Not much has changed of the view from the Hermitage from the day it was opened in 1884.
Jagged, snowy peaks in every direction, and the fast-flowing, freezing-cold Hooker River pretty much flowing past the front door. They used to cross it on horseback or via a dinky wee cable-car in the good old days.
There’s a handy wee bridge now, and you’ll have traversed a few on the stunning drive up, too.
Look up as you park the car, and see the soaring peak of Aoraki Mount Cook perfectly juxtaposed against the v-shaped Hooker Valley. As long as it’s not misty, or night time!
Tom Fyfe, George Graham and Jack Clarke started the first successful ascent of Mount Cook (as it was then) from this very spot in 1894 (knocking the peak off on Christmas Day of that year) and our own Sir Ed Hillary, too, set forth from here in 1939 when he conquered Mt Ollivier, his first peak.
The justifiably famous hotel has quite a history itself, the first incarnation being destroyed by floods not even 50 years after it was opened. Fire claimed the rebuild in 1957; the current version has now stood for over 60 years, with a new wing added in 2001.
The accommodation ranges in size and cost, and there’s a host of bars and restaurants within the complex. After a day clambering over the ice you’ll be keen for something to be poured over ice, and there’s plenty of exquisite spots here where you can do just that, all the while assailed by the stunning face of Aoraki.
And you’re right next door to the visitors’ centre, giving you easy access to all the info you could possibly need before venturing out on any of the amazing activities on offer up here. A picturesque playground, but one that demands respect, too.