The drive in to Aoraki gets more and more interesting: first through coastal farmland, with distant views of mountains way across the island in the clear NZ light; then up the Waitaki valley past several lakes. After a break at Omarama, where bizarrely, there were 15 classic Triumph Stags lined up, some of which we had seen buzzing around earlier, we head up the 90km road to the mountain. This passes amazingly vivid aquamarine Lake Pukaki, and with each twist the mountains ahead become more visible until a final bend opens up a huge panoramic view of the head of the valley, surrounded by snowy peaks, and the great white cone of Aoraki itself, towering over the rest. As you approach you can make out the glaciers on its flanks, and across a desolate glacial plane, the Hermitage, our destination for the night. The sunset and sunrise effects are stunning, and worth this whole trip just to see them. Clouds swirl about in the valley and come pouring over the ridge from Westland. We are only a few dozen km from Franz Josef here, but cut off by the Great Divide. The colours change minute by minute.