Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


Sir Edmund Hillary once said: “I don't regard myself as a crackinggood climber. I'm just strong in the back. I have a lot of enthusiasm, and I'm good on ice.” The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre honours that humble mountain-mad man. Aoraki/ Mt Cook was where he cut his great mountaineering teeth, got good on ice, and prepared for his Everest and Antarctic expeditions. Sir Ed helped develop the centre before his death, so there's more than a whiff of Hillary spirit within. Alongside items and images that show the more high-profile, louder history of the Aoraki/Mt Cook region are also quieter, more irreverent stories on display. Step up, Betsy Blunden Anderson. Believed to be the first woman to work as a professional alpine guide in New Zealand (and possibly the world), she applied for a job at the Hermitage Hotel aged 17 as a guide and piano player. The centre displays some of her scrapbooks, photo albums and an autograph album. This latter item is a delight. It's full of notes and drawings penned by friends, fellow mountaineers and the clients. One page has a picture from 1930 of a mountain-conquering, knickerbocker-clad Betsy with this admiring caption: “Oh lucky swain is he who is guided o'er mountain and this life by fair Betsy.” Another has a sketch of Betsy atop a mountain looking down on a knackered male lying prostrate in the valley below. The artist wrote this beside it: “I once met a fair mountaineer/so abundantly full of good cheer/that when we'd walked miles/she was still full of smiles/while I simply longed for a beer.” Once visitors have finished with Betsy and Sir Ed, mountaineering, hospitality and transport history, they can get their documentary fix in the 2D, 3D and digital dome planetarium. Hermitage Hotel, 89 Terrace Road, Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. (03) 435 1809,