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Hiking in forbear’s footsteps

Media release from Ultimate Hikes

14 February 2011


Hiking in forbear’s footsteps

Walking in the footsteps of their ancestor who happens to be one of New Zealand’s former Prime Ministers, was a life long ambition for Bruce and Kiri Richards.

Sir Thomas Mackenzie’s (1854-1930) great grandson (Bruce) and great great granddaughter (Kiri) took a trip down memory lane last week on a stunning journey along the Routeburn Track with premier guided walking company Ultimate Hikes.

The pair came to Queenstown from Nashville, Tennessee, to set out on a discovery of Sir Thomas’s historical legacy and said they were both “breath-taken” by the beautiful scenery they encountered on one of New Zealand’s most famous walking tracks.

Mackenzie, one of New Zealand’s greatest politicians and a keen explorer, pushed for the construction of the Routeburn Track during his tenure as Minister of Tourism. Cutting of the famous route by Harry Birley of Glenorchy began in 1912, the year Mackenzie became Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Like a number of New Zealand's political dignitaries, especially during the early years of exploration, Sir Thomas’ name was used to commemorate Lake Mackenzie – a key landmark on the Routeburn Track.  Ultimate Hikes, which now counts the Routeburn among its guided walking portfolio, chose to continue this theme by honouring Sir Thomas for his exploration in the region by naming its Mackenzie Lodge after him, located adjacent to Lake Mackenzie.

Bruce, a first time hiker, learnt about Sir Thomas’ heritage at just nine years old and says it had been a life-long dream to walk in the footsteps of his great, great grandfather.

“For so long, I’ve known this story about an ancestor who had created an iconic walking trail on the other side of the world.  The fact that I’ve come here and done it and shared and enjoyed my experience with people from all over the world, in particular my daughter, has been just brilliant,” he said.

“I’m sure it is a great fulfillment of his legacy that so many people enjoy this amazing track. It’s such an asset to the region.”

Bruce and Kiri follow in a long line of family predecessors who have completed the Routeburn Track in honour of Sir Thomas. Bruces’ mother and grandmother have visited previously completing the walk.  Bruce and Kiri booked their Ultimate Hikes trip online prior to arriving in New Zealand and were delighted with their entire experience. 

“Ultimate Hikes staff were fantastically accommodating.  This was Kiri’s first backpacking trip so to have guides, gear and comfortable facilities all supplied made all the difference,” said Mr Richards.

Bruce and Kiri had advice for people walking the Routeburn Track:

“Take your time, take in the scenery. We were at the back of the walking group most of the time - not just because we’re beginners but to simply enjoy our surroundings.”

Ultimate Hikes has space available for the remainder of the 2010/11 season.  Weather from February through to May is known to be some of the most beautiful and stable in the guided walk regions, which makes it the perfect time to experience this activity.  The last walk on the Milford Track departs on 18th April and the Routeburn Track on 20th April.

Walkers wanting to book for the 2011-2012 guided walking season can take advantage of the opening of next years dates and early bird package for next summer which is available until May 31.


© Scoop Media

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