Posted by & filed under Travel Country: New Zealand.


I was doing research on Lake Tekapo, trying to decide whether to go there or not and while looking at the map, saw that there was a river there, called the Macaulay River. I thought that was very interesting, as my family name is Mc Auley, even though it’s spelled differently and I wanted to find out more about the river, who it was named after etc.

So, when I got to Lake Tekapo, I asked in the i-site office, to see if they could give me any information. They didn’t have any but advised me to call the Department of Conservation in Twizel. So I did that and the only information they could give me, was a number of a woman who had a sheep farming station, called Ferintosh sheep station, in that area. This woman’s name is Mrs. Marion Seymour. So, I called her and she said that she was actually trying to find out something about the river and the family, herself, but was coming up against blank walls. I said that I would keep looking and would let her know if I found out anything.

I checked with the Reception in the Godley Hotel in Tekapo and they couldn’t really help me either. They said to ask one of the hunters in the area. Actually, the owner of the Tailor Made Backpackers, where I stayed, was a hunter and did his best to help me find out some information. He brought out a book from the 1800’s, about the area but there was no mention of any Macaulays. In one of the pizzerias in Lake Tekapo, there was Macauley Chicken on the menu, so I thought, it’s got to be fairly prominent in the area. There must be somebody that knows something about the river and the valley.This was getting baffling, as to why there was no information available, in the area, about who the river was named after. One of the guides on my tours in Rotorua, told me then, to try the Alexander Turnbull Library, in Wellington. I was going to find out something, come hell or high water!

So, when I came back to Amsterdam, I sent the Alexander Turnbull Library an email. They came back to me pretty quickly with information. Yeah, finally!!! It turns out that the Macaulay river was named by Julius Von Haast, director of the Canterbury Museum and professor of geology in Canterbury College (New Zealand University).He did a report of the “Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland” – a report comprising the results of official explorations. So, Julius Von Haast, in 1862, ” coming down the Godley River, ascended and named its eastern branch, the Macaulay River, after Thomas Babington Macaulay (1780 – 1859), the great historian, poet, orator and politician whose “Essays”, “Lays of Ancient Rome” and “History” have thrilled all of us at one time or another. Perhaps it was those “furious rivers whirling down in fierce career” that recalled the “Lays of Ancient Rome”, for Haast says they had considerable trouble to pass the narrow gorges of the river.”

So, there was my information. I thought the Macaulay River might have been named after a Macaulay who had emigrated there but unfortunately not. Well, at least I got some information. I kept going till I found out something.

I must admit, I was very reluctant to leave New Zealand, as I had totally fallen in love with the place. The people were very friendly and welcoming. New Zealand is a beautiful country, with a wide variety of landscape, diverse activities from skiing, to whale watching, to winetasting, to bone carving workshops, to stargazing tours, never mind the huge range of cultural¬† attractions. I would give my right arm to go back and live there, especially in Wellington. But I came back with a motto – anything is possible! I truly believe that, so you never know. I’m delighted that I have the chance, at least to write about it and show people my pictures. I hope it inspires others to go there.