Snows of Aorangi
National Film Unit, 1955
Slow are the waves of time, upon our Island beaches.
Where ships and migratory birds touch, rest and are gone.
Here the Dutch captain came in search of a southern continent and named these Isles New Zealand.
Gales from the stormy Tasman, bring rain.
The lush green bush receives their tribute in a net of leaves. Beyond, above, the mountains stand.
Immense, unchanging. and in the mountain cradle, our lives seem trivial, as dust upon the glacier floor, swept by the winds rule.
Winter too has its fire. From spur to ragged spur, the feathered snow plumes rise, where nothing burns but ice and air, rock, ice and air.
The present pinnacle, carved by the night and day, upheaved from earth and ocean, endure the storms breath, or avalanche, thunderous, falling, with the weight of death.
With storm and avalanche, the glacier moves, the river fills. The land renews its strength, while the cloud piercer, timeless, turning its shoulder to the Antarctic South, sustains the sky.
From that massive, falls the Franz Josef, the great river of ice.
Under moss bearded branches, in a dark bush, Bell bird, Fantail calling and voice of waterfalls.
Here in the West, the wild lakes lie. Matheson, Ianthe, Mapourika. Fern bailed, cloud reflecting.
Here Golden Willow, grows on the lakeshore. The silver bellied eel and rainbow trout rise after rain, a country made for holidays.
Between the long lake in the hills, Queenstown.
Doctor, accountant, school teacher the stranger from overseas, come here to camp and tramp, or take the road to Coronet Peak, for winter skiing. Some fly from Australia, over the Tasman, a thousand-mile hop in a day.
They come to the dry snow slopes, their skis waxed, ready, gliding like birds, under the winter sun.
The South Island has its winter playground, and the North too.
Tongariro National Park. Here is the Chateau, and shining above it, the white volcano, Ruapehu. Under its crater lake and coverlet of snow, there's a world of fire, asleep.
The Māoris thought these mountains were God's. Yet skiers come into the once forbidden land, tiny under the leaning pinnacles of volcanic rock, that are as cold now, as the ice that covers them.
and Ruapehu Lodge, one of the many huts built by skiers and climbers.
Every weekend the huts are full, as the city dweller comes to a sharper air and the pleasure of new company.
In the South, Cheeseman Hut, close to the Canterbury farmlands
And Arthur's Pass, high above the snow line, on the way to the west coast.
Or the hermitage at the center of the mountain chain under Sefton and the snows of Aorangi.
From the Hermitage, many paths lead out.
One to the ball glacier, a good ground for learners.
Even schoolchildren come here, for the first joy of their native snows.
The 18-mile curve of the Tasman glacier falls gently eastward from the mountain chain but the experienced skiers, climb higher, to snow fields above.
This is the Ice-fall of the Franz Joseph, In a steep west, and at 6,000 the place they are bound for, Alma Hut, in the shadow of a great rock.
Round it, the snow fields lie.
The snows of Aorangi. above them, Cook -the cloud piercer.
The air is never still. Soon the deceiving calm breaks. The mountain wakes.
Hearing far off the turbulent motion of storm, from the Seas bright ballroom floor.
The peaks grow darker as the clouds gather.
Behind the climbing men, the steep ice fall mutters, as the glacier moves.
The wind rises blowing colder. Legs ache and packs weigh heavy.
Alma Hut. They'll be warmth inside.
Yarns and good company. Tea boiled on the Primus.
This is the time that every climber remembers, when the wind roars beyond the wall but cannot enter.
Harvey -a Canadian,
Peter -a New Zealander,
and Hans -the swiss alpine guide. He's come a long way for this.
This is good to be here isn't it.
We had a bit of trouble in the big place
ZLVA 5 calling ZLVA.
ZLVA 5 calling ZLVA
reception poor, blizzard conditions up here repeat forecast weather forecast over.
ZLVA calling ZLVA 5
The weather's improving, it should clear by morning.
Suggest Hans's party attempt the Saddle Crossing, tomorrow.
Hans comes from under the Jungfrau.
There, they play the accordion, at nightfall in the mountain huts, and when they've climbed a peak, they don't just sit and rest. They yodel.
Harvey's itching to be up and gone.
He has a date at the Hermitage and he hopes to keep it tonight.
He too loves the Alps.
Though he couldn't tell you why.
Peter is the quiet one of the party.
He was born within sight of these mountains, and he's never so happy as when he's high among them.
For a little while, they'd given themselves to the rhythm of the sky and air. Soon the mountain doors will close behind them and they'll walk the city pavements.
Here they've lived simply, made good friends and adventured well.
In this cold threshold land, between two seas, the mountain causeway runs.
Gorge, saddle and crest, to east and west. Our harbour gates stand open but in the wilderness of snow, men as intruders, enter a silence, ignorant of past or future.
Timeless, the crowding peaks remain.
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