Backpack the Brewster Hut Track

Fantail Falls Trailhead

This challenging, steep summit hike offers 360 degree views, access to Brewster Glacier, and beautiful bush walking through beech forests. This is among shortest trips into the heart of the Southern Alps.

Twenty kilometers north of Haast Pass (568m/1864ft) there is a carpark for Fantail Falls, a beautiful waterfall with numerous rock cairns displayed at its base. From here, take a 3-4 hour hike along Brewster Hut Track (more like climb) through beech forest and then alpine tussock to reach Brewster Hut (1450m/4757ft).

At the hut, you are rewarded with amazing views of the Aspiring Range to the west. In good weather, the sun can be seen setting over these mountains, a truly is amazing sight. To the north lies Mount Brewster and the Brewster Glacier - a 3km-long ice sheet cirque glacier that can be explored in good weather. During a clear sunset, the glacier will turn pink.

Because of the elevation and the geography of the mountains, this is a sunset photographer's dream location. It is not so good for sunrises, unless you want to summit Mount Armstrong very early!

Spend the night at Brewster Hut - a 12 bunk, insulated alpine hut with no heating (bring warm clothes)! There is drinkable water, but check with DOC or the visitor center first. Mattresses are provided, but bring a sleeping bag and pillow. The cost is $15/night, payable using backcountry hut tickets (available at the Makarora Visitor centre).

The next day, climb an additional 610m/2000ft to reach the summit of Mount Armstrong (2110m/6922ft, about two hours). From here there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps. If you are up there at night, you can get perfect dark skies suitable for Milky Way photography or Aurora Hunting.

It is possible to pitch a tent between boulders near the summit in good weather, but you will have to be familiar with pitching a tent without soil, because there are only boulders at this elevation. It is also possible to take another 2-3 hour trip over the Mount Brewster, and, with appropriate alpine gear, access the Brewster Glacier.

As always, notify a friend or the Visitor Centre of your plans and be prepared for adverse weather - the weather changes very rapidly in the mountains.

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking poles
  • Ice axes, crampons, rope (if summiting Mount Armstrong or Mount Brewster in winter or shoulder seasons)
  • Warm weather clothes (regardless of season)
  • Hiking clothes (depending on season)
  • At least one change of clothes in dry bag
  • Tent and sleeping pad (if not staying in hut)
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Fuel and gas cooker
  • Food for as many days as planned to stay
  • 1.5-3L water (more if water supply at Brewster Hut is unavailable, check with the visitor centre in Makarora)
  • Camera and tripod
Show More
RT Distance 11.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 5656 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

The work is worth it

It's a steep climb up to the hut, but man are the views worth it. With Mt. Armstrong just above and Mt. Brewster dominating the nearby skyline, you'll be in for a treat. A+ sunsets. Definitely at least go up to the summit of Brewster, such an incredible view of the Southern Alps.

Amazing Lesser Known Hut

This hut is one of my favorites in New Zealand. Absolutely spectacular views! As you plan your trip here, make sure you leave time to climb to the summit as this adventure suggests and also circle across the scree to the glacial lake at the foot of the glacier on Mt. Armstrong! Make sure you have a good weather gap. If it rains and the Haast River floods you will either be stuck on the mountain or not able to start ascending it.

The climb was extremely steep and challenging but was it worth the panoramic views you will get as soon as you get above the bushline!


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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