Days 15 and 16: Mount Cook, Twizel and Omarama
We have been very fortunate to now have visited Mount Cook a total of three times – the most recent being last weekend. It is one of our very favourite places in the whole of New Zealand and we would go back again and again if we could!
As mentioned on my last post the last time we visited Mount Cook was with my parents who were visiting over Christmas – so it holds an extra special place in our hearts.
I included this photo on the last post but am including it again here as it was the best weather we saw in our time there! This is our Spaceship on the drive up to Mount Cook alongside Lake Pukaki.
We spent time walking in the Mount Cook area whilst there including our favourite walk – the start of the Hooker Valley walk (to the first swing bridge), where we saw Mount Cook peeking through the clouds. This is a beautiful walk along the valley floor, with stunning views all around.
This was were we took my parents on our last evening together of their visit. We also looked out over the Mueller lake from a vantage point.
We also took a walk to the start of the Red Tarns track – heading across another swing bridge, and up lots of stairs to a good view over the village. The weather was mixed and cloudy at this point but the weather were still great.
The visitor centre was our next stop where we spent quite a while looking around all their impressive exhibits. They have loads of really interesting information about the origins of the area, and those that have attempted to/succeeded in climbing Mount Cook. They also have info on the geography of the area and a reconstruction of a hiker’s hut.
We were really impressed as there was no charge and it gave us a little break from the rain outside. We also enjoyed lunch at a lovely cafe next door – the Old Mountaineers cafe.
Later that day we headed over to the Hermitage Hotel – to the Sir Edmund Hillary centre. We had been there twice before but really enjoyed the times we had visited and loved walking around the Sir Edmund Hillary themed exhibits. Unfortunately this time around we came across big signs up telling us we need a ticket to enter! Very surprised at this we asked at the information desk and were told you now had to pay $20 each to enter. Wow. They said this did also include entrance to the small theatre there for the movies (which didn’t seem that popular anyway really), but there was no longer an option to enter the centre free of charge. When we were there we didn’t see a single person in the centre, which is such a shame as it is a wonderful place, but really definitely not worth $20. We feel saddened that they have put such a high price tag on something people should be able to enjoy for free. We don’t know whether the Hermitage decided this but we don’t think Sir Edmund would like it! It quite soured our trip over to the hotel which was one point quite a refuge for us in the area (particularly from the rain!) and has changed to now more of a place that extorts people.
One thing to lighten the mood a little is that we saw back in the visitor centre was a ‘poo pot’! Which does what it says on the tin! We thought this was funny and an awesome thing to find in the visitor centre 🙂
The next day we left Mount Cook as the heavy rain had set in and heading for Twizel. Here we enjoyed a lovely pizza at Shawtys. Next stop was Omarama, where we checked into the Top 10 here and headed off to the Omarama hot tubs. This was a great place! We hired a private hot tub outside in our own private area (see my photos) for 1 hour 30 mins for a total of $66 for 2.
It was raining and fairly windy but we didn’t mind once in the wonderful hot water of the hot tub. We simply loved it. Back to the holiday park where we spent the night. We didn’t think much of this place to be honest – we had a nice welcome but the facilities were quite basic. Its location was good as it was close to the hot tubs and centre of Omarama and was ok for a night stop over.
Overall, despite having the famous ‘1 day out of 3’ good weather in the Mount Cook area we loved our return and were sad to leave.