Rodolph Wigley

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Rodolph Lysaght Wigley
Born 21 October 1881
South Canterbury, New Zealand
Died 27 April 1946
Dunedin
Nationality New Zealander
Education Christ's College
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Jessie Christie Grant
Children Henry Wigley
Parent(s) Thomas Henry Wigley
Annie Caroline Lysaght

Rodolph Lysaght Wigley (21 October 1881 – 27 April 1946), known as "Wigs" to his friends, was a New Zealand businessman from Fairlie in South Canterbury, and pioneer of the New Zealand tourism industry. He founded the Mount Cook Group of tourism and transport companies, which were taken over by his son Henry Wigley. He was a son of Thomas Henry Wigley, MLC and sheep-farmer.[1]

His first business in 1904 was "Wigley and Thornton" which transported wool from South Canterbury sheep stations to Timaru using steam traction engines. In 1906 he purchased a 6 hp De Dion car and drove it to The Hermitage hotel near Mount Cook; and subsequently dissolved his first firm and formed the "Mount Cook Motor Co Ltd" with four Darraq cars to provide transport for tourists to The Hermitage and from 1912 Queenstown also. When the Lakes County Council tried to stop motor cars on the Queenstown route by banning any vehicle propelled by its own power from a critical two mile stretch, he hired men with horses to pull the cars with passengers over the section. After the Great War he purchased five war surplus British aircraft and formed "The New Zealand Aero Transport Co" in 1921, the precursor to Mount Cook Airline.

He was also a notable mountaineer, making the first ascent of Mount Cook in mid-winter with two guides, on 11–12 August 1923.

References[edit]

  • Mount Cook Co founded after pioneering trip by car 50 years ago in "Timaru Herald", 15 December 1956.
  • Memories by Les Watkins, p52-53 "New Zealand Memories" No 103, August–September 2013.