World War One through place names. Features named after Hubert Girdlestone.

A New Zealand Battalion passing through recaptured Bapaume, World War I.
A New Zealand Battalion passing through recaptured Bapaume, World War One.

Prior to the First World War Hubert Earle Girdlestone worked as a surveyor in the Wellington District Office for the Lands and Survey Department. He led topographic and survey expeditions through the Tararua Range in the early 1910's, producing invaluable maps, erecting trig stations, and cutting a track from Levin to Masterton.

Girdlestone also took a keen interest in exploration, organizing and guiding parties through the mountains of Tongoriro National Park and Tararua Range on numerous occasions. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1914.

In December 1917 Girdlestone left New Zealand with the 33rd Reinforcements. On account of his technical knowledge, Girdlestone was placed on special work with the Intelligence Department when he reached the Front. His personal qualities earned him a reputation as one of the most popular non-commissioned officers.

At the Battle of Bapaume in France, August 1918, he was killed by shell shrapnel in his sleep.

Girdlestone Peak, Tongariro National Park

In early 1921, Girdlestone’s friends from the Tararua Tramping Club met to discuss a suitable memorial. They decided on erecting a plaque on Little Matterhorn Peak on the south side of Mount Ruapehu: Girdlestone had previously named this peak himself. After unsuccessful efforts to reach the peak due to the weather conditions, his friends finally installed a plaque in March 1922. The blue granite plaque was inscribed: “Girdlestone Peak. To the memory of Hubert Earle Girdlestone; F.R.G.S., killed in France, 28th August, 1918. Erected 23rd March, 1921” – this was the date of the first attempt to reach the summit.


  • Girdlestone Peak, NZ Gazetteer
  • Cowan J, The Tongariro National Park, New Zealand, Wellington : Tongariro National Park Board, 1927
  • Free Lance, 26 September 1918, p.4
  • Dominion, 6 November 1918, p.4
  • Evening Post, 18 March 1922, p.6

Girdlestone, Tararua Range

After his death the Tararua Tramping Club resolved to commemorate Girdlestone, renaming several features in the Tararua Range after him unofficially. It is unclear exactly when the peak became known as 'Girdlestone', but in 1928 a trig was erected on the summit by H.M. Ross bearing the name Girdlestone.


    Girdlestone Saddle, Tararua Range

    Though the feature did not appear on maps until the 1960’s, Girdlestone Saddle was part of the original Levin to Masterton track. The saddle crosses from the source of South Ohau River through to Mangahao River.


    Last Updated: 10 May 2019