Birley’s Earnslaw Hotel, Glenorchy
Feb 5th 1906
My dear Father
I mean to post this in Dunedin as I think it will just catch the San Francisco mail there & it would be no better posting it here or at Queenstown – Anyway the big lot of diary & hurried note to Mother from Queenstown will explain if this misses the mail. Auntie was in a great state of fuss that morning as we were leaving & would barely let me have five minutes to scribble to Mother. Of course we got down to the boat in heaps of time, in fact were about the first on board. Maidie & I were very sorry to leave Queenstown so soon, we had not seen half there was to see there & we should have liked best to stay all the time there & see it thoroughly, it is such a pretty little place, lots of lovely walks about, however Auntie had heard about the Routeburn trip to be done from Glenorchy & set her heart doing that, I believe it was the riding on horseback that offered the attraction to her. Of course we had had great fun here as you will see on reading the diary but this Glenorchy business has been very expensive & I think after having done the Milford trip it was not worth it. Maidie thinks the same as I do. The riding on horse-back was I am afraid not all bliss to poor Auntie, though she wouldn’t acknowledge it for the world! The funny part of it was though that she thought I might not manage the riding & even suggested I should not undertake the trip if I was nervous but I was to do just as I liked. Of course I didn’t like not to go & in the end I got on with the riding as Maidie said ten times better than Auntie. She was nervous a good part of the way especially at the precipice part & we walked down there & down the zigzag on the way back. It must have been too funny a sight for words to see us all mounted on our steeds it is a pity there was no one to take a snap shot of us. The Milford Sound trip was most successful, it was really wonderful the way Auntie got through it. I shouldn’t have enjoyed doing it without Maidie, we both felt responsible for Auntie all through & I really couldn’t have undertaken the responsibility alone. As it was though I enjoyed it & though I was tired some times after a big day I am sure it was not too much for any of us, though Auntie wanted a rest after it. The only inconvenience I suffered was my ankles aching, for two or three days after the walk was finished they were pretty much swollen, but they soon got right again. It was fully worth while being out in the wilds, for a whole week to experience the pleasure of getting back into civilization, how we did enjoy a dinner of fresh meat at Glade House! We were fortunate in our companions on the way, of course we did not walk with any other parties, every body likes to go their own pace & it is better to be independent, but at the huts we all met. There were a Major & Mrs Moore & her daughter who were rather amusing but we got sick of them at last & were able to leave them at Milford Sound they were army people of the sporting type & were of course equipped for the walk with everything they could need, very stout boots with nails & all the rest of it. They were always making nasty little hits at our boots which they considered not nearly stout enough, however when they rejoined us at Glade House, we were delighted to find the Major had done the last stage in slippers, his boots having given way, while ours were by no means at their last gasp. Mrs & the girl also looked pretty tired so I took the opportunity of saying how glad I was we had not had too heavy boots, we should have been much more tired!
General & Mrs Chapman were extremely nice people, Maidie & I thoroughly enjoyed our days drive with them on the Shippers Road, we thought it so nice of them to ask us. On the coach from Te Anau to Lumsden, that perilous drive which I have mentioned in the diary, the General was riding inside & kept every body’s attention diverted as much as he could from the perils of the road by telling anecdotes, asking riddles etc. Every body felt pretty nervous. Auntie very much so, she did not at all like it – we have made enquiries about the coaches on the Otira & Buller Gorge roads as everyone says they are better coaches & the roads are better which is a decided relief. That by the way – we thought it very nice of the old General to keep us amused like that, & I believe he made a pretty good fuss when he got to the proprietors at Lumsden about their using such old coaches & over loading them as they did. Mrs Chapman is his second wife & has two small children left in Christchurch with a lady nurse. When they return to England they want to take a house near Canterbury.
I am writing this at Birley’s hotel as you will see by the first sheet but I couldn’t go on using that paper, it would mean too much postage. It is Monday afternoon & we are going back to Queenstown by the boat which starts at 5 this afternoon. We have taken rooms at a hotel there for one night & tomorrow we start by the boat at 8.20 to Kingston & get right through to Dunedin in the day stopping two nights at the City Hotel where we stayed before. On Wednesday we hope to go up to Bishopsgrove to tea as the Bishop so kindly invited us & we shall see Maidie’s friend Linda Clinton there. Maidie is going to stay on there until Monday while Auntie & I go back to Christchurch on Thursday, stay there til Monday and then go to the Byrches for three days. Dolly will come up to Christchurch & join us on the Thursday to go on the Otira trip. We feel we should like to spend a proper Sunday, once more, the Sundays we have been spending lately have been disgraceful we were sorry to couldn’t fit one in at Queenstown, that is quite a nice sized little town. Glenorchy is not much more than a hotel & two & a post office. This part of our Southern trip is taking us a week longer than Auntie at first calculated, I am not at all sorry as I think if we don’t get back to Petone till the beginning of March Auntie may be induced to divide our Northern trip into two & do part a good deal later. That is only my own idea however, Auntie has at present no idea of any thing of this sort, but just seems inclined to rush everything – however perhaps when we get back to Petone they will join with me in persuading her.
Dunedin, Feb 6th - We have just arrived here & are at the City Hotel again, there is not much more to say I think but I must just look at your last letter & answer anything in it that may require answering. The last three lots of letters from home all reached me together at Queenstown, we were so long cut off from all communication, that it was delightful to be able to get letters of any sort again, more especially homes ones. I have seen very few newspapers lately I look at the election returns when I can get one but have missed seeing the South Wor’shire result so do not know if Col.Lang is in or not.
I think Auntie will write to Mr Ed Haynes & say we were sorry not to see him, but I think Auntie quite intends staying in Ceylon on our way back, so we shall be very glad of any assistance he can give us. Also I shouldn’t be surprised if we stayed in Sydney for a little while which would be very nice. I was sorry George did not manage to get a place in that exam, it was rather strange I got your letter telling me about his exam beginning on his birthday on Jan.30th so was able to imagine him hard at it. I was very glad to get better news of [Bral?]. I am afraid you will have been disappointed at not getting letters from me by Italy mails this time, but it is all I can do to get these written for the Frisco, we have been so much on the rush ever since we left Petone.
Very much love to you all, your loving daughter
May E Sladden