THE WHEATEN WAGTIME BAND
By A P
All rights reserved to A P, 2010/11
MOUNT COOK - QUEENSTOWN
Everyone waved goodbye to their Christchurch fans, who had gathered outside the hotel to wish them well.
The coach sped off, and soon they were driving through pastoral countryside. Meghan was with them and she gave them a running commentary on the land she knew so well - at least, until they drew closer to Mt Cook, where she had not yet visited.
They stopped along the way so that some of the WWB could get out and stretch their legs. First to leap from the coach were the Three Most Likely Lads, as well as Chloe, who was fascinated with the
'huge birds' and wanted to observe them at closer quarters. The picture below, taken by Henry, speaks for itself!
As they travelled further West, they saw high, magnificent mountains rising before them. Grainne said they reminded her of the Austrian Alps.
Another stop was made where sheep were grazing. This brought out the herding instincts of some of our members!
ARRIVAL AT MT COOK
At 3764 metres, Mt Cook in New Zealand is the highest of the country's 27 mountains over 3000 metres. It is higher by more than 1500 metres to Australia’s highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko at 2228 metres.
It is called Aoraki (or Aorangi, Ao - meaning land, rangi - meaning sky or heavens) by the Maori.
According to legend, which explains how the mountain's name came about, Aoraki and his three brothers were the sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father.
They were on a voyage around Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, when their canoe was stranded after striking a reef in the ocean.
Aoraki and his brothers climbed on the top side of their canoe. The cold south wind hit them, froze them, and turned them into stone.
The legend says their canoe became New Zealand's South Island which was then called Te Waka o Aoraki.
Aoraki, the tallest of the brothers, gave his name to the highest peak.
His brothers and members of his crew became the mountains of the Southern Alps.
As the coach drove along, the members of the WWB were stunned by the great beauty which rose before them. They gazed at the majestic, snow-capped mountains in awe.
This was a sight to behold, and to remember always.
Further along, they reached a place where the coach stopped so that they could take pictures and explore the magnificent views.
Out came the cameras, and everyone romped through the long grass and wild flowers, enjoying the brisk air and soaking up the splendour that seemed to stretch forever!
They arrived at the Hermitage Hotel in the mid afternoon. All their luggage was unloaded from the coach, and they were shown to their rooms.
The girls were rapt, not only with the quality service they received, but also the rooms! They were what Benny described as LUXURY, and Benny wasn't easily impressed! Each room had a wonderful view of Mt Cook, and it was quite magical.
After unpacking and looking around the hotel, many went for a walk before Dinner.
DooziMae suddenly leapt into the air and sprung up onto some cement blocks nearby. She certainly caught the interest of Clancy and Bugsey!
Kelsey decided it was worth a try too. (but without the same success!)
Dinner was as impressive as everything else they had experienced since arriving at the Hermitage hotel.
They retired to their respective rooms, and sat looking out at the splendid views while the light remained.
They all wished they could stay longer here, but their time was limited and they had a tight schedule to stick to. In the morning, they would depart for the West Coast Glaciers, then on to Milford Sound, where they would spend the night before journeying on to Queenstown the next day.
So they sat listening to soothing music, and gazed as if enchanted, at beautiful Mount Cook.
Several of the girls got together in Meghan, Chloe, Zoe and Katie's room, and it appeared that some were in no hurry to leave!
Out on the balcony, Alley was telling Maggie, Sunny and Katie about her secret outdoor sport, and this was received with some unspoken questions! DooziMae had her own slant on the question!
So, peacefully and silently, the sun sank and the daylight faded. Forty-four dogs slept soundly, and awakened the next day to another adventure in this majestic West Coast.
After breakfast they boarded the coach and were soon moving further West. This picture was taken at their first 'comfort stop' along the way.
When they were called to return to the coach and continue their journey to the West Coast Glaciers, there were two who just didn't seem to hear!
More spectacular scenery awaited them as they approached the Fox Glacier. The girls weren't too keen to climb up to where the glacier could be viewed at close range. However, Grainne and Maggie, being so athletic, were not at all daunted by the climb.
Guinny was in fine voice, (ahem!) and serenaded them with an appropriate song as they went along through the low-lying clouds. (That boy just never stops singing! Just as well his trumpet playing is better than his crooning!)
Henry captured it all on camera.
Some of the boys went off exploring on their own. In the lower areas, the scenery changed to high carved cliffs and beautiful pools which reflected the delicate sunlight, and a couple of surprises too!
Further along the track, several of the girls were exploring this scenic area when they heard cries for help!
Alley and Katie had ventured too far, and suddenly, it was as if the tide had gone out! They were trapped on a tiny piece of land and could not get back to where their friends were!
But help was at hand!
The boys safely returned them to dry land, and a much wiser, and colder Alley and Katie got back into the coach, where they were warmed by the blankets and first aid given them by a caring Jackie.
Finnegan and Finbar, the heroes of the day, were also given special attention by Jackie, the WWB nurse who was always prepared!
Next stop - MILFORD SOUND.
The first view of Mitre Peak which came into sight was breathtaking, to say the least. How fortunate they were to be here on a fine day!
They sprang from the coach, but some returned, as it was very wet under foot. Brody, Keeva, Sunny and Hope persisted, and they had Clancy with them. Clancy, however, was more interested in the wildlife!
They had plenty of time to fill in before checking into their hotel, the Milford Sound Lodge.
Finnegan had arranged for them to go on a boat trip in Milford Sound, so they could see the waterfalls and other beautiful sights in this wonderful Southern Fiordland.
The coach drew up at a passenger wharf, and the WWB members boarded two pleasure cruisers.
All aboard! - and soon they were all on their way. Oh, what an experience it was! - and DooziMae and others were so relieved that it was a calm day!
I'd be lost without you, Maggie -
It was a tired and hungry group that arrived at the Milford Sound Lodge. After unpacking, some gathered in the garden to relax before dinner.
Wheately and Bridey, Teddy and Sunny had paired off, but it was impossible to have any privacy here!
All the hotels they had stayed at in new Zealand were top class, and this one was no exception.
After dinner, some of the girls (as usual!) got together in one of the rooms and talked 'girl stuff' until it was time for bed. In this case, it seemed to be mainly about Cooper!
The next day dawned - crisp and clear. The boys carried out the girls' cases for them and put them on the coach.
Everyone took their seats, and with a last look at the Lodge, and glorious Mitre Peak, they were on their way to QUEENSTOWN.
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE