An Expedition to Plateau Hut in Mount Cook NP

An Expedition to Plateau Hut in Mount Cook NP

I felt a bit like a cheater when I arrived at the hut without a single drop of sweat sticking to my forehead. My legs were fit as usual (a-hum) and no tiredness to be found. A helicopter had just dropped me at Plateau Hut, a remote back country hut at 2200 meter in New Zealand’s famous Mount Cook National Park.

That guilt oozed away once I had a good look around. Snow, mountains, glaciers and oh yeah Mount Cook up close – and I mean UP CLOSE. The view from Plateau Hut is as superb as you would imagine. In case you are wondering: yes it is possible to walk up to Plateau Hut, but it will take you about 13 hours and it is challenging.

plateau hut mount cook

With two friends by my side I was ready for two nights and days of photography, videography, enjoying nature, food and drinks and maybe catching my first aurora.

Domes and glaciers

The first evening we put on all our warm clothes and started walking to Glacier Dome, a little peak twenty minutes away from the hut. We thought this would be a great vantage point for sunset.

It was pretty good.


Blue hour giving some dramatic views
Blue hour giving some dramatic views

All three of us were firing away. In between all that shooting we found some time to take a few sips of beer – the important stuff you make time for. It was a battle though as it was really cold, and holding a cold can doesn’t help your fingers from freezing.

Once back inside we enjoyed a lovely dinner. The positive thing of not carrying your stuff up (and taking a heli instead) is that you can take lots of wine, beers and food. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much during a weekend in the mountains.

Hut Life

The hut itself is well equipped. The lighting, kitchen (with utensils), water and toilets nearby make it a hostel as any other – only this one defeats all the other with its location. There are 33 bunk beds and you pay about 36 dollars per night. You can find more information about the hut on the Department of Conservation site.

plateau hut mount cook
Window with a view

When you’re drinking your beer on the deck you see Linda glacier right in front of you. A big impressive glacier, that’s one of the routes to Mount Cook. A bit lower you have the Hochstetter Ice Fall, which is the most impressive ice fall I’ve ever seen, and to be honest the only one. I wouldn’t want to go too close there..

Best views in Mount Cook NP
The hut and… the Ice Fall (and the Linda Glacier in the back)
Best views in Mount Cook NP
First morning light touching Mount Cook
Best views in Mount Cook NP
Icy morning view from the hut on Tasman Valley

Plateau Hut is also a great spot for astrophotography. I didn’t jump on that boat yet, but the boyfriend (or thekiwifrog) knows it best. We did’t see an aurora, but the milky way was putting on a show for us!

Best views in Mount Cook NP
The milky way framing Mount Cook, really?? – pic by Nico Babot

Don’t get a fright when you’re up there and you hear the roar of an avalanche. You’re surrounded by them. Hearing the huge force of nature makes you feel very small. I felt so lucky to spend two nights in a hut that remote. The best views in Mount Cook NP, no civilisation, no bars on your phone, only mountains and peace.

Getting us out of the plateau was a little less peaceful with winds up to 100km/h and a minor snow storm. When the helicopter started to spin around and I could hardly see where I was walking I was holding my breath. Needless to say I was happy to land safely in the village a few minutes later. That was one little adventure.

Always be prepared

Plateau Hut is beautiful and easily accessible via helicopter, but don’t forget that it is still rough mountain terrain. The place is surrounded by glaciers, ice-falls and steep slopes which means crevasses and avalanches. You definitely need the right equipment. If you have limited experience of this type of environment, you should probably go with a guide.

I was there with the proper equipment, plenty of food and experienced people. It is a beautiful place, but it can also be dangerous. Nature is always unpredictable. If bad weather hits you; you might be stuck for a few days – so extra food is always a must.  If you are interested in going without a guide in this type of environment, you can also do a NZAC Alpine Course. You find more information on that here:

3 thoughts on “An Expedition to Plateau Hut in Mount Cook NP

    1. Thanks Lila!! It is indeed a unique location for a hut. There are so many huts on pretty locations in NZ, but this one is on top 🙂 Those icicles were so cool to see, tried to not walk under them as they might fall!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.