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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)

Excursions into Beauty — Milford Sounds

page 30

Excursions into Beauty
Milford Sounds

To all of us … perhaps as we smoke our placid pipe in front of the fire … perhaps as we gaze wistfully from the office window on a sunny afternoon … comes that relentless urge … that irrepressible desire … to see what lies just around the corner … beyond the horizon. There seems to be in the mind of every New Zealander the feeling that “the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard” … a feeling that we must look far afield to discover beauty and the peace of mind that comes with it. So it is, at some time or another, every New Zealander turns his back on his homeland and journeys to far lands, always searching … always seeking that indefinable something … the beauty of Nature. But just as surely so do they return, satiated but unsatisfied, to find that what they sought lies where it always was … at home.

This wanderlust has led the restless feet of New Zealanders to the four corners of the world. To sunny California … to the depths of darkest Africa … to the simple beauty of Killarney. Let us take you in imagination to one of the beauty spots of the world … the Norwegian Fiords, with the majestic grandeur of their scenery and the simple philosophy of their peasants. Here we are at the head of one of the beautiful Norwegian Fiords. Softly across the now placid waters comes music. It is late evening and in the twilight Norwegian girls perform one of their folk dances. Gracefully they move on the patch of green in front of the little farm. On the shore, leaning idly against one of the little fishing boats are two men … the elder drawing placidly at the pipe, obviously a resident, the younger … keen and interested … just as obviously a visitor. Let us linger a while. The visitor is drinking in this scene of placid beauty.

It is a far cry from the majestic splendour of the Norwegian Fiords to our own little country. Have we anything at home to compare with their rugged grandeur? What can we offer the disciple at the Fount of Beauty.

Come with me to our own Fiordland … Milford Sounds. We could, of course, take one of the steamer excursions to this most beautiful of spots, but let us on this occasion approach from the other side … let us drink in the beauty of the Milford Track slowly, until at last we reach the champagne
(Thelma R. Kent, photo.) In the Rees Valley at the head of Lake Wakatipu, South Island, New Zealand.

(Thelma R. Kent, photo.)
In the Rees Valley at the head of Lake Wakatipu, South Island, New Zealand.

of it all … Milford Sounds themselves. From Dunedin a service car takes us to Lake Te Anau, in itself a thing of placid beauty, where we stay the night. Early in the morning a launch leaves Te Anau for Glade House, the forty-odd miles of lake voyage slipping behind us pleasantly in three and one half hours. Here in this bush-land beauty we feel we could stay forever, but we must continue … . always seeking. We set our questing feet in the wondrous Clinton Canyon. Under towering beech trees lies the pathway … soft with fallen leaves. Always with us is the pleasant music of the murmuring river, and here and there we catch a glimpse of its surpassing beauty. Soon we reach the saddle of the McKinnon Pass, its precipitous peaks standing sentinel-like in majestic grandeur. Onward we walk, page 31 and suddenly as we round a bend in the bush we see the Pompolona Huts. We are home, for to-night, and a cheery meal awaits us. Another day … and off we set for Quinton Huts. The heavy bush of yesterday becomes groves of ribbonwood and the track becomes more undulating. Suddenly we conquer McKinnon's Pass and before us lies Lake Ella reflecting the surrounding peaks in its placid waters. We lunch in Nature's beautiful dining-rooms and then once more onwards … ever onwards, until in mid-afternoon we reach Quinton Huts, still in our minds the picture of a rock cairn standing on the edge of Lake Ella … a monument erected to the memory of Quinton McKinnon, a man who sought beauty and found it … here. We rest a while and then stroll gently along the mile that leads to the brightest gem of all … the Sutherland Falls … a necklace of sheer beauty with three strings. These majestic Falls, the highest in the world, fall in three leaps, the top one 815 feet, the middle 751 and the lower 338 feet. Truly has Nature painted a scene of everlasting beauty. We return to Quinton Huts with a feeling of humility … a feeling of dissatisfaction at Man's puny efforts to emulate Nature. The third day from Quinton to Milford Sounds is easy going. We follow the valley on the banks of the Arthur River. We wander pleasantly among native forest, dwarfed on either side by mighty mountains. The river is now broad and deep, and wonderful vistas open before us as we journey. Ahead, and to the right, the Sheerdown Range lifts its majestic head to a height of four thousand feet, its turretted heights impressing us with the suitability of its name. We press steadily on through scenes of ever changing beauty until we arrive at the Arthur Falls … the end of the actual walk. There a launch awaits to take us the remaining two miles to the hotel at the head of Milford Sound. We have arrived at a home which offers us the comfort of a city but the beauty that only Nature in its most glorious moments can design. Here, actually at Milford, are beauty spots innumerable. The majesty of Mitre Peak, Monarch of Milford … the thread-like beauty of Stirling Falls. There are walks and launch trips … excursions into beauty. We feel that we could stay forever in this haven of rest and beauty, but Time relentlessly calls us back to the smoke and bustle of the city. We start on the return journey feeling that we shall return … we must return. There are other sights to see, other paths to follow. But they will keep for another day. And so we leave, feeling that when we return … soon we hope … the beauty of Milford will greet us again … fresh and undimmed.
(Thelma R. Kent, photo.) Looking up to Eros Saddle, from Arawata Valley, South Island.

(Thelma R. Kent, photo.)
Looking up to Eros Saddle, from Arawata Valley, South Island.

A little fancy bowl of snuff exhibited in the window of a city tobacconist the other day in Auckland attracted some attention. Snuffing has so long been out of date it is hard to realise that in days gone by it was as popular as smoking is now. Will smoking ever go out of date? Well, there seems small likelihood of that for every year shows an increased consumption all the world over of “the soothing weed.” Formerly all the tobacco consumed in New Zealand had to be imported. But the coming of “toasted” has altered all that, and at the present time the heavy demand for the five renowned toasted blends, Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Cavendish, Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold is a tribute to the success achieved by the manufacturers in producing tobacco not only of the choicest quality, flavour and bouquet, but comparatively harmless owing to the elimination of most of its nicotine by the unique toasting process employed. There are no better or purer tobaccos manufactured than those enumerated.*

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