Sunday, February 22, 2009

NZ Day 19: Aoraki/Mount Cook

There are only about 200 People living in Mount Cook Village for real. All the others come as tourists with only Mount Cook in mind. Too bad, that the highest peek of New Zealand is often shrouded by clouds. People traveling on the cheap take it with a grain of salt and either wait for better weather or just leave without having seen the mountain (as we will tomorrow). But then there are those who pay a lot for a few pleasant days at the Hermitage Hotel. Even these guys can not make the clouds go away, but they do quite a lot to keep their customers happy. They have for example a 3D cinema and a digital planetarium to entertain both their guests as well as the ticket buying masses.

So we ended up watching a 3D movie on Mt Cook and walking through an exhibition detailing the history of the mountain and people climbing it. I learned a lot about the first successful ascent to Mount Cook. Several New Zealanders had been working towards climbing the mountain. In late 1894 they learned of well known English mountaineer coming to the island to attempt the first ascent. The New Zealanders accelerated their plans and on Christmas Day 1894 they achieved the first ascent to Mount Cook. The English mountaineer was not amused and didn't even attempt to do the climb. Instead, he did the first ascends to Mts Tasman, Silberhorn, Sefton, Haidinger and Sealy to repair his ego. In March 1895 his Swiss guide Mathias Zurbriggen made the first solo ascent to Mount Cook. They even named a ridge of the Mountain after him.

The Maori call the mountain Aoraki and sinc they were first to name it, the name was officially changed to Aoraki/Mount Cook in 1998.

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