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Ed Hillary Alpine Centre a ‘must see’ NZ icon

New Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre a ‘must see’ New Zealand icon

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Mount Cook Space Traveller

Press release from The Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook
21 May 2008

New Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre a ‘must see’ New Zealand icon

A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world’s greatest explorers, the new Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at Aoraki Mount Cook is becoming an essential stop on New Zealand’s tourism map.

The $7.5 million centre has been open since late December, but will be officially opened by Lady Hillary on Thursday 29 May 2008. This date also commemorates the 55th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s first ascent of Mount Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and the 50th anniversary of the third Hermitage Hotel official opening.

The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is designed to educate and entertain all ages, taking visitors on the journey of a lifetime through a spectacular state-of-the-art 3D cinematic experience, New Zealand’s first full dome digital planetarium, stargazing, museum and Hillary Gallery.

The Hermitage General Manager Denis Callesen says that the centre is a truly awe-inspiring visitor experience and has created even stronger reasons for people to visit Aoraki Mount Cook.

“Visitors can explore our galaxy and beyond, soar over mountains, ski glaciers, and climb New Zealand’s highest peak all from the comfort of their seats. They can follow the fascinating history of the region and its people and gain a unique insight into the life and achievements of Sir Edmund Hillary and his longstanding connection with the region.

“I believe that the Centre offers an opportunity to explore and connect to the pioneering heart of New Zealand’s national identity and celebrate the cultural characteristics New Zealanders hold dear.”

The Centre also includes a new café and bar in which to refresh, refuel and relax. Specialising in classic Kiwi fare with a modern twist, it offers spectacular floor to ceiling views from indoor or outdoor seating. From October 2008, wine tasting of Sacred Hill wines, and cocktails at sunset a time honoured tradition at The Hermitage is available to overnight and day guests to enjoy.

Located adjacent to the world-renowned Hermitage Hotel in Aoraki Mount Cook Village, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is 322km from Christchurch and 264km from Queenstown. It is open daily from 10am until late. The Explorer Pass covers entry to the 3D theatre and Planetarium plus unlimited Museum and Hillary Gallery access for a full day. Adult: $25 (16 years+), Children $12.50 (4–16), free with paying adult (under 4).


Photo captions: 1) Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, 2) Planetarium, 3) 3D movie, 4) Hillary Gallery.

Features of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

3D Movie
‘Mount Cook Magic’ is an inspiring 3D cinematic experience that provides an unforgettable experience of the majestic Southern Alps.

This 15 minute movie immerses the watcher in an exhilarating journey from the mystical Ngai Tahu Maori creation legend of Aoraki Mount Cook, to soaring with Kea above mountains and glaciers, skiing the Tasman Glacier, exploring crevasses and accompanying a climbing expedition.

Where science meets entertainment for an unrivalled 360 cinematic experience in New Zealand’s first full dome digital planetarium.

The Planetarium presents:
Mount Cook Space Traveller (18 minutes): Leave Earth and fly to the edge of our solar system and galaxy, See the Southern night sky, including the Southern Cross, the Milky Way with its iridescent beauty, the inverted constellations and the clusters of galaxies beyond. This virtual tour takes you deep into space to visit planets, stars and galaxies.

Infinity Express (22 minutes): Where did it all begin? Is there life outside our own solar system? From the discoveries of early astronomers to today’s inventions and man’s ambition to explore beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, you’ll be amazed by dramatic scientific breakthroughs in the quest to understand our universe.

Black Holes (22 minutes): Imagine a place where time stands still, where the unimaginable becomes reality. Welcome to the world of Black Holes. Travel through space as astronomers scan the universe to find nature’s most bizarre creations.

Screenings Mid morning, mid afternoon and evening

Museum and Hillary Gallery
A unique and informative insight into the history of the Aoraki Mount Cook region, one of New Zealand’s most important spiritual, cultural and geographical places. The museum showcases the area’s history through the key themes of transport, climbing and The Hermitage Hotel. A special area is dedicated to the life and achievements of the nation’s most famous New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, particularly his affiliation with Aoraki Mount Cook. It was here he climbed his first major mountain, achieved a number of impressive first ascents including the difficult south face of Mount Cook, and trained for his Everest and Antarctic expeditions.

Explore the night sky from the Hillary Deck with an experienced guide. On a clear evening, hotel guests are invited to learn about the southern stars. Telescopes, big binoculars, and star charts are available for a closer look.


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