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Getting There  - 1890s

 "All aboard for Mount Cook!"

Timaru Herald, 26 December 1895, Page 4

Mr A. Weir, traveller for Messrs Bulleid and Co., Oamaru, had a narrow escape from drowning in one of the streams in the Mackenzie Country, on the 17th December. He left Glentanner Station at 9 a.m., for Birch Hill Station, where he met Mr John Ross, of Glentanner, and together they proceeded as far as the Hermitage. They encountered a terrific thunderstorm, heavy rain and hail, and after staying three-quarters of an hour at the Hermitage, they started on the homeward journey. The heavy rain caused all the creeks to rise very rapidly, the fall at the Hermitage registering 1 inch. Birch Hill was reached at 4.30 p.m., and left again at 4.45 p.m., heavy rain still falling. Here Mr Banks, engineer to the Mackenzie County Council, got a saddle horse from Mr Ross, preferring to ride home, and left his dogcart and horse with Mr Ross, who decided to drive to Glentanner. Both he and Mr Weir, who was driving a buggy, then made a start together. They crossed Tm Hut creek safely, but on reaching Bush Creek they found that it was rolling down in torrents, the rolling of the boulders making a noise like thunder. After seeing that it was simply impossible to get across by any means, they decided to go back to Birch Hill station. On arriving at Tin Hut Creek (now known as Fred's Creek) they found that it had risen, but not sufficient to cause alarm. Mr Weir being in the lead, entered the creek, but had no sooner got fairly into it than his horse went almost out of sight, and the violence of the water capsized the buggy, throwing Mr Weir into the boiling current. He stuck to the reins until he managed to get his horse's head up stream. Finding that the trap was rolling very fast upon him, he struck out for down stream. After going down some distance he managed to get on to a spit, just m time to clear the horse and trap which landed on a spit some distance below. Owing to the horse never getting its head above water it was drowned before reaching the spit. Mr Ross being opposite to where Mr Weir landed got the reins of the horse m the dog cart and joining them together made several attempts to get a line across to Mr Weir, but finding it too short got the traces and kicking strap and joined all together and again : made a number of attempts, but failed. Owing to the creek having risen fully three feet m a very short time Mr Weir decided to make for the nearest landing, which was on the opposite side to where Mr Ross was. After going into the stream the was again carried some distance owing to the force of the current, which must have been running at the rate of not less than 15 miles an hour. After managing to get a landing he decided to go for assistance to Birch Hill. He proceeded as far as Boundary Creek on foot, which is 2½ miles, and attempted to cross but owing to the stream running at a terrific rate, he fared badly, being carried down the stream half a mile, and received a severe knocking about, his legs being all colours with bruises from the boulders. He landed on the same side as he went m at owing to the current setting into that side. By the time he got out he was completely exhausted. It was now night, and after recovering he decided to keep moving till morning dawned to keep circulation going. He found his way back to where he had left Mr Ross. By daylight Mr Ross, after a number of attempts up and down stream, managed to get across on horseback to Mr Weir. The meeting was a welcome one. After waiting till midday they decided to make an effort to reach the station. After double banking across Tin Hut Creek, they put the horse into the dog cart and drove to Bush Creek. They found that the water had subsided considerably, but had left the bed of the creek m a most deplorable state. They decided to leave the dogcart at Bush Creek, and try and double bank oil horseback over Bush Creek to the station. Mr Weir's loss is very heavy, as the horse was a valuable one, and he lost all he had with him, and he certainly had a most narrow escape of his life.

Getting There
Otago Witness, 30 January 1896, Page 51
by Green Hand

Train to Fairlie; thence by coach through Burkes Pass over the endless monotony of the Mackenzie Plains— a piece of dreary, rolling, tussock desolation to be seen once and seen so more to the hotel at the southern end of Lake Tekapo, a sea green sheet of water, stretching away north into the mountains, and looking cold and fierce under the blasts that are scudding down from the Southern Alps. After lunch, on again over more Mackenzie country, dotted with tussock and spear grass, and tenanted by sparse flocks of sheep and by occasional cattle. On and on all the afternoon till one almost nods to the regular "proputty, proputty" of the nags ; when, towards evening, as the sun is westering, I start as if I had seen a ghost and ask, "What peak is that?" That is Mount Cook," says the driver, quietly, and thenceforth there is no monotony. What I see, as clear as if I could touch it, is a great triangle of snow facing the west and flushed with pink by the setting sun. The eastern side shows as black as night, and a well marked ridge of rock, one side of the snow triangle, makes a sharp division line between the white and the black. From this point on ward the eye never loses the mountain for many roof consecutive seconds until the coach dips - down into the hollow where the hotel is built on the bank of the Pukaki river, just where the river leaves the lake.

    At Pukaki travellers stay the night, and there next morning a trap which meets the coach takes them onto Mount Cook. But no trap has arrived to take on my fellow-traveller (a reverend Marist Father) and myself. There have been warm rains and a" nor'-west wind at Mount Cook, consequently quick melting of snows; consequently flooded creeks; consequently impassable roads; consequently no trap from Mount Cook. Next day comes, when we should he well on our way ; but still no trap. Instead, deluges of rain and a mighty wind come from Mount Cook and confine us all day to the Pukaki Hotel, which, though a kind and comfortable house, is irksome in the circumstances. We read (the father and I); we play cribbage ; we play draughts; we talk; but for that the day passes slowly. We are entertained with the story of a man who a fortnight ago had a hair breadth escape, on the road we are about to travel. Man, horse, and buggy travelling along the Mount Cook road from Birch Hill to Pukaki ; traveller for some firm in Oamaru : buggy full of Valuable samples ; man in buggy, crosses a creek in safety; goes on to the next creek and finds it in high flood ; turns back send finds the creek he had crossed now also in flood; tries to ford it; boulder comes down and breaks the horse's shoulder ; general smash up of buggy ; horse drowned, man carried down stream and thrown on a sand spit ; crawls on to terra firma ; spends the night imprisoned between two creeks ; horse and buggy now in Lake Pukaki. This comfortable story is told whenever I consult any inmate of the hotel about the weather prospects. "Looks bad towards Mount Cook" is the invariable answer. "By the way, have you heard about Mr So-and-So, who had such a narrow shave on that road a fortnight ago? You see he was coming from Birch Hill in a buggy," &c, &c. First the landlord narrates the story. Then the landlady comes in to lay the tablecloth. "How is the weather looking, Mrs R ? " "Oh, bad, very bad, up towards Mount Cook. I suppose you have heard about Mr So-and-So," &c, &c. Presently the maid comes in to replenish the teapot, and falls a-talking about the weather. "It looks black up Mount Cook way. It may clear up, but the weather has been horrible lately. A fortnight ago a man, he was a commercial traveller," &c, &c. We have brought a "rouse&bout" up with us in the coach, and he is loafing about the hotel like myself, waiting for the permission of the weather to continue his way to Glentanner. In a lull of the weather I find him at the bar and begin to converse with him. "Awful, isn't it?" he says. "If it hadn't a been for this bloomin' weather I'd been near Glentanner by now. You've heard of that bally commercial chap as was travellin' from Birch Hill to Glentanner," &c., &c. Towards evening the trap from Mount Cook arrives, and taking my umbrella I proceed at once to interview the driver. " State of the roads? There ain't no roads to speak of, not much there ain't. Been washed away with the floods. Got to find a road as you can. A fortnight ago there was a chap, one o' them commercial gents from Oamaru," &c, &c. After a few games of cribbage I go to bed and dream that I have been washed down Tin Hut Creek into Lake Pukaki, whilst my horse and buggy have had to pass the night imprisoned between two streams.
    This morning about 10, the weather being fair about Pukaki, I set off for Mount Cook. My reverend fellow-traveller has decided to turn back — a wise decision, probably, though I am sorry to lose his company. Lake Pukaki in storm is about as ugly a piece of water as one need care to see. A great swollen river is flowing from the lake to join with the Tekapo and the Ohau and form the Waitaki. The wind comes howling down the Tasman Valley from Mount Cook, tossing the lake into waves which are doing their best to sap the approaches to the bridge ; and as we cross, the wheels of the trap go down uncomfortably where the water has begun to make a breach.
    Coaching on the box-seat is my favourite form of locomotion. I love to have a team before me. It is the only opportunity I ever have, except in a Dunedin tram, of studying horseflesh. So I sit on the box and ask questions and express opinions about horses that no doubt make the driver wonder. But he is too civil to stare, and answers all my questions and suggestions with great gravity. My Jehu— a young fellow called Jack — takes care to inform me at the outset that fast horses are no good on a road like the Mount Cook road. " Slow horses are the thing," he says ; " horses that will take their time, and land you there at last;." Whether our horses will land you there at last is not at once apparent, but they are not across the bridge before I perceive them to possess the first qualification for the road. Jack commences his objurgations at the Pukaki Hotel, and, except when he pauses to answer some question of mine, continues them, poor fellow, without intermission till we reach the Hermitage, which we ultimately do a distance of 40 miles. He threatens to "warm" Gipsy, and I request him to warm me instead, for the wind is bitterly cold ; he repeatedly admonishes Kate that he will " knock her head off," but she merely flicks her incredulous tail. I remark that Kate seems to be an unimpressionable and thick-skinned animal. Jack allows that this is so ; her skin; he says, is in some places half an inch thick.
    When we arrive at Glentanner, 25 miles from Pukaki, where we unspan for a spell, both Jack and myself are numb with cold and tolerably wet. This trimly kept station is a very pleasant spot to come to after a long and cold drive through the invariable yellow tussock— a low-built, verandahed, cosy house, with a neat flower garden in front, and fields of flourishing oats round it. I have a pleasant chat with the strapping and intelligent young manager of the station. We talk of the mustering, for which they are all ready when the weather permits ; of keas, and he shows me a knowing young bird, the station pet ; of the pleasures of the country as contrasted with those of the town ; of the badness of the Mount Cook roads— "You have no idea," he says, "of what the road is beyond this. A fortnight ago there was a man up here, a commercial traveller from Oamaru," &c. "Oh, yes, I heard something of that at Pukaki ; " and then he gives me a newspaper containing the only true and faithful, account of the accident; the other newspapers having garbled the account in a shameless way. I go up to the home, and the manager's mother, the kind housewife of the station, very charitably makes me a cup of tea — whether Pekoe or Bohea I cannot tell— but exquisite tea, divinely hot. We talk of many things and many persons. Glentanner, situated as it is on a road of many mischances, has sometimes imperative demands made on its hospitality. One stormy day a coach, with eight passengers aboard, broke down in the vicinity, and at 10 p.m. the whole contingent arrived at the house requiring food and shelter for the night. Though Mrs Ross's spirit was willing, her accommodation was limited ; but her ingenuity rose to the occasion, and she solved the problem of space by putting two married couples in one room. "Goodness gracious ! "said I, how did you manage it ?" "Well," she said, " I stretched a clothes line from one and of the room to the other, and then, hung up sheets on it, and made up a bed on the one side and in bed on the other, and they managed in that way." "Ah," said I, "this Mount Cook road has much to answer for. "You may say that," she said, "but you have not seen the worst yet. A fortnight ago I got a great fright. There was a commercial traveller from Oamaru," &c., &c.
    What I had been told about the road comes short of the truth. The 15 miles from Glentanner to the Hermitage are unspeakable. The boulders, the torrents, the chasms, the absolute erasure of all road would have made an admirable extra circle for the Inferno, had it been in Dante's imagination to conceive it. Fortunately the springs and wheels of the buggy are of triple-tempred adamant. Fortunately also Kate and Gipsy are not "fast" horses had they been, we had inevitably gone to destruction. As it is those two honest creatures have taken us bravely on, without turning a hair; stimulated at the worst pinches by Jack's encouraging assurances that he would knock their heads off, for lazy hussies."
    At the Birth Hill station we find the hands and dogs all loafing about and waiting for mustering weather. I "ask one fellow who opens a gate for us whether he is not ashamed to look a stranger in the face, meeting one with such weather as this at midsummer. " Oh, this is nothing," he says, " You should have been here a fortnight ago. There was a man here from Oamaru, a commercial traveller," &c. "Drive on, Jack!" said I.
    Toward nightfall we arrive at the Hermitage wet to the skin, chilled to the bone, and jolted to a jelly. Not a pin to choose between Jack and myself; but Kate and Gipsy slow and virtuous to the finish.
    Kind welcome from Mr and Mrs Adamson, who are in charge of the Hermitage. A wash ; a dry change of clothing ; sweet boiled mutton with two excellent sauces—caper and hunger. I remark on the excellent quality of the mutton, and am told that the sheep are mere skin and bone owing to the rigour of the past winter. Don't know whether it is the skin or the bone I am eating, but it is good for a hungry man. " Ah," I say, shivering, "if any man does not know what sweet things food and shelter are, let him drive along the Mount Cook road in a cold rain storm." "Ye, I suppose it was pretty bad ; but it was worse a fortnight ago. There was a man here from Oamaru, a commercial traveller,"c., &c. "Good night," said I; "I think I'll go to bed."

Burton Brothers - View from Birch Hill

Otago Witness, 27 March 1875, Page 17
A valuable addition has just been made to the views of the alpine scenery of New Zealand, by a series of photographs about to be issued by Messrs Burton Brothers, of scenes in the Southern Alps, and taken by Mr Alfred H. Burton and his assistant. Mr Burton and party left Dunedin in the latter end of December last for the locality of their photographing campaign. They gob to Burkes Pass, the gate of the Mackenzie country, two days after leaving Timaru. At Burkes Pass, the work of the expedition commenced. The country there is hilly, and a view taken of it gives a general impression of the scenery of the neighbourhood, but the landscape makes no suggestion of the grandeur that is to come in journeying through the Southern Alps. After leaving Burkes Pass, the next views taken were those of Lake Tekapo, showing the lake and the great range in the distance. At this point communication his post ceases, and the party plunged into the wilds. After leaving Tekapo, a journey of two days brought thorn to Burnett's Hill Station. Mr Burton, who at this part of the journey was not favoured with very clear weather, thought the Mackenzie country very much over-rated till he got to the top of Burnett's Hill : but from that point he had reason to change his mind. The view taken here shows the Jollie River, which might be described with the vest of the rivers of that part of the country, as an ice-fed river flowing over shingle beds. The view of the Jollie is a well balanced picture. After crossing the Jollie they came to Mr Burnett's station, known as Mount Cook, and where they mot with a kindly reception. Here a view was taken showing the great Ben Ohau Range on the opposite side of the Tasman River. Here all natural objects are on a gigantic scale. The valley of the Tasman River is almost level, and the Ben Ohau range rises abruptly on the further side of the Tasman. At the point where the Tasman was crossed it was fully four miles wide, and divided into no less than 22 streams. The Tasman has the reputation of being a treacherous stream, and Mr Burton had the good fortune of having Mr Burnett to lead the way on horseback before the travelling carriage. After passing the Tasman safely they got to the remotest station — that known as Birch Hill. The first grand view of Mount Cook is from the Birch Hill station. The first photograph of the mountain is taken at a point distant from the foot of the main south spur about five miles. In a line behind the summit of this spur appears the peak of the mountain itself, looking over, "Though the peak of the mountain is fifteen miles behind that of the intervening spur, in some weathers they appear to be almost conjoined. Two views of Mount Cook were taken from Birch Hill from about the same point. In one of them the main summit appears to be just behind the summit of the spur, while in the other the appearance of great distance intervening is at once conveyed. There is a beautiful view of a gully in the Birch Hill Station — one hillside barren and snow covered, the other luxuriantly clothed with birch forest, and a stream miming between them. Leaving Birch Hill Station, the party made for a camping ground to which they had been directed. After journeying four miles, they took views of two beautiful waterfalls foaming down precipitous gorges. In these gorges the sides almost closed overhead, and they had to look straight up to get a sight of the sky. Further on Mr Burton took a splendid view of the Tasman Valley, showing a birch forest in the foreground, a shingle bed, then the river, and the alpine range in the distance. This view of the Tasman valley is a beautiful and well balanced picture. From the point where this photograph was taken Mr Burton made for what is called the Governor's Camp, from Sir George Bowen having camped there on his visit to these regions, intending to camp there, t as he had been given to understand it was the most convenient centre from which to "work " the country.... Mr A. Burton was absent from Dunedin for about eight weeks, and got through most of the actual photographic work in about a month ; but in that month much work, as may be judged, was done, and a good deal of not unenjoyable roughing was gone through.

Climbs in the New Zealand Alps
By Edward Arthur FitzGerald, William Martin Conway 1896

After lunch—when I say "lunch," I mean "porridge"—five men came up from Birch Hill sheep-run, bringing with them a large flock of sheep, some 1,500 in all, and about a dozen mongrel dogs. They penned up the sheep in a small enclosure near the Hermitage, intended for this purpose. We went out to see the dogs driving the sheep in, and it was extraordinary how well they seemed to know their business and to manage their flock.

As we were short of food—in fact for the last few days we had lived upon porridge almost entirely — we helped one of the men to pick out a fat animal, which we slaughtered. Barrow carried the carcase to our larder near the Hermitage. We immediately cut a leg off and cooked it, as vegetarian diet did not suit us at all, considering the amount of work we had to do. When this was done, the man in charge of the Birch Hill sheep-run, a Scotchman, came up with the other men and made a delicate insinuation as to whether I might be in possession, by any chance, of the key of the cellar. I took the hint and asked them in to have a drink. They all had gin, and after that they tried very hard to pay me half-a-crown for the liquor they had consumed; but, I explained to them that I did not hold the license to the Hermitage, and could not very well take payment. They then tried to insist upon my at least taking a shilling. They pressed it upon me for some time, I steadily refusing; afterwards we discovered that they had slipped it into my pocket.

I then asked them if they would not come and sleep at the Hermitage; but they said they preferred the stable opposite, where they could see their sheep in case anything happened to them in the night.

On the next morning, January 29th, they drove their sheep up as far as the snout of the Hooker Glacier. The glacier served as a bridge to carry the flock to the other side of the Hooker stream. From here they would find their way to the Tasman valley, where they are left to feed upon the scanty snow-grass during the summer months. The weather was again fairly settled, and, as the wind had abated, we discussed the advisability of another departure for our old bivouac, and another attempt on Sefton.

After passing Birch Hill sheep station, you face Mount Sefton.

Zurbriggen took a horse and rode down, while Barrow and I borrowed Adamson's buggy and drove it towards Glentanner. We soon reached the Birch Hill station, and here our Scotch friend came out to tell us that, in his opinion, we had never ascended Sealy at all; he said that he had been higher up the ranges than any man living, in search of his sheep, and that he had even seen Sealy, and therefore well knew that no man could ever climb it. He asked me to bring him up a bottle of whisky from Pukaki, and finally allowed us to depart. Zurbriggen, who was riding alongside of us, however, had a slight difference of opinion with him about the opening of a gate. We saw this in the distance as we drove along. I could just see Zurbriggen shaking his fist, and gesticulating violently; but when he commenced to get off his horse the canny Scotchman receded promptly into the house and closed the door. We were very much amused at this incident, though I was glad that it had no serious results, as Zurbriggen, when really annoyed with people, does not always handle them very gently. Furthermore, I knew that if the Scotchman had repeated to him the things he said to us there would have been a row, especially as Zurbriggen does not speak English very fluently, and would probably have misunderstood a great deal.

Timaru Herald, 27 February 1884, Page 3

To the Editor,— Sir, I have lately had the extreme pleasure of witnessing for the first time the wonders of Nature's handiwork as observable in and around the region of Mount Cook, and cannot too strongly urge upon my fellow-colonists the advisability of their studying Nature at perhaps Ibo grandest school of practical geology the world offers to the student of Nature. ...
    At present a good passable road within three miles to Dark's Station, and the Mackenzie County Council are continuing the formation of the road to Birch Hill, within three miles of Mount Cook. At the Governor's camp on the Hooker River, where His Excellency Sir George Bowen camped during his visit, an excellent, hotel site could be obtained, and I hope that some enterprising host will be found to occupy so promising a field of the future. Meanwhile, were such an one to visit the large and comfortable camp of Mr Maitland, surveyor, at Ben Ohau, he would there see some half dozen comfortable tents so arranged and fitted that tourists in any number could be comfortably put up during the autumn months at little expense to the landlord in buildings...
    At Braemar (20,000 acres freehold) I observed a large crop of oats, calculated to yield 120 bushels to the acre, but I would put it down at 80 to 100, and have been nothing this season to compare to it. At Mount Cook Station (Burnett's) a small patch is equally heavy. At Ben Ohau (Stronch's) the crop is also very excellent ; at Richmond (Lake Tekapo) the potatoes are the largest and best I have seen this season. We had excellent Scotch kale (three platefuls) at Birch Hill, the nearest station to Mount Cook, where excellent vegetables are grown ; at Mount Mistake (Big Mick's) are grown the biggest cabbages I have seen for many a day, and the soil is a rich loamy mould. ...
    A day or two before our visit, Mr Melville, manager and part owner of Birch Hill, had driven a flock of sheep over the Hooker Glacier to good fattening ground beyond. In returning his sheep dog had slipped through the slight crust of recently-fallen snow — the previous night — into a crevice. Mr Melville by leaping barely escaping the same fatality. The dog fell 40ft on to a thin crust of ice. My sailor friend was brought to the spot with a 40ft rope to try and save the dog's life. A candle was lowered, when it was found that the heat it of the dog's body had melted the thin crust of ice that sustained it, and it had fallen other 20ft ; and so all hope was lost of saving the life of the faithful animal, for which Mr Melville would not have taken £40.
I am, &c., Joseph Mackay, February 25th.

Pukaki 1890

Aorangi ; or, the heart of the Southern Alps, New Zealand
by Malcolm Ross, Laurence William 1892, page 64

We are early on the road again next morning. Crossing the Pukaki River on a ferry-boat, worked by the current, we drive over the tussocky downs of Rhoboro' Station, and enter what appears to be the bed of an old river, that has no doubt at some distant date cut its way through this ancient lateral moraine, when the glacier of the Tasman Valley was three or four times its present size. The engineer who laid out this road must have been a thorough utilitarian, for he has availed himself of an old bullock-dray track, and succeeded admirably in making the road about as long and as rough as it possibly could be. It is on record that a tourist once sang out excitedly to the driver to stop, and, on the coach coming to a standstill, he got out and began to make a close scrutiny of the construction of the vehicle. The driver, a little puzzled, asked what was the matter, and received the laconic reply : "Oh, nothing, I merely wished to see if your wheels were square." For the first mile or two we thought this story a joke ; then, after a few more miles, we began to think there might be some truth in it; and, latterly, we too found ourselves dubiously examining the wheels. It is all very well when you are nicely wedged in between, a couple of really stout passengers on the box-seat, but when you have an angular tourist on your right, and an. iron railing doing its level best to perform excision of the hip-joint on the left, it is quite a different matter. The Mount Cook Coaching Company, however, do all they can to make travellers comfortable, and in our case it was not altogether the fault of the road. The driver had something to do with it. He had just received what in these foreign parts is known as "the sack," and I regret to say that he had taken it neither with the grace of an Italian nobleman nor the politeness of a Spanish grandee. On the contrary, I believe he even went the length of using a string of very strong adjectives. This was his last day on the road, and he said he meant to have a "picnic." His idea of what constituted a " picnic" did not altogether coincide with ours. It consisted mainly in a burning desire to get to his destination—in pieces, if necessary—about an hour before his usual time, and in driving down steep and stony parts of the road at a break-neck pace. The height of his enjoyment appeared to be reached on a steep incline leading towards the lake. Down this we rattled, over stones, and around sharp curves, at a pace that would have done credit to Yuba Bill; and we said never a word, but held our breath and the iron railing of the trap, till, with a sigh of relief, we reached the bottom and breathed freely again. To do our Jehu justice, however, we must admit that he did know how to "handle the ribbons."

This day there was no hotel or accommodation-house where we could refresh the inner man; so, soon after 12 o'clock, we halted and had an al fresco luncheon at a place known as "The Dog's Grave." There is a little patch of scrub on the flat, where fuel is obtainable, and a clear stream running past it supplies good water. Near at hand is the grave, with a little headboard, the whole enclosed with a stout wooden railing. The dog whose memory is here perpetuated belonged to the survey camp established some months previously, and his master, grieving over his untimely demise, gave him a decent funeral and an epitaph. We stayed about an hour and a half for lunch and then proceeded on our journey. All day long we were obtaining splendid views of the mountains ahead—Mount Cook, St. David's Dome, De la Beche, and Elie de Beaumont (with whose forms, from a close study of maps and photographs, we were quite familiar) being prominent features in the landscape. Nearing Birch Hill we got a distant view of the Tasman Glacier, and could easily distinguish the white ice of the Hochstetter coming down into it on the left from Mount Cook. Our driver fulfilled his promise, and landed us at the Hermitage in the evening considerably before contract time.

At the antipodes By G. Verschuur, Mary Daniels 1891 - 330 pages

At sunset we were descending the last hill, and there on the shore of Lake Pukaki was a solitary house ; this, to my great joy, proved to be the hotel in which I was to spend the night. The proprietor is also the post-master of the district, and holds several other offices as well. He would, however, make but a very poor living out of the few tourists who come here to visit Mount Cook ; his principal customers are the numerous men employed by the sheep- farmers of the district. Nearly the whole of their wages are spent in this bar ; a fact that was proved by the piles of empty bottles behind the house. Additional men are of course employed at the shearing season, and at its conclusion each man receives a cheque for the amount of his wages. Armed with this cheque, he makes his way at once to the inn, and -gives it into the hands of the proprietor, who lets him open an account; the wretched man then begins to drink without intermission, sleeping in a stable by night, and continuing his potations until his credit is exhausted, when the innkeeper turns him out of the house. 

Mt. Cook from the Hermitage Sept. 30 2001 4 pm.   3754m.  12,345ft

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project