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Science meets entertainment, over breakfast

Press release from The Hermitage and Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Aoraki Mount Cook
4 March 2008

Now showing… science meets entertainment, over breakfast and lunch

Visitors to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre now have more opportunity to enjoy an unrivalled 360 cinematic experience of our universe in New Zealand’s first full dome digital planetarium.

The Hermitage General Manager Denis Callesen says that due to popular demand, two new sessions has been added to the Centre’s planetarium schedule to cater for visitors who are on tight timeframes.

“The 9.30am screening is more for in-house guests before they check out. The lunchtime screening is convenient for school groups in particular, particularly NCEA students doing hands-on study for their astronomy subjects.

“The planetarium opened in December with the most advanced technology available in New Zealand and it’s been incredibly well received. People love the movies on offer because they make science and stargazing mindblowing – they can explore space in just 20 minutes. Evening guests can walk out of the world’s southernmost planetarium and check out the stars with our stargazing guide on the Hillary deck.”

Planetarium movies now screen at 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 8.30pm, with double features on at 7pm and 10pm. The movies are:
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.

An Explorer Pass allows visitors unlimited access to the Planetarium screenings, state-of-the-art 3D movie and the Museum and Hillary Gallery for a full day. Adult ticket prices are $20 (16 years+) and all children (0–16) are free when accompanied by an adult.


Photo captions: 1) Infinity Express movie, 2) Mount Cook Space Traveller

About the Planetarium
The dome was manufactured in Ohio, USA by Astro-Tec, the company who made the dome for Auckland’s Stardome Observatory. It was then shipped to New Zealand and reassembled by an Astro-Tec technician.

Nine metres in diameter, 4.5 metres high and weighing in at 1.3 tonnes, the dome is all aluminium. The screen is perforated to allow the delivery of 5:1 surround sound, essential for the unrivalled immersive experience.

About The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
The $7.5 million Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre was opened in late December 2007. A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world’s greatest explorers, it showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, its people and its place in the universe.

Designed to educate and entertain, the Centre features a spectacular state-of-the-art 3D movie, New Zealand’s first full dome digital Planetarium and a Museum which documents the pioneering heart of the region and features the impressive Hillary Gallery. The cafe and bar area offers indoor and outdoor seating and floor to ceiling mountain views.

The Hillary Gallery depicts Sir Edmund’s longstanding connection with the region and touches upon his achievements, expeditions and life’s work. 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.

Located adjacent to The Hermitage Hotel in the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is an opportunity to explore and connect to the national identity and celebrate the cultural characteristics New Zealanders hold dear.


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