My New Zealand Family Holiday: Day 7 WANAKA TO Mt COOK

By Estella

After spending 3 hours at Puzzling World, His Royal Highness, Amanda and I hit the road once again. This time we were headed for the tallest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook, where His Royal Highness had us booked into the swankiest hotel there, The Hermitage. On special at NZD169  through www.wotif.com , it was only NZD4 more than The Brookvale Motel in Wanaka but was a million times more comfortable to live in.

We went down route 8a, after which past Tarras, a small blink and you’ll miss it town, we turned into route 8. We passed the famous Lindis Pass, a road in the shadow of high mountain ranges before arriving at Omarama, then going on to Twizel.

A picture of traveling on route 8a in New Zealand.

Travelling along route 8a in New Zealand.

A picture of traveling on route 8a in New Zealand.

A beautiful winter’s day on the road.

A picture of traveling on route 8a in New Zealand.

Southern Alps at the horizon. It looks near but it was actually several hours away by car.

Pictures just don’t do justice to the jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand in winter. The way the land is shrouded in mist, with light seeping through around the edges, is something you have to see at least once in your life. It’s pure poetry for the eyes and fodder for the imagination.

A picture of winter in New Zealand's South Island.

Notice the poor visibility? This picture was taken about two in the afternoon. We were between Omarama and Twizel.

A picture of winter in New Zealand's South Island.

Still on the road towards Twizel. See how beautiful the midday sun looks, high above the windswept moors, through the fog?

A picture of winter in New Zealand's South Island.

We were now past Twizel, nearing Lake Pukaki. The trees reminded me of a storybook Christmas.

A picture of winter in New Zealand's South Island.

I don’t care what the bona fide photographers say about the lighting. I love it. It’s so ethereal, so otherworldly.

A picture of Lake Pukaki on the road towards Mt Cook in New Zealand.

We’re almost there. A picture of Lake Pukaki on the road towards Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of Lake Pukaki on the road towards Mt Cook in New Zealand.

Those are clouds floating above Lake Pukaki, half an hour away from Mt Cook.

A picture of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

Our car was climbing towards Mt Cook. The white things at the back are the Southern Alps.

A picture of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

Have you seen anything more amazing? That’s the Southern Alps in the distance.

A picture of the area around Lake Pukaki, in New Zealand, in winter.

That’s a dry creek bed but beautiful all the same.

A picture of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

We’re almost there. ¬†A picture of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

A picture of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

We’re on the home stretch. The Hermitage is less than half a kilometre away.

Accommodation on Mt Cook ranges from backpackers’ hostel to cabins to motel and hotel rooms. We had a reservation at The Hermitage for a room with a view of the Southern Alps.

A picture of some of the cabins in the village on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

A picture of some of the cabins in the village on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

A picture of HRH outside The Hermitage Hotel on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

We’re here! A picture of HRH outside The Hermitage Hotel on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

A picture of me on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

It was FREEZING. A picture of me outside The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of HRH and Amanda on our hotel balcony at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand

A picture of HRH and Amanda on our hotel balcony at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of Amanda looking out on the Southern Alps from our hotel balcony on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

A picture of Amanda looking out on the Southern Alps from our hotel balcony on Mt Cook, New Zealand.

A picture of our room at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of our room at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of me on the balcony of our hotel room at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A souvenir shot of my time on Mt Cook. It’s not every day that you wake up with the Southern Alps at your window.

A picture of Amanda watching telly in our hotel room on Mt Cook, New Zeala

As usual, Amanda found the remote control to the TV. She’s on the floor having a pre-dinner snack of cookies.

Since The Hermitage is reputed to have one of the most awarded restaurants in New Zealand, with fresh produce coming from the surrounding areas, we opted to dine in-house that night. Our other alternative was to find an eatery in the Mt Cook village.

A picture of us in the restaurant at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of the three of us in the restaurant at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of the restaurant at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

A picture of the restaurant at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

For a much-lauded eatery in a tourist destination, the prices were reasonable, although I should mention, far from cheap. It only cost a couple of dollars more to order a main there than it would have at somewhere like Lake Tekapo. Our dinner that night came to NZD94, but for that, we had two serves of pan fried, locally-farmed salmon on citrus-infused risotto and Amanda had pasta with loads of finely grated well-aged Parmesan. I’m not usually a fan of rice in any form, but the risotto was very delicious.

A picture of our dinner at The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

Locally-farmed pan fried salmon on a bed of citrus-infused risotto.

A picture of Amanda and her pasta at the restaurant in The Hermitage on Mt Cook in New Zealand.

Amanda was very pleased with her pasta. The waitress brought her MORE CHEESE upon request. She was chuffed.