Home' Central Canterbury News : August 14th 2013 Contents 22 CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, AUGUST 14, 2013
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Win a copy of book
of adventure series
Tough travels: Jamie Fitzgerald and Kevin Biggar retrace early adventurers' journeys.
The Central Canterbury News has a copy of the book First Crossings --
historical adventures brought to life to give away. To enter the draw, put your
name, address and phone number on the back of an envelope and post it to
Book Giveaway, Central Canterbury News, Private Bag 4722, Christchurch
8140. You can also email your name, address and phone number (with
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email@example.com. Entries must arrive no later than Monday,
THE STORY of an ill-fated 19th cen-
tury attempt to find a new pass from
the Rakaia Valley to the West Coast
is among the tales recreated in the
book of the television series First
Crossings by modern adventurers
Jamie Fitzgerald and Kevin Biggar.
Surveyor Henry Whitcombe enli-
sted Swiss bushman Jakob Lauper
for the journey in 1863.
Whitcombe could have gone up the
Rakaia or the Waimakariri, but chose
the southern route. A pass was
already known to Maori, though it
bears Whitcombe's name now.
They reached the Whitcombe Pass
and pushed on with limited food,
expecting a short trip and to meet
Europeans on the coast.
They lived off the land -- at least
initially -- on weka and other birds.
The trip became a battle for sur-
vival, however, as the terrain became
too difficult to be considered for a
They encountered icy rivers and
high cliffs, and food ran low as prog-
ress became slow.
They made it to the coast, but
Whitcombe drowned as the starving
pair attempted to cross the Tarama-
kau River mouth on lashed-together
discarded dugouts as they sought to
Fitzgerald and Biggar travelled the
same route, and became wet and cold
as they battled though freezing water
and difficult bush.
They came out with an appreci-
ation of the hardships their
Lauper published an account of the
journey in 1863, in German. Follow-
ing the discovery of gold in Hokitika,
Arthur's Pass became the preferred
route to the coast.
Fitzgerald and Biggar have com-
pleted several adventures, such as
rowing across the Atlantic and reach-
ing the South Pole on foot.
The television series recreated sev-
eral early adventures -- from
Whitcombe and Lauper's 19th cen-
tury expedition to Kelly Tarlton's
treasure hunting in the waters near
the Three Kings Islands.
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