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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 9 (December 1, 1934)

The Hermitage, and an Alpine Garden

The Hermitage, and an Alpine Garden.

Queenstown, attractive as it is, will not hold the Royal pilgrim long, for there is a long motor run before him, over the ranges and the downs to Mt. Cook Hermitage. There he will have one clear day for viewing something of the snowy glories of the central zone of the Alps. The mountain kings are all around, their crowns of ice flashing back the summer sun. There will not be time to attack those peaks, nevertheless there is many a place of alpine peace, beauty and solace close to the Hermitage.

One hopes that His Royal Highness will be taken to see, at least, that sweetest of wild gardens, the Hooker Valley. Of all the places of charm within easy walking distance of the Hermitage, one commends this flowerdecked valley, up which a track leads between the crumbling precipices of the Cook Range and the lateral moraine of the Hooker Glacier. The glen is strewn about with huge lichen-crusted rocks either fallen from the heights or borne by ice in the era when the glacier was wider and longer than it is to-day. This is the time to see this fragrant garden valley at its best. All the flowers and the blossoming shrubs are out. A stream ripples through the valley, a beautiful little stream of purest, coldest water, as blue as the sky; it is filtered from silt by its passage underground from the glacier. It goes cascading and murmuring down in curves and halfcoils, and sometimes you may see the blue mountain duck swimming on the pools, and hear their peculiar whistling call, the “whio, whio,” that gives them their Maori name. It is a wild park, but without trees; small alpine shrubs cluster about the grey rocks, and in the season of flowers all the mountain blossoms are here — the golden-eyed celmisia daisy with its curious soft white furry thickness of stem and leaf; the great cup-leaved alpine buttercup, and the carpeting of sweet little gentians and their like. And all around is
Bishop Pompallier. (From an early portrait.)

Bishop Pompallier. (From an early portrait.)

the tremendous sweep of ice peaks, alive with the voices of avalanches and many waters.