CHAPTER I. DESCRIPTIVE NARRATIVE OF JOURNEY.
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EXPLORATION OF THE WESTERN DISTRICTS OF THE PROVINCE OF NELSON.
DESCRIPTIVE NARRATIVE OF JOURNEY.
ON Monday, the 8th of January last, I started from Nelson, accompanied by Mr. James Burnett, a surveyor, who, at my request, had been engaged by the Provincial Government as my topographical assistant.
It was one of those bright sunny days which give so much charm to the climate of Nelson. As we passed through the Waimea plain, we observed with pleasure the numerous farms and homesteads with which it is dotted; their green fields and enclosed meadows enlivened by the presence of stately cattle. Cultivations became more sparse as we proceeded, the original waste having here and there only as yet given way before the industry of the hard-working settler, whose humble abode, in many instances, appeared to have risen from a forest of charred stumps.
From Fox-hill (where we passed our first night) we followed, for some distance, the course of the River Wai-iti, having on our left the rocky walls of Ben Nevis. At the end of a valley branching off to the right of the river, we ascended a saddle about 400 feet high, which forms the watershed between the Waimea districts and the Motueka valley. It was here that I established my first station, from which our view penetrated deep into the recesses of the high and rugged mountain-chain south of the Wangapeka, whose snowy summits were then glittering in the beams of the setting sun. It was dark when we arrived in the Motueka valley, where we received (at the house of Mr. Hooker) a hearty welcome.
Here we bade adieu for some time to come to the comforts of a civilized life, and prepared ourselves for our sojourn in the wilderness. Although it rained heavily the next morning we nevertheless started for the Lake-house, an abandoned shepherd's station. We crossed the Motueka river, and followed the old
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Wairau road, which leads towards the south-west, up one of the numerous little valleys here branching off from the main valley. The road then passes over a ridge, from 500 to 000 feet high, into the valley of the Motupiko.
Crossing this river also, we ascended a spur on its opposite side. Here our road diverged from that leading through the Big Bush into the Wairau, ours trending more to the westward. After having passed over several hills densely covered with fern, we arrived at the Rainy river, a tributary of the Motueka. As if to justify its name, the rain began to fall more heavily than in the morning, whilst we proceeded to ascend the wooded range on its western side (rising to the height of 2,350 feet), which forms the watershed between Blind Bay and the West Coast. We therefore pushed across this range as fast as we could, for the purpose of obtaining shelter. We found it very steep; and it was not until late in the evening that we reached the old station-house, which is situated in a small grassy valley, the water flowing through which falls into the Roto-iti river, above the Devil's Grip. We rested for the night in the old house, which we found going rapidly to decay, and started the next morning towards Lake Roto-iti.
Ascending a low saddle which separates the Lake-house station from the Roto-iti valley, I obtained an extensive view of the country. In the foreground, close below us, lay the large valley of the Roto-iti, which we could see up to the point at which the river flows out of the lake, and which contains several regular terraces covered with grass. To the east and south-east rose high rocky mountains, bounding the Wairau valley, and running to a common centre in Mount Franklin, which towered above them all, its huge sides clad with eternal snow. On the west lay the rugged chains between the Wangapeka and the Buller, sloping down to the Devil's Grip. On the southern side of the Devil's Grip appeared rounded summits, clothed with wood, over which again rose high sharp peaks, giving to the whole landscape a variety to which the pencil of the artist alone can do justice.
Our road led us along the banks of the meandering Roto-iti to the lake, where, after a walk of twelve miles, we pitched our tents on its north-western bank, at the foot of a low wooded hill. It was with the greatest delight that I looked over this beautiful lake; its deep blue waters reflected the high rocky mountain chains on its eastern and southern shores, which, for a considerable height from the water's edge (from which they rise abruptly), are clad with luxuriant primeval forest. The surface of the lake swarmed with birds, giving life to this magnificent scene. Its peaceful aspect was, however, soon changed, for a heavy storm came up from the westward; and the thunder, re-echoing a hundred times from the mountain ravines, filled us with admiring awe. Towards evening the weather cleared, a magnificent rain-
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bow threw its arch across the lake, and the setting sun gilded with deep hues the snow which streaked the serrated peaks of the surrounding mountain chains.
Next morning we began our work by measuring a base line on the shores of the lake, following all its curves. On the western side this was easy, because the country was open and nearly level, but on the northern side we experienced considerable difficulty, for here the country consists of small hills, clothed with luxuriant vegetation, which completely overhangs the banks of the lake, compelling us to wade through the water, and to climb over the rocks which lie everywhere on its margin. The lake is almost divided into two large basins by a low promontory on its northern side. Beyond this promontory the inner lake stretches far to the south, between two mountain chains, which contain the sources of its principal feeders, whilst its more northerly portion is surrounded by low land, presenting a totally different appearance. It is at this latter point that a pass into the Wairau commences; and I then formed an opinion, verified by subsequent investigation (as I show in the geological part of this report), that the former outlet for the waters of this lake was the valley of the Wairau.
Continuing our route, I had an opportunity of admiring, at the southern extremity of the inner lake, one of the most magnificent views which Alpine nature could present. The long chain trending towards the south which separates the inner lake from the Wairau valley, and whose innumerable wooded spurs slope down to the water's edge, here appears to terminate quite abruptly. The lake itself winds between the mountains, becoming gradually narrower, until it is lost in a deep gorge; whilst at the extreme end of this gorge rises a rugged snow-clad mountain, towering above all the surrounding ones, and if possible exceeding them in majesty and wild beauty. On the south-western side of the lake lies a flat-topped mountain, about 4,700 feet high, the unbroken and softer outline of which contrasts agreeably with the rugged peaks and serrated summits of the other parts of the chain. I had no idea that such a jewel in point of landscape existed so near Nelson, and I am sure that the time is not far distant when this spot will become the favourite abode and resort of those whose means and leisure will permit them to admire picturesque and magnificent scenery.
As the evening was close at hand, we were compelled to return, and accordingly we crossed the low hills forming the promontory between the two basins of the lake.
One of the next days was devoted to the survey of the eastern end of the lake, and although on its north-eastern side we found a considerable quantity of level land stretching towards the mountain chain, we had, after passing over a few miles to scramble through the forest, and along steep spurs jutting into the lake, the water here being too deep for us to follow the line
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of the shore. Here I found on the pebbly shore, under some small scrub, and surrounded by tufts of grass, a deliciously cold mineral spring, of an agreeable alkaline, ferruginous taste, the position of which I have marked on the map. Unfortunately, rain set in again, so that it was not without great inconvenience that we could finish the task of this day.
Next day we were detained in our tent by heavy rain, which gave us our first opportunity of learning that patience which we were afterwards compelled to exercise to such a trying extent during continued rainy winter weather.
Notwithstanding we had plenty of provisions, having two pack-horses with us, the Maories of my party (which I may here mention consisted, besides myself and Mr. Burnett, of three Europeans and two Maories) were busy catching woodhens and eels, which last abound in the Roto-iti, and we all began to prepare for our anticipated future mode of subsistence by eating heartily of them. During our delay in the tent we arranged everything for our ascent, on the next day, of the great mountain to the south of the lake. I selected this mountain (which I have named Mount Robert), because, not only did it seem to present fewer difficulties, but also because I felt satisfied that I should obtain from its summit extensive views towards the north and west, as well as over the southern portion of the inner lake.
We started on the 17th of January at daylight, crossed the Roto-iti river, and after scrambling for nearly a mile through a dense scrub of manuka and wild irishman, reached a spur running from the mountain in a westerly direction. This spur was covered with black birch forest, and although very steep, and in some places mossy, we reached a platform, somewhat below the summit, at eleven o'clock. Here we found snow-grass, and other Alpine plants, covering the surface of the ground. From this height, about 4,600 feet, I obtained a magnificent view over the whole country, between Separation Point and the mouth of the Wairau river, which lay spread like a map before us. The Wairau valley particularly attracted my attention, and appeared to lie in a direct line with what I am now satisfied was the former outlet of the lake. At this spot I first noticed an Alpine flora, and that the trees for several hundred feet below the plateau had become dwarfish. Towards the east rose chain above chain of wild and rugged mountain peaks, whilst deep below lay the blue waters of the lake, on the shores of which glittered our white tents, the only visible sign of human existence in the vast wilderness around us. Towards the west rose high rocky mountain chains, only broken through where the Buller pierces them on its course towards the sea; on the south our view was shut in by the rocky spurs of a huge mountain. As I was very anxious to have a more extended view in that direction, I hoped to obtain it by following the mountain ridge.
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Mount Robert falls abruptly off towards the west; towards the east it has three spurs falling towards the southern part of the inner lake, and between these spurs lie large valleys, hollowed to a depth of 1,200 or 1,500 feet by the action of the mountain streams, and containing basins filled with deep green water. In about two miles-and-a-half we had to rise 1,500 feet, in order to reach the summit of the mountain. The ridge was in many places so narrow that there was hardly space sufficient for our footing. The surface of the ground was covered with a most interesting vegetation, a perfect carpet of Alpine flowers, among which the spear-grass raised its rich yellow stalk, the whole here and there surrounded with snow. From its highest point, Mount Robert falls abruptly to the south.
A deep valley here intersects the chain, through which a small stream runs towards the Roto-iti valley. At this point I commenced my topographical and other observations, the results of which, as well as the altitudes of the mountains which I ascended, will be found in other parts of my report.
I must confess that the view over the sea of mountains by which I was surrounded quite bewildered me, and it was only after some time that I succeeded in reducing into order their various systems, from this point we expected to have seen Lake Rotoroa, which, however, we looked for in vain, although a very broad and long valley indicated the direction in which it was to be found. Contrary, however, to our expectation of getting a more extended view to the southward, we found it still shut in in that direction; but between the high chain south of the Wangapeka and its continuation towards the south, a large opening was visible, through which we saw a number of round-topped hills of every degree of elevation. Some of these were perfect cones, the regularity of which was surprising. They were all clothed with wood to their very summits, giving a pleasing variety to the landscape around us. Notwithstanding the sun was shining brightly, the atmosphere was sensibly cold. The Maori who accompanied us made a fire of grass, which we felt extremely comfortable. It was past four o'clock before I had finished my observations, and we started with all possible speed on our return to the tents, leaving, with regret, the grand mountain scenery around us. It became dark as we descended the mountain, and fearing to be benighted, I decided on making a straight line to the lake, by a nearer and more northerly spur, instead of following that by which we had ascended, which was longer, and densely wooded. After a long and fatiguing descent, we reached the banks of the lake, round which we were compelled to follow our way by starlight. Unfortunately, however, the banks were steep, and covered with dense overhanging vegetation, so that we had at times to wade breast deep through the water, or to climb over huge masses of rock. Some of my party whom
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I had left at the camp, had lighted an enormous fire to guide us, and it was not without many tumblings, and other adventures, that we arrived at the Roto-iti river at nine o'clock, and at our camp at ten, to reach which we had, as a sort of bonne louche, ultimately to scramble through a dense growth of wild irishmen, lawyers, and other prickly plants, which horribly retarded our progress.
There is no need to say that we slept well after this day's work. I spent part of the next day in making notes, sketches, &c., and in the afternoon ascended a beautiful pyramidal hill, about two miles from our camp, and rising some 500 feet above the level of the plain.
On the 18th of January we struck our tents, and started for the Howard, from whence, according to Mr. Brunner's information, we had to make our way to Lake Rotoroa, the Lake Howick of the maps. We were directed to follow the River Roto-iti for fourteen miles; and it was with great pleasure that, after travelling about five miles from the lake, we met Mr. Mackay and his nephew Alexander, who had come from the Howard to meet us. They had camped on the Howard, which they had reached from Nelson, on the previous day. Mr. Mackay conducted me to the end of the high terrace between the Roto-iti and the Lake-house valley, where he pointed out to me a granite hill rising through the old alluvium. It was from this point that I first obtained a complete view of the high mountain chain, called by my friend Mr. Travers the Spencer mountains, whose highest peak, clad with eternal snow, rose grandly above the low hills in front of it. I named this mountain Mount Franklin, in honour of the late Sir John Franklin.
The name given to the gorge through which the Roto-iti flows (the Devil's Grip), led me to believe that it would be impossible to construct a road through it; and I was therefore much surprised at finding, instead of rocky precipices, only numerous wooded spurs, sloping to the river at easy angles, presenting no serious difficulty to the construction of a bridle track. The name had been given to it by its first explorers, whose garments had been destroyed in their attempts to get through the dense growth of wild irishmen and lawyers, with which the lower ground is covered.
On reaching the Howard, we expected to see Mr. James Mackay, junior, Assistant Native Secretary for this district, who had contracted with the Provincial Government of Nelson to explore for an available road to the Grey district, and who was now on his way to that country for the additional purpose of buying land from the Natives on the West Coast, he had, however, gone through the Devil's Grip on the previous day, intending to reach the river flowing from the Rotoroa lake at its junction with the Roto-iti. On the following morning I started,
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in company with his father, to explore the valley of the Howard which we ascended for six miles, and having reached a point at which it runs towards the mountains in an easterly direction we returned, and ascended several spurs on its western bank, hoping to find an easy track to Lake Rotoroa. It was not without much scrambling that we at last succeeded; and, after having blazed the line for two miles through the bush, we returned to our camp, where I found Mr. J. Mackay, who had just got back from his exploration of the Devil's Grip.
Nothwithstanding it rained heavily, I started next morning with the Messrs. Mackay up the valley of the Howard, following the track cut the day before. After walking for some miles on the ridge, we found that it sloped down, which induced us to take a more westerly course. Following our new line, we reached a small valley, partly covered with grass, and partly with deep moss and rushes. Here we camped, naming it Camp valley.
The following day I was occupied in examining the country in a geological point of view, Messrs. Mackay and Burnett ascending the mountain in the direction of the Rotoroa lake, for the purpose of selecting a good spur and blazing a line. They returned in the evening wet to the skin, and reported that they had seen the outlet of the Rotoroa through the clouds and mists at their feet, and that according to their belief there would be no difficulty in reaching the lake.
We held a council of war, after which I determined to continue towards Lake Rotoroa, by the way which they had explored, from thence to follow along the course of the Mangles into the Tiraumea plains, and then down the Tutaki river to the Buller.
Mr. Alexander Mackay was in the meantime to return to our camp at the Howard, follow the Devil's Grip down, cross the outlet of the Rotoroa, blaze a line to the Tutaki, and there meet us with the rest of our men and the provisions.
As from the Howard we had sent back the horses, and from thence were compelled to carry everything on our backs, I made a fresh selection of the articles taken with us, and kept only what was strictly necessary in the shape of clothing to last us until we reached the Grey. I also sent back the botanical, geological, and other specimens which I had collected, and some of my instruments, keeping only such as were absolutely necessary for the purposes of my exploration. After this selection, I had still left a prismatic compass, a pocket sextant, two aneroids, four thermometers, and an apparatus for ascertaining altitudes by boiling water. Mr. Mackay, senior, who, to his great regret, was compelled to return to Nelson, was kind enough to take charge of the articles sent back.
As I expected two of my party, who had to come up from the Howard with provisions, I remained here, while Messrs. Mackay and Burnett started forward (so as not to lose any time) to blaze
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the track over the mountain. During this stay I occupied myself in exploring the country in every direction around. In the evening my men came up with the provisions, and Messrs. Mackay and Burnett also returned, and reported that they had blazed over the mountain ridge, until they had seen below them the blue waters of the lake.
It was very rainy the next day, but having already lost several days in looking after a good track over the ridges, we determined to start. The higher we ascended the mountain the worse the weather became, changing from incessant rain in the lower grounds to snow as we neared the top; the cold chilling us severely, as at this season of the year we were not prepared for it in the way of clothing. Here also we met with an additional difficulty, as we were for a long time unable to find a good spur by which to descend to the lake. As night was close upon us, we descended as fast as we could, but soon discovered that we had selected a so-called blind spur, which fell abruptly into a deep gully, through which we tried to reach the lake. Owing, however, to the density of the vegetation, interwoven as it was with numerous creeping plants, and encumbered with fallen and decayed trees, we were compelled to re-ascend the side of the spur at an angle of at least 60 degrees. It was quite dark when we reached the top of the spur, which sloped rapidly towards the lake.
As it was impossible to continue our journey in the darkness, we found (after some searching) in the steep side of this spur a little hole which had formerly held the roots of a large tree, and here we camped, lying huddled very close together. We had great difficulty in obtaining water, as the Maori, Dick, who had gone down the hill in search of some, could only maintain the direction in which he proceeded by our continually cooie-ing to him. He returned in about half-an-hour, climbing up the almost perpendicular side of the spur, and told us that he had had to go down at least 400 feet before he could find any. During the night we heard, for the first time, the call of the kiwi, which, notwithstanding our discomfort, gave some degree of interest to the strange scene around us.
Starting the next morning with a bright sunshine, we were not a little delighted to see, at a short distance before us, a most magnificent lake, stretching far away towards the south-east, and which we soon reached, after crossing a large flat at the eastern side of its outlet. I had been told that it was impossible to cross this outlet, on account of its depth and the rapid flow of the water, and I therefore thought of constructing a raft; but, on examining the river near the side on which we stood, it appeared to be fordable. Mr. Mackay, therefore, began to cross, leaving his load behind him, and he found that the river, which was here at least 100 yards wide, was perfectly fordable; so he came back, and we all crossed, the water not wetting us above our hips.
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Camping on the western side of this outlet, I devoted one day in examining the neighbourhood of our camp. On walking about a mile down its eastern side, I found, close to a little ferny hill, one of Mr. Brunner's old camps, near which were plenty of fresh water mussel-shells (unio), and some felled trees. My men had gone eel catching, having crossed a little rivulet on the western side of the outlet of the lake, and in doing so came to another camp, and found the letters B, H, and F cut on a tree, which satisfied us that this also had been one of the camping places of Messrs. Brunner, Heaphy, and Fox, on their visit to the lake many years ago.
The view from the outlet towards the end of the lake is magnificent. High rocky mountains form the back ground, whose bold outlines and patches of snow add very much to the beauty of the scene. A large valley runs from the upper end of the lake towards the mountains, and at a distance of about three or four miles up, the river flowing through this valley forks, its branches running parallel to the mountain chain. On the southern side the chain terminates in a mountain rising into the form of a cupola, after which it falls abruptly. Further to the south lie the Spencer mountains, whose peaks rise high above the numerous wooded spurs at the south-western end of the lake.
These wooded spurs descend on both sides to the water's edge, and the colour of the water changing there from a clear green to a dark intense blue, reminded me in this respect of the appearance of some of the most celebrated lakes of Switzerland, which it fairly rivals in beauty and grandeur. How much I should have liked to have built a canoe, and sailed over this beautiful expanse of water, may be easily understood.
The next day we employed in measuring a base line, but owing to the overhanging vegetation on the margin of the lake, we were obliged to do so in the waters of the lake itself, wading as far round as was possible. From the north-western side of the lake a mountain rose, which I called Mount M'Lean, and although it appeared to be covered to its summit with dense vegetation, I determined to ascend it, in order to obtain a better topographical view over the country, and to make some geological observations.
Mr. Mackay joining us, we started on the following morning, and arrived at the summit about noon; but we found it impossible, notwithstanding we had attained an altitude of almost 3,700 feet, to obtain a complete view, owing to the dense vegetation, although here and there we had fine partial views in various directions. This would offer a great obstacle to a survey of the country, where no higher mountains existed, and I therefore in future always selected those whose apparent altitude and bare summits satisfied me that I should not be disappointed. It is not necessary to state that the ascent of high mountains, and travel-
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ling through wild wooded country, whilst carrying a heavy load, is full of difficulties. In the one case we have deep ravines, precipices, and rugged ground to go over; in the other, owing to the impervious character of the vegetation, and the deep mosses with which the ground is sometimes covered, and in which one sinks to the knees between the roots of living, or the decaying remnants of dead trees, progress is laborious and slow. Notwithstanding, however, the hardships we endured from these, amongst other causes, we at least had one comfort attached to this mountain travelling, for in the higher regions we were left unmolested by those very trying plagues, the sand-flies, which, at all times sufficiently troublesome, became almost intolerable if one happened to be occupied in writing, mapping, or sketching. In my subsequent observations upon natural history, I will speak more fully upon this explorer's scourge.
It was evening ere we again reached our camp, and we saluted with joy the last beams of the sun, only visible to us through the clearing we had made at the outlet of the lake. I had not then been accustomed to pass weeks in the dark tawai forest. A night's hearty supper from an eel, weighing at least ten pounds, which had been caught during our absence, refreshed us after our mountain trip, and I was very soon engaged in my usual evening occupation of noting down the more prominent features of the day's work.
The next day it rained very hard, so that we could not fulfil our intention of starting for the Tiraumea plains. Those who have not passed some time in the bush can never know what it is to be compelled to wait for fine weather in a moist tent.
Saturday, the 28th of January, being a fine day, we rose at daylight to start. We had always a very good alarum in the form of the thousands of sand-flies, which commenced their vigorous attacks at daylight, and invariably succeeded in drawing us from beneath our blankets. We followed a small rivulet which flows from Mount Baring, for three miles, crossed a low saddle, and struck the Mangles, the valley of which is in many places narrow and confined, and it was not without some difficulty that we climbed over the dead and rotting trees which encumbered the ground. In the afternoon it rained again, and the forest being still wet from the previous day's shower, we went down to the bed of the stream, and thus proceeded, which gave me an opportunity of examining more closely the interesting formation of the country. Seeing that we could not this day reach the plains, we camped, and the next day continued our march by the side of the stream, which soon became broader from the many tributaries descending the mountain sides. The hills became less high and steep, and after about a mile and a-half's walk, we reached more open ground, covered with fern and grass. On the eastern side of the valley was a hill about 500 feet high, covered with fern,
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which I ascended as a topographical station, and from which I had an excellent view of the valley, towards the north. Here a splendid mountain rose about 5,000 feet high, with three distinct peaks, surrounded wholly by lower hills; and it appeared clear to me that I could not make a better selection than this mountain presented, for the purpose of a topographical station. From the bearings taken here, it was evident that it lay at the southwestern side, near the junction of the Roto-iti and Rotoroa, which together form the Kaiwatiri, or Buller river. I determined to return up from the Tutaki to this spot, in order to ascend it, naming it after the great English geologist, Sir Roderick Murchison. We followed the river down, passing over some very scrubby and swampy ground; after which we reached a large grassy plain, in which three rivers united. Here we camped, in order to give me time for my observations. The weather was very fine, and we doubly enjoyed the warm sunbeams, after having for some days travelled in dense forest.
The next morning we started down the Tutaki, which now appeared a very pretty river, and after a walk of two miles across grassy terraces, we again entered the forest, but finding that walking was easier and far better in the river-bed, we again took to the water, and only at those places where the river entered a rocky gorge, or formed falls (some of which were of the most romantic character), did we again use the banks. The terraces continue here also, and contain much level and good land, in some places from half-a-mile to a mile broad, and which, when a road is formed through the district, will be valuable for settlement. Our provisions here began to fail, but catching some eels and whios (blue ducks), they made a good addition to our scanty commissariat. At noon we arrived at a very beautiful waterfall, shaped like a horse-shoe, ten or twelve feet high, and called by the natives Temai, falling over tertiary rocks.
Since we had entered the Tiraumea plains, the formation of the country had entirely changed, and instead of granitic, hornblendic, and eruptive rocks, with metamorphic schists, it was composed of tertiary fossiliferous sandstones, clay marls, and conglomerates.
The country, which had been rather hilly for the last mile, opened again, and flat land on both sides of the river appeared, covered of course with dense vegetation. The river, too, deepened a good deal, and we had again to take to the bush, and camped, after a walk of another mile, on its banks. I had noticed during the preceding day that the vegetation began to change; totara, kahi-katea, and other trees were intermixed with the tawai (black birch), which had till then been the reigning forest tree.
Tuesday, January 31st, brought us, at noon, to the junction of the Tutaki with the Buller. After having walked several miles through the bush, we could not but admire the superb scenery here presented to us; the river breaking through and falling over
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high perpendicular cliffs of conglomerate, and forming a succession of beautiful falls. On examining these cliffs, which consisted partly of conglomerate and partly of sandstone, I found some trees changed into brown coal; at another place a seam of coal, about four inches thick, from which I obtained several specimens of the tertiary fossiliferous flora and fauna. The junction of the Tutaki with the Buller is most picturesque. The former is a very rapid stream, winding over and between rocks, into the deeper flowing Buller, which here also forms rapids. After uniting their waters, the Buller disappears, making a sudden turn to the south.
It was in vain that we looked for our men, whom we had ordered to join us at the Tutaki; so, presuming that they might have experienced some difficulty in coming down the river, we started to meet them. Ascending the Buller for about a mile, we heard a voice from the opposite side of the river. It was Puaha, Mr. Mackay's native, who by himself had come down to meet us, and from whom we heard that Mr. A. Mackay had found some difficulty in carrying the track along the rugged banks of the Buller, for which reason he had struck a course overland, passing through a valley in order to reach the open country, the Buller having here terraces from eighty to one hundred feet high, with a deal of level land upon its banks. At every turn the river took we could look down upon its swift, unceasing, and, at times, most turbulent course, which lay as it were at our feet; whilst three rugged, serrated peaks of an isolated range, still in parts covered with snow, formed the background, rising to a height of 7,000 feet, which I named Mount Owen, in honour of the great English paleontologist, Professor Richard Owen. We camped on the sandy beach of the river, and awaited, with much impatience, the result of a fishing party, for we had had nothing to eat, save one small piece of damper, during the whole day. We heard with pleasure the death blows on the heads of the eels, of which several were caught, and which disappeared very soon after they had been roasted.
After old Puaha's communication, we knew that the following day held in store for us a long walk, and we half fancied that it was impossible to reach the encampment at the junction of the Rotoroa and Roto-iti before night. We started in the morning with daylight, for our breakfast, which consisted only of biscuit, had been speedily despatched. After a walk of two miles, we crossed a good sized stream, flowing from Mount Murchison, to which, therefore, I gave the same name. On both sides of this stream we found some nice level land, but after crossing it, our difficulties commenced, as we had to climb and descend alternately cliffs almost perpendicular, and standing at a height of from 150 to 200 feet above the river. The vegetation fortunately afforded us assistance in our climbing exploits, and by holding on to it we
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were enabled to secure our foothold, otherwise we could not possibly have passed the rocky cliffs which bordered the river and around which it broke foaming and roaring.
After ten miles hard walking (a truly Herculean task), we reached a turn of the river, and came upon an open basin, covered with manuka and koromiko, through which the river ran in several channels. As evening was fast approaching, and the native informed us that we had still far to go, we determined to camp. Mr. Mackay, and the Maori with him, having nothing to carry but their blankets, proceeded to the junction, which he reached late at night, after a hard scramble through the forest, and occasionally wading in the river. We had now no provisions left, so there was not much trouble in getting supper. Hearing, shortly after camping, one of my men shouting with joy, I almost thought that he had discovered a golden nugget upon the river's bank; I soon learned, however, that it was a weka (woodhen) which he had caught; a second soon followed it, and it was not long before our meal was prepared and vanished.
The next morning, February 2, at eight o'clock, Mr. Alexander Mackay arrived, having made seven miles through the bush to bring us some provisions, for which kindness I shall always remain indebted to him. He conducted us back, for the first two miles, over the open tract of land on the river's bank, and then through the bush, where we found a good blazed line, which brought us, after a walk of some hours, to the open terraced fern flat at the junction of the Rivers Rotoroa and Roto-iti. The weather, for the last five days, had been very fine, and for some days more continued so. My first object was now to look over the stores, and I found that, having spent so much time at the lakes, and having had to go twice over the same ground, the provisions left would not last us until our arrival at the Grey. As I intended ascending Mount Murchison for observations, and as this would occupy me a few days, I sent four of my men to Mr. Hooker's, at Motueka valley, for flour.
The next morning Mr. Mackay started for the Grey; and it was not without regret that I saw him leave, as, besides being an excellent bushman, he had been an agreeable companion for the last fortnight. I, however, arranged that I should follow in his track, and give a fair account of the road he should select for the purpose of uniting Nelson with its so long neglected West Coast.
I may here add, that having, besides my geological researches, a topographical map to construct, I could not travel so fast as I would have wished. This will always be a great drawback to the scientific exploration of a densely wooded country, where nothing worthy of notice in the shape of provisions can be obtained and where you have to depend entirely on what you carry for supplies.
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On the 4th of February, accompanied by Mr. Burnett, I started to ascend Mount Murchison, which rose boldly above the valley. I selected a spur at about three miles distance from our camping ground, as apparently offering the easiest gradient.
We had to follow the Buller down for some three or four miles, through dense bush, having to cross several streamlets which flow from this isolated granitic mountain. About four o'clock in the evening we reached an elevation of some 2,500 feet, and finding no water, we determined to camp, as we should have to descend for it nearly 6OO feet, into one of the valleys below.
Next morning, at daybreak, we started, leaving behind us our blankets, as we intended returning by the same road. We hoped to find water higher up, but having reached an altitude of 4,000 feet, we were not a little disappointed at seeing all the gullies dry, for we had had for breakfast only a few drops of tea reserved from the meal of the previous evening, and the sun, which was rising, was becoming very warm. We determined, therefore, not to proceed higher without water; and, whilst I examined the outcropping rocks which were here visible, Mr. Burnett went down for a billy-full of water, for which he had to descend some 1,200 to 1,500 feet through dense bush, and at a very steep angle. This delayed us for several hours. We therefore made the greatest haste to reach the summit, having to make our way through a thick growth of sub-Alpine vegetation for 200 feet, which had taken the place of the black birch forest.
I had in my load a tin case containing instruments, and to this our damper had been tied; but in scrambling through brush, which at each movement caught my load and frequently retarded me, the flax broke, and our intended dinner and supper were lost, but hoping to reach camp before night, we treated our loss lightly, and proceeded on our ascent as quickly as we could. It was two o'clock, p.m., when we arrived at the north-western summit of the mountain, which was dome shaped, and covered with snow-grass intermixed with beautiful Alpine flowers. From this point we obtained, principally towards the north, a magnificent view of the wild mountain chains, whose rugged peaks had assumed shapes that it would defy the wildest imagination to conceive. It was here that I first obtained a complete view of the river which I have named the Owen, and of the low saddle between it and the Wangapeka, over which appeared the Mount Arthur range.
Towards the west the same scenery was visible, but more towards the south I saw the large valley of the Buller, and obtained some idea of the extensive plains of the Matakitaki and Matiri. I could also follow the course of the Buller through the last mountain chain towards the west before it reached the sea. The high rocky chain of the western side of the Matakitaki plains continued in a southerly direction as far as the eye could reach, and seemed apparently unbroken.
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But I was not a little gratified on observing that my expectations of finding an opening towards the south through the island, were realized as far as I could see. Along the eastern side of this opening the glorious chain of the Spencer mountains again appeared, prominent among which Mount Franklin showed his snow-clad sides. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, a rise in Mount Murchison towards the south-east prevented my seeing in the direction of Lake Rotoroa, so that I determined at once to ascend the second peak of this mountain. We had to descend for 500 feet, and to climb up the second peak, which here presented very slippery sides, whilst the summit consisted of a very narrow ridge, which fell abruptly on both sides. After reaching the top of the second peak, we were again disappointed, for we found before us a still higher one. Between the second and third, the sides of the mountain fell almost perpendicularly, and were covered with smooth snow-grass, presenting nothing which we could take hold of to assist us in our descent, whilst the saddle over which we had to pass was scarcely broad enough for our footing, and sloped almost perpendicularly on both sides for 1,500 feet. It was not without the greatest care that we managed to descend, and again climb up to the third and highest ridge; but when at last we had arrived there, we were gratified with a noble view. The Lake Rotoroa, its outlet, the rivers which supply it, and the Tutaki and its tributaries, lay before us as on a map. The large opening towards the south was visible, interrupted here and there by hills presenting the appearance of regular cones, which gave to this view a variety most difficult to describe.
It was six o'clock before I had finished my observations, so it being impossible to reach our camp before dark by the way we had come (as we should have to climb over the two peaks between us and it), we determined on descending by the first favourable spur, hoping that by following it till sunset, we should be able to descend into the gorge below, and thus camp near some water. It is needless to say that we hurried down through what, fortunately, proved to be not very close vegetation, on the back of the spur, and had made some considerable distance, when, as night was fast approaching, we were obliged to descend a very steep side of the spur towards the water. It was quite dark when we reached it, and prepared to camp, having for our supper only a drink of deliciously fresh water. Remembering that I had a candle in my box, I suggested that, as it was a fine calm night it should be lighted, and that we should follow the stream, and thus perhaps reach the Buller. This we did, but not without many falls and sundry other misadventures. When we did reach the Buller it was half past nine o'clock, and it was full time, for our candle had burned so low that it had become almost impossible to hold it between our fingers. We then continued our course down the
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Buller by moonlight, and succeeded in reaching our camp about ten o'clock.
The next day Mr. Burnett ascended the mountain for our blankets, during which time I occupied myself with sketches, and in completing my geological notes. Another day was devoted to ascend the Rotoroa river, which flows rapidly towards its junction with the Roto-iti. It was now that I expected the return of my party sent for provisions, but they did not make their appearance. On the following day, therefore, I occupied myself in washing for gold, and was not a little gratified at finding that both the Rotoroa and Roto-iti were gold-bearing rivers. In order not to lose further time, we again started, on the 11th of February, swagging part of the provisions, &c., down the Buller, and camped six miles lower down on the flat. Mr. Burnett returned next day to fetch the remainder of our loads, during which time I examined more closely the adjacent country. In the evening he came back, bringing with him two of the men whom I had sent for provisions, and who had had to go to Nelson. The other two had preferred remaining in Nelson, as one of them did not feel strong enough, and the other was afraid to cross the rivers, so that F. Beckman, whom I had entrusted with this mission, had been obliged to engage two others in their place. The next day, the 13th, my men started back to get a quantity of provisions which they had left at the junction, and Mr. Burnett and I crossed the Buller near our camp (where it is divided into three streams, offering an easy ford), for the purpose of examining the River Owen, whose junction with the Buller was two miles below us. We went three miles up the Owen, which is a very pretty river, and I found, as I had previously observed from the top of the mountain, that there was a good deal of level land on both its banks, consisting of bush and small grassy patches.
On the 15th of February, everything being arranged for our start towards the Grey, we left our camping ground very early; but, having more to carry than we could manage in one trip, we advanced six miles, and my party then returned and brought up what had been left behind. Mr. Mackay had selected another road, for the purpose of avoiding the rocky cliffs near the river, and which, though much better, contained some steep hills, which we had of course to ascend. Finding that it would be more convenient, and would save the necessity of passing three times over the same ground, we determined to carry everything at once, instead of dividing the loads; we therefore re-distributed the things, and found that though each individual's load was between seventy and eighty pounds in weight, we could thus make better progress.
Next day our road followed the high and almost level terrace on the bank of the river, and after six miles of hard work we camped. Beneath us flowed the Buller, between its rocky walls,
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whilst in the background lay the towering peaks of Mount Owen. The ground on which we camped being mossy, much care was necessary to prevent the moss from taking fire; but, in spite of all our precautions, it spread under ground, and we were compelled to shift our camp during the night. The fine weather which had so long favoured us, now began to change; heavy rain set in, and, fearing that we might be delayed at the Tutaki, unless we crossed it at once, we started very early, and were soon wet to the skin.
It was fortunate that we had not delayed, for on reaching the river about two o'clock, the water rose to our hips, and flowed so rapidly as well nigh to wash us off our feet. In two hours afterwards the river had risen three feet more, so that it would have been impossible then to cross.
Here we camped, and for three days had continual heavy rain. It was a scene of wild beauty. The two rivers, whose waters united close to our camp, rose by degrees higher and higher, dashing between the high rocky water-worn cliffs, which here narrow the main river to about thirty feet, the water rising fifteen feet in a very short time. During the time we were delayed here we washed for gold in the neighbourhood of our camp, and succeeded in finding many very pretty specimens. We now placed ourselves on rations, which however was not agreeable to some of my party.
The weather changed on the 21st of February, and we continued our journey towards the Matakitaki plains, over a flat and very high terrace, which gradually became lower as we advanced; and, after travelling for three miles through the bush, we found that it was not much above the level of the river. Here Mr. Mackay's track led to the river banks, and all signs of a track became lost in the shingle. It was evident that he had crossed here, and followed the sandy pebbly beach on the other side. The river being still high, I tried to cross; but having soon found myself breast high in the rapid water, and finding that I should be washed off my feet if I attempted to proceed, I was obliged to return. This was very annoying. Stopped by the river, and not knowing how long it would take before we could cross, we had to camp, and await the lowering of the waters.
The views over the Mataki-taki plains towards the north, east, and west were really charming, extending as they did over a large level country, in most part covered with dense forest, above which appeared high mountain peaks. Towards the west rose a continuous rocky chain, which I named after Sir Charles Lyell, with its magnificent needles and points disappearing behind a conical granitic mountain, lying in the centre of the plain, and descending abruptly to the Buller, whilst at its eastern base flowed the Matiri, and to the north-east the peaks of Mount Murchison appeared over the low wooded mountains in front of it.
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The next day, in lieu of the river falling, heavy rain descended, which of course delayed our crossing; so, not knowing how long we might he detained here, and seeing that our provisions were rapidly diminishing, I determined to send back part of my men and move forward with the remainder. I selected those who could swim, sending three back to Nelson, so that (besides Mr. Burnett) only Frederick Beckmann, William Hunter, and the native, Richard Kemp, remained with me. I gave orders again to wash for gold, and every dishfull of dirt yielded some specks.
The next day being fine, I crossed the river by swimming, and, following the northern bank downwards, soon came upon Mr. Mackay's track. In the meantime I had sent the native down the river on the side on which we had camped, to search for a ford. He returned in the afternoon, telling us that he had found a capital ford a mile lower down, which, notwithstanding the swollen state of the river, had taken him only to his hips. We at once struck our tent, and followed him to the crossing place, at which we pitched it again. Whilst the men were engaged in doing so, I tried the ford and found it practicable.
The next day, the 23rd of February, after crossing the river, we continued our way on its northern bank for two miles through grass and manuka. The view southwards, up the Mataki-taki valley, was very picturesque. This valley is from two to three miles wide, and has on both sides densely wooded hills, over which, on the south-western side, a high rocky mountain chain appeared. Two miles east from the entrance of the Matiri, opposite the entrance of the Mataki-taki, a terrace covered with forest begins, and here we found a ford, at which Mr. Mackay had crossed.
I left my party, whom I ordered to try and cross the Buller, which was still very high, by this ford. Mr. Burnett and I went down to the junction with the Matiri, the waters of which were high, and of a dirty yellowish colour. We followed up the stream for a few miles, in order to examine its course, and the available land upon its banks, &c. On our return I found that two of my men, who had tried the fords, had found them impracticable without swimming, which was impossible with our heavy loads.
The southern side of the Buller consisting of level land, I did not see why we should not continue on that side, and I imagined Mr. Mackay and his party had only crossed and travelled on the northern side, in order to profit by some open land; and in this opinion I was afterwards confirmed. We therefore returned to the place whence we had started in the morning, crossed the river again, and made our way by the southern bank. I must confess that I felt very tired after this day's journey, not having been accustomed to carry a load of seventy pounds weight on my back; it almost broke me down, and I had to summon all my energies in order not to remain behind. Exploring in other countries,
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where one can make use of horses and other beasts of burden is comparatively easy, and there is little fatigue in pursuing scientific investigations during temporary halts of the party, and in completing notes and journals whilst they are resting at night.
The next morning we started early, the weather having again become fine; but we had some difficulty in working our way through the thick bush, interwoven with numerous supple-jacks and lawyers, on our road. Half-a-mile before reaching the Matakitaki, we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Alexander Mackay and his man Flowers, returning from the Maruia plains. They also had not ventured to cross the Buller, and had remained on the southern side. If it be a pleasure amid the bustle of a town to meet a friendly face, how much greater must it be to meet one in the wilderness! We remained a few hours together, relating our adventures, whilst my men prepared for our nearly starved out visitors a hearty meal, which, despite its homeliness, was not despised by men who for some time had lived on two biscuits a day. Wishing them a safe return to Nelson, and giving them some assistance from our stock of provisions, we parted, and again pursued our several ways.
After another hour's walk we reached the Mataki-taki. This river flows through a broad valley, and although we crossed it where it is divided into two branches, it was still very rapid and deep, and is in my opinion the principal tributary of the Buller. The mountains on the northern side of the Buller continued low, and there is a large flat between them and the river, covered in some places with manuka, tutu, and other scrub, and in others with high fern, through which (partly following Mr. Mackay's track, who had here tried to burn the fern) we continued our route, and camped in one of his old camps on the level ground. As I did not wish to leave this plain without ascending some mountain in the neighbourhood, in order to form a more accurate idea of the country around, I determined on ascending one about three miles distant from our camp, which had been called by Mr. Mackay Mount Francis.
In descending the river below the entrance of the Matiri, I had observed a very easy ford across the Buller, and on the following morning I sent two men back with instructions to re-ascend it as far as the Matiri, and wash in that river for gold. I, in the meantime, ascended Mount Francis, which is only about 2,200 feet high; but, although it was wooded to the summit, I obtained a very good view over the whole country, the sides of the mountain in some places being absolutely vertical. Towards evening I returned, as did also the two gold seekers, who had been unsuccessful, though they had washed for half the day.
Yesterday evening I had set fire to the high fern before us in order to have an easier walk with our heavy loads, and during the night it was a splendid sight to see the surrounding country in
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flames, the ti trees amongst the fern appearing like distinct columns of fire.
The ground was still warm when we started on the following day, and after a two-mile walk we were again glad of the cool forest shade, as the sun was very hot. Our route now led us along the steep sides of the mountains bordering the Buller, where in places we had to climb over granite cliffs, forming perpendicular hanks, between which the river was confined to a breadth not exceeding thirty or forty feet, the water in such places being so deep that it looked blue and stagnant. After a march of eight miles we reached the junction of the Maruia, which we had to ascend. Here we camped.
Notwithstanding that we were all very tired, three of my party went to fish, and returned with one large eel, a valuable addition to our stock. The Maruia is a very fine river, with clear water, and, for the first day's journey of six miles, offered few difficulties, having on its side good terraces, with a pretty clear forest. The totara, which we found very common in the Mataki-taki plains, and near the junction of the Buller with the Maruia, now became less common, and, at a distance of ten miles up the river, ceased to grow.
Following the Maruia, upon its eastern bank, for one and a-half miles, upon a mossy terrace, we had to cross the river, and notwithstanding that at this spot it was very broad, and divided into two arms, it was deep and rapid. Ascending the terrace upon the western bank, we followed Mr. Mackay's track, as indicated by some blazed trees. After another mile, we had to ascend a steep hill, which presented an almost vertical precipice, round which the river wound. Mr. Mackay had here descended to the river, and we followed his track, but finding that it would be impossible to carry the intended road over this ground, we reascended the hill, and endeavoured to find a better route further inland, in which we succeeded.
For five days we continued our route, trying to find the best possible track. We travelled partly on the high terrace, where at times we had to climb up and down almost perpendicular places; at others crossing and recrossing the river, which was very treacherous, its smooth waters appearing sufficiently shallow to permit us to cross it, whilst, in attempting doing so, we were frequently compelled to return to our former fords, in order to prevent ourselves from being washed down. All its tributaries of any importance flowed from the east, which may be easily understood, as the Mataki-taki is close to the Maruia, and for the first fifteen or eighteen miles they are only separated by low hills. We looked to the south, and observed a rocky mountain chain, to which each day we drew nearer. We had occasionally to ascend very steep hills, whilst at times deep gorges narrowed the river's course, and gave to the scenery a most romantic appearance. It
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was only while walking in the river bed that we caught sight of the sun, the dense forest always forming a dark green roof above us. But this also had its charms, for at early dawn we were awakened by numerous feathered songsters, with their harmonious notes, whilst during the day the quarrelsome kakas amused us with their cries, and many coloured birds hopped and flew hither and thither around us, as if inquiring what intruders disturbed the quiet of their forest home. During the early night the cries of the owl and the kiwi resounded through the tranquil woods, and a few beams of the moon threw their silver light upon our tents through the overhanging foliage. It was always a happy moment with us when the tent was pitched, a large fire burning before it, and the day's work finished.
The Maruia winds very much in its course, its valley becomes more open previously to reaching the plains, but, as we ascended it, it diminished considerably in volume, owing to the number of tributaries we had left behind us. During this day (the third of March) we crossed it at least twenty times, the terraces of the plain appearing nearer to us as we advanced, and their vegetation having been burnt off by our predecessors, we could easily judge of their extent. On leaving the plains the river makes a sharp and long easterly turn: we ascended a steep terrace, 150 feet high, on its western bank, working our way through a mass of supplejack, closely interwoven with wild irishman and other plants. We had now a splendid view all around us. Several grassy terraces rose one above the other to a height of from 200 to 250 feet above the river, and formed a basin from three to four miles broad, and from twelve to fourteen miles long, surrounded by high rocky mountain chains. In a valley on the eastern side, intersecting these terraces, we camped, and enjoyed exceedingly the pure air, the deep blue sky above us, and the beauteous mountain scenery around us.
In order to examine more closely the mountains on the western side, and to establish a topographical station, I determined to remain here for one day. I was always anxious, when practicable, to give a spell to my party, who, notwithstanding that now and then we caught an eel, with an occasional weka, began to feel the effects of half-rations; they complained very much of hunger, felt very weak, and I must confess, that I had to do my best to conceal the fact, that I felt in much the same condition.
The next morning I ascended the highest terrace to take the necessary bearings. The rocky chain, which, from the Mataki-taki plains, we had seen lying to the south, now appeared in the north. Between it and the serrated mountain chain lying to the southward (behind which the Mataki-taki flows) a large opening appeared, through which ran the principal tributary of the Maruia joining it at the northern extremity of the plain. This mountain chain continued from the north towards the south, forming at the
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south-eastern end a semicircle round a large isolated granitic mountain, which I named Mount Mueller, after the eminent botanist, Dr. Ferdinand Mueller, director of the botanical gardens at Victoria, who is now engaged in illustrating the botany of the southern hemisphere. The chain then turns slightly to the westward, in the direction of the Kopi-o-kai Tangata, or Cannibal's Gorge, after which it curves to the S. S. W. On the western side, a wild scene, exhibiting the boldest forms of mountain peaks, was visible, showing what great revolutions had here occurred in the earth's crust. After having also examined the mountain chain towards the west, we started again at noon, and, notwithstanding the weather was showery, enjoyed the fine scenery around us. The easy travelling over these grassy plains was also a pleasing change, and our walk was further enlivened by large quantities of quail, which, at every step, rose at our feet.
I here found it necessary again to inspect our provisions, which appeared to diminish very rapidly, and I found that they would only last us ten days, by confining ourselves to a small pot of lillipe (or boiled flour) twice a day, with a hoped-for addition of wekas or eels. Our gun, unfortunately, was useless, having been entirely spoiled by the wet in frequently crossing the rivers, without our having any means of protecting it from the water. Rain fell the next evening, and continued the whole of the succeeding day, but nevertheless we started, and camped near the high granitic mountain at the south-eastern end of the plain.
The following morning (the 6th of March) being clear, I observed that the granitic mountain to our east was bare topped, and as I was anxious to obtain a better idea of the mountain system on that side, I determined on ascending it, and started at seven o'clock with Mr. Burnett and the native for that purpose. Our provisions consisted of a pannikin of biscuit dust, and one roasted weka. After having worked our way for two miles through a dense growth of flax, wild irishman, &c., which we found extremely fatiguing, we reached the bottom of the terrace, about a mile from the foot of the mountain, and commenced our ascent. It however became cloudy and began to rain, and I soon saw that it would be useless then to attempt the ascent. As we could not afford to wait for fine weather, I was compelled to return to camp, much to my regret. For several days we had the same lament: rain! rain! We, however, started on the following morning (March 7), and leaving the Maruia, where it turns eastward towards the Cannibal's Gorge, we continued through the large opening towards the south, following Mr. Mackay's track, marked by flax and papers placed in the clefts of sticks. After a walk of a mile over very swampy ground, we reached the banks of a stream, which Mr. Mackay, from native description, called the Ruhu, and which we followed through the bush for some miles, until we reached a nice grassy spot. The rain, which poured
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heavily during the day, compelled us to stop here, and, fancying that we could obtain some fern root, we camped.
For two days the rain continued to fall in torrents, and a little rivulet, which had had in it but comparatively few drops of water rapidly rose at least six feet, whilst the Ruhu, previously a mere brook, rushed like a torrent past our tent. We remained here for two miserable days, during which we found it impossible to make a fire outside, or obtain dry wood, so that we were obliged to sit squatting together in our only tent, having sent back our second tent from the Mataki-taki plains. We boiled a little tea, and flour and water, with damp wood, which filled the tent with smoke, so that at times we could scarcely breathe or open our eyes. Mr. Mackay's Maories had already dug for fern root, and we found, beside their sticks, a large quantity which they had left, as being evidently unfit for use. The men, being very hungry (for during these rainy days I had placed the whole party on a single meal per day), went to dig for fresh fern root, but, notwithstanding we tried hard to eat what they obtained, we were unable to do so, as it was all nearly rotten.
These were two trying days, but I endeavoured to appear cheerful, in order to keep up my men's spirits, and to combat the discontent naturally caused by hunger and the very uncomfortable position to which we were then reduced. At length the sun again began to shine brightly, and on the 9th of March we started, ascending the course of the still swollen stream, and at times wading to our hips in the yellow, dashing, foaming water. After having proceeded a mile, I found a letter from Mr. Mackay, beneath a piece of bark, on a well marked tree. In this he told me "that the stream I was then ascending could not be the Ruhu, because, instead of flowing from the south-west, it flowed from the north; that he had in consequence returned, intending to follow the large opening towards the south, on the eastern side of which he expected to find the Ruhu flowing." We therefore struck across the plain, which was here from one to one and a half mile broad, and followed the faint marks left by Mr. Mackay's track. Leaving the forest behind us, we came to boggy ground, covered here and there with stunted scrub, and forming occasional swamps, through which we had to wade. After proceeding about two miles in this direction we came to a larger swamp, lying on the top of a saddle, from which water flowed on both sides, forming apparently the watershed between two large rivers. This filled us all with joy. Tor several miles we followed this desolate and dreary track, and evening was already close upon us without our having found a spot dry enough to pitch our tent. At length we reached a little terrace, on the mossy surface of which, amongst some stunted birch trees, we selected a spot suitable for our camp. The sun shone brightly the next day, and we continued on our road, full of hope, and found the river flowing S. S. W. the
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direction of the large opening previously observed, which afterwards curved to the S. W. Seeing towards the north another large opening, with low, round-topped, granitic mountains, over which, on both sides, high rocky peaks appeared, I began to think that we had struck a tributary of the Grey, and that we should soon see that river, if we continued our course towards the southwest. After two miles we reached a large stream coming from the N. W., which, uniting with another streamlet from the N. E., formed a good sized river. Here again I found another letter from Mr. Mackay, of rather a depressing character. He had been kept here by heavy rain for four days, the same spell of bad weather which had detained us at the Tutaki; his provisions had run out; and he stated that instead of following the stream to the northwest, which would bring him to the Inangahua, he intended following down the one, we were then upon, thinking that it would bring him into the Grey, where he could get eels. Notwithstanding I felt certain that by going up this stream I should soon reach the Inangahua country, I preferred following it down, hoping to obtain a better view of the formation, and of the topographical character of the country, and I must confess that I have not regretted it. The valley continuing broad, with here and there nice grassy spots, brought us, after a walk of some hours, to the bank of a large river, which, breaking through the high and rocky chain to the eastward, spread over the valley in three distinct arms. Upon crossing them I felt convinced that I had reached the Grey; and that it had its source in the Spencer mountains, I judged from the large quantity of water it contained, and the character of its boulders. The view of the rocky mountain now became very striking, as over the round-shaped low granitic hills in the foreground, appeared high peaks, some of which formed regular pyramids, from 6,000 to 7,000 feet high, broken by deep gorges, through which mountain torrents, often forming magnificent falls, precipitated themselves into the rapid River Grey. As we were desirous of reaching the right bank, we searched for a good crossing place, which, after some difficulty, we succeeded in finding. The banks of the river being too steep to permit our following its edge, we entered the forest, which was much entangled and mossy, and full of fallen trees, rendering quick progress impossible. The river forming a continuous rapid, it was difficult to find any spot likely to contain the much coveted eels, and although, several times, we selected likely looking places at which we camped for that purpose, we did not succeed in getting any, which rather depressed the spirits of my party. Continuing along the right bank, on the next day we passed several nice waterfalls, in streams coming from the adjacent mountains, and seeing that the hills before us descended abruptly to the river, and that the left bank had a level terrace, we, with some difficulty, recrossed, and continued our journey on that side. Upon this
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terrace, where it fell perpendicularly towards the river, I found a small cavern, excavated by the hand of man, in the clay, the roof of which still bore marks of the implement with which it was hollowed out, but I did not detect any other sign of human presence. This had probably been formed by some fugitive Maori slave, in years gone by. Every turn of the river now opened to our admiring eyes some fresh and beautiful Alpine scenery, and we also had ample opportunities for trying our remaining strength in crossing and recrossing it. I think it is really a miracle that we were not washed down by the large body of water which dashed so rapidly against us. On the following day we arrived at a spot where another river enters the Grey from Mount Hochstetter, so named by Mr. Mackay. There the Grey makes a sharp turn from the S. W. to N. N. W., ottering a new series of splendid views. During this day we were very fortunate, getting an eel and three wekas, which restored our strength a little. It was only after a dreary march of three days, partly over grassy plains, partly through dense bush, and after climbing up and down steep terraces, that on the evening of the 14th of March, we arrived at the Alexander stream, from which, according to the information from Mr. Mackay, I could judge how long it would take me to arrive at the junction of the Mawhera-iti with the Pohaturoha, from which point the river is called by the natives the Mawhera, or Grey.
It was high time that we should have some prospect of speedily obtaining better rations, for during the last three weeks we had been without bacon, salt, and sugar, having nothing left but tea, flour, and oatmeal, and though, eleven days previously, I had calculated that our provisions would then last but ten days, I had so managed that we had still left sufficient for eight scanty meals.
The consequence was that we all felt very weak, but, nevertheless, we could have made better headway had not two of my party broken down. One of them, by nature thin, had become a mere skeleton, and two days before our arrival at the Alexander, whilst ascending a steep hill, fell, completely exhausted by hunger, exertion, and cold, it having rained during the whole day, and we having had to cross and recross the rapid river at least ten times, with the water often breast high. Of course I camped at once, and did all in my power to make him comfortable, each of us sparing from our scanty ration something to augment his meal. I must confess that I passed an anxious night, as the consequence of being compelled to stay here would have been of the gravest nature, and would probably have endangered the lives of the whole party. Finding next morning that he was better, we again contributed towards his ration, and dividing his load between us, started on our journey. At the end of two days he resumed his load, having regained sufficient strength to keep well up with the party. On the
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following day the native asked us to halt at four o'clock, being unable to proceed further, but during the evening we caught some eels, which strengthened us all, and our subsequent arrival at Mr. Mackay's camp, at the Alexander, revived the men's spirits. The weather now remained very fine, and we continued our road, in the hope of speedily arriving in the open country upon the Grey.
I may here state, that from the time of leaving the Maruia plains, the geological and topographical features of the country filled me with the greatest interest, and although myself weak, and possessing but the wreck of what were once a pair of boots, which made walking over sharp stones very painful, the interest of the journey prevented me from giving way to any peevishness, and so, seconded by Mr. Burnett, I endeavoured to be cheerful, and to incite my party, by my example, to bear their privations as men ought to do.
I have not, of course, related the several minor accidents which happened to the members of our party, and which were natural upon such a journey. They were fortunately unattended by serious consequences, and merely gave rise to a laugh, in which the sufferer invariably joined heartily.
After having travelled for some days through the bush, crossing and recrossing the river, and having afterwards to ascend the terraces in consequence of the depth of the river and the steepness of its banks, we at length left the mountains behind us, and, to our inexpressible joy, found that we had entered the open country. The geological formation here changed, and instead of crystalline or metamorphic rocks, tertiary strata and old alluvium appeared.
On the 10th of March we reached a fine eeling station, and as soon as the sun went down we all started to different places in the deep water to fish, with the exception of one, who remained behind to keep up a large fire, and prepare the sticks on which to roast the first result of our sport; but although we sat for two hours no eels appeared, and three of us returned to the fire disappointed. The night, as had been generally the case for the last month, had become cool, and as we were sitting before the fire, the fourth and last of our party brought with him a very small eel, which, notwithstanding its diminutive size, was soon roasting upon a stick. Our situation would have afforded to a Schalken a fine opportunity for a splendid picture; our five figures, with their thin faces, and torn and patched clothes, standing round the blazing fire, gazing anxiously at our poor supper, whilst above us shone the beautiful, clear, starry sky of the southern hemisphere. On the next morning, after having well scraped our two bags to get the little flour adhering to them, by which means we made a more than usually large meal, intending to make, if possible, a long march, and to reach the Mawhera-iti, we started, and crossing and recrossing the river, which gradually became broader, we found the country still more open, and with grassy terraces occasionally replacing the
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forest, which was largely intermixed with rimu, totara, kahikatea and other valuable trees. After a short time, the forest on the northern bank was replaced by grassy terraces and large open tracts of country, with low hills visible here and there, this smiling country being bounded by a distant chain running north and south as far as the eye could reach. Having passed over a large open tract of land, upon which we travelled about ten miles, I looked for the Mawhera-iti, and soon, saw a small river joining the main one. But notwithstanding it appeared to agree with the description in Mr. Brunner's journal, and with Mr. Mackay's sketch map, we could find no signs of the provisions which we ought to have found here. It was with anxiety that we looked all around us, often fancying that some mark in a tree indicated the desired spot; but we were disappointed.
We now continued our route close to the river bank, so as not to miss any river flowing from the north; and, after another mile s walk, reached the Otututu, a tributary of the Grey, flowing from the north. My whole party, without exception, contended that the first river we had passed could not be the Mawhera-iti, and that we had still to go some distance in order to reach it, and felt assured that at every turn of the river it would appear. I must confess that it grieved me to disappoint them, seeing, as I did, that the Grey, which till now had flown in a westerly direction, with a slight northern trend, here turned to the south-west, and that we were gradually nearing the gorge or break in the mountains in that direction.
After having crossed the river four times (which had now become very difficult, owing to the large body of water), we camped on its eastern side. Our circumstances caused my men to become serious, and, although anxious to do so, I could not succeed in introducing a joyful spirit into the camp.
I looked with interest at the numerous tracks of the wild dog, which here abounded on the sand, and would have much liked to have caught one, which I should have eaten without fearing the nickname of kai-kuri (dog-eater), applied by the natives to the first explorer of this country.
Before starting the next morning (the 18th of March), we partook of our last meal of flour and water, and notwithstanding that I had, as I conceived, clearly proved to my party that we had passed the Mawhera-iti, they would not believe it. The fine weather had, during the night, been succeeded by heavy rain, which now poured down in torrents. In the next few miles we crossed the river (which had become very broad and deep) several times, looking about anxiously for signs of our provisions. Unfortunately my spy-glass had been so often wet, that it had become useless, and owing to the thick mist we had great difficulty in discerning objects at any distance, our eyes being all we had to trust to. We were now on the eastern side of the river,
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on which we continued for another mile, without finding a crossing place, the river being too deep.
Towards noon we arrived at a place covered with high fern; here I ordered a halt, as I did not know whether we should meet with any more fern land on our route. We all began at once to dig for fern root, and the rain having fortunately ceased, we lit a fire and had a meal. I must confess that this was a trying moment for me, looking at the sunken faces of these men, who had been my companions in so many trials, and watching their efforts to swallow their meal of fern root, whilst they themselves now began to fear that I was right in saying yesterday that we had passed the Mawhera-iti. It began again to rain heavily, but we followed the river bed, frequently endeavouring to get to the western side, as we knew that we should otherwise soon have to cross the Ahaura, a very large river, flowing into the Grey from the eastward, and that it might be difficult, if not impossible, for us to ford it so near the confluence.
We were in a critical position, jammed in between two large rivers, without food, and by no means certain that we had not already passed the provisions of which we were in search. Seeing that we were nearing the southern slopes of the great western chain, I was suggesting to Mr. Burnett that one of us two should proceed down the river upon a raft, in order, if possible, to bring up provisions, when we were aroused by the voice of one of the men, who shouted most lustily that he saw a Maori. The sound came like music to our ears; but on hearing our voices the Maori began to run away, and stopped only when Dick (our native), whose voice he knew, called out to him. He was much frightened, not having been accustomed to hear the human voice in these solitudes. It turned out to be Mira, a native from Collingwood, one of the party who was bringing up our provisions, and who informed us that they had been placed about a mile lower down, as the party bringing them up had been detained by the rains, and feared, if they attempted to bring them further, that they would have been spoiled by the damp. He also told us that there was a white man with them, and that Mr. Mackay (of whom we had not seen any trace during the last five days) had, after suffering much from hunger, arrived safely at the pah. He also told us that the vessel carrying the provisions having met with an accident, had arrived later at the Grey than was expected.
All weariness was forgotten, and, half running, we proceeded towards the encampment, which was indicated to us by the smoke of a fire. I must confess that I felt tears rush to my eyes when I was thus assured that the privations of my party, so long borne with patience, were at an end, and that one of the great objects of my journey, "to prove the possibility of reaching the West Coast by an available road," had been accomplished. We very
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soon pitched our tent, and, seated before a cheerful fire enjoyed once more a really hearty meal.
We were compelled by heavy rains to remain here for three days, and during the first night the river rose so high and he rapidly, as to compel us to shift our camp to higher ground, the water rushing into our very tents.
On the 21st of March the rain ceased a little, the river fell, and by tying bundles of flax sticks together on each side of the canoe in which the provisions had been brought up, we ventured down stream with the flood. We descended rapidly, although it required the most careful management from our four Maories to take us safely over the various falls. In about an hour we passed the camp of Mr. John Rochfort, the surveyor, and should have much liked to have shaken hands with him; but the rapidity of the stream would not admit of our landing, and we could, therefore, only shout our recognition.
A passing look at the coal seams exposed on the river bank, and the character of the shales and sandstone by which they were accompanied, convinced me at once that they were of a high geological age, and of an importance not yet fully understood. At twelve o'clock we passed through the last gorge, formed by a low limestone range, and heard with pleasure the roaring of the surf on the bar. We soon reached the Maori pah, where we were received by Mr. Mackay, and the assembled Maories, with every sign of welcome.
We remained at the pah for five days, during which time it was either raining, or the freshets prevented me from returning up the river with a canoe, exchanging thus our life in the wilderness for the noisy existence of a Maori pah. Instead of the soft murmur of the rivulet, the roaring of the larger streams, the rush of the wind through the tops of the high evergreen trees, forming as they did a splendid emerald roof over our heads, changeless and unfading, and the merry song and variegated notes of the fearless birds, which gave life to the wild scenes of untouched nature around us, we heard nothing but Maori songs and Maori noise from morning till night; insufficient, however (and this was our only consolation) to drown the majestic roaring of the surf as it flowed over the pebbly and sandy shores.
The Maori character must have recently undergone considerable change, for, instead of the hospitality described by a former explorer, they required payment for everything, not in pounds, shillings, and pence, which latter coins they entirely ignored, but in pounds only. During one day of my stay at the pah, I visited the lagoon on the southern bank of the Grey, near its mouth, which, though now the resort only of thousands of aquatic birds, will at some future time become an important part of its harbour. Another day was devoted to examining the cretaceous cliffs five miles north of the Grey, forming remarkably bold headlands.
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The weather was at last settled, and the river fell considerably, so that we again thought of resuming our exploration. After having well considered my future proceedings, I found that we should be able to get on more rapidly by ascending the river in a canoe as far as the junction of the Mawhera-iti, and from thence, again shouldering our packs, to proceed straight across the country to the Upper Grey, where it enters the plains. By this means I should be enabled to examine more minutely the extent and nature of the level land in that district. At the same time I fixed upon a high mountain in the range bounding the district, which I determined to ascend, for purposes of observation. On my return from this expedition, I intended to examine the country through which the Otututu flows, then striking across from this river to the Mawhera-iti, and over the grass plains, to pass the saddle between that river and the Inangahua, a tributary of the Buller, and from thence, weather permitting, to the junction of both rivers.
It will be seen in the sequel that I succeeded in carrying out the greater part of my programme, notwithstanding the most horrid weather, and the almost continued freshes and inundations by which we were impeded. If, therefore, after having seen the Grey district under such unfavourable aspects, it still leaves an agreeable impression upon my mind, there can be little doubt that it is a really splendid country.
The storekeeper, who had arrived in the vessel which left provisions for us at the Buller, having nothing to detain him here, I sent him back, accompanied by a Maori guide, to the Buller, there to await our arrival. Mr. Mackay, also, who was going down the coast to purchase land from the natives, started at the same time that we did, and with him the whole native population of the district.
Having secured the services of another Maori, who, as a stranger, had nothing to do with the land question, and having hired a canoe from the chief Tarapuhi, we started on the 27th of March to pole up the river. There are several rapids to ascend, to pass which required all the strength and skill of the men, and occupied a considerable time; so that by the evening we had only proceeded a few miles, which, on our return during a heavy fresh, we passed over in about half an hour.
The next day brought rain again, but I was anxious to get on, and as we had to wade often breast high to drag the canoe up the stream, it did not matter much whether it was fine or not. In a few hours we arrived at the gorge in which the carboniferous strata are visible; here the river being too deep for our poles, we had to push the canoe forward by holding against the sides of the cliffs. We stopped for dinner at the slip in the gorge where the coals are exposed, and I cursorily examined them; but, being unable to devote much time to it, I could not form any fixed
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opinion in reference to their age, although from the character of the coal itself, the few impressions I there found of the fossil flora, and the lithological character of the rocks (which resembled very much the rocks of the carboniferous period), I was satisfied that I had here to do with coal measures much older than any other hitherto seen or expected to be found in New Zealand. Towards evening we left the gorge behind us, and passed the Kotukuwakao stream, the outlet of the lake of the same name, commonly called Lake Brunner.
The valley of the Grey, bounded on its western side by the continuous range of the Paparoha chain, which stretched to the north as far as the eye could reach, and in which the rounded tops of the high granitic mountains contrasted strongly with the serrated, castle-like, and needle-shaped points of the gneiss and metamorphic schists behind them, widened very much, consisting partly of magnificent forest, containing different species of the pine, and partly of grass land. A large opening towards the north was visible, in which only low hills appeared here and there.
Towards the west and south-west the high rocky chains through which the Buller, the Inangahua, the Grey, and the Ahaura break, before entering the plains, gratified the eye by their varied forms. The river bed itself became very wide, the water being often divided into several channels, separated by extensive shingle beds, which are only covered during heavy freshes, and were the repository of large trees left behind by subsiding floods. So we proceeded for three days, toiling hard to propel the canoe, the drift trees frequently offering serious obstacles to our progress.
On the evening of the 30th of March, the rain set in again, and so heavily, that, as we were encamped on the low ground near the river, we feared it would rise so as to compel us to take to the trees. Fortunately, towards morning, notwithstanding it still continued to rain, it fell less heavily. As we were unable to proceed with the canoe, I struck a little inland, partly for the purpose of collecting botanical specimens, and partly to examine the nature of the soil.
On the 1st of April the river had fallen so much that we could pursue our journey, and during the day I had an opportunity of examining the first tributary of any size which flowed from the Paparoha chain, the boulders of which satisfied me, as indeed I had expected, that the coal formation extended at least so far towards the north.
We arrived next day at our old camp in the Ohine-taki-taki grass plains. During the whole of this time we had seen signs of Mr. Rochfort's progress in his surveys, frequently coming upon his ranging rods and the marks of his chain in the sand. He had also camped here, and evidently only started the same morning, his camp fire still burning.
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On reaching the place at which we had left our tent, well pitched and secured round in order to protect the provisions, we found that it had disappeared, and in its place a very nice and well covered whata (provision store) erected by Mr. Rochfort's native labourers. In a note which he had left, he informed me "that he had observed that the rats and wekas had found their way into my tent, and that as it was not tight enough to protect the stores sufficiently from the rain, he had thought it proper to secure them by building the whata." It is scarcely necessary to say that I and my whole party felt very much gratified by this act of kindness.
Preparing everything for an early start next morning, I ascended the grassy terrace which forms the principal portion of the plains of the Ohine-taki-taki, which run several miles inland, and over which we walked in many directions, establishing a topographical station on their western side.
Several of my party, who had suffered very much during our stay at the pah, in consequence of the weakened state of their stomachs, had recovered, but I myself now began to feel the effects of our previous starvation. I felt great pain, and was unable to eat, or rather to keep anything on my stomach for several days; but by adhering to a low diet I soon recovered, and, like the rest of my party, again enjoyed my meals. Our canoe was very small, and in bad condition, so that it was impossible to remove everything at once to the junction of the Mawhera-iti, where I intended to establish my head-quarters; so we were compelled to leave some things behind, which had to be taken up on our second trip.
On the 4th of April we reached the Otututu, and saw Mr. Rochfort and his men surveying at a short distance from us: a strange but pleasant sight in this solitary country. We very soon came up with him, and our meeting was a hearty one on both sides. We continued together as far as the junction of the Mawhera-iti, where we intended to camp for a few days, and to build a substantial whata, to preserve our provisions from the rain and the rats.
The next day, during which all the men were occupied in felling trees, squaring timber, and collecting manuka bark for the whata, I explored, accompanied by Mr. Rochfort, the Mawhera-iti for two miles upwards, and we were gratified at finding level country and fertile soil up the valley of this river. When the whata was so far finished that Mr. Rochfort's party alone could complete it, I sent three of my men down to the Ohine-taki-taki to fetch up the remaining provisions.
Mr. Rochfort started up the river on the 7th of April, and as my canoe had not yet returned, I occupied myself (it being a fine clear day) in making a sketch of the country around us. Here, as well as everywhere else, during our journey, except in the
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higher grounds, the sand-flies became very troublesome, and sketching, mapping, or writing, during the day time, was really a torture; but whether it was that my skin, by exposure day and night to the inclemency of the weather, had become insensible to this torment, I certainly could now write for hours with only the protection of a pocket handkerchief tied round my right hand, so as not to soil the paper with the blood drawn by these minute flying leeches.
In the evening my men returned, and we prepared everything to start the next day for the Upper Grey, and for the ascent of the mountain. I had selected this mountain, called by Mr. Mackay Black-hill, lying on the southern side of the Grey before it enters the plains, not only because it is situated in the middle of the eastern chain bounding the open country, but also because its round top and smooth sides seemed to be easy of access. Before starting, I had rather a stormy scene with the native whom I had engaged at the Mawhera pah, because I would not permit him to select his own load, but compelled him, as was fair, to take that which was determined to be his by lot. To this he would not submit, and seizing the paddles, he attempted to take the canoe, which did not belong to him. and return to the pah. It is scarcely necessary to assert that I objected strongly to his proceedings, and it was only after considerable time that I could bring him back to his duty. After having secured our canoe, we started up the river, taking ten days' provisions with us, and from time to time crossing and recrossing it in order to avail ourselves of the dry shingle beaches and grassy banks. In the evening we reached Mr. Rochfort's camp, and again enjoyed the pleasure of his company.
Having, during the last ten days, continually waded in the river, the water of which had become much colder (the autumn nights being already somewhat sharp), we became very stiff and sometimes cramped in the evening. During the night two of my men fell suddenly ill of dysentery, and it was only after two days' rest that they were sufficiently restored to continue the journey. This delay was disagreeable, because the weather was very fine, and we should otherwise probably have reached the mountain-top; but as I had intended, during my return, to examine the grassy terraces which lie on both sides of the river where it enters the plains, I took advantage of this delay to do so now, so that these two days were not altogether lost.
My two patients having at last so far recovered that we could start, we resumed our journey on the 11th of April, and it was not without pleasure that we followed our old track, remembering the sufferings we had undergone on our way down, three weeks before, and how anxiously we had looked for the junction of the Mawhera-iti. The two men being still, however, very weak, we made a short day's work, and pitched our tent on the northern
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side of the river, at a spot from which I intended to strike across the country, instead of following the river further up. The river here takes a decided turn towards the south-east with a large bend, after which it turns to the north-east, so I determined to travel due east, and strike it near the foot of the Black-hill. Mr. Burnett, whilst I examined the geological character of the country, started with two hands to blaze and cut, where necessary, a line through the dense bush, so that we might get on more rapidly the next day.
In two days' march, during which we cut a good line for the use of future travellers without meeting with any difficulties, we again reached the banks of the Grey, a mile below the Alexander. Unfortunately it began to rain during the day. We therefore hastened across the river, and camped on high ground, the rapid fall of the aneroid indicating the approach of another spell of bad weather.
During this night, and the following two days and nights, we had incessantly heavy rain, which compelled us to keep to our tents; these from constant use, were daily becoming thinner, and offered therefore but a very incomplete and uncomfortable shelter. He who has not experienced it, can scarcely imagine the wretchedness of travelling through dense bush, everything soaked through by the rain, and then pitching a tent on wet ground, whilst the firewood is so damp that it can only be ignited and kept burning by dint of great perseverance and skilful exertion: the storm howling through the tops of the trees, the water pouring down in streams, and the neighbouring river, swollen to a torrent, tearing along its course as if its bed had become too narrow for it, added to the wretchedness of the scene around us. We could hear distinctly the rolling of the large boulders as they were carried along by the impetuous current, as well as the constant crash of large trees rolling over the rocks, borne by the flood towards the sea. The uproar of the elements was still more cheerless during the night, and the feeling of discomfort augmented when a part of the river bank fell into the torrent with a noise like thunder, whilst here and there the crash of dead branches made one fear for the safety of the tent. It was during those stormy nights that I first began to hear some of my party wish themselves back in Nelson, enjoying the pictured happiness of a comfortable room and a snug bed.
At last, on the 10th of April, the weather cleared up, the blue sky shone through the trees, and, notwithstanding the forest was still soaking wet, I started, accompanied by Mr. Burnett and one of the Maories, to find a spur leading up the mountain. As there were several distinct peaks, the great difficulty was to find a spur leading to the highest. The river here formed two terraces, broken through by numerous deep gullies caused by streams from the mountains, and although as we advanced we tried by every means
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to get a glimpse of the summit, we were unable to do so, in consequence of the compact roof of foliage above our heads. After a great deal of climbing, we at length found a good spur, leading apparently in the right direction, which we ascended for about 800 to 1,000 feet, in order to satisfy ourselves of the fact. Finding that it did so, we blazed it for future use, and returned, of course wet to the skin, to our camp.
We started the next morning, the weather being still fine, and followed the spur, which continued to rise gently, with the exception of a few rocky points, and was covered with dense vegetation. At an altitude of 3,000 feet the forest ceased, and was succeeded by a sub-Alpine vegetation so dense that it is extremely difficult to give an accurate idea of it. Seeing that it was impossible to proceed with our loads, and having found a clear spring in the vicinity, I ordered the tents to be pitched; but as the sides of the mountain were here very steep, this could not be done until we had erected a kind of stage.
Mr. Burnett, myself, and one of my hands, in the meantime started to cut a line for our upward route, which, however, was more easily projected than done. It was necessary to cut every branch in our track, for as they grew downwards, they offered an almost impassable barrier; and, to do this, we were frequently compelled to climb over them, in order to reach their upper sides. We worked for three hours without intermission, and had then only ascended 300 feet. The sides of the mountain moreover became gradually steeper, and we were often obliged to climb round overhanging rocks.
After overcoming all these obstacles, however, we at last came to a more serious impediment to our progress, in the shape of a perpendicular granite wall, thirty feet high, which stretched away in both directions, and which, unfortunately, was so smooth that it seemed impossible to ascend it. Upon searching, however, we found a spot where, in crevices of the rock, some ranunculus plants had taken root, and which seemed to offer a prospect of foothold. Here we climbed up without boots or stockings, which we took off in order to have a better footing, and then found that there were no further obstacles to our reaching the summit.
As night was approaching, we descended to our camp, which we reached in a quarter of an hour, passing in that time over ground which had taken us nearly four hours to ascend. In the evening the Maories plaited a flax rope, for the purpose of drawing up our loads at the granite wall.
I started the next morning (April 18) with one tent, and provisions for two days, intending to camp on the top of the mountain. The weather again changed, and we were enveloped in dense clouds, which very soon wetted us through. After having passed the cliff, the road continued through sub-Alpine vegetation,
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but not of so dense a character, so that we were enabled to ascend with less cutting. A few hundred feet higher up the mountain was strewed with gigantic rocks, only partly covered with grass and mosses, but here we found a big gully, which, although very steep and full of spear grass, enabled us to reach the top at eleven o'clock. The clouds still overhung the mountain, occasionally, however, opening sufficiently to give us a partial view of the sea of rocky peaks around us.
It was very trying, after having got so far, to be stopped, first by the illness of my companions, and then by bad weather, our provisions too diminishing so rapidly that I feared, if the bad weather continued, that I should have to return without obtaining any adequate result for our exertions.
Towards noon the clouds rose, and, to our dismay, we saw above us, separated by a valley at least 1,000 feet deep, the dome-shaped form of Black-hill. We had evidently missed the right spur, and ascended a mountain further to the south. We at once resumed our journey, and although the sides of the hill, which I named Deception-hill, were very steep and covered with scrub, we in a short time reached the saddle between the two mountains.
Here, seeing that there was no wood higher up, I left some of my party to pitch the tent, intending afterwards to return to the camp on the side of Deception-hill, and, proceeding with all possible speed, I reached the summit at two o'clock, accompanied by Mr. Burnett and one of my hands, finding, to our great satisfaction, running water all the way. The passing clouds still occasionally enveloped us, and the wind, blowing hard and cold, made our position very uncomfortable. But we were recompensed by a most extensive view, although the clouds covered the higher mountains. Towards the east and north, the large district of the Grey was lying like a map before us, and the river meandering through it was visible from the point where it enters the plains down to the gorge near its mouth. I could trace the Ahaura in its whole course to its junction; far away the blue waters of Lake Brunner, or Kotukuwakao, were visible, whilst between it and the Ahaura appeared another beautiful sheet of water several square miles in extent, which I named, in commemoration of the visit of my eminent friend Dr. Hochstetter to this province, Lake Hochstetter.
The level country was only interrupted here and there by ridges from 100 to 150 feet in height, partly covered with forest and partly with grass. The eye dwelt with pleasure on this extensive tract, in which, however, no sign of human presence was visible, except the smoke rising from Mr. Rochfort's camp in one of the grass plains, the colour of which contrasted agreeably with the dark green tints of the forests. The valleys of the Otututu and the Mawhera-iti and their streams were also visible.
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Towards the north-north-west, the large valley of the Inangahua stretched away as far as the eye could reach, whilst on the northern side of the Buller low hills were visible between the eastern and western rocky chains.
Towards evening the weather cleared up, and as it became extremely cold, we lit a fire with the roots and short stems of a few Alpine scrubs, it being scarcely possible for me to keep the pencil between my fingers. It is difficult to describe the wild scenery towards the east, south, and north; peak after peak appeared, one towering above the other, and each surpassing the other in abruptness and fantastical outline. Towards the north-east was visible the break in the two parallel chains through which the Grey flows, over which again rose in all its majesty its vast snow-fields gilded by the setting sun, Mount Franklin, the parent source of all the streams the courses of which I could see; whilst towards the south-east lay the three snow-clad giants, Plinlimmon, Helvellyn, and Skiddaw, fully 2,000 feet higher than they are noted in the maps. We arrived at our camp at nightfall, and although it was very cold, and we had no proper firewood, we passed an excellent night.
Next morning we again ascended the mountain, and I hoped to have finished by noon, so that we might return to our camp on the side of Deception-hill, but unfortunately the weather had not yet cleared, and just at one spot towards the north, where I had important bearings to take, clouds obstinately remained, so with pencil in hand, chilly and cold, I stood waiting till the weather changed. At the time when we should have returned the clouds still hung over the mountains, but as the aneroid was rising fast, I determined to wait for sunset, when the clouds generally disappeared. We had only taken some damper with us for a scanty breakfast and dinner, so that we should have to go to bed without a meal, but my perseverance was recompensed, as towards the close of the evening the clouds rose, and the whole chain, in all its details, became visible. The night was so cold that we got no sleep, and I could hear my poor companions, who had only one blanket each, shivering with the cold.
In the morning, the water pools round our tent, and the tea in the billy, were hard frozen, and we were very soon on our way to rejoin our party, in order to warm ourselves and get a breakfast. Our road lay over Deception-hill; it was a magnificent morning, the sun shone brightly in an unclouded sky, and from the top of the mountain I obtained one of the finest views I ever remember to have seen. Over the whole low country floated a dense mist, giving to it the appearance of a large sea, above which the mountain chains rose like islands, so clear and distinct that the minutest details of their outlines were visible.
The highest summit ranges of the Island, commencing at Kaimatau, on the southern side of the Taramakau, and running from
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thence to Milford Haven, well named the Southern Alps, were distinctly visible, and amongst them, its two snow covered peaks glittering in the sun, Mount Cook rose majestically. We could not sufficiently admire this unique scene, and it was not without regret that we commenced our descent from our lofty observatory. After a hearty meal of lilipi! our other provisions being exhausted, we descended the mountain, crossed the Grey, and camped on the other side, near the spot where the proposed line of road will enter the forest. Although we started early the next morning, we thought it almost impossible to reach our provisions at the junction of the Mawhera-iti, it having taken us three days to get from thence to our last night's camping place; hut not having much to carry, we determined to try our utmost, and here we learnt the difference of travelling through untouched forest and through a blazed track with occasional cuttings. At eleven o'clock we reached our old camp in the bush, at three we struck the Grey, and at dark arrived at the junction, exhausted by hunger, wet, and cold, having forded the river, which was now very cold, at least ten times, thus accomplishing in one day our three former days' march. In fact it was only by walking as fast as we could that we succeeded in keeping up the circulation of the blood. This mountain trip thus occupied me a fortnight, whilst in fine summer weather it could have been accomplished in from five to six days at furthest.
The next day, 22nd April, we prepared to start in a northerly direction to examine the rivers Otututu and Mawhera-iti, although it began again to rain. For three days and three nights the rain continued without ceasing, so that it was impossible to move forward. The Grey and the Mawhera-iti rose very high, and it was really a beautiful sight to see these two rivers join, each bringing down enormous masses of timber uprooted by the flood. Having confidence in the large valley, and in the broad bed of the river, we thought our camp was quite safe, the banks of the Grey being here from twelve to fourteen feet above the level of the stream, but we were greatly deceived.
At day break on the 24th, on looking out of the tent, I observed, to my astonishment, that the water was already level with the river banks, and from the continued rain we had reason to expect a further rise. Of course I called out the men, stowed everything as quick as possible in the whata, and yet, before we had struck the tents, we were knee deep in water. We searched around us for a higher spot, but unfortunately without success, as the place upon which we had pitched our tent was nearly surrounded by a little rivulet in which the water was much deeper than where we stood. We all went to work, however, and erected upon the highest point of our island, between two trees, a stage, over which we spread the tent. Here, at least, we were safe, though it is not necessary to add that we were rather uncomfortable, having been
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for the greatest part of the day wading in the cold water whilst the rain poured upon us from above. This was the heaviest inundation which the natives had ever experienced, half of the pah at the mouth of the Grey having been swept away by it. The next day the clouds began to break, and the weather cleared up again and although the rivers were still very high, we were able to start on the 26th.
Instead of following the Grey down to the spot where the Otututu joins it, I thought it better to strike across the country, which, in consequence of the deep water courses, was very wet work. After two hours' walk, we emerged upon the grass plains which lie on the eastern bank of this fine stream. Notwithstanding it was still swollen, we managed to cross it several times in its lowest parts, in order to profit by the occasional shingle beaches; but higher up this was not possible, the river bed being narrower, so we were compelled to remain on the eastern side, and to find our way through the dense scrub which occasionally replaces the grass. This gave us not a little trouble and hard work, so that by the evening we had not advanced more than four miles, and camped on the grass near the river. The next morning again one of my men fell ill, which detained us another day.
To profit by this delay I started with another of the men up the river to examine its banks, wash for gold, and get a general outline of the country, whilst Mr. Burnett went to search for a road through the belt of interwoven scrub which surrounded us, over which, towards the east, two small grassy terraces were visible, these again bounded by forests. Returning towards evening we found our patient much better, and could therefore start the following day for the Mawhera-iti, on the line blazed by Mr. Burnett. We struck the river four miles north of its junction with the Grey, where a large grass flat lies on the eastern side.
The banks of the Mawhera-iti for the next three miles were covered with small grass patches, from one-eighth to half a mile broad, beyond which again large terraces appear, partly covered with splendid grass, partly with toitoi, Taranaki fern, and stunted manuka. These terraces reach to the Paparoha range, three to four miles distant, and would therefore form a good run for sheep or cattle but for the boggy grounds between. We crossed several very nice mountain streams falling into the main river, on the banks of the second of which we camped.
The next morning, the 30th April, we ascended the terrace, which afforded better walking, as the lower ground was very much intersected by little swampy rivulets. We soon struck Mr. Rochfort's line, and this sign of approaching civilization was very pleasant. We hoped that Mr. Rochfort was far ahead of us as we should be able to travel much faster along the good line he had
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cut. After several miles' walk over swampy grounds, once covered with dense forest, as was proved by the presence in them of numerous stumps of large burnt trees, we found the river turn towards the north-west. Another small branch, flowing from the north, had been followed by Mr. Rochfort, leading him into a dense forest, composed of different species of the pine family. Towards evening we came up with him, a few miles from the saddle, and we had once more the pleasure of camping together. Here his line ceased, and we had to continue our own route, following one of the branches towards the north-east. We camped at the foot of the small ridge forming the watershed of the Buller and Grey, intending to cross it early next morning, and reach the Inangahua in the middle of the day. But we were cruelly deceived; heavy rain set in again, and lasted from the evening of the 1st May, to the morning of the 6th.
I shall not attempt to describe our feelings of annoyance at being again kept in the tent, unable to move, our provisions diminishing rapidly, and what was most tiresome, the probability of being compelled to return without having reached the Inangahua. Even when the rain ceased for half an hour it was impossible to move, on account of the deep saturated moss under foot, the wet bushes, and the dripping of the trees above, which very soon wet us through and through.
I employed this time, having fortunately a change of clothes, very much patched and worn it is true, in collecting botanical specimens, working at my sketches, and painting the fungi collected in our neighbourhood. We all, believing that the winter season was always the same here, thought the climate of the West Coast most horrid, and I could not but concur with one of my party, who proposed to change its name to Wet Coast.
After three days' idleness I could no longer stand it, and proposed therefore to Mr. Burnett that, notwithstanding the rain continued to pour down in torrents, we should start together and ascend the saddle, in order to examine it. This we did, and it was a very wet business.
Fortunately, when we reached the saddle the clouds, as if to recompense us for our trouble, opened for a short time, and we could see the large valley of the Inangahua at our feet. We had only a little flour left, so when, on the 6th May, the rain ceased, we began to retrace our steps, and after a few hours' walk arrived at a spot where, a week ago, we had camped with Mr. Rochfort. We found him still there, as he had not been able to move, and although his stock of provisions was not very great, he willingly shared it with us. In the evening we camped near one of the large streams coming from the Paparoha chain, about twelve miles distant from the junction of the Mawhera-iti.
Our misadventures, however, were not yet over. During this night and the following day we had nothing but rain, hail storms,
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and tempests, so violent in fact that we had great difficulty in securing our tent, which we feared every moment would be blown to pieces. The river near our tent became a torrent, and although the rain ceased during the night, we did not conceive it possible to continue our journey next day. This we did, however, although it was not without considerable difficulty that we crossed the river and the many smaller streams, which, like torrents, rushed down from the mountains. We arrived at last at the Mawhera-iti, which we had to cross; for a moment we stopped, and looked at the dirty swollen river before us, but as it again began to rain slightly I was determined to try and get over. In order to do this, we availed ourselves of an old Maori plan, by which they cross deep and rapid streams, and which was the only one that would enable us to make a way through the rushing waters. Instead of crossing over one by one with a stick, we took a long stick, upon which everyone placed both his hands, and then, entering the water at the place where we knew that the ford had been, we kept in one line with the river. The advantage of this method was very great, because the force of the dashing waters, instead of having to be surmounted by each, was more easily overcome by five, whilst the rolling stones carried against the feet, or which move when the feet are placed upon them, will often cause a single man to lose his footing, whilst in this manner they do no harm, as each protects the other from falling. But notwithstanding these advantages, it was not without the greatest exertions that we forded the river. At one place, where a small arm of the river had to be crossed, one of the Maories, a capital forder, tried to go alone, but although the water was not much above his knees he was washed down, and it was only by great exertions that he saved himself.
Two miles below the junction we had still two fords to cross; entering the water at the first of these it very soon reached our arm-pits, and we should have lost our footing had we attempted to proceed. We were therefore obliged to turn round and get back again, which, as will be easily understood, we only accomplished with the greatest difficulty. We then travelled through dense scrub for half a mile, after which we reached open bush, where we made better head way. It was nearly dark when we arrived at our old camp at the junction, where we enjoyed a good meal, and slept soundly after our day's exertion and the wet and cold we had suffered.
On the next day (the 9th of May) the weather cleared up. The Grey was still very high, but having already lost so much time I determined, after a short consultation with the natives, to start. It was twelve o'clock when we entered the canoe on our way down. We took the centre of the river, the rapid flow of which could best be appreciated by observing how quickly we passed the various jutting points. Keeping in the centre of the stream we
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had not much to fear from drift trees, often of enormous size, which everywhere were lying in the shallower places near its edges. Three miles below the Otututu, where the river makes a sharp bend towards the west, turning again after another half-mile towards the east, we found its bed much changed, the great flood having formed a new channel, through which the main river flowed, and towards which the current took our frail canoe. This was a moment of great anxiety and excitement. The river bed was here very narrow; all before and around us were breakers formed by the rushing of the torrent over snags, which encumbered the river in every direction. We travelled at the rate of ten miles an hour at the least, and all the skill and energy of the Maories were required to guide the canoe safely through: not a word was spoken, everyone looked before him, expecting each moment that the canoe would be dashed to pieces against a tree. After a few minutes' suspense we again entered the broad current, having happily passed the most dangerous spot. We stopped an hour at the junction of the Ahaura, in order to make a sketch and take some bearings, and arrived at six o'clock in the evening at the mouth of the river. But we looked in vain for some of the whares. They were gone, and amidst the ruins, like Jeremiah amongst those of Jerusalem, stood Katarina, one of the two Maori women who had been left behind, singing a most doleful waiata, in which she described the flood, and its destructive effects, finishing with the words "Awe, awe, kua riro te mira," (Alas, alas, the mill is lost), which she considered the greatest misfortune they could sustain.
Not being able to re-ascend the river on account of the flood, I stayed at the pah for six days, during which Mr. Mackay, with the greater part of the Maories, returned, and again noise and bustle began to reign. When the river had fallen sufficiently to enable me to re-ascend it for the purpose of making a minute examination of the coal-field, it began to rain, which caused afresh delay. It will be observed, that since we left the Grey I have no longer detailed the results of our bird and eel-catching efforts, but as several explorers before me have given minute accounts concerning the additions to their daily bill of fare derived from these sources, I think it scarcely necessary to refer more fully to this portion of our bush life than to say, that we all acquired great skill and experience in catching eels and snaring wekas, and that with pleasure we added the booty, as a welcome change, to our stock of provisions.
During our stay at the pah some of our party suffered from lumbago, but not so seriously as to prevent us from thinking of starting, Richard Kemp, the native, however, got such a swollen leg from rheumatism, that I was obliged to leave him behind, and old Puaha, Mr. Mackay's native, went with us instead. The river had at last fallen sufficiently to enable us to start, and after a pull of a day and a-half we reached the coal-measures.
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From the 17th to the 28th of May I was occupied in examining this most important district. After having followed the different ferruginous sandstones, clays, and grindstones, which occur in regular succession, I found, below the underlying grits, the first small seams of coal, the examination of which completed my first day's work.
The next morning, continuing in a systematic way, I soon had the pleasure of discovering the main seam, which I followed up to the bed of a small rivulet, where it was lying exposed to a depth of twelve feet six inches. I must confess that I was much excited, because, on examining the coal in situ, it was clear to me that I had to do with a real coal, its compactness, specific gravity, lustre, and combustibility, leaving nothing to be desired. As the seam struck in a regular way across the river, whilst at the same time I was able to trace it towards the north, I had no difficulty in concluding that the spot upon which I was standing would prove a source of great wealth, not only to this district, but to the colony at large. In a few years, I said to myself, instead of the wilderness, we shall have the dwellings of men; instead of a few birds, now its only inhabitants, we shall have a busy population of miners enlivening the country; the shriek of the locomotive will resound through its valleys, and busy life and animation will everywhere be seen. The harbour will be the resort of numerous colliers, and an active population will replace the inert savages who now occupy the pah. The Grey district, possessing easy communication with other parts of the colony, will, I hope, soon be peopled, and its farmers find their market amongst a mining population. I may be pardoned if, instead of reporting mere fact, I have here given way to my feelings, but I conceive that the most matter-of-fact man would become imaginative when standing upon a spot containing such a vast store of mineral wealth.
In order more fully to examine these valuable deposits, I ordered the tents to be pitched, and determined to lay the whole seam open. As Mr. Mackay intended to start, however, the next day, and required Puaha's services, I sent Mr. Burnett down to engage another Maori in case Dick should not have recovered.
Mr. Burnett left next morning, and we, in order to get at the floor of the coal seam, began to dig a ditch. By this means we opened the seam to a depth of fifteen feet; we did not succeed in reaching the floor, the water of the little streamlet being very troublesome, and filling the hole as fast as we dug it out. I could see too that along the southern side of the river the whole seam was lying exposed, so after another day's work at the ditch we left off, and I continued my examination. I had not yet found any fossils, and therefore devoted the next two days to a search amongst the almost vertical cliffs which here form the southern side of the
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river. Assisted by one of my European companions, I fortunately obtained a rich collection of the fossil fauna in the overlying rocks. It was raining during the whole time, but having found a spot where some projecting rocks gave us shelter, we continued to work during the whole day, and returned to camp with our treasures in the evening.
The 22nd of May I continued my researches, following the river upwards, which, owing to the very broken nature of the country, was rather a difficult task. I this day discovered two other seams of coal, lying below the main seam, one one foot, and the other four feet six inches thick. It was not without great difficulty that I reduced to order the various strata of this important coal formation, for the whole side of the mountain here consisted of broken pieces of shale and grits, lying about in all directions, often in large blocks, intermingled with coal. Having traced the lowest visible seam, I began to dig a pit, in order to ascertain its thickness. After having cut into the seam more than twelve feet, and still finding good coal, I heard it begin to crack above us. I therefore ordered the men at once to come out of the pit, and we ascended the hill to clear away the many loose rocks lying above the seat of our work. The men had not been five minutes out of the pit when a large block, at least half a ton in weight, fell into it. I thanked Providence that I had insisted upon their leaving the hole, although they themselves would not believe there was any danger.
During this day I collected a great quantity of shale, with very perfect and variegated impressions of leaves of fern and plants. Another day was devoted to following up one of the rivulets, which, about half a mile above, formed a magnificent cascade over an overhanging cliff at least forty feet high, and I waited impatiently for the return of the canoe to go over to the southern side of the river. It returned late in the evening, having come up from the pah in one day.
Notwithstanding the rain began to pour down in streams, I crossed on the following day to the southern bank, traced the main seam there on two sides, and having again re-crossed the river, met it on the eastern side of the range, and thus fulfilled this part of my mission. As we had had the pleasure of seeing heavy freshes at two different places in the open country, it was only fair that we should also enjoy the same beautiful sight in the gorge.
During three days the rain fell without intermission, keeping us in the tents; but, having personally plenty to do, I did not so much suiter by it. By the meteorological tables attached to this report it will be seen how many wet days we had during this month, and from this it will be understood what discomfort we underwent in the dank black birch forest. Fortunately, at the coal field we kept up such a large coal fire that even the heaviest
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showers could not extinguish it, and the tents dried as fast as they became wet.
Mr. Rochfort having finished his survey at the Inangahua this day, came down the river; but, as he was not able to land, we could only greet each other with a few words en passant.
Behind the spot where we were camped rose a hill from 800 to 1,000 feet high, separated from the main chain by a deep valley. Although the rocky cliffs satisfied me that it would be rather troublesome to ascend, we started, on the morning of the 28th of May, to reach the top, which was not accomplished without considerable difficulty, as in many places we had to climb up very steep walls.
The weather was still cloudy, but I got a complete bird's-eye view of the surrounding country, and of the level tract of forest which stretches between Lake Hochstetter and Lake Brunner. Having ascertained that the coal-bearing strata continued without disturbance in the direction of our day's march, and the rain again pouring down, I resolved to return to the pah instead of going, as I had previously intended, to Lake Brunner; for not only were our provisions partly spoiled, but it would have been impossible to reach the eastern bank of the Kotuku-wakaho stream, up which we should have had to go. We therefore, for the third time, went down the river in a fresh, and were again, by continued rain, detained at the pah till the 31st of May, when at last the weather cleared up and enabled us to say farewell to the Grey, and to start round the coast for the mouth of the Buller.
We crossed the river on the 1st of June, and had a most magnificent view of the Southern Alps, the majestic appearance of which it is difficult to describe. From Kaimatau, on the southern bank of the Taramakau, the whole chain was visible; but above them all rose Mount Cook, named by the natives the Ahoa-rangi (Piercer of the clouds of Heaven), dressed as low as we could see in a garment of dazzling snow, and standing in bold relief against the blue sky. Further to the south, like ice-islands rising above the sharp line of the horizon, appeared the points of two other peaks, the whole illumined by a brilliant winter sun.
It was with regret that we turned our backs upon this splendid scene, and continued our way towards Komatiki-tawao, a bold headland of cretaceous cliffs, over which we had to pass. After half an hour's walk through bush, consisting of kie-kie, fern-trees, and nikau palms, we again took to the beach. There another splendid view lay before us towards the north; the Paparoha mountain chain reaching to the sea shore, and forming perpendicular cliffs, upon which, as well as upon numerous picturesque islands close to them, the sea was beating with fury, whilst just above the horizon appeared the low hills of the Miko.
This view reminded me of some of the coast between Genoa
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and Nizza, celebrated for its beauty, and to which alone it can be compared. Here we camped near the beach, which, being strewed with driftwood, gave us an opportunity of having a large and comfortable fire.
It was delightful on going out of the tents in the morning to see before us the deep blue sea with its restless waves, whilst above us the sun shone in a clear open sky. How pleasant this was can only be understood by those who, like myself, had for some time lived in the darkness of the forest. Here, too, we had a change of food, having found on the shore abundance of fish left by the receding tide, which were fresh and very palatable. We all enjoyed this change exceedingly. I here devoted a day to a close examination of the rocks around us, and collected many interesting and important fossils.
Having crossed, on the following day (June 3), the Waimatukiri, we arrived at some perpendicular cliffs, formed by rocks belonging to the carboniferous formation, over which many little streamlets fell in pretty cascades. We crossed the Kaitorepi, and, after a few miles' walk, arrived at the Wai-aniwhenua, a beautiful mountain stream. This I ascended for a mile, accompanied by Tarapuhi, the native chief, and having convinced myself, by an examination of the rocks, &c., that the coal formation extended to this river, we rejoined our men, and in the evening arrived at the old Maori pah (Kararoa), where we camped.
It being high water in the morning, we had to wait for the reflux of the tide before we could pass round the next cape, and I profited by this otherwise unpleasant delay to return about a mile on our yesterday's track, in order to examine more minutely the rocks passed at dusk.
Having wished good-bye to Tarapuhi, who returned to the Grey from this, we continued our journey along steep cliffs and over boulders, between which, here and there, we found small sandy beaches. Beyond the Maukurinui, a bold headland composed of compact sandstone, the mountains receded from the coast, leaving at their base a small strip of level land about eight or nine miles in length, at the southern extremity of which we camped.
Continuing our route the next day along this sandy beach, we obtained a very nice view over the low cretaceous hills which bound it towards the east and south, above which appeared the rugged peaks of the central chain in the Paparoha range, whose forms contrasted singularly with the round-topped granitic mountains in front of them. The above-mentioned strip of level land is for the greatest part very swampy, and intersected by numerous little streams flowing from the mountain chain, amongst which the Kokiwi and Waiwero are the most important. At some places along the beach the shore resembled a large river bed, the
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water oozing in a succession of streamlets from under the high banks.
The surprising abundance of running water which I observed during our inland journey continued undiminished round the coast, and it sometimes puzzled me how so much water could flow from so comparatively small a mountain range.
In the evening we arrived at the end of the sandy beach, and here again I observed cretaceous rocks, forming a most picturesque headland, partly undermined by the action of the waves. As it was impossible to get round these rocks (called by the natives Punakai-ki), we had to ascend them, which we did on the following morning. This point has been described by former explorers as presenting a frightful appearance; but although on the one side there is a deep chasm in the rock, whilst on the other the hill slopes down at an angle of sixty to seventy degrees, and the ridge is so narrow as to leave barely space for a footing, the whole is covered with flax bushes, which enable you to pass over without serious difficulty. Here one of my party felt so giddy that he could not proceed without assistance, and I had to go back and help him over. On arriving at the northern end of these cliffs we were again compelled to wait for the reflux of the tide, as we had to cross the Porarari. In the limestone rocks around us were several very nice caves, which we explored. Their summits, too, were covered with superb vegetation, amongst which the nikau palm stretched its graceful crown, and the sea dashing against the foot of the cliffs gave to the whole landscape a most romantic aspect.
It was two o'clock when we passed the Porarari, a stream of considerable size, and only fordable at the bar at low water, across which it is necessary to run as quickly as possible, in order to avoid being caught by the returning wave. The road from thence continues over steep cliffs, through an interwoven tissue of kie-kie and supplejacks, and although each of us cut as much as possible in the way, we found it very difficult to get through. After travelling about a mile through this tangled bush, we descended to the beach by a steep path, which presented distinct marks of the former action of the waves. Huge blocks of limestone and greensand lie one above the other, and apparently so loose as to lead to the impression that they would fall upon the least touch.
The next morning, passing over similar rocky ground, we reached and crossed the Punangahaire, a stream of considerable size, and arrived at the foot of some cliffs, which we ascended, travelling through three miles of bush, in which numberless fallen trees and a very dense vegetation gave us much trouble, and arrived at the famous cliff of the Miko. As this cliff is not merely perpendicular, but in some places overhangs, the Maories have constructed two ladders, one fifteen feet, and the other thirty-
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one feet in length, and consisting of pieces of rata lashed together with flax, the steps being placed at irregular intervals. Between these two ladders is a little platform. As we descended, several of the steps, which were rotten, broke under our weight; but as Mr. Mackay had been kind enough some time before to replace the old flax rope by a new one, we had secure handhold.
The same man of my party who had already felt giddy at the former cliffs remained behind, and when the others had reached the foot of the ladder they told me that it would be impossible to bring him down. I, however, re-ascended, and after a considerable loss of time, succeeded in assisting him down to the first platform. As the second and longest ladder is lashed to a tree which grows in a crevice in the rocks, rendering it necessary to lean over in order to reach the ladder, it was here that I experienced the greatest difficulty in getting him down, his giddiness endangering not merely his own life, but also the lives of those who assisted him. I must confess that it was a moment of anxiety for us all, and we felt greatly relieved when we got him safely down.
I do not relate this incident for the purpose of giving interest to my narrative, or to show the dangers of travelling round this rugged coast, but merely to warn persons who have not steady heads and sure footing against attempting this route. The man I refer to is a first rate traveller, a keen river crosser, and in every other respect a good bushman, but he is giddy, which perhaps he himself had not previously known, and this would be a very great drawback to passing round the coast.
After travelling another mile, we arrived at the granitic rocks, and finding a nice little sandy beach before us, camped.
The next day, June 8, the coast becoming very rocky, we exchanged our boots for Maori sandals (pereiras), which allowed a better foothold on the smooth boulders. The coast consists of rocky promontories, with masses of huge granitic boulders between, over which the traveller has to find his way by a succession of climbings and jumps, and where a fall would be of the most serious consequence. In going over one of these promontories, whilst I was looking at some crystals in the magnificent porphyritic granite which forms these wild spots, I had not observed a narrow chasm, overgrown with grass and tutu, which lay before me, and in a moment I fell, my right leg sinking into the crevice up to my hip. The fall was so heavy that the glass of one of the aneroids was smashed to pieces, and the pivot upon which the needle turns was broken in two. My first impression was that my leg was broken, as I felt very great pain, and was unable to move; but after a short time I extricated myself, although the intense pain I suffered almost made me faint. In my foot, which had not been so well protected by the pereiras as
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it would have been by thick boots, I had strained a sinew, which for a time completely paralyzed it. It was therefore a heavy task for me, with only one sound foot, to continue this kind of walking for half a mile further, until we reached a small sandy beach, at which we camped in the middle of the day; but, by using strong lotions, I was able, although obliged to limp, to resume my journey the next day.
The ground over which we travelled continued to be of the same description for about four miles; the view was most romantic, the sea dashing furiously against the granitic cliffs before us, whilst picturesque rocks, rising out of the foaming surf in all possible forms and shapes, gave infinite variety to the scene. Cretaceous cliffs overlying the granite again appeared, bounding the sandy beaches with vertical walls, over which numberless streamlets fell in beautiful cascades. These beaches afforded us better walking; but they were succeeded by the high cliffs called Maungahura, over which we had to pass with the aid of supplejack ropes, as they jutted so far into the sea as to prevent our going round them.
Towards evening it rained heavily, and the Maori, who knew the road, told us that we had still two miles further to travel before we could reach a cave at which we intended to camp. It was nearly high water when we again reached the shore, and as the wind had risen considerably, the sea dashed furiously against the huge masses of limestone rock, between which we had to find our way. Here one of my party, in trying to creep between the rocks during the recession of the waves, was caught, and was kept sometime under water; indeed, it was not without difficulty that he avoided being taken into the sea by the surf. Another man, under whose feet the wet ground gave way as he was ascending a cliff, slipped over the precipice, but fortunately grasped some branches above him; his heavy load would have dragged him down, had I not heard his cries and gone to his assistance. We were all very glad when we arrived at the cave, and were enabled to camp in a dry spot, and, although we found it very draughty, we spent a comfortable night.
As I had some geological work to do, we stopped here the next day, and I went back over our last day's journey. Finding at low water a nice sandy beach, I was not long in reaching our descent of the previous day, and as the sun shone brightly it presented quite a different aspect. I learnt too that at many points of this coast the nature of the journey depends on the state of the tide, so that a part of the line which may have been described by one explorer as most frightful, because he had travelled over it at high water, would be found by the next to be perfectly easy, because he had crossed it at low water; though of course there are many places difficult of access, and which can only be passed at low water.
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On the 11th of June we started from the cave, called by the natives Te-ana-o Matuku, respecting which they tell a very interesting tale of a large ngarara, a monster in the form of an enormous lizard, which formerly lived here, and devoured all who attempted to pass. Since they have become Christians, however, they have called it by another name, Te whare Taipo (the Devil's house), probably referring the formation of the cave, of which I shall speak more fully in the geological part of my report, to supernatural agency rather than to the hand of nature.
After another mile's walk we again left the limestone cliffs, which receded from the coast, and were succeeded by precipitous granite walls, here and there intersected by sandy beaches. The road here leads to the Tuhinu, a hill covered with rushes, mosses, and stunted manuka, at which point it leaves the coast and strikes inland. Ascending this hill, we had, as it was a clear sunny day, a superb view over the whole mountain chain north of the Grey, the beauty of the panorama much heightened by the appearance of the Southern Alps in all their glory, high above the sea horizon. The road follows the ridge, and after having travelled four miles, partly through dense bush, we had, on re-entering the open ground, an extensive view of the Paparoha chain. This mountain range, running almost parallel with the coast between the Buller and the Grey, here attains its highest altitude, the centre of the chain consisting of high serrated peaks, with deep ravines and precipices between, whilst in the front lie the rounded forms of the granitic mountains. It is also from this point that the traveller obtains the first view of the extensive tract of level land south of the Buller, and of the coast stretching far away to Taura te Weka, or Rocky Point.
We camped in a large plain, which was partly swampy, and started early the next morning, notwithstanding heavy rain had set in, hoping by the next day to reach the mouth of the Buller, our provisions, with the exception of a few handfuls of flour, being exhausted. At the northern extremity of the Tuhinu downs the granite again crops out through the post pliocene formation, through which many little streams fall towards the Wai-takere river, which we reached at noon. This is a fine stream, but being too deep to ford near its mouth, we crossed it about two miles up, and after scrambling for some time through thick forest, returned to the sea shore. Another half a mile of climbing over huge granitic rocks brought us to a long sandy beach, stretching away to Tauranga Point. The country now became very low, and instead of rocks, the banks of the sea consisted of hillocks of drift sand. We continued our route along this beach, but on arriving, after three miles' walk, at the mouth of the River Totara, the tide had risen so much that we could not cross it, and were therefore compelled to wait until the evening, endeavouring in the meantime to shoot some toreas (redbills), in order to add a little to our
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small stock of provisions. As the water in the neighbourhood was very brackish, we suffered a good deal from thirst, but by starting at nine o'clock at night, crossing by starlight the rivers Totara and Okari, we reached the shores of the little harbour of Tauranga at twelve o'clock. There we found some fresh water, which was not a little comfort to us, and we all felt that we would rather be one day without a meal, as we had been, than seventeen hours without a drink, our thirst, too, having been increased by eating paste made with brackish water at the Totara.
On the next morning, the 13th June, we enjoyed very much the view across the pretty boat harbour of Tauranga, and were soon on our way to the Buller, which we hoped to reach in the afternoon. The coast again became rocky, granitic and metamorphic rocks forming bold cliffs, round or over which the traveller has to climb, and outside of which stand the high cliffs called the Three Steeples, breaking the line of the quiet sea horizon. Beyond Cape Foulwind limestone again appears, but a long sandy beach enabled us to travel with ease to Omau Point. Here I obtained a complete view towards the north, a view which the most indolent traveller could not but admire. The coast, at first retiring towards the north-east for about fifty miles, then turns towards the north-west for the next forty, forming a very extensive bay. Far away lay Rocky Point, the most westerly promontory of that part of the Island, between which and the point where we stood numerous picturesque headlands projected into the sea. Above these appeared higher hills, whilst behind them all, clad with dazzling snow, towered the great mountain chain which forms the back bone of the Island, and in the recesses of which the Aorere, Takaka, Wangapeka, Matiri, Karamea, and other rivers take their rise.
From this point a long sandy beach begins, forming the seaward boundary of the Buller delta. Over this we hurried towards the mouth of the river, which we reached in the evening. The storekeeper, whom I had sent forward from the Grey, hearing the report of our gun, came across the Buller lagoon, which stretches towards the south, and we were soon comfortably lodged in the substantial whare which he had built, and thus, after an interval of more than five months, we again slept under a roof, and enjoyed the conveniences of a table and chair. I had hoped to find a canoe ready to ascend the river, having made arrangements for that purpose with the native Livai, whom I had seen at the Grey, and who promised me that he would do all that was necessary to enable me to start immediately after my arrival, which I was anxious to do without delay. I was therefore much disappointed at finding that he had not done so, and, moreover, that he was not willing to do it, raising so many difficulties concerning the season the freshes, &c., that I saw I should not succeed with him. The Canterbury diggers, who had come at the wrong season having
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returned to Nelson, had given their punt and canoe to our storekeeper, who placed the last at my disposal. The natives, however, declared that it would he quite impossible to go up the river with this canoe, which was heavy and ill chopped, and I therefore changed my plan, and instead of going up the Buller to the Inangahua, where I intended to have ascended a mountain, I thought it just as well to ascend the mountain chain north of the Buller, and to descend thence by the valley of the Orikaka to the Buller, striking it near the junction of the Inangahua, in case I could not otherwise obtain sufficient knowledge of the physical geography and geology of the surrounding country. In order to obtain a section of the chain at the point where the Buller pierces it, I intended to ascend the river for ten miles in the Goldseeker, the name given by the Canterbury diggers to their canoe.
After a few days' rest, during which the necessary preparations were made, and washing, mending, and other household occupations were gone through, we started on the 18th June to ascend the river. One of my natives being ill, I was compelled to secure the services of one of the few Maories who were living here, and I again learnt that, generally speaking, Europeans can much better bear fatigue and privations than the Maories of the present generation.
The Buller, or Kawatiri, near its mouth, and for several miles up, is a very fine and large river. For three miles the influence of the tide is felt, and we therefore started so as to profit by it. Where the tide was no longer sensible, the river became more rapid, and we had several ugly places to ascend. The Maori endeavoured to persuade me to return, asserting that we could not get any further, but of course I did not yield to his remonstrances.
The country on the banks of the river is flat, and covered with luxuriant forest, in which we camped the first night. The next day we arrived at a gorge where the river leaves the mountain range. This gorge, for the first mile, was singularly free from rapids, although the river was swift, and in some places very deep. The change of scene from the open country to the gorge was very striking, steep hills and rocky walls bounding the river on both sides, whilst small waterfalls rushed down here and there, the silvery hues of which were bordered by dark black-birch forest, and gave animation to the otherwise gloomy scenery. In the next mile large granitic masses occasionally narrowed the river bed, along which the water rushed with fury. Here our difficulties commenced, and we only succeeded in passing several of the rapids by dint of great exertion, the canoe being extremely broad in its bow. It was evening when we arrived at the Ohika-iti, a pretty river flowing from the southern chain, up which I travelled for a short distance, and found at its head a bold rugged mountain. The native told me that above the junction some very long rapids occurred, and that it would be perfectly impossible to go any
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farther, so, as I had seen enough of the country for my purposes we returned to the mouth of the Buller the next morning, reaching it after a pull of about three hours.
We at once prepared everything for a longer trip over the Papahaua chain, towards the Orikaka, a tributary of the Buller, flowing from the north, and joining the main river nearly opposite the Inangahua. As we had to take three weeks' provisions with us, I engaged two other Maories to assist as far as the top of the mountain, from thence they would return, and we took tools to build a canoe, in case I should find it necessary to go as far as the Buller by the Orikaka. Everything was ready by the evening of the 21st of June, and we intended to start the next morning, but we had not yet come to the end of our trials. The rain again set in with storms of wind and hail, and lasted without intermission till the evening of the 30th June. Although we had a good roof above us, and were more comfortable in the whare than we should have been in a tent, we began to feel very impatient of the delay. We had expected to be only five months absent from Nelson, and we were then near the sixth month, without knowing how much longer our expedition would last.
On the morning of the 1st of July the weather cleared, the aneroid rose rapidly, blue sky was visible, and, for the first time, we saw the mountain chain covered with snow, giving to the whole landscape a perfectly new appearance. We at once started, and crossing the Oruaiti and Tititara, two small rivers flowing from the Papahaua chain, we reached, towards evening, the mouth of the Whareatea, where we camped, having travelled with comparative ease, though heavily laden, over a good sandy beach, from whence we had to strike inland towards the mountains. The night was very cold, the water froze in our billies, and just as we were about to start in the morning, one of the natives declared that he was again suffering from rheumatism. This was very disagreeable, but as it could not be helped, and I did not wish to be hindered, I divided his load between us, and sent him back to the Buller. After having travelled a mile through dense bush, skirting the sea shore, we arrived at an open tract of swampy land, a paki, as the natives call it, covered with rushes, swamp grasses, and, in the higher parts, with manuka and ferns, and over which, owing to the very heavy rains, we found the walking very fatiguing. The view over this tract of land, dotted as it was here and there with small groves of kahikatea, and terminating in the Papahaua chain covered with snow, was very picturesque; several deep streams run through it, across one of which we found, still lying, the trees thrown by Mr. Rochfort when he passed through last year. One of the Maories passed over first, one of the Europeans followed but the trees being rotten, broke, and he was plunged into the water up to his chin. It took us some time to construct a new bridge, and it was evening when we reached the mountain, which
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we ascended for 1,500 feet before we found a suitable place to camp. We continued the ascent the next morning, which, with our heavy loads, was rather tedious work. After having ascended another 500 feet, we left the black-birch forest behind us, and rata and sub-Alpine plants began to clothe the sides of the mountain. We soon reached the snow line, the snow itself lying on the more shady spots in patches. The weather then suddenly changed, and it began to snow, so that we were obliged to camp at the first fit spot we could find, which was about 700 feet below the summit. The following day was cloudy and showery, and the two natives from the Buller complained much of the cold, and told me they should return; I could not prevent them doing so had I been inclined, and they accordingly left me. I was annoyed at this, as they had themselves ascended the mountain last year, and had promised to point out to me from the summit some important features in the geography of the district. The native whom I had engaged at the Grey, under pretence that I had scolded him too much because he would not rise like the rest of us, also left, preferring the fire-side in the whare at the Buller to our life in the bush. After they had left, my party consisted only of five Europeans.
On the following day, accompanied by Mr. Burnett and one of the men, I started for the summit, wading through the deep snow which covered the slopes of the mountain. Notwithstanding the weather began to clear during the day, it did not do so as rapidly as I could have desired, for, from what I saw of the panorama around, I was satisfied that I could not have selected a better spot for a topographical station, the eastern side of the mountain presenting precipices from 600 to 1,000 feet high, which enabled me to obtain clear open views in that direction. Whilst ascending, I had observed that the rocks resembled the grits of the Grey, and on the top I found shales and conglomerates, which led me to believe that I was again in a coal-bearing formation, and my ideas were confirmed on examining a quantity of rocks collected by one of the men, whom I had sent down a gully near our camp for that purpose. Amongst the shales which he brought up I found impressions of calamites, and leaves of dicotyledonous plants, similar to those observed in the coal measures of the Grey. The weather again became fine, and the nights cold, the thermometer falling six to eight degrees below freezing point.
On the 5th July I again ascended the mountain; there was not a cloud to be seen, and the whole country around lay like a superb panorama before me. It would be difficult fully to describe what I saw, and I will therefore in a few words give the leading features of the scene. To the north appeared the rocky point of Taura-te-Weka, with other bold headlands, stretching into the sea; above these rose a mass of mountains, amongst which towered the snow-clad giants of the central chain.
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Deep valleys indicated the courses of the great rivers amongst which the valley of the Karamea was most conspicuous. Towards the east lay the Lyell mountains, with their bold unbroken outline, over which appeared the rugged peaks of Mount Owen, and of the mountains at the head of the eastern branch of the Matiri. Beyond the Lyell range, where it sloped towards the Buller, rose Mount Murchison, the three peaks of which, visible from Nelson, are well known. Following the line of the large opening between the Lyell and Brunner ranges, and the eastern mountain chain commencing above the Top-house and running to Mount Franklin, the highest point in the Spencer mountains, I observed in front of the latter a series of lower mountains, forming regular cones, which plainly told the history of this great fissure. The valleys of the Tutaki, the Matakitaki, and the Maruia, were also visible, and above the eastern chain, in the direction of the head of the Rotoroa lake, appeared Tapaianuku, the highest summit of the Kaikoras. Towards the south-east and south, the rugged lines of the Brunner range were visible, broken through by the Awerau, the principal tributary of the Inangahua, over the broad valley of which the view reached to the Grey country, in which I recognized with pleasure our old friend Black-hill. This splendid panorama was further bounded by the southern Alps, in front of which Kaimata lay conspicuous. More towards the south, across the Buller, I looked down into the valleys of the Ohika-iti, and the Ohi-ka-nui, shut in at their heads by the rugged masses of the Paparoha chain, the whole presenting one of the finest and most magnificent views that it is possible to conceive. Whilst I was occupied in sketching this extensive panorama, sitting amongst the snow, and warming my fingers at a small fire kept alive with Alpine scrub, Mr. Burnett, at my desire, collected specimens of the rocks at the eastern side of the mountain, and took measurements of the different strata. For this purpose he had to descend the mountain for some distance through snow and ice into a frightful gully, and I was glad to see him return in safety. In order to complete my work, we, on the next day, ascended the mountain for the third time, the atmosphere still remaining clear, and the contours of the mountains surprisingly sharp. The Papahaua chain consists of two ranges, one near the sea, running north, the other, six miles to the east of it at the Buller, running north-west, the two afterwards uniting in a common centre, at the northern extremity of the range near the sea. I named the highest peak, upon which I had fixed my station, Mount Rochfort, after the first European who had ascended it, the highest point in the eastern chain Mount William, and their common terminus on the north, Mount Frederick. Between these two chains lies a platform, from 1,300 to 1,800 feet high, the three last-named peaks each rising to an altitude of about 3,500 feet. This plateau is intersected by an incredible number
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of small streams, rivulets, and precipices, and is covered with manuka and sub-Alpine scrubs. I determined to cross this plateau for the purpose of ascending the highest point of the eastern chain, and in case I could not finish my work there, to descend to the Orikaka, which was flowing at the eastern side of it, and thus reach the Buller, but as the Maories, who are expert in building canoes, had deserted me, I was obliged to abandon my original intention of going down that river to its mouth, and determined to return by the same way we had come. Starting next morning, therefore, we left part of our provisions and one tent on Mount Rochfort, the weather still continuing magnificent, although very cold. On descending to the plateau we found it worse than our anticipations. It was extremely broken, and we were kept climbing up and down the whole day without intermission. As it offered plenty of sections, however, I hoped every moment to discover coal, but although I searched with the greatest diligence, removing for that purpose snow and ice from the sides of the hills, I did not at first succeed in finding any. In the evening, however, we found some small pieces of coal in one of the brooks near our camp, and I at once, accompanied by Mr. Burnett, followed these indications, until night began to close upon us. The next morning we again followed the same stream, the pieces of coal became more numerous and angular, and we at last reached a narrow valley, the rocks on both sides of which overhung. The rivulet here disappeared amongst huge masses of rock covered with deep mosses, and lying one upon the other so as to form a sort of irregular cavern. This we attempted to explore with lighted vestas, wading in the icy waters, but the opening soon became so narrow that we were unable to proceed. It was evident that a coal stratum, probably of great thickness, had here been washed away, the overlying rocks falling in. Although this valley was probably not more than 2,000 feet above the level of the sea, deep snow lay in it, and in some places the ice was so thick as to permit us to enjoy the pleasure, seldom obtained in New Zealand, of a slide upon the ice.
Our road led us the next day over the same kind of ground, and I still looked anxiously for indications of coal, but in vain. At length, however, my search was rewarded, for, having passed up a little waterfall in a deep gully, I saw that the overhanging rocks were compact grits, and although my whole party had passed over the fall, I at once returned, and having removed the moss which covered the stratum below these grits, I found, to my great joy, a large seam of good coal. Of course I stopped my party, who very soon returned to assist me in uncovering the seam, which, on removing the moss and ice that encumbered the fall, proved to be eight feet two inches in thickness of pure coal. A further examination of this valley, which I named Coalbrook Dale, proved that this seam was striking and dipping regularly, and I therefore
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at once took measures to fix its position. In the afternoon we again resumed our journey, and in the evening reached the foot of Mount William. During the night we heard for the first time the cry of the kakapo, and of the large kiwi, to which we listened with great interest, regretting that we had no dog with us to catch any of these now scarce birds.
We had a hard pull the next day, the ascent of the mountain being very steep, and the vegetation of the sub-Alpine scrubs so close and spreading that we had to cut our road through. We therefore advanced slowly, and it was past noon when we reached the ridge which led to the summit, which consisted of a broad plateau, covered with snow, and intersected by numerous little rivulets. In the afternoon we got to the top of the mountain, where my occupations kept me until sunset, so that we were obliged to pitch our tent there, shovelling the deep snow away with a plate. It was very cold, and it was not without great inconvenience that I could sketch or map, the pencil continually threatening to fall from my freezing fingers.
I was much interested here on observing the tracks of numerous kakapos, or night parrots, which seemed to lead a tranquil life, unmolested by wild dogs, by which these beautiful birds have almost been extirpated in other places, existing now only on the mountain tops and in a few very remote valleys. It was not without great trouble that we collected firewood, the dwarfish stems of the Alpine plants being scarce and half buried in snow. It was, however, one of the finest winter nights I ever experienced, and it was wonderful and beautiful to see the valleys below us in deep shades, whilst the summits of the mountains around glowed in the rich red tints of the declining sun. As the night advanced, the stars shone with extreme brilliancy, the splendid constellations of the southern hemisphere rising one after the other above the sharp serrated outline of the eastern mountain chain, and the dazzling snow-field round us, illuminated by the flames of our camp fire, imparted additional grandeur to the scene, which was enlivened by the peculiar cries of the kakapo and kiwi. It would be difficult to imagine anything more majestic or interesting.
The next morning, the 10th July, we ascended, just before sunrise, to the summit, having camped 100 feet below it on a small level spot. It was a glorious sight, and the sharp outlines of the mountains and deep shades gave me an opportunity of sketching more minutely the details of the scene. The view from Mount William is similar to that from Mount Rochfort, except that, being above the Orikaka valley, close to the junction of the Inangahua with the Buller, a much more complete view of that and of the Grey district is obtained. As I had got from these two points more topographical details than I had expected, I found it unnecessary to go further in this direction, and therefore
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at noon we started upon our return to the Buller, not without regret at leaving such a magnificent panorama. We camped the same evening in Coalbrook Dale, and although we had a good fire, it was so cold in the tent (22° Fahrenheit) that the ink froze in my pen, and the Indian ink in my brush, so that I was compelled to abandon the idea of noting down my day's work. From this point I determined to follow one of the streams as far as the coast, in order to get a more complete section of the strata, and in the hope that I should find the coal at the foot of the mountain exposed by the action of the river. I took two men with me, and directed the others to return, by the same road we had come, to our old camp at Mount Rochfort, and thence to bring on the tent and other things left there. We all started together, but had not travelled half a mile when we were enveloped in a dense fog, which afterwards changed to a soaking rain. Without having a mountain map before one, it is impossible to conceive or understand the broken character of the surface of this plateau. In fine weather, with the summit of Mount Rochfort before us, we could easily have found our way, but enveloped in a fog which did not permit us to see twenty paces before us, we constantly came to precipices, and were unable to find an unbroken spur. I thought it better, under these circumstances, that we should not separate, and we therefore followed down one of the streamlets flowing to the coast. The rain fell in torrents, and during our descent we were obliged to wade through the water, and jump from rock to rock in the bed of the river. After a mile's walk we reached a larger stream flowing from the south-south-east, and here more serious difficulties commenced. The river frequently formed falls from ten to fifteen feet in height, with perpendicular walls on both sides, and it was always a difficult task to descend these falls, which we only effected either by gliding down the smooth surface of the rocks, or by climbing up the walls and working our way through the dense vegetation on their borders. After two more miles the stream disappeared suddenly, falling at least 200 feet perpendicular. As it was impossible to descend this fall, we ascended the mountain side, and travelled by compass, due west, over a small platform. After some scrambling through dense mountain vegetation, we again descended the mountain to the stream, which was now much larger, and its valley broader. Rain, mingled with snow, fell incessantly; and the waters of the river being very cold, we felt occasionally much cramped. When evening closed upon us we had not, as we had hoped to have done, reached the plains. Although we could have found a tolerably good camping ground here, we proceeded, in the expectation that after passing a high rocky gorge before us we should find a better one, but we were cruelly deceived; it became dark whilst we were in the gorge, with perpendicular and overhanging cliffs from 200 to 300 feet on both sides. We passed a miserable night, camping
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under a high overhanging cliff, whilst the surface of the ground, consisting of huge angular blocks of sandstone, formed our bed.
The next morning, although it continued to rain, we resumed our journey, climbing several magnificent falls, jumping over huge rocks, round, slippery, and covered with moss, and often only broad enough for one's foot, where a false step would have cost life or limb. One of my party fell twice, having confided in the branches of trees, which sprung from crevices in the almost perpendicular walls of the gully, the roots of which however were not strong enough to hold him. Having descended the River Whare-atea for some distance, we reached the swampy plains, and after wading for another mile in the icy water of the river, we managed to ascend its banks to the level of the plains, which, in consequence of the heavy and continued rain had become almost impracticable, and although by the time we arrived at the edge of the forest it was becoming dark, we endeavoured to reach the sea shore, where dry firewood could be obtained. Owing to the murky state of the weather it soon became too dark to see anything before us, and we therefore guided ourselves by the sound of the surf, but after a vain attempt to reach the shore, getting severe falls over prostrate trees, and cutting our faces and hands against stumps and toi-toi grass, we gave up the attempt, and camped. By the aid of a small piece of candle we managed to pitch the tent and to get into our blankets. It was impossible to light a fire, and as we had unfortunately nothing except flour with us, we were obliged to go to bed without supper, but owing to the great exertions of the day we were soon fast asleep.
The next day we reached the Buller, and again enjoyed the comforts of a roof. Mr. Rochfort, who had arrived the night before, came to see us. He had finished his work, and intended to start next morning for Nelson, so that we were soon all busy writing letters for home. He was good enough to allow one of his Maories, who had travelled three times round the coast, to remain with me, and I take this opportunity of thanking him for that, and for the many other services he rendered to me and my party at our several meetings.
After Mr Rochfort's departure I explored the level country on the southern side of the Buller, and then prepared to return to Nelson. As I did not know how long it would take me to reach West Wanganui, on account of the great amount of geological and topographical work I had to do, I engaged two other Maories at the pah to carry provisions as far as the Karamea, or Mackay, river. Just as we were about to start, heavy rain set in, and we had again to practise patience. We thought that if the climate here was always as wet during the winter as we had found it, it was not likely to rival that of Nelson; for although the natives assured me that they had not for many years experienced such horrid weather, I doubted their statements, until I
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arrived in Nelson, and heard that all over New Zealand the autumn and winter had been wet and inclement.
We started on the 23rd of July, fine weather having set in, with sunny cloudless days and cold frosty nights; and after a walk of fourteen miles over a long sandy and pebbly beach, crossing on the way the Orowaiti and Whareatea, we camped about three miles south of the Ngakuwaho stream.
The next day we continued our route; but my right foot, which I had hurt about a month before, pained me very much. As I hoped however to walk it off, I determined to go on. On arriving at the Ngakuwaho stream, the last river flowing from the Papahaua range, finding its boulders consist of coal, shales, and grits, I threw off my load, and ascended the river to examine the cliffs on both sides of it, but after walking half a mile I was compelled to return, being scarcely able to use my foot. This obliged us to halt in the middle of the day, as it had become so swollen that I could scarcely get my boot off, and the weakness of the foot from the injury it had received would not permit me to carry my present heavy load. In order to husband our provisions, I sent on Mr. Burnett, with one of the Europeans and the two Maories, to the Karamea, with instructions to deposit the provisions, to send back the Maories, and to explore the valley of that river until I arrived, which I hoped to do in a few days after him.
Although I tried the strongest remedies, I did not, until after several days, succeed in reducing the swelling, but I still continued unable to stand. During the whole of this time we had the most glorious weather, and it may be easily understood that I felt greatly disheartened at a delay which compelled me to miss it, whilst our provisions were diminishing rapidly. This alone was sufficient to make me impatient; but to this was added the annoyance of thousands of sand-flies during the day, whilst the night was disturbed by numbers of troublesome rats.
I sent two men back to the Buller to get some more flour from the natives; and after they had returned, they proposed, as the water in the Ngakuwaho was brackish, to construct a hand-barrow, and carry me on a mile and a half to the banks of a little streamlet, which fell over a cliff on the sea-shore. Before consenting to this I tried my foot, and found, although with considerable pain, that I could walk on my toes, so that I declined their good-natured offer, and started with them, moving slowly, and walking through the surf in order to strengthen the suffering limb. On arriving at the stream I found that I could manage to proceed, and after bathing my foot in the falling water, I walked two miles further. In the evening the two Maories returned, and brought a letter from Mr. Burnett, stating that the man with him had severely scalded his foot, so that he was unable to proceed, and that he hoped to see me soon. This, as may be imagined, did not diminish my previous vexations.
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On the 1st of August I reached the Mokihinui, a large stream which can only be crossed in a mokihi (a kind of raft formed of bundles of flax-sticks tied together), and at which we camped. Here the cretaceous formation again commences, and instead of the sandy beaches, which for the last twenty-five miles formed an easy road, we found wild precipitous cliffs, over and round which the traveller has to make his way, with here and there only small sandy beaches occurring at irregular intervals. I continued to limp along, but fortunately every day my foot became stronger.
After twelve miles' walking over this rugged shore, the scenery of which however was very beautiful, we arrived at the foot of the Otahu-hill, which we had to ascend, as its sea slopes were too abrupt to permit of our proceeding along the coast. The ascent is a very steep one, and it was dark when we reached the top, where we camped. From the position of this mountain I was convinced that it would make a good topographical station, for which reason I determined to remain there the next day; but, after going all round it, I found to my regret that the height of the trees on its summit prevented me from getting a view, and as it would have cost us at least eight days' hard work to clear a sufficient space upon the summit, so as to have a view of the surrounding country, I selected the highest tree I could find, on the top of which I established my station. This I did by constructing a sort of nest in the uppermost branches, supported by poles fastened to the branches below. To ascend the tree we constructed a ladder, which we finished in five hours, and I ascended to my observatory, the view from which was very extensive and splendid. I overlooked the river beds of the Mokihinui, Tunipohu, Wanganui, Otumahana, and Karamea, and the level land of the last-mentioned river. The mountains rose around me in all directions, and I observed with pleasure the peaks of Mount Arthur towering above the chains to the eastward. It was not without great perseverance that I managed to get the necessary bearings, having to tie the compass legs to a branch, whilst the wind frequently moved my observatory bodily to and fro.
Descending the hill next morning by a slippery watercourse, we met with Mr. Burnett at the mouth of the Tunipohu stream, where he had camped with his patient for the last eight days. Fortunately the man's foot was so much better that we were able to proceed. After having passed for three miles over huge blocks of limestone, and round precipitous headlands, we camped that night at the mouth of the Wanganui. It is here that the level country of the Karamea begins.
It rained during the night and the whole of the next day, so that the series of beautiful days that we had lately enjoyed were again over. Anxious, however, to proceed, we started in the middle of the day, a fine hard sandy beach permitting us to walk at
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a fast pace. Towards evening the weather cleared, and after having passed over the undulating tract of sandy ground which encloses the large tidal inlet of the Otumahana and Karamea rivers, we reached the banks of a lagoon, which we crossed, and camped on the northern bank of the first-mentioned river.
On the following day, which was fine, I crossed the mud-flat, for the purpose of establishing a station on one of the sand hillocks at the south-western side of the lagoon. This took us so much time, that it was twilight when we reached the Karamea or Mackay river, having had to wade over two miles of mud-flat, in which we sometimes sank knee deep.
The Karamea is a very fine river, and at our camping place was divided into three arms, flowing rapidly over a shingly bed. As there was no mokihi on our side, no travellers having re-crossed since Mr. Rochfort had passed over it before us, and not finding any flax-sticks, I sent one of the Maories to cross the river for the purpose of fetching the mokihi, which was hung up to a tree on the other side. Seeing that the river only took him to the hips, although it flowed very rapidly, I determined that we should all venture across with our loads. The water was extremely cold, and we had a considerable distance to go, but we got safely over.
From the mouth of the Karamea a magnificent view is obtained of the mountain gorges through which the principal stream and its tributaries flow, and which unite near its mouth. We continued our journey in the afternoon to the Oparara, a pretty little stream, three miles north of the Karamea, having also a lagoon, but of small dimensions, on its northern bank.
The weather was very cloudy when we started the next morning (August 9), and shortly after a heavy storm came on from the north-west, which lasted for several hours, and drenched us to the skin; but as we had before us a good sandy beach, I determined to proceed, and if possible to reach the Haihai before it had become too much swollen for us to cross it. Three miles north of the Oparara the mountains again approach the coast, but the sandy beach continued as far as the Haihai river, at which we arrived at eleven o'clock. As the rain did not cease, we camped on the northern bank of the river, near a precipitous bluff, against which the waves were breaking furiously. It rained without intermission during the rest of the day and night, and we all began to feel very uncomfortable in our leaky tents, which were full of holes, and were too tender to be mended. The water ran through in streams, wetting blankets and everything that we had.
Although the rain ceased the next morning early, we could not start until noon, because the drying of the tents and clothes, when everything had been thoroughly drenched, always took up a considerable time. As it is impossible to pass round the Haihai
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bluff, the road leads over a hill from 600 to 700 feet high, through dense vegetation, and then descends, by a steep and rapid watercourse, to the beach on the northern side of the bluff, which on this side also is beaten by the roaring waves. After walking another mile on the sand, the shore again became rocky, compelling us frequently to climb over rugged granitic headlands and large boulders. This continued for several miles, until we neared the Whakapoai, or Heaphy river. Before reaching it we again found secondary limestones lying upon the granitic rocks, through which small streamlets had forced their way, cutting through them, and leaving perpendicular walls on both sides, on the tops of which whole groves of the nikau palms spread their graceful forms. During this day I had observed a considerable change in the vegetation, which had become more luxuriant.
We soon reached the valley of the Whakapoai river, on the southern side of which a small flat of drift-sand has been formed. Upon its northern side high limestone cliffs ascend abruptly, both from the river and from the sea shore. As there is no ford near the sea, we had to ascend the river for half a mile, partly over sand, partly over rugged rocks, to a little fall. We found the water deep, reaching nearly to our armpits. Having examined the river bed for another mile upwards, we again started forward, and ascended a steep and densely wooded hill between 600 and 700 feet high, from which we obtained a very line inland view over the Whakapoai valley, which contains some good and well-timbered level land, and over the mountain ranges bounding it on both sides. The descent from this hill was very steep, its seaward side presenting picturesque cliffs nearly 800 feet in perpendicular height. It is at this point that the most difficult part of the coast journey begins, ami it is almost impossible to describe in words the wildness of the scenery. Having walked two miles from the foot of the mountain, we camped near a clear streamlet.
Starting the next morning, the 12th of August, our route passed over rocky points, with small sandy beaches between, whilst just before us lay the bold promontory of Taura-te-Weka, which we reached at noon. Between this promontory and the main range is a small ridge about 100 feet high, covered here and there with flax bushes and grass; this we had to ascend, and although it offered barely sufficient space for a footing, I established a topographical station upon it. It was not without great trouble that our giddy companion was got up the ridge; he actually refused to proceed, and lay down upon finding that on the northern side the hill was very steep; so that after having carried down our own loads, we were obliged to re-ascend the hill to fetch him. In one place, where it is necessary to make use of a slippery crevice in the side of the rock which for about thirty feet falls perpendicular, with nothing to
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take hold of, I thought we should never get him down. We had, in fact, to hold him fast on both sides, and place each of his feet as we proceeded. With much trouble we passed him down this dreadful spot, and felt relieved when we got him safely to the sea shore.
Our route now continued over granite cliffs, with almost vertical sides, the ledges of which were hardly wide enough for our footing. Over these we advanced slowly, and in some places we were compelled, by the steepness of the cliffs, to pass round them upon rocks lying in the surf, placed at unequal distances and of unequal heights, to get over which we had to wait for a receding wave, and then jump as fast as possible. During this process we were occasionally caught and wetted through, only saving ourselves by holding fast to the rocks whilst the water rushed to and fro, the effort requiring our entire strength. All my party, excepting myself, wore pereiras, or Maori sandals. I was unable to do so, as my foot was still painful, and my boots being less fitted for such work, I had to be doubly careful. This part of the road, from Taura-te-Weka to Kaurangi point, is called by the Maories Taupiri-kaka, and is much dreaded by them.
During the whole night we had heavy rain, so that being compelled to dry our clothes and tents, we could not start until ten o'clock the next morning. The day's work before us was a very hard one, as we had to cross several rocky headlands from 100 to 150 feet high, with nearly perpendicular sides, in comparison with which Taura-te-Weka was of easy access. Here again our giddy companion gave us much trouble, as we were obliged to accompany and assist him both up and down, which cost us considerable time. At one projecting cliff round which we had to pass by jumping over rocks, the native who knew the road went first, as the waves receded; Mr. Burnett followed, and I was the third. Whether our guide had not watched carefully enough, or that the sea had not retired as far as usual, he crossed over with great difficulty. Mr. Burnett, when in the centre, being unable to see the next rock, which was covered by the water, jumped back to the rock upon which I stood. I, of course, also endeavoured to get back, but the rock behind me had already disappeared, so that we had barely time to sit down and cling to the fissures of the rock, when the wave struck it with stupendous force, whirling and foaming around us. Before we could extricate ourselves the wave returned, and again enveloped us in foam. But, although the force of the coming wave was amazing, it appeared to be much less than that of the retiring water. We certainly more than once thought that we should not be able to stick to our slippery seat. It was a moment of great anxiety for our companions on shore, who thought that we should be unable to resist the violence of the waves, and that we should be dashed to death on the rocks around us. At length, however, the water receded
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so far that we were again able to start, and fortunately succeeded in getting safely round, of course drenched to the skin, as the water several times washed over our heads.
The tide flowing stopped us at three o'clock, and we only found just room enough between the rocks, at the side of a small streamlet, to pitch our tent. The wind blowing very strong, it was really magnificent to see the majestic waves dashing with fury against the high rocks on both sides of our camping ground, covering everything around with foam and froth.
We resumed our journey the next morning, the nature of the coast being still the same, but becoming wilder and wilder as we advanced. All along the edge of the sea stood rugged masses of rock, often formed into gigantic triumphal arches, as if nature had erected them to glorify its own power. We passed several streams of different sizes, the great abundance of fresh water being everywhere the same. In order to have good stations, we sometimes climbed to the tops of the furthest rocks in the sea, where we doubly enjoyed the wild scene around us. During the first part of this day's journey, we passed over several cliffs of various heights and degrees of steepness, amongst which was one, where, owing to an overhanging rock, we had great difficulty in getting our giddy companion over. Mr. Thomas Brunner, the first intrepid explorer of this country, in his journal describes this cliff in the following graphic manner:--
"The Taupiri-kaka is a steep cliff, against which the waves break on the perpendicular face of the rock, so as completely to prevent it being passed below, while in-shore the mountain rises both steep and high, and presents also an impassable barrier. About eighty feet above the sea, at a part where the point juts from the mountain, was a place which seemed as if it might afford a passage, and to this we climbed by a difficult rocky path through karaka bushes, and over and amongst large fragments of granite; but on the other side the descent appeared appalling, and we certainly for a time deemed it impracticable. At length, finding the remains of a rotten rope made by the natives, we agreed that what had been done once could be done again, and upon looking down we at length perceived a ledge and some holes in the face of the rock, which might afford foothold. We, therefore, took courage, and descended; but we found the descent most hazardous in passing round an overhanging rock, where it was necessary to lean backwards in order to get from one ledge to the other."
After reading this description, it will be easily understood that we had greater difficulties to overcome, as we generally had to go twice over the same ground on these precipices, on account of the giddiness of one of the men. 1
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In the afternoon we arrived at a small stream, which we ascended for half a mile, and then climbed the steep sides of the Kauranga mountain, 1,200 feet in height, on whose ridge we continued for a mile, when we again descended to the rocky beach. This, however, was the end of our hard walking. A quarter of a mile further brought us to a beautiful sandy beach, which we followed to Ihua Tuaroa point, consisting of cretaceous rocks, bearing a great resemblance to a ruined castle.
From this point, looking towards the north, the coast line is smooth, and we saw before us the heads of the West Wanganui harbour, above which stood the rocky points of Cape Farewell. Towards the east the low country was bounded by the Whakamarama range, which, with the Haidinger peak, was visible, whilst to the south lay the rocky road around and over which we had travelled for the last few days.
I may be permitted to warn persons who are liable to giddiness not to travel by this route, but rather to select that which leads up the Aorere valley, and from thence to the Heaphy; but for a man with a stout heart and a strong head, nothing can be more interesting than the journey along this coast, particularly if accompanied by a friend possessed of the same qualities. They may, it is true, meet with disagreeable mishaps, but they will be amply compensated for their troubles by the wild beauty of the scenery, which is such as cannot well be described in words.
We were now near the end of our journey, and we hurried on as much as my pursuits would permit.
On the 15th of August, after two miles' walk over a hard sandy beach, we arrived at the mouth of the Awaruatoa, but the tide being too high to permit us to cross then, we had to wait two hours. This delay produced a good deal of impatience amongst my party, for we saw on the other side, in a conspicuous position, a whata, or provision store, and although we had not, since we left the Buller, been short of provisions, except sugar, we all longed to know the contents of the whata, and, what was of more importance, we expected to find in it letters from our friends.
There are two fords over this rather deep and wide river; one inland, and one near its mouth, close to the surf. We selected the latter, and although the water reached to our arm-pits, we all got safely over. The whata contained flour, sugar, and tea, sent by Mr. James Mackay, at the request of the Provincial Government of Nelson, which had thus done its best to facilitate my proceedings through the country. I now take this opportunity of thanking Mr. James Mackay for his many acts of friendship, and for the valuable information which I from time to time received from him during my journey.
Continuing our route, we passed the Rivers Anaweka and Tuimahui-hui, walking partly on sandy beaches and partly over low cretaceous rocks, and after having travelled ten miles, we camped
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amongst the hillocks of drift-sand which on this part of the coast lie between the low hills and the sea-shore. As if to bid us adieu, the horrid weather which we had so frequently experienced, again set in during the night, the rain came down in torrents, and continued the whole of the next morning with unabated violence.
Fearing that we might be delayed by the Paturau river, we started, notwithstanding the rain. It was very cold, a sharp north-west gale blowing the drops in our faces, which pricked us as if with needles. The tide was so high, owing to the gale, that we could not get round several of the rocky points along the shore, and which we had therefore to climb over. In some instances, we waited for the receding waves, and ran through the water round these points, and it was not without several mishaps, though not of a serious character, that we reached the Paturau river. At ebb tide this would have been an easy walk, over a hard sandy beach the whole way, so that the coast journey, with the exception of the places enumerated in my description, will be found perfectly easy if taken at the proper time of the tide. When we reached the Paturau, it was swollen, and gave us more trouble than any river we had previously crossed. A four-mile walk brought us to the mouth of the Hapu, where the native track leaves the coast, and follows the streamlet, so as more easily to cross the limestone range between it and the West Wanganui mud-flat. This range is from 1,000 to 1,200 feet high, and is densely clothed with forest nearly to its summit, where the trees are replaced by manuka and other scrub.
The weather clearing towards evening, we obtained from the summit of the range a fine view over the picturesque inlet of West Wanganui, and of its islands, and the many hills around it covered with wood. Towards the south, the eye swept over high mountain chains, deep gorges indicating the courses of the various rivers we had passed over during the last few days. On the east lay the broad swampy plains of the Manga-manga-rakau, bounded by the Whakamarama range, over which appeared the snowy peaks of the mountains on the eastern side of the Aorere valley. Instead of crossing the mud-flat, we followed the western shore, and towards evening reached some Maori huts lying at the southern head of the inlet, and although the Maories were not there, we were soon comfortably lodged.
At sunrise we fired some shots, and in a short time, although the weather was stormy, we had the satisfaction of seeing a canoe approach from the north-western corner of the harbour. It was our friend Puaha, who had come over to fetch us, and having embarked with a fair wind, we soon reached the pah at Otauwharo, where we were received and treated by the chief Matiu with true old Maori hospitality.
During the day I examined the interesting formation near our dwelling, and continued my researches on the following day by
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crossing the hills to the open sea coast, where I climbed over the rugged rocks for several miles both to the north and south, by which I soon gained a clear insight into the geological character of this district.
The weather, which during the last few days had been showery, again became very foul, and for two days we had nothing hut hail, torrents of rain, and heavy gales of wind, which compelled us to stop in the whare. This was not at all pleasant to men who had so long lived in and breathed the pure fresh air, for the whare, amongst its other defects, was very smoky. I tried, during the afternoon of the 20th August, to get over again to the southern side of the harbour, but the gale was so fierce that we found it impossible to do so.
On Tuesday, the 21st of August, we started with the earliest dawn, although it still rained and blew heavily from the southward. After a very muddy walk of three hours, we reached the Pakawau river, and arrived at Mr. Flower's house at the township itself in the afternoon, visiting on our way both the old and the new coal works. It was pleasant to us, after an absence of eight months, again to see a European house, surrounded by a garden and fields, and to enjoy a hearty meal prepared for us by our hospitable host. Here I separated from my party, whom I sent on to Collingwood, whilst I proceeded to Mr. James Mackay's farm, from whence I intended to visit Cape Farewell and the sandspit.
I was received by Mr. Alexander Mackay, whom I had seen last in the Mataki-taki plains, with cordiality and kindness; and the next day being fine, we started, accompanied by Mr. Fletcher, to the sandspit and Cape Farewell, which latter I thoroughly examined. It was not without emotion that I gazed at the magnificent panorama which lay before me, as I stood on the summit of the bold headland of Cape Farewell, embracing as it did D'Urville's Island, the Pelorus mountains, Separation Point, and the high snowy chain at the head of the Takaka and Aorere valleys. It was here, too, that I bade farewell to the country through which I had so long journeyed, and which, though at present a useless wilderness, I hoped soon to behold the seat of flourishing settlements, its plains and terraces the pasture ground of sheep and oxen, whilst the pick of the miner was bringing into use the enormous wealth of its coal-fields.
On the 23rd of August I reached Collingwood, but not finding any vessel for Nelson, I devoted a day to the examination of the gold-field in Lightband's and Golden gullies; and at length, on the 28th of August, returned to Nelson by the cutter Supply.
In concluding this part of my report, it is an agreeable duty to me to express my thanks to Mr. James Burnett, and to the men of my party, for their hearty exertions in furthering the objects of
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my journey. They manfully bore their fatigues and privations, and I hope they may live to find their greatest recompense in the feeling that if the mission with which I was entrusted produces any important benefits to the Province of Nelson, it was in a great measure through their assistance that I was enabled to obtain the results from which those benefits will ultimately be derived.