Brewster Hut Track (& ridge below Mt Armstrong), Westland NZ

After a long climb through attractive beech forest you’ll be rewarded with classic South Island views of high mountains, including Mt Brewster & its glacier. Continue upwards from Brewster Hut towards Mt Armstrong for even more views.

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong

This is definitely one of my favourite walks. Starting at the frigidly beautiful Haast River, the track climbs steeply through attractive beech forest to the tree line. It then climbs onto a narrow ridge and up further to Brewster Hut at 1400m of elevation. There are views of many high mountains to the west, and up towards Mt Brewster (2516m) and its glacier.

Stopping at Brewster Hut would be enough, but on our first ascent a party recommended we continue up to a ridge below Mt Armstrong for views east over more mountains. We did this our second time up and weren’t disappointed. (Although I was freaked out by the wind and precipitous drop over the other side!) This extension makes it a long walk, but it’s also possible to reach the summit of Mt Armstrong in an even longer day, and that might be our target next time. Of course, you can always stay the night at the hut, and Mt Brewster itself is apparently one of the more accessible high peaks in New Zealand.

Highly recommended for reasonably fit walkers. Track notes are at the end.

Brewster Hut Track (plus extension): The Scenery

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Sophia sometimes needs to get the blood back into her head on a long and hot ascent.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
When above the treeline the track ascends to this ridge and the final approach to the hut.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
The Warden Spur.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Crossing rocky scree slopes to avoid snowy patches. Well past Brewster Hut here and on our way up to the ridge north of Mt Armstrong.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Brewster and the Brewster Glacier. Quite accessible and not technical in most conditions, but I think to summit this mountain from the road and return would take two days.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Sophia hiding from the wind at our turnaround point on the ridge north of Mt Armstrong.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Brewster (2516m) to the left, and I think point 2023m centre right.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking north/east-ish.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking roughly east.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Brewster to the right.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Armstrong 2174m.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Not sure exactly what Sophia was doing here, but it looks like a form of mountain yoga. Not sure why I took a picture of this either. Not even sure why it made the cut. But it did.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Armstrong (2516m) to the left, and point 2023m to the right.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
I tried to capture how steep the eastern side of the ridge was. I think it needs to howling wind to complete the picture.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking back down the western slope.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
We came from the left.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking down the hill and over Mt Aspiring National Park.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking out over Mt Aspiring National Park.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Mt Brewster (2516m) to the right and the Brewster Glacier below it.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Pretty steep in sections, but no serious risk of falling.

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Looking out over Mt Aspiring National Park.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Nice alpine flowers.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
You can see Brewster Hut below. Walking only as far as the hut is still a great walk.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Brewster Hut below and Mt Aspiring National Park as backdrop.

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong

Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Interesting lighting as we descended back through beech forest in the late afternoon.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
Crossing back over the Haast River. This is always frigid so expect your feet and legs to hurt like hell.
Brewster Hut Track, then ridge north of Mt Armstrong
The Haast River at the start/end of the walk.

Track Notes

There are track notes on the DOC website. Crossing the Haast River hurts a lot because it’s so cold and also there are rocks under foot, so you might consider taking some sandals to speed things up a bit.

There’s a faint track leading further up the mountain from the hut, although you might lose it in the scree slopes, and I think it heads over towards Mt Brewster eventually. In the track notes we used (in Day Walks of New Zealand: Central Otago and Queenstown) they recommended staying to the left (north) of the slopes leading directly up to Mt Armstrong, so as to avoid various bluffs and a number of false summits. Our target wasn’t the summit of Mt Armstrong so we did this anyway, and ended between the summit and point 2023m. There may be snow on the slopes even in summer, so bring appropriate gear for that. We walked in hiking shoes and had to avoid the snow which added to the time required.

The start is a very long drive from Queenstown, but we’ve managed the drive there and back in a long day. It’s much more accessible from Wanaka.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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.