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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45

Mount Cook.

Mount Cook..

It would be well here to observe that our tourist should not attempt to make the journey alone. A party of two or three might be formed at Oamaru, and after supplying themselves with a tent, blankets, camp-kettle, and a few other indispensable necessaries, they should take the train to Duntroon, a distance of 25 miles from Oamaru. From this place they must take the coach to Omarama, a distance of about 50 miles, where comfortable accommodation is procurable. Horses can be hired here to take our explorers to the ford of the Ohau River, which lies about 16 miles away. They must then proceed by the Ohau Station to Lake Pukaki, keeping along the track on the west side of the lake until Glen Tanner Station is reached. From Glen Tanner to the foot of the Tasman or Muller glaciers is about 25 miles. After leaving Omarama, there is no public accommodation house on the track, but the station-holders are ever ready to extend their hospitality to visitors, and to give them every information relative to their trip.

And here we will call into requisition a much abler descriptive pen than our own, in order to bring this magnificent region under the tourist's review.

page 35

From the pages of that excellent work of art "Gully's New Zealand Scenery," we make the excerpt. The writer is Dr. Julius Von Haast, and the opinion of such an authority requires no endorsement.

"All at once a view of greater magnificence than the most enthusiastic imagination can conceive bursts upon the traveller as he ascends the high moraine that encircles the Muller glacier, one of the feeders of the Tasman River. The eye takes in at one glance the deep valley of the Hooker glacier, bounded by the lofty and majestic pyramid of Mount Cook, which rises high into the clear sky, a towering mass of rugged crags of ice and snow. Still grander, however, is the view when climbing along the southern continuation of Mount Cook the explorer comes unexpectedly on some of the deep ravines, where, as if by enchantment, a glorious sight appears through the vista. A few hundred feet above the Hooper glacier, the mountain slopes are here and there covered with small groves of evergreen bush. Clumps of the Alpine Totara Pine, with its short gnarly trunk, form also a conspicuous feature. These, with the projecting crags amongst which they grow, compose a splendid foreground to the lofty pyramid of rock above; whilst below, the bottom of the valley is covered by moraine accumulations from the ice streams of the Hooker glacier, which give it the appearance of an immense roadway made by giants. The tempest-worn peak of Mount Cook, rising about 10,000 feet above the glacier, is, without doubt, the grandest sight in the New Zealand Alps, for whilst the evening shades have already fallen upon the lower grounds, its summit, illuminated by a strange glow, stands boldly against the clear glory of the evening sky, and forms a picture of inexpressible beauty. Mount Cook rises 13,200 feet above the sea-board, and is separated from the rest of the Southern Alps by a very low snow saddle which lies between it and Mount Stokes.

"This portion of the Southern Alps, never before trodden by the foot of man, was first explored by the writer in 1862, who discovered a system of glaciers more extensive than any hitherto known in the temperate regions of the world, page 36 the enormous glacier of Thibet not having been discovered until a later date. They have since been repeatedly visited by European travellers, and are so easy of access that even ladies find little trouble in the ascent. They can be reached without difficulty by riding up to their terminal face on horseback."

A picture of Mount Cook, painted by Mr. W. M. Hodgkins of Dunedin, who, with the true spirit and determination of an artist, spent a holiday trip in that romantic country, appears in Barraud's fine work on New Zealand scenery, and is a faithful representation of the Alpine Monarch of New New Zealand.

If our tourist has no business which neccessitates his return to Oamaru, his best plan will be to take the track to Timaru. He will follow down the bed of the Tasman River, cross at Burnett's into the Mackenzie country. On this route he will pass through a rugged and romantic district until he leaves the mountain range and descends to the broad level Canterbury Plains. He will find no difficulty in procuring accommodation along this route, as the Mackenzie country is now fairly settled by runholders who are noted for their hospitality to visitors. Besides which there are several accommodation houses also on the track, where the traveller who prefers the warm welcome which Shenstone sings of, can find quarters.

"Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
Whate'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think how oft he found
His warmest welcome at an inn."