Century-old mountain hut in Southern Alps given new lease of life

An old mountaineering hut deep in the Southern Alps has been given a new lease of life after enduring some of New Zealand's most extreme weather conditions.

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Tough alpine weather had pushed the Hooker Hut, which has incredible views, to the edge. Source: 1 NEWS

The 111-year-old Hooker Hut is located within the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the South Island and was on the brink of collapse before a pain-staking rescue mission.

The area's oldest hut has been fully restored to reflect its natural, historic state.

Hooker Hut was built in the early 1900s as a base for climbers to scale the surrounding mountains.

Sally Jones from the Department of Conservation told 1 NEWS the process of building the hut in the early 1900’s was arduous.

“The builders were bringing in materials on pack horses and in some of their reflections and their diary notes at the time, they talk about avalanche paths and being delayed by weather and debris, and I think, I wonder what was going through their heads at the time.”

The historic hut was originally located beside Hooker but as the glacier continued to crack and recede over the last century, the hut was moved further inland.

“It has been battered by thousands of weather systems. A big storm washed out the foot access and this is all with the glaciers shrinking and melting back, since the mid-1990s no one could really get to the hut,” senior ranger David Dittmer explained.

So in 2015, the tired structure was dismantled and airlifted out. Six years on, and following a careful restoration, it's been reopened this week in a new, safer spot.

“We had to make replicate window frames because the old ones were 100 per cent rotten but the doors are original, the framework is original, the interior lining and structure inside is all original,” Dittmer say.

The Department of Conservation says care has been taken to preserve its distinctive heritage features while providing a comfortable stay.