Mount Brown Hut

Mount Brown Hut

Mount Brown Hut is a small alpine hut maintained by the community in Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve. It has gained significant popularity recently through the rise in social media and featuring on the cover of the iconic book Shelter from the Storm. The hut also can be seen on many of the DOC information boards inside many backcountry huts. Mount Brown has become a popular place for overseas hikers looking to tick off the hike on the West Coast of New Zealand. The views from the hut and summit of Mount Brown overlook the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps make it a spot that you wouldn’t want to miss. Mount Brown can be completed as a day trip if you are limited to a day. The round trip takes between five and six hours. The summit of Mount Brown takes at least an additional hour return.


3 hours


4.43 km


955 m





Looking across to Mount Brown Hut as the sun dips below the clouds
The boys chilling outside the hut with the gear as we waited for dinner to cook

42°52′08″S 171°12′01″E

In Detail

There is a second route marked on the topographical map that follows the Styx River and then climbs steeply to the hut. At the time of writing this post, all tracks were closed due to an unstable landslide that was present down the river. If you are determined to head down this route, contact DOC Hokitika for the latest information. Unfortunately, as the hut gains increased popularity nor do the number of bunks in that hut to accommodate these visitors. I would advise that if you are planning on visiting the hut and planning on staying the night to throw in a bedroll and offer to sleep on the floor. If you’d rather have your own space there are plenty of good spaces not far from the hut that makes for an ideal campsite. Use the facilities provided at the hut to minimise your footprint.

On the way back down from the summit of Mount Brown, Mount Brown Hut in the distance
Zac making his way down from the summit of Mount Brown back down to Mount Brown Hut in the distance

Getting There

Directions to the start of the track at Geologist Creek from Hokitika. If you are coming from Christchurch follow SH73 through Arthur’s Pass and follow then follow SH6 down through to Hokitika. As you’re travelling south through Hokitika turn left onto Stafford Road. Continue on straight at the intersection onto Kaniere Kowhitirangi Road following it until you reach the small township of Kokotahi. Turn left onto Upper Kokotahi Road, eventually, the sealed road ends and you’ll find yourself on a narrow gravel road. Upper Kokotahi road turns into Dorothy Falls Road after you cross the Styx River. A small car park along with a DOC sign marks the start of the track.


The route to the summit of Mount Brown is relatively easy to follow thanks to volunteers from the Kokatahi Tramping Club working to keep the track clear and the extensive use the track has had for a backcountry West Coast track. The track begins along next to Geologists Creek and covers almost all of the flat walking that you’ll experience within the first twenty minutes of the hike. From then on you begin climbing. The climbing is steep and doesn’t hold back, in places it’s more like rock climbing instead of hiking. The most challenging part of the hike is the midsection where you’ll climb very steeply before flattening out and the bush changing to shorter shrubs. Parts of the track throughout the section can be mud logged through here. It’s not until just before the hut that the shrubs fade into tussock.

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The weather on the West Coast can be very changeable. It’s important to keep a good eye on the weather and pack a good raincoat, a lot of the time you’ll face rain and strong winds. Especially if you’re considering continuing on along the tops to the summit of pt1270 (also known as Mount Brown). If you’re traveling from the east coast, ensure that you have a back-up plan if the weather isn’t looking good. You can get some inspiration over on the Adventures from the South portfolio page.


Parking at the start of the track can be difficult if the hut is going to be busy. If there are already two or more cars parked up at the start of the track I would advise you to carry a sleeping mat. If you’d like your own personal space then I would highly recommend carrying a tent with you. There is no guarantee more people won’t be coming up later during the day. Avoid parking on the road or obscuring the farmer’s access to the paddock opposite the start of the track.

Mount Brown Hut Track Carpark
Top: A healthy number of visitors heading up to Mount Brown Hut for the night
Ed and Zach packing the last couple of items into their pack

Forest Hike

Hiking up to Mount Brown Hut begins along next to Geologist Creek. The walking is relatively mellow as you weave through the bush following alongside the creek. This flat section leads you to the base of the mountain. A handful of native birds can be seen along the flat section of track. Thanks to conservation efforts that are being made in the area. A mixture of white road posts and orange triangles and orange tape can be seen throughout the hike. Early on along the route there’s a sign with track on it, just for comforts sake.

Top: Walking alongside Geologist Creek at the very start of the track
Middle Left:
An orange track marker early on along the track, stoked to know we were on the right track
Middle Right:
One of the white road markers that helped us to find our way along the track
: A fantail along the track that we stopped to admire along the walk.

Creek in the Forest

On the map, there is a stream marked out close to the beginning of the climb about half an hour from the start of the hike. It’s a good marker point to prepare you for the climb that is ahead. The stream is the one small stream crossing that you make through the entire hike. The track then follows alongside the stream for a while before eventually climbing steeply up towards Mount Brown Hut. This creek is your last opportunity to fill up your bottle with water along the track. I would highly recommend filing your bottle if you are carrying little water. The track from here onward is tough and you’ll be sweating no matter what the weather.

Creek crossing along the Mount Brown Hut track
Top: Zac and Ed basking in the warm sun that was poking through the trees
Looking up a small creek that the track crosses just as the climbing started to kick in

Forest Climb

The climb through the bush is pretty ruthless. A good number of the sections are full of grab and hold climbing where you’ll have to find yourself a foothold and climb your way up. It does make the ascent a lot faster than usual but it is taxing. Fortunately, the West Coast bush provides a lot of handholds from the surrounding tree roots that intertwine. The climbing does eventually ease off and there is a noticeable change in the flora as you transition from the steep climb to easing into a much more comfortable gradient.

Top: A standard climb up Ed standing at the bottom of the section while Zac finishes off a rock climbing section
Middle Left:
A smaller flatter section with plenty of tree roots to grab onto
Middle Right:
Richard in the front followed by Zac and Ed
Ed On one of the final scrambles before breaking out of the bush

Shrubs & Views

The final stretch in the walk is up through a range of scrub and smaller trees as you begin to make your way along the top of the ridge towards Mount Brown Hut. Throughout this section of the hike that you can appreciate just how high you’ve climbed through the bush to where you are now. Reliefs in the bush open out to stunning views right the way out to the ocean and over the surrounding mountains. Teamed with the more comfortable climbing gradient this part of the walk is quite enjoyable. There are some boggier sections that can be quite slippery in places. Take care and navigate these sections carefully.

Top: Making our way through the scrub and enjoying the blue skies just above
Bottom Left:
Ed making his way through the bush, the track was relatively straightforward through this section
Bottom Right:
Looking back down the track from where we had come from

Mount Brown Hut

Mount Brown Hut is a community maintained project that has had significant input from the Kokotahi Tramping Club, the Permolat Trust and the Backcountry Trust. It is has been looked after well and even received a fresh coat of paint in a recent year from a number of volunteers. The hut itself is relatively small. Four bunks are on the southern wall of the bunk along with a bench for cooking on the side. As the hut is not maintained by DOC the community that looks after the hut relies on koha (donations) made to the Permolat Trust. You can find information on the remote huts page on how you can contribute and make a donation towards maintenance and upkeep of Mount Brown hut.


4 Bunks


Fireplace, Water, Basin, Mattresses



Mount Brown Hut at dusk

On the night that we spent at the hut, there were three other parties each with two members in each group making a total of 10 people in a four bunk hut. We had all brought sleeping mats as we had known that it was quite likely that we would be sleeping outside. We managed to get away with Ed and Richard on the floor while Zac and I slept outside under the alcove just outside the hut. The other girls top and tailed on the bunk bed squeezing up as much as possible. As mentioned earlier in the post ensure that you do carry a sleeping mat with you along with some type of shelter in case you get caught out before the hut or decide to camp out because there are not enough spaces in the hut.

Alcove at Mount Brown Hut
Bunks beds at Mount Brown Hut

Left: Zac packing up the last of his gear before we made our way back down to the car
The thermometer reading approximately 6 degrees inside the hut
The four bunk beds inside the hut that were occupied from the night before

A table has also been placed in the alcove before entering the hut that we used for cooking outside. Around the hut, there is a small basin and water tank that can be used for washing dishes and filling your bottle with collected rainwater. Even the toilet has a bit of character. Albeit how much use it gets it is still in relatively good condition although the door is off its hinges. Next to the hut is a small tarn sort of pond. Weka’s can be found around the hut and can be heard calling to one another late into the night.

The iconic toilet at Mount Brown Hut

Mount Brown | Pt 1270

Mount Brown (officially known as Pt1270 ) is a great side trip that can be done from Mount Brown Hut. I would highly recommend allowing the time to tack this onto the end of the hike making the most of the beautiful views that the area has to offer. From Mount Brown Hut it takes approximately an hour (or less) return to the summit. Even if you miss sunrise that morning getting up early enough to see the sunrise up above the southern alps and into the sky for the day is spectacular. Ensure you carry a head torch if you are planning on going later in the day or even before sunrise.


40 min


1.33 km


200 m

The ridge along that shadows Mount Brown Hut
Looking over the ridge back towards Mount Brown Hut


The route to the summit of Mount Brown is not marked but follows a semi-cut track to the top from animals and visitors of the hut over the years. You can’t ever stray too far from the track if you stick to the ridge. Either side of the ridge the drops are relatively steep. On a clear day it’s easy to find your way along the ridge back to the hut. When the weather isn’t so good it’s not worth the extra effort nor the chance of harming yourself.

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Summit Sunrise

From the summit of Mount Brown, there are 360-degree panoramic views of the area. From looking out over the Southern Alps to the Tasman Sea it really puts into perspective how small New Zealand really is and just how much we have sitting right on our doorstep. You can easily see right the way back to Mount Brown Hut in the distance and the route that you walked up when the weather is good.

Looking across to the Southern Alps and Lathrop Saddle
Looking down upon Mount Brown hut from the summit of Mount Brown
Top: Looking over towards the Browning Range, the snowy peaks in the background forming part of the Southern Alps
Looking back out over Mount Brown Hut from the summit of ‘Mount Brown’

If you’re someone that enjoys pointing out the different features along a hike, I would highly recommend bringing up with you. From the summit the 360-degree panoramic views are a great opportunity to identify the next summit that you’re up for or another track that you would be interested in tackling.

Panorama from the summit of Mount Brown
Top: Looking south across the spine like ridges as the hues fade
: A panorama from the summit of Mount Brown looking out west towards Hokitika and Lake Kaniere

Descent to Mount Brown Hut

The descent back down is relatively easy to follow along the ridge. Once again, trekking poles are an enormous help to keep your stability along the tops allowing you to walk just that little bit faster. Looking out over Lake Kaniere and out towards Hokitika you have to take a moment to just rest on the descent and appreciate your surroundings.

Looking onward to Mount Brown along the ridge
Descending the ridge from Mount brown, Mount Brown Hut in the distance
Top: Looking back towards the summit of Mount Brown and the surrounding views from the summit
Middle Left: Zac skirting his way around the ridge of Mount Brown. Lake Kaniere visible in the background
Middle Right: Making an ascent along the ridge track of the small false summit
Bottom: Zac making his way back down from the summit of Mount Brown, Mount Brown Hut visible as the orange spec

Return Journey

As mentioned earlier in this post there is an alternative route back down from Mount Brown Hut, however, this route is maintained irregularly and does not get the same amount of traffic that the Geologist Creek route gets. At the time of writing this, there had been wash-outs along the Styx River due to an unstable landslide created along the track. To avoid the chance of being stuck somewhere along the Styx River I would recommend retracing your steps back along the same track as we did. If you do consider taking this route I would highly recommend carrying a map to find your way.

Top: Zac taking a final look back at the hut before we began the descent back down towards the car
The crew making there way back down along the track

Forest Descent

Descending back down the same track almost feels like a different experience as you look at the track from a completely different angle. This time you are gripping onto natural features to help lower yourself down the track and can see just how much elevation you gained the day before. After a substantial amount of rain parts of the track could be quite soft and slippery. Trekking poles could be a good option for helping you keep your balance along these sections.

Top: Richard preparing for the descent ahead, holding onto tree branches and using the natural features always seemed the way to go
Looking down along the track back down from Mount Brown towards Geologists Creek

As on the way up, there are a couple of good POI (point of interest) to look for on the way back down. The first is a number of fallen logs that you must crawl under on your way back along the track. They are quite distinct and are about midway through the climb/descent. The other obvious POI is the creek that you cross along the track. From the creek is approximately twenty to thirty minutes to go back to the car along mostly the flats making the descent roll by a little faster.

Top: Richard making his way under a log along the way back down, the first of a section of approximately three
Middle Left:
Richard lowering himself back down the between two tree branches on the descent
Middle Right:
Ed jumping a tree log while Zac takes a moment to enjoy his surroundings
Bottom Left:
Richard resting up against a tree along the way back down the hill along the track
Bottom Right:
Brushing through the tussock as he makes his way further down the track towards the car


A big shout out to this crew for making it up to Mount Brown on this hike. First time sleeping outside in a long time and definitely looking forward to getting bivi bag out on a few more trips. Here’s to many more trips to come.

Edward Fairclough, Nathan James, Richard Vong and Zach Preston at Mount Brown Hut
Edward, Nathan (the Author), Richard and Zach (L to R) at Mt Brown Hut