21 May 2015

Century-old Mt Cook hut moved again

2:38 pm on 21 May 2015

The oldest hut in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is being dismantled and moved because of fears it is slipping into a glacier.

The historic Hooker Hut being removed from its precarious position in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

The historic Hooker Hut being removed from its precarious position in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Photo: Supplied

It is the fourth time the Hooker hut, which was built in 1910, has been moved.

Department of Conservation conservation services manager Mike Davies said the moraine wall of the Hooker Valley was gradually crumbling and retreating, increasing the chance of the hut slipping into the glacier below.

"The constant relocation of the hut, along with the removal of Gardiner Hut from the national park last month, illustrates the challenge of building and maintaining huts among New Zealand's highest peaks," he said.

"Aoraki's landscape is in a state of constant unrest, exposed to extreme forces of nature-high winds, heavy rain and snow, harsh temperatures and seismic activity.

"This is all greatly exacerbated by glacial retreat in recent times, and forces the need to constantly reassess risks faced by visitors using the park's huts and tracks."

The hut was originally used by climbers to access the upper Hooker Glacier, but only three people have stayed there in the past two years.

The hut will be stored in Twizel for safekeeping until a new location is decided on.

Hooker Hut History

  • 1910: Construction of the first Hooker Hut was started. A position was chosen on a high grass terrace 200 ft above the Hooker Glacier. The materials were packed in from the Hermitage up the Hooker Glacier via pack horse to within two miles of the hut site.
  • 1948: Hooker hut was moved back from the unstable edge of the moraine of the Hooker Glacier.
  • 1963: The hut was moved back even further.
  • 1994: The hut was moved to its present site, and a deck was added to the front.
  • 1994: Access to Hooker Hut became problematic when the track was washed out after heavy rainfall and the Stewart Gully was badly eroded and deeply incised. Very few people have accessed the hut by foot since then.
  • 2005: An avalanche hit the back of the hut.
  • May 2015: Hooker Hut is taken apart and flown out and stored to allow restoration work to take place and a safer site to be found.