Aoraki in all his glory

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That’s Aoraki (Mt Cook) on the left, above Lake Pukaki

After our high tea at Lanarch Castle we set off back down to Dunedin and from there along the coast to Oamaru. Many of the town’s public buildings are built from the local Oamaru stone, a form of hard limestone mined locally. In fact, it has been used in Dunedin and even Auckland. Unlike marble, it isn’t particularly hard-wearing – but it looks grand.

Just one of the grand edifices in Oamaru

Like many other towns, Oamaru is seeking the tourist dollar. Napier has its art deco festival and Oamaru has its steam punk festival. It’ll be back in 2023 for three days of fun and activities. Steam punk is a mixture of fantasy and science fiction imagining what if everything was powered with steam. It has a Victorian vibe. A good example was the 2003 movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen based on a comic book series.

A Steampunk couple via Midjourney

Just north of Oamaru the road veers left, heading for the hills. We were blessed with a lovely day so it seemed, at last, the fliers among us would actually get to take off. We stopped at the helicopter base and admired the view down here while the fliers were on their way for their thirty-five minute flight (including snow landing). They all reported the trip was absolutely magnificent, 47/10.

The view from the helipads
And they’re off…

The Hermitage Hotel at Mt Cook village doesn’t look like a flash hotel. It squats in the alpine environment, its grey corrugated exterior doing its best to blend in. The rooms we stayed in all have a view of Aoraki himself.

The view from the room. That’s Aoraki (Mt Cook) in the middle, just trailing a plume of cloud.

But he’s fickle. We’ve heard more than once that the mountain reveals himself to only about a third of the people who come to visit. Usually, he’s swathed in cloud. Indeed, the next day, he’d pulled his cloak around his shoulders.

Now you see him… now you don’t

I’ve got so many photos of this mountain range. There were photo opportunities everywhere, truly awesome.

That evening we enjoyed our usual pre-dinner drinks and listened to the fliers sharing their experience. I admit to a bit of envy. Oh well. Next time.

The Hermitage offers buffet meals, with a range of choices that cater for everybody’s taste. Meat, fish, rice dishes, curries, salad, vegetables, desserts – and most especially a soft serve ice cream machine, complete with all the extras (choc bits, hundreds and thousands, your choice of sauces etc etc).

It was kind of the last hurrah. Tomorrow would be our last day as we drive back down to Christchurch. But we got to see a few more fabulous views before we rolled back into the George.

By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.

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