As our time on the road is coming to an end, we knew that we wanted to make the journey to Aoraki, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. This is the heart of the Southern Alps. A sacred place to the Maori and a beloved spot for all Kiwis. This is where Sir Edmund Hillary learned to climb mountains. This land of ancient glaciers and peaks is where he prepared for his attempts on Mt. Everest and his historic crossing of Antarctica.
His museum is here, dedicated to his life and to the history of this area. I never realized how tall Hillary was. I have never had the chance to read any of his writings, but was very touched by many of the samples they had on display. Here is my favorite quote:
“I have had the world lie beneath my clumsy boots and saw the red sun slip over the horizon after the dark Antarctic winter. I have been given more than my share of excitement, beauty, laughter, and friendship. Each of us has to discover his own path – of that I am sure. Some paths will be spectacular and others peaceful and quiet – who is to say which is the most important? For me the most rewarding moments have not always been the great moments – for what can surpass a tear on your departure, joy on your return, or a trusting hand in yours?” – Sir Edmund Hillary
This was a special place for us. One of bright white mountains and icy blue glacial waters. As we crossed the moraine valley and the peaks loomed larger and larger, we could sense the spirituality of this place. We hiked to a glacial lake and viewed the Tasman Glacier.
We camped at the DOC site here, in the foothills of the mountains, listening to rumblings of streams, boulders, and snowfall. At night, under some of the darkest gold rated skies in the world, we peered out from our Spaceship at all the billions of stars visible from this part of the world. Orion’s Belt and the Southern Cross have never been so large or so bright.