Wellington, Jan 22 : Thousands of mourners gathered in Auckland today to bid farewell to New Zealand's national hero Edmund Hillary, the first man to stand atop Mount Everest.
Sir Ed who died at 88 of a heart attack on January 11, wanted his ashes to scattered by the ship 'the Spirit of New Zealand' in the Waitemata Harbour, "to be washed gently ashore, maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete."
Spirit of Adventure Trust chief executive John Lister said the ashes were to be scattered as desired by the adventurer on Jan 24.
But the plan was postponed because Lady Hillary wanted more time.
"Several days ago we were approached by Internal Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department to see if (the Spirit of New Zealand) would be available," Stuff.co.nz quoted Lister, as saying.
The ship was free on Jan 22 but the arrangement was later deferred.
Lister said that an alternative date had yet to be finalised.
"We would be honoured to play our part but we're waiting for the funeral to be finished and waiting for the family's wishes from there on," he said.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said Sir Edmund's family planned to scatter his ashes in a private ceremony.
Lister said the trust would do whatever it could to accommodate the family's wishes.
"Sir Ed did say that he wanted the Spirit of New Zealand to scatter his ashes and I can't think of a more fitting way of doing it," he said.
Unlike many climbers, Sir Edmund had said he did not want his remains left on a mountain after he died.