Life at Mount Cook’s The Hermitage
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is dominated by beauty, but very limited in its selection of commercial accommodations and restaurants. The Hermitage www.hermitage.co.nz is the premier lodge and the only option other than a backpacker hostel or family cabins.
Its elegance and comfort is only matched by its prices. ($209 for least expensive room.) The views from the grounds, lounges, balconies, and restaurants are breath-taking.
The beds and showers are luxurious. We enjoyed the continental breakfast buffet in their Alpine Restaurant ($17 per person) but passed on the dinner buffet there ($62 per person).
We chose instead to eat in the Chamois Bar & Grill, connected with the Backpacker Lodge. We happened on their special BBQ night, when they suspend their regular menu and serve a buffet which included salad and lamb, beef, and sausage cooked on a charcoal grill. ($23 per person) The view from the outdoor picnic table seating area was still great.
The Hermitage also houses a museum honoring Sir Edmund Hillary, who with his partner Tensing, was the first to summit Mt. Everest, and the first to drive a vehicle to the South Pole. This famous New Zealander honed his climbing skills on Mt Cook.
The theatre at the Hermitage also could be converted to a planetarium. We were fascinated by a show offered from a southern hemisphere point of view about the night sky and beyond.
A picture taken on the morning of our second day, from the same balcony as earlier shots, shows just how lucky we were with the weather on our first day. (The clouds did dissipate by noon and once again reveal the view.)