Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Lunch with Edmund Hilary at 760 metres at MT Cook /Aoraki
Mt Cook Aoraki... The Hermitage Hotel..... South Island New Zealand... our spectacular lunch stop.
And so we arrived at the Hermitage hotel Mt Cook, or Aoraki as it was known in Maori tongue. We had to be quick as the weather was closing in, but we ate our lunch looking out through the
magnificient full length glass windows. I really should have got some shots when we arrived as they would have shown more of the majestic Mt cook peak. But we were on a time limit, and the bus driver suggested we eat first, as we had to leave at 2pm.
The food in the restuarant was hearty and wholesome, ( as in home cooked spaghetti bolognaise) and tasted really delicious. What's more, the prices were very reasonable. Perhaps because there were quite a few guests staying at the Hermitage and they kind of have the monopoly on places to eat, as there is only one place to eat and they are IT. But oh! I would pay more for such a meal when one can take advantage of that very special view. You can get an idea in the reflection of the windows below....
A million dollar view... and a meal for only $6.00 NZ! What a bargain.
The snow in the immediate perimeter had arrived shortly before us, so we took advantage of it. Making snowmen, throwing snowballs, and renting a tobaggan. I explained to the lady at reception that we were only staying for a short time, and asked if we would be able to rent a toboggan for a short while. She was so kind, and it seemed from a bygone era, when you do things for free, with no expectation of returning the favour, because she told us just to help ourselves to the tobaggan and return it when we were finished, no charge. These days in Australia, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone is out to make a buck..... times have changed since I was a child.
It is claimed that New Zealand is a conservative place by some, and that they are still a bit stuck in the past at the end of the world. Well if that is the case, it is not a bad way to be, is it? And certainly not a bad place to be ... either.
Sir Edmund Hillary was certainly an imposing figure, even in Bronze. The man was apparently very tall, and perhaps this is what gave him an edge over other mountaineers, when climbing with crampirons on his feet up vertical ice cliffs....???? The first man to conquer Everest, started out earning his living in the honourable profession of beekeeping in New Zealand.
Up to 1953, seven separate climbing expeditions had thus failed to reach the summit of Everest, but on May 29th, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a native Nepalese climber who had participated in five previous Everest trips, were the only members of the party able to make the final assault on the summit. At 11:30 in the morning, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit, 29,028 feet above sea level, the highest spot on earth. As remarkable as the feat of reaching the summit was the treacherous climb back down the peak.
Throughout the rest of his life, he worked tirelessly on humanitarian and fund raising projects, building schools, health clinics, and many aid projects for his beloved country of Nepal, (a country dear to my heart), until his death from heart failure in 2008.
As a child in year 3, at primary school, in 1968, Edmund Hillary came to visit my school, and addressed a somewhat bewildered audience of young kids, unsure of the exact significance of who this stranger was.....although I have no memory of what his words were, I do remember his imposing presence at the microphone as we stood at attention on the parade ground. For him to visit our school, must have meant that he spent many many hours, visiting school children, not only in New Zealand but all throughout Australia as well.
Read about the Amazing Beekeeper turned Mountaineer here....