An historic 100-year-old photo and an unexpected letter has opened up a window to the past for a modern-day tourism operator.
Management at New Zealand’s premier guided walk company Ultimate Hikes were delighted late last year to receive a copy of a photo from the very early 1900’s of Glade House, the first lodge on the company’s guided walk at the head of Lake Te Anau.
Keen to know more, Ultimate Hikes’ General Manager Noel Saxon got in touch with the sender, Iris Garvey of Westport. She revealed herself to be the widow of James Garvey, grandson of John Francis Garvey and his wife Louisa, who built the original Glade House as a holiday house for tourists.
Mrs Garvey said the couple were originally from the UK but emigrated to New Zealand because John Francis felt there were greater opportunities than following his father into the Anglican Church ministry.
“On their first trip to the head of Lake Te Anau, when they saw this beautiful area, Louisa is reported to have said ‘We could build a little house in this glade and call it Glade House’”, she said.
“They engaged builders from Dunedin and Glade House was built. It was only used for five months of the year, as the area was closed during the winter months.
“Having come from England, a ‘glade’ was a very familiar term in common useage, not one you hear often today!”
Mrs Garvey said all the descendents of John Francis and Louisa had a keen interest in their family history and ancestry, and a family reunion was held in Te Anau in 2002 which included a trip up the lake and morning tea at the present ‘Glade House’.
Ultimate Hikes’ Noel Saxon said the photo, taken by renowned early Otago photographers Muir and Moodie around 1906, was a reminder of the vision of early settlers who recognised the beauty of the region they lived in and opportunities for early tourism.
“Even way back then, this young English couple knew this spot was something quite special that would attract visitors from all around the world.
“We like to think we’re carrying on their vision by continuing to host visitors in today’s warm and welcoming Glade House much as they did.”
Mr Saxon said they intended to frame the letter from Mrs Garvey to sit alongside the photo of the early Glade House in the Glade House Museum.
“Our visitors are always fascinated by the history of this area so this is a very special addition to the information we already have available.”
The Ultimate Hikes tramping season runs from November until late April. All walkers are accompanied by expert guides and the packages include all accommodation, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets.