,764m. And Mueller Hut is located at 1,800m, not bad for a short day trek. You can also opt to stay the night, but we decided to do it just as a day trek. It will take you around 3 to 4 hours to go up and another 2 to come back.
How many stairs?!
However, you should bear in mind that the first part of the trek is not really “knee-friendly”. Because it actually involves a lot of stairs. So, after you park your car, you head to Kea Point Track. It’s a nice start but then when you get to the bottom of the Mueller Range, you come face to face with the stairs. And there are only 1806 of them. They are quite a pain in the butt, but the views really help you cope with them. When you get to Sealy Tarns you are spoiled with an amazing panorama of the Hooker Valley and Mount Cook.
From there the trail gets a bit harsher, with a lot of big rocks that you might soon start to love as you need to climb them. It's a bit like in childhood when we were playing around and climbing everything around. After the rocks, the trail gets easier and you will soon spot the famous Mueller Hut. You should get a snack and some tea there before heading back down.
I would say it’s a pretty accessible trek, but don’t get fooled by it. Even if you are a fit one, you can start feeling those stairs in your knees. And going up it’s pretty steep, not so many flat parts. But still, it’s an extremely picturesque trek and you should definitely not miss it. That Mount Cook is indeed a must-see!
Walk My World
Cat and Joe from Walk My World are two travel fanatics from the U.K. In 2012 they brought one-way tickets to Istanbul and never looked back. They now live in Australia (I won't hold that against them though ;) ) and enjoy hiking and exploring. Give their Facebook page some love and swoon over their epic adventures.
The Hump Ridge Track
The Hump Ridge track is a three day hike in the beautiful Fiordland National Park. Fiordland is one of the most famous tramping areas in New Zealand, yet most people don't seem to know about the Hump Ridge. Walking the trail feels like being let in on an amazing secret. The scenery is spectacular, made up of forest, beaches and ridge tops that look out to Stewart Island and the wild Southern Ocean. The forest is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful I have ever walked in, like walking straight through the pages of The Lord of the Rings. I know everyone says that about New Zealand, but honestly, this forest definitely has the wow factor.
A little solitude
A limited number of people can start the track each day so unless you seek company you can walk the track in absolute solitude, which is something I wouldn't have expected in such a well known national park. I also loved the novelty value of filling my water bottle at water bridge. Standing on the bridge you fling a bucket on string into the stream below, it took me a few attempts to collect enough to fill the bottle but water has never tasted so good!
Not for the faint-hearted
At over 60km long the track definitely requires a little bit of training if you aren't a regular walker. The climb on day one is over 900m, most of which comes in the last 7km, having already walked for 15km. There is also a lot of downhill on day two which can be tough on the knees, so I was glad I had taken walking poles. The track became really muddy in sections. Be prepared to be ankle deep in sludge at regular intervals on day two and three - another reason I was glad for poles! I did a steep walk every weekend for four weeks prior to starting the hike and found this really helped.
A walk with a view
We walked the track in Summer but in true Fiordland fashion, we experienced temperatures ranging from 1.5c to 25c. The wind on the ridge top left me hanging on for dear life at points and we saw an eight year girl who was literally crawling along the final stretch of boardwalk to the lodge! The lodges themselves are in spectacular spots. On day one you sleep at 1000m with panoramic views and day two is back at sea level with the chance to spot rare Hector's dolphins from the beach beside the hut.
The lodges also mean you don't have to carry too much stuff as they sell freeze dried food and even wine. It was also a great place to socialise and get ideas for the next hiking trip. For us walking the track at Christmas, the chance to carry less and even have a glass of wine was a welcome treat!
This is a great hike if you are looking for spectacular scenery, few other people and even a bit of luxury if you choose.
The Wandering Wheatleys
The Wandering Wheatleys are just too gosh darn cute for their own good. Nic and Val got engaged in Laos and then married in the Dominican Republic and continue to wander the world. Go peek at their Instagram for an insight into their adventures. Go on, it'll make you jealous.
A short great walk
My bucket list has grown
Now I have added three more hikes to add to my ever-growing bucket list! If you want to contribute to my next Best New Zealand Hikes post be sure to contact me and we will sort summat out. I'd love to do another post featuring some more New Zealand Hikes.
Have you ever done any of these hikes? What is your favourite New Zealand Hike?