We decided to spend our first night in Alexandra at an affordable hostile called Marj's. We were lucky enough to be invited to spend Christmas Dinner with Marj's family as everything in town was closed. Marj's youngest grandaughter, Jessica, was near Ana's age and she was delighted to have an immediate friend. Besides having a very friendly Kiwi family, Marj grows an incredible rose garden and plethora of greenhouse tomatoes. We will never forget their kindness and generosity.
After a quick grocery run, we departed Alexandra the next morning and headed straight for Mt. Cook National Park. By noon we had reached the cocktail-blue lake Pukaki at the foot of the Cook range. We counted our good weather blessings and after a series of 1-lane bridges made our way to Hooker Valley. Paul was anxious to climb to Muller Hut which is a 4hr round trip. We dropped him off at the trail head and made our way to the Sir Edmund Hillary memorial museum. A Kiwi native, Mt. Cook was said to be his favorite climb. At 3700 meters, Mt. Cook has 80 summit climbers a year. Muller hut is halfway to the top at 1500 meters.
By now the kids were exhausted and we did a quick checkin at the Hermitage. Our room had an incredible mountain view that Paul and I enjoyed late into the night over a glass of wine. If possible, he would have slept with his eyes open in adoration all through the night. We enjoyed a very nice meal in a dining room that looked straight out of a James Bond movie, 280 degree mountain views. Ana ordered a banana split for desert which was made with homemade icecream and warm dark chocolate. It was almost as splendid as the venue :-)