View from the Mueller Hut Route


The Mueller Hut Route in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park has reopened for day hikers today after a brief closure.

Date:  21 February 2024

The route was temporarily closed to day hikers on Sunday 18 February because the toilet tank at Mueller Hut was nearing capacity. Those with hut bookings were still able to stay overnight as there was enough capacity for them.

DOC Aoraki/Mount Cook Operations Manager Sally Jones says the specialist pumping equipment needed to empty the tank arrived at the village on Tuesday and was flown to the hut by helicopter this morning.

She says the tank had filled up faster than anticipated because the national park has had higher than anticipated visitor numbers this summer.

“We were scheduled to empty the tank at the end of this week, depending on weather allowing a helicopter to fly, but visitor numbers have been well above what have seen in recent years and the tank filled more quickly than expected. We estimate up to 250 hikers have been using the track on busy days.

“DOC owns the specialist equipment needed to empty the tank, which is moved around the South Island depending on where it’s needed. Tuesday was the earliest we could get it to Aoraki as it’s been in use in other places.”

Sally Jones says the route was briefly closed to day hikers because it goes through a pristine and fragile alpine environment, which would be negatively affected if people toilet outside of the provided facilities. In this type of rocky alpine terrain, it is not practical for people to bury their excrement and it takes a long time for it to break down.

“Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a stunning place and it’s great to see people enjoying the park. The challenge for DOC is our facilities – our huts, tracks, toilets and especially carparks – are struggling to handle these high visitor numbers.

“We want to remind people visiting to respect the environment – take your litter with you, poo in a loo, and give our wildlife the space it needs. There’s information people need to know before they head out on the DOC website.”

Sally Jones says people planning to visit should also be aware the White Horse Hill carpark has been overflowing every day recently.

“Please park respectfully and where possible, park a bit further out and walk in – it's not like the view's too bad, especially on a clear day, it's stunning.”

DOC manages a network of more than 2000 toilets nationally. Many of these are in remote locations, including Mueller, one of nearly 1000 huts we look after. Maintaining these toilets is a big job and occasionally we need to temporarily close a facility when we cannot service it immediately.

Based on a quick search of our records, we believe this is the first time the Mueller Hut Route has been temporarily closed due to toilet issues.


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