The Department's lake steamer “Earnslaw,” with 700 excursionists aboard, arriving at Queenstown.
“N. Z. R.” brings to mind a vision of speeding trains, shrill whistles, and busy railway stations; but in Queenstown this sign means a boat cleaving the waters of Lake Wakatipu.
Excursion Day broke sunny and still, and an hour before the “Earnslaw” was due to leave, little parties, each with lunch basket and billy, were gathering on the wharf and scattering over the spacious decks of the steamer. Carefully frocked matrons descended to the upholstered saloon; while to the upper deck came young mothers with perambulators, girls of every description—stockingless, breeched, with bare heads or the inadequate beret; youths in flannels, and men in knickerbockers; talking and laughing all together. And the children! It was their day. With lovely, eager little faces beneath starched sun-bonnet and grey helmet, they made the boat as charming as a flower garden.
Almost 10 o'clock! Three urgent whistles brought the late-comers hurriedly up the gangway. Along the esplanade came a tall man, walking with a purposeful air. Had he deigned to run he may have caught the boat, but his dignity forbade him. He turned to the ticket office, but it was locked; then turned to the wharf, but we were moving. One felt sorry that his dignity exacted such a price, and hoped that the bowling green would minister to his disappointment.
Afloat on the blue, deep water! The New Zealand flag at the masthead waved our goodbye to Queenstown, and on the churning waters in our wake lay the dark shadow of the trailing smoke. A gramophone amplifier on deck drowned the laughing sallies of the party; and “Camptown Races” was much in evidence—well, all were ready to echo “Doo-dah.”
Two hours later, the hundreds of merrymakers landed at Mt. Nicholas, but the sailors of the “N. Z. R.” had a busy day ahead. As the “Earnslaw” steamed up the still lake, snow-capped mountains unfolded their beauty in the clear air; and one gazed, enraptured, at Cosmos, Mt. Head, the snowy tip of Aurum, and the great white face of Mt. Earnslaw. Masses of grey stone, and a line of huts high up on the hillside on our right reminded us that here was one of New Zealand's few scheelite mines.
At Glenorchy, one car was unloaded and two were taken on board. The little wharf was crowded with people saying farewell to their friends, or just watching the fun: the arrival of the steamer being an event in that quiet spot. Then over the water to Kinloch, to load sheep for the islands. The homestead nestled in a clearing in the red birch forest, which extended to the water's edge. The sheep were reluctant, protesting sailors, but with dogs and men harrying them from the rear, and strong arms pulling the first ones aboard, they had to submit and follow their leader. With the dogs, shepherds, and their boat to complete the cargo, we steamed down to the islands. The “Earnslaw” drew as near as possible to the shore, and lowered the boat for the shepherds and dogs. Then, to our complete surprise, the sheep were thrown, one by one, into the lake. The barking of the dogs, and a gentle push with the tip of an oar headed them in the right direction, and like veterans they forged to the land. Some of the lambs seemed at a loss in this new element, swimming round the“Earnslaw” and bleating pitifully, but in a short time all were ashore on the island, and unconcernedly cropping the fresh feed on its tussocky slopes.
We returned to Mt. Nicholas, where the wharf was piled with bales of wool, which soon were rolling on board; and from the open door of the wool-shed come more bales until there was a rolling, tumbling stream of them. The bronzed station lads received questionable assistance from the numerous small boys who delighted to assist with the rolling. Dozens of tiny children were clambering over the wool bales.
The returning picnic party, hot and sunburnt, now thronged the decks. The gramophone blared forth in a foxtrot, and the homeward journey commenced. Some of the younger folk danced, but most of the party were content in watching the reflections in the mirror of the lake, and the lights of evening kissing the mountains’ snowy summits.
Queenstown once more! Our thanks to the men of the “N. Z. R.” steamer service for having given us such a happy day!
“There's many things a chap can do without at a pinch, when times are hard and the clouds refuse to roll by, but tobacco is not one of them,” wrote a contributor to a London weekly not long since. “Hard times? Why, then it is precisely that the smoker craves more than ever the soothing, care-dispelling influence of good tobacco.” So it is. Despite the depression, the demand for the weed in the Old Land is constantly growing. And it's precisely the same in New Zealand where nine out of every ten men smoke—to say nothing of women—yes, and most of them smoke one or other of the four famous brands, Riverhead Gold, Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, and Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead). Once you try them you always buy them! —So sweet, so pure, so fresh and fragrant are they! The toasting does it! How's that? Because it eliminates most of the nicotine, and thus makes this beautiful tobacco safe for the smoker, who can indulge ad lib with absolute impunity!*
A Lake Excursion: Queenstown to Glenorchy, by K. McLatchie,The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 3 (June 1, 1934.) New Zealand Electronic Text Centre