In Awe of Giants
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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What I did
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
Edmund Hillary honed his climbing skills on the tough challenge of Mt Cook, setting the first ascent of the South face of the mountain. And that is where we drove to visit after leaving Wanaka 3 hrs West. Mount Cook National Park.
We arrived in the National Park, 55km off the main East to West highway out of Christchurch. Putting things in perspective in terms of how basic and easy to drive around the country it is, from leaving our campsite in Wanaka, getting to Mt cook took 3 left turns and 1 right turn over the course of 220km.
Mount Cook village is very small. The village is a bit of a misnomer in that it is more a big hotel. The Hermitage, and a few little buildings that support the hotel. Driving through the valley to Mount Cook you pass a huge turquoise (and that is not being dramatic, it is turquoise) lake with the mountains building in size up to and surrounding the village. The extreme flatness of the valley floor just highlights and dramatizes the scale of these Southern Alps into giants.
We pulled up close to the Hermitage and made a beeline for the hotel; where the Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre opened in 2007, just a year before the legend passed away
The shows were a series of theatre based screenings. The Alpine centre has a little theatre with 3 different screen types; a 2D screen, a 3D screen and a Planetarium. To go with this they have 6 shows on currently; a 5-7 year old show which I wouldn’t allow Kate to see called ‘Tycho to the moon’, 3 Planetarium shows (Black Holes, Space Traveller and Infinity Express), the main feature ‘Hillary on Everest’ (A channel 4 programme filmed a few years back) and a 3D short film called Mount Cook Magic.
Short review on each that we watched follows and guess if we enjoyed our day
Hillary on Everest – 1hr 15minute revealing documentary showing the sadness behind being such an iconic figure. The film documents events leading up to Hillary and Tenzing’s successful summit and the following events of Hillarys life including the tragic death of his Wife and Daughter (and dealing with that with alcohol), his remarrying the wife of a best friend who had passed away, his crossing of the Antarctic with Vivian Fuchs, the depression and passing away of Tenzing, and his later life as a fundraiser for Nepal. Very open film showing that not all highs are without lows.
Space Traveller – 20 minute planetarium snippet which puts everything in perspective and makes you feel very small. I came away awestruck by the scale of things. What is the point of it all anymore?!
Mount Cook Magic – Everyone loves a bit of 3D. And this was no exception. The show was a little bit of a sales pitch for the region with a sweeping panoramic video showcasing all the things you could do in the area; climbing, skiing, helicopter flights, hiking etc; in 3D close up glory. The terrific shots made Mt cook look like a mountain not to be messed with.
Black Holes – Geoffrey Rush narrating complex physics theory in a planetarium. Whats not to like?! This was very complicated but very pretty. We were both a bit perplexed after a couple of minutes, but it all sounded very impressive. The numbers and scale of the things being discussed are just beyond the realms of my understanding and so I took from it what I could;
"oooooo….black hole". That pretty much sums it up.
After leaving the Hermitage quite pleased with the day’s events I had to run and pick up the campervan in the lashing rain while Kate kept herself dry under cover. A short 10 minute drive took us to the local busy DOC site in Hooker Valley and a short drive back to the Hermitage allowed us to get some change so we could pay for the local DOC site.
Once settled, we slept out the somewhat breezy, rainy night in hope of a clear day for a bit of a walk and some Stargazing in the evening.