Chapter XIII. SECOND VISIT TO THE WANGANUI RIVER AND TRIP TO THE WEST COAST.
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SECOND VISIT TO THE WANGANUI RIVER AND TRIP TO THE WEST COAST.
Easter was early this year, and we all went to stay at Plimmerton for the holidays (Good Friday to Tuesday). In those days there were only some half-dozen bungalows there, and the splendid bathing place was certainly not overcrowded. Friends came out to join us on Saturday, and we had a grand picnic on the beach. On Easter Sunday my daughter and I walked to Porirua Harbour, and the next day out to the Heads, and on Tuesday morning we returned to our home in Wellington.
Then followed some months of strenuous office work, varied by trips into the country for land sales, road inspections, and visits to surveyors' camps, but in November, having to visit one of the camps on the Wanganui, I decided that the time had now come for carrying out my intention of showing it to my wife.
We took the express to Wanganui, and stayed with Mrs. Freeman Jackson, my old friend of Invercargill days, and Miss Lysaght, who was going with us, joined us there next morning. We left for Pipiriki in the little steamer Waiwera, and, stopping for an hour or so at Hiruharama, or Jerusalem, went to the convent to call on Mother Mary Joseph, famous throughout the Colony for her herbal remedies. At this point the lovely scenery of the river,
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SECOND TRIP TO THE WANGANUI
which has been described as the Rhine of New Zealand, may be said to begin, and since we were lucky enough to have a fine afternoon for our journey, my wife was enchanted with the beauty of the bush and the fern-covered banks on either side of the stream. As my daughter and I had finished our canoe trip with the Maoris at Pipiriki, this part was new to me also, and though not nearly as pretty as the upper reaches, it was certainly very attractive.
We stayed that night at the Pipiriki hotel. Mr. Otway, the surveyor, whose camp I was visiting, came to meet me there, and he engaged a large canoe and two stalwart Maoris, one of them named Henri, to pole us up the river. The following day we set out, and went as far as the Manganui-a-te-Ao gorge, where we had lunch. This is a wonderfully grand and impressive spot, the precipitous papa cliffs being covered everywhere with luxuriant fern trees and shrubs of every description and innumerable creeping plants. Both Miss Lysaght and my wife agreed that it was the most charming piece of river scenery they had ever beheld. We then continued in the canoe to Tieke, and from there to Mr. Otway's camp some miles further on.
Next morning Mr. Otway and I climbed a high hill to have a view of the country he was surveying, and in the afternoon we went across the Wanganui to a native village called Utapu, where the children danced a haka to amuse the Pakeha ladies. Next morning, before my wife and Miss Lysaght were up, a lot of Maori girls arrived, bringing kiekie hats to sell, and were intensely interested, peeping into the ladies'
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tent to see them doing their hair. They were most friendly, and I think that some of them had probably never seen English women before. After breakfast we departed in our canoe, and I stopped again at Tieke to have a conference with the native chief concerning the survey being made by Mr. Otway. The natives are always suspicious about surveys, thinking that they may interfere with their rights.
We canoed down to Manganui-a-te-Ao, where we again lunched. I should have liked to go up it to Arawata, one of the prettiest places on that tributary, but unfortunately our canoe was too large.
We reached Pipiriki early and Henri brought his wife and children to see us. My wife managed to get some coloured handkerchiefs at the store for the children,--whereupon their mother stripped off a grass mat that one of them was wearing, and presented it to my wife.
Next day we returned to Wanganui in the steamer, said good-bye to Miss Lysaght, and caught the afternoon train to Wellington.
Extract from Mr. Baker's report, 1894:--
"The selectors on settlement conditions now registered on the books number 2,793, of whom 920 are under the Farm Homestead conditions; and the work of seeing the conditions of the Act are complied with has assumed very large proportions. As applications for titles, transfers, etc., which are now very considerable, are received, the last reports have to be examined, and the necessary letters drafted in accordance with the state of the case. The Rangers' reports, which numbered over 1,200 during the year, have to be recorded, carefully checked and analysed; and in the case of defaulters,
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FARM HOMESTEAD SETTLEMENTS
schedules for the Land Board prepared and the necessary notices sent out and followed up from time to time to insure prompt steps being taken to comply with the Act. This necessitates very careful supervision and constant reference to records to see that the required action is taken at the right time and that none are overlooked.
The work in connection with the Land Board has also increased very much, the sittings always lasting one whole day, and sometimes two days; the writing up of the minutes takes, on an average, about three days after each ordinary meeting.
The outward and inward correspondence, including reports from rangers, surveyors, notices re payments from selectors, etc., aggregate over 27,000 letters, etc., or an average of about ninety per day. . ."
In 1894 there was a good deal of friction in connection with some of the Farm Homestead Settlements, and at a meeting of the Land Board in December there was a very wordy warfare between Mr. Baker, as chairman, and Mr. Hogg, M.H.R., who was a member of the Board and also a member of the Masterton Reform Association, which at this moment was fiercely attacking the Board's policy. A leading article in the "New Zealand Times," commenting on the matter, says:-- "At this meeting of the Land Board Mr. Baker said wished to say a few words about the Farm Homestead Settlements, as the action of the Department had been unfairly aspersed at a public meeting lately held in connection with the Masterton Reform Association. He considered that the more honourable course for a member of the Board to have taken, if the members of the Farm Homestead Association had any grievances, would have been to have first represented them to the Board before taking a leading part at a public meeting and allowing the executive officer of the Department to be abused for requiring the members of the Association to fulfil their obligations to the Crown.
"Mr. Hogg replied that before he would tolerate such aspersions on his character as a public man
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he would be prepared to sacrifice his position on the Land Board and as a member of the House of Representatives..... The Commissioner had tried to extort money from the settlers, who could not afford to comply with the demands. It was the general opinion that the Commissioner was the friend of the big man and not the small settler. A great mistake was made when Mr. Marchant was sent away from Wellington and Mr. Baker was brought in his place."
This storm in a teacup would not be worth relating except that it shows the kind of difficulties and the unpopularity that were encountered by those who were trying to administer the Land Act in connection with closer settlement. I might here mention that when Mr. Baker retired two years later the most appreciative speech about his work was made by Mr. Hogg, which also shows that in spite of differences of opinion and temporarily mislaid tempers, the men who worked with him really valued Mr. Baker's honesty of purpose.
This year as well as the previous year Mr. Baker's diary mentions many journeys taken to various parts of the district to hold ballots for Village Settlement sections and sales of town sections or to attend meetings of the Native Land Court, etc., etc.
For some months after this I was exceedingly busy, both in my office and with journeys that I had to make all over the country. I often worked at the office very late, and one night, just as she was going to bed, my wife rang me up. She never dreamed that there would still be a clerk in attendance, so directly the call was answered she said, "You poor dear overworked slave, do come home!" and the clerk, naturally recognising the description, replied, "Do you wish to speak to Mr. Baker?"
We had now decided definitely that I should resign my appointment the next year, the doctor
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having said that I was suffering from an enlarged heart, due to the strenuous work I had done for years past, so we made up our minds to sub-let our house in May, sell our furniture, and go into lodgings at Mrs. Kerslake's in Hill Street, where we remained till we left New Zealand. I then went on with my ordinary work to the end of the year.
The following extract from the Surveyor-General's report for 1895 shows that by this time it was recognised that the tourist traffic was becoming one of New Zealand's principal assets:--
"Advantage has been taken of every opportunity to publish and distribute matter for the encouragement of tourist traffic. To that end 18,000 copies of the 'Grand Tour' were printed and supplied to the travelling public by the Agent-General and Cook and Sons principally.. . . Data have been collected for a new tourist guide, which will be published before the end of the year."
In January I was entitled to my annual holiday, and as my wife, who had now lived twenty years in New Zealand, had scarcely seen any of the famous beauty spots, and I felt it was absurd that she should leave the country without visiting them, I determined to take her and our daughter for a trip to the West Coast, the Sounds, the Lakes, and Mt. Cook. Miss Izard, who was a friend and near neighbour of ours, asked if she might join us for the first part of the journey, and we left Wellington on January 6th for Picton, but had a very rough passage across the Strait, and did not get there till past ten that night. After breakfast we explored the surroundings of the pretty little
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township, which comes right down to the water's edge, and is closed in on every side by hills. There was a small river running into the sea, and along its banks were pleasant homesteads, each with its own garden surrounded by poplars and willow trees. The place was very well planted, and looked so peaceful and quiet, and though there was never anything much going on, the inhabitants seemed to enjoy themselves with boating and fishing, picnics, and bathing.
In the afternoon we went by train to Blenheim, the capital of the Marlborough Province, where we took rooms at the Criterion Hotel. The journey was not interesting, the line passing through much swampy country, but as we approached Blenheim the land became more cultivated, and we saw a great number of pretty farms, with their orchards and gardens.
The following day Mr. Charles de Vere Teschemaker called on me. I had not met him since I was in England in 1884, when I and a nephew of mine happened to be staying for a night at Ilfracombe. We had gone down to the baths to have a morning dip, and there I saw Mr. Teschemaker swimming about. He did not know me, but I had often seen him at the Christchurch Club, so as I swam past him I enquired casually what was the latest news he had from Marlborough, where he had a sheep run. "How do you know that I come from New Zealand?" he exclaimed. "Don't you?" I replied innocently; and after a little more banter, he said, "Well, who the devil are you?" I then told him that I was the Chief Commissioner for Canterbury, and he laughed and said, "You had
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me that time," and added that we would liquor up when we were dressed-which we surely did. He had called to remind me of this incident of more than ten years before.
That evening we watched with great interest the mail coach come dashing into the Square, the four splendid horses looking as fresh as if they were only just setting out instead of being at the end of a long run. One of the passengers on the coach was an old lady of about 80, so bent double that we wondered how she could possibly have stood the journey. She looked as if she had come out of an old-fashioned picture, for she wore a full gathered skirt, a paisley shawl, and an ancient poke bonnet. We supposed that she hailed from some very isolated part of the West Coast where modern fashions had not penetrated, and that she had undertaken this tiring drive in order to see her grandchildren, or perhaps her great-grandchildren. We discovered afterwards that she was a globe-trotter, that she had been travelling for seven years, and that after she had "done" New Zealand she was going on to China and Japan, as the only places left that she had not visited.
We set out at seven o'clock the next morning, and from our elevated positions on the box seats obtained a very good view of Blenheim, which is a pleasant little town, not unlike a smaller Christchurch. It lies in a well-watered valley, surrounded by peaceful farms, with crops and orchards, and the banks of the river Wairau, which runs through the town, are planted with weeping willow trees. Some miles along the road we passed through the village of Renwick, and then forded the Opawa and Wairau Rivers.
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The latter is one of the most dangerous rivers in New Zealand, owing to the quickness with which it rises and the swiftness with which it flows. The bed is about a mile broad, and in times of flood is covered by one foaming mass of water. A man on horseback crossed every morning to see whether it was safe, and if there had been rains and it had risen, he put up red flags to show that it was dangerous, and people had to go about a mile further up to another ford, while if there was a big flood they had to go a great many miles round to a bridge near Blenheim. The red flags were flying when we reached the banks, but our driver was so accustomed to the river that he knew it was not too dangerous for him to take the coach over. Still the stream was decidedly swollen, and the water was soon rushing about inside the coach, and my wife was extremely thankful when we came out safely on the other side. We were told that when one of the Newmans, those celebrated West Coast drivers, was on the Blenheim-Nelson road, he never attended to the red danger flag, and crossed whether it was there or not. On a certain occasion the river was in flood and running very swiftly, and when they were half way over one of the horses slipped, and, getting its head under water, was drowned. The man, with the greatest coolness, got off his box, and, crawling along the pole, cut the horse loose and let it drift away down the stream, and then brought the coach out of the river with the remaining three.
From here the country became wilder, and we passed through the narrow Kaituna Valley, with high hills on either side. Much of the land
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The Drop Scene, Wanganui River. [N. Z. Govt. Publicity photo
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TRIP TO NELSON
was covered with blackberries and sweet briar, both of which had become a fearful curse in that part of the country. Along the road we kept dropping the mails, parcels and papers at the various cottages and farmhouses, and we noticed the intense interest that everyone took in the coach. It was their one excitement in the day.
We soon reached the top of the Pass, and descended into Havelock, at the head of the Pelorus Sound. We skirted round this, and came to the Pelorus Valley and the hotel there, where we quickly despatched the lunch which was ready for us, and for which we also were exceedingly ready.
We then went up the valley, and, having crossed the Pelorus on a fine bridge, drove through the Rai Valley. Our way wound in and out among beautiful bush; tall trees, rimu, rata, and black birch threw their shadows over the road, ferns spread a carpet underneath, and running brooks crossed our path and flowed away into the deep green of the forest, making a delightful accompaniment to the song of the tui. Everywhere one smelt the delicious damp smell of the bush, and we drove for miles and miles in absolute solitude, passing over splendid roads, smooth as the smoothest carriage drive, and never meeting a soul. It was difficult to realize that near this peaceful valley the brutal Sullivan murders had taken place during the days of the gold diggings.
It was a lovely evening, and our first view of Nelson was enchanting. We saw it nestled among the hills, the long boulder bank stretching across the harbour in front and the ships lying
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anchored in the port in the distance, and all along the way we passed quiet little homesteads with their beautiful orchards. We drove up to the Masonic Hotel at about half-past six in the evening, having come 78 miles during the day, with five changes of horses.
Nelson is often called "Sleepy Hollow," or, more happily, Sunny Nelson, and its climate is unrivalled. For weeks and months together there is brilliant sunshine, and in the country round are endless gardens of fruit and flowers. Unfortunately, our time being limited for all we intended to do, we could not spare a day there, but we hoped to see something of the place before leaving by train in the morning. However, we discovered that evening that the train to Foxhill, which was the point of departure for the Westport coach, left in the afternoon, and that we were too late to catch it. This meant that we should have to drive, and we went round to the coaching stables to see what could be arranged.
We were up at four o'clock next morning, and left the hotel at five. Nelson looked a picture of loveliness in the early light, the sun shining through a slight blue haze that hung over the orchards and hop gardens of the fertile valley. We reached Foxhill in time to catch the coach and secure the box seats, for which I had telegraphed some days before, and which add so much to one's enjoyment when one wants to see the surrounding country. We had breakfast at Gork Rogers Hotel, a funny old-fashioned place, all grown over with creepers, and directly we had finished we departed in the coach with one of the Newmans as driver.
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All through the day we passed from time to time solitary miners' huts. There was then little gold to be found among the mountains, but these men just managed to make a living, and had an independent life, working when they liked and resting when they liked. Many of the old miners were of a superior class, some even college men from good families in England, but they had become accustomed to this solitary life and were now fit for nothing else. Some lived alone, but most had a "mate," with whom they shared their hut and their mining claim.
We were amused at the casual way in which "Her Majesty's Mails" were treated along the route. At one place we drew up at a hut labelled "Post Office," the driver called and coo-eed without result, then a passenger went in and looked all round but could see no one, and finally a woman came from a neighbouring cottage and said she did not know where the old man was, but she didn't mind taking the mail, so she signed the receipt and the bag was handed over to her.
From the top of the Hope Saddle we followed down the Hope Valley to its junction with the Buller River, at Jack Kerr's letter box. Here the Gorge scenery begins, and becomes more and more wonderful as one proceeds, till one is almost overwhelmed with the magnificence of the stupendous bush-clad cliffs and the wild luxuriance of the ferns of every variety. Except for the rushing of the river over the rocks, there is the most extraordinary stillness. We seldom even heard a bird.
We broke a swingletree in crossing a creek, but Newman had another in reserve, and
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it was soon replaced and we continued our journey. After the junction of the Mangles and Buller Rivers the gorge becomes narrower, and the now mighty torrent passes between some extraordinary rocks, of which the strata are turned up edgeways like a number of parallel walls varying in height, some rising in midstream, some on the opposite bank. One of them, about twenty feet high, separates the road from the river, while on the other side of the road is an enormous precipice, hundreds of feet high.
We reached Longford at about 6.30, and found a comfortable little hotel, where we stayed the night. After tea we went for a walk and came to a place where the river can be crossed in a box swinging from a wire rope, the box being about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 18 inches deep. In this the passenger sits and pulls himself across by means of a rope fastened to either bank. The contrivance was used principally by miners and bushmen, and looked dangerous enough, as the box was so shallow, and there was really nothing to prevent anyone from falling out, but of course my daughter and Miss Izard would cross in it, going one at a time since it was not big enough to hold two. The proceeding was watched by two Englishmen, father and son, who were taking the West Coast trip, and we were amused at the young man's horror when the girls suggested that he also should try this novel mode of transit.
After a comfortable night's rest and an early breakfast we left Longford at 7 a.m., but unfortunately it was a showery morning, and
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clouds were drifting over the hill sides. For a couple of miles the road passed along a gallery cut in the face of the cliff, and from here we had lovely views up the valleys of the several tributaries which flow into the Buller River. In crossing the rough bed of a creek we managed to smash the pole of the coach, and it took the driver and myself nearly an hour to make a temporary mend by splicing on a strong piece of wood cut out of the bush. It was odd to see the utter helplessness of the two Englishmen in this emergency. Presently we came to Lyell, a curious little mining township, once a much more prosperous place. It is built on the steep sides of the valley, and the houses, or wooden shanties, are perched about in the oddest way. The whole population was gathered round the Post Office to see the coach arrive, which was evidently the event of the day. Here we crossed the Buller on a fine girder bridge, and about nine miles further on reached Inangahua Junction, where we lunched, and where the broken pole was properly repaired. The weather had now improved, and we had a fine afternoon for our drive through the most magnificent part of the gorge. At first the valley widens out, being in some places almost half a mile broad, then after a few miles it narrows again till the river is rushing between towering cliffs, out of which the road has been cut. The scenery is beyond description, and the climate is so warm and moist that the rampant luxuriance of the vegetation is amazing. We drove through miles and miles of bush, richer than anything we had yet seen, with tree ferns, ferns of all sorts, mosses, and a
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dense undergrowth of shrubs and creepers of every kind. We passed round the narrowest corners where the coach came so near to the edge that there seemed only a few inches to spare, and but for their faith in the splendid drivers, who know every inch of the road, I think many travellers' enjoyment would be spoilt by fear. In several places the road is carried by means of galleries along the face of the cliffs, and in others it is tunnelled through the rock. The passengers on the top seats had to bend very low to avoid hitting their heads against the roof. Suddenly the gorge ends, and one sees an open plain stretching out in front. At this point the river is crossed in a punt on to which the coach is driven and it is carried across to the other side by means of the current. From here there was a good but uninteresting road into Westport, which we reached at 7.30. We went to the Empire Hotel, and were glad to have dinner and go to bed after our drive of over sixty miles.
The next day was Sunday, and having had three strenuous days, we enjoyed a long rest and came down to a late breakfast. In the afternoon we walked to the end of the breakwater, a very fine one, which was designed by Sir John Coode, and we also looked at the coal staiths for loading the steam colliers, and wandered about the ugly, straggling, untidy, little town. It had only one long street of odd bungalow shops, but there were several hotels and three banks, all kept going by the coal mines, which were the best in New Zealand. There was an extraordinarily unkempt look about the place, which is characteristic of most of the
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West Coast towns, where the grass grows in the streets, and everything seems in dire need of a coat of paint. This may be due partly to the dampness of the climate, partly to the careless, happy-go-lucky ways of the mining population, but one has the general impression of numbers of rotten looking houses and tumble-down sheds, their tin roofs streaked with rust. Westport, however, is not in Westland, but in the Province of Nelson; still, it is typical of the rest of the coast.
The following morning Miss Izard, my daughter and I set out on an expedition to Fox's Gorge, which I had heard was wonderfully beautiful, though it was not a place ever visited by tourists. This seemed rather too rough for my wife to attempt, so she remained behind at Westport. We obtained a buggy and drove to Charleston, stopping on the way to look at the Shamrock gold claim worked by hydraulic sluicing. The manager kindly showed us over the workings, where the immense pressure of water played from enormous pipes tore away the ground, carrying boulders and soil into a wooden race in which the stones and coarse gravel were caught on wire netting, the finer sand being washed through and on over quicksilver tables, where the gold was deposited. We lunched at Charleston, another ramshackle mining township, which had once been a much more considerable place in the days of the first gold rush. There we hired horses from the butcher, and rode on to the mouth of Fox's River, the greater part of the way being along the beach. In several places gold was to be found in the sea sand, and one or two miners
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had claims there and were working them. When we came down to the shore we noticed two striking-looking figures in front of us, and as we rode past them we stopped to see what they were doing. They were an enormous Irish miner and his daughter (Miss Stacia Foley), and they were washing the sand for gold. They had in front of them long sloping tables covered with quicksilver and over these a small force of water from a hose pipe was gently running. Slowly they lifted shovelful after shovelful of the curious black sand on to the tables, the water washing it across the quicksilver, which catches the precious golden particles. The daughter was a magnificent creature, almost a giantess, with a beautiful face and a wonderful head of red hair, and she lifted the heavy shovels of sand with the utmost ease. We talked with them for a few minutes, and my daughter was enormously struck by the girl's quiet assured manner and her charming voice. We were told afterwards that she always worked with her father, but that she was a great reader, and had many books in their little wooden hut.
Further along the beach we passed a place that had once been a big mining settlement, with, so it was said, no less than seventy hotels. Then, however, there was nothing left but two derelict wooden churches, Protestant and Catholic. Every month service was said in one or the other, and the whole of the scattered mining population went to whichever church was in use.
At the mouth of the river there was a solitary settler's house, and there we stayed the night. The man, Mr. Nebbin, who was an old South-
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lander, and his wife and family seemed glad to see us, for it was seldom that visitors passed that way. The daughter showed us with pride the new swing bridge that had been put across the river. Until recently the only means of crossing had been a box on a wire rope, and she told us that one stormy night a year or two before, when her little brother and sister had been coming over in the box, the rope had broken, and they had been washed out to sea.
We had an early breakfast next morning, and then rode up the gorge, taking with us a small boy to act as guide. Having forded the river, we followed along a track on the south bank that led in and out among the straight trunks of the birches and tree ferns which covered the hills to the water's edge. The further we went the narrower the valley became, till at last it was scarcely ninety yards across, while the cliffs on either side were hundreds of feet high. Wherever it was possible to find root hold great forest trees grew. Long trails of white clematis hung from them, and the ground underneath was covered with moss and ferns, which even clung to the rock itself. After some time we came to a spot where the river divided, and we went up the south branch for a mile or so, then turned and followed the other branch for some distance. The views were magnificent, and we all felt that this gorge was absolutely wonderful and utterly different from anything we had seen before. We came to a limestone cave, and peered into the entrance, deeply regretting that as we had not brought candles with us, we could not explore it. On our way down my daughter's horse bolted, but eventually she managed to pull him
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up with no damage done, only I had to return to pick up her hat, which had blown off at the beginning of her mad charge. We lunched at the settler's house, and afterwards rode to Charleston, got our buggy, and drove back to Westport. My wife was very glad to see us, as she had had a dull time while we were away. She had tried to do a little shopping, and she told us that the people in the shops seemed so surprised and interested when she came in, for except on the evenings when the coach arrived there were hardly ever strangers in the town. Among other things, she wanted a cushion, since she found the seats on the coach extremely hard, but such a thing did not seem to exist in all Westport, and she was offered first a pin cushion and then a tea cosy as a substitute. Finally she took the cosy, and sat on it for the rest of the journey. The landlord's wife had invited her to spend the evening in their private house, which was near the hotel, so she had not been allowed to be lonely. This was typical West Coast friendliness, for no matter how much of a stranger a man may be when he arrives on the Coast, by the end of a week he feels that he knows and is known by everyone, the truth being that Westland is so completely isolated from the rest of New Zealand that its inhabitants really do know all about each other and the stranger is a marked man, and interesting just because he is a stranger. The drivers of the coaches know and will often recount the history of all the dwellers along the route, and the landlord can tell the story of everyone who comes into his bar.
Westland differs from the rest of New Zealand as much as France or Belgium differs
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from England. Its whole position is extraordinary, since it is over 180 miles long and in most places only about 15 miles wide, not more than thirty at the widest, bordered on the east by the immense chain of snowy mountains, and on the west by the Tasman Sea, whose great breakers thunder on the shore. The climate is as peculiar as its position, for it has a rainfall of over 100 inches in the year, and as it is also fairly mild, the luxuriance of the vegetation is almost tropical. Moss and lichen cover everything, clinging to the posts of the wire fences and to the very telegraph poles. The people also are as different as it is possible to imagine from the hard-working, smart, alert men of the rest of New Zealand, with their busy towns and their prosperous, well-kept farms. A large proportion of the West Coasters are miners, who came over during the gold rush, and remained when the gold petered out, partly because they were too poor to move, partly because they were attached to the place, or had not sufficient energy to uproot themselves and their families--wild, happy-go-lucky fellows, rich yesterday, poor to-day. Many of them are Irish, and Catholics, and they seem to have brought with them from their native land their "agin the Government" attitude, for there are perpetual strikes and troubles of all sorts.
It is difficult to realize how completely Westland is cut off from the rest of the Colony. There are but two coach routes by which it can be reached, the one through the Buller, and the other through the Otira Gorge. In both cases the journey is expensive and arduous, and during the winter is often practically impossible. Approach by sea is equally difficult, for
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there are no natural harbours, and the artificial ones are not easy of access. The coast is very stormy, and sometimes a steamer will lie tossing for days outside Hokitika or Greymouth and then go away without being able to cross the bar. This means of approach, therefore, is not one that appeals to most people. I imagine that the opening of the new railway from Canterbury will completely alter conditions, and for the sake of prosperity and progress one must hope that it will, but the country will undoubtedly lose much in charm and interest.
We left Westport next morning, and drove back through the most beautiful part of the Buller Gorge as far as Inangahua Junction, where we lunched. Then in the afternoon we followed up the Inangahua River to Reefton. We enjoyed the drive, which was mostly through bush, and the views were pretty, but not nearly so magnificent as in the Gorge. We had scarcely finished an early dinner at Dawson's Hotel, where we were staying, when Mr. Fenton, manager of the "Keep it Dark" gold mine, to whom I had an introduction, called to see us. He most kindly drove us all to Black Point, and asked the manager of the "Wealth of Nations" to let us go down and view the workings. My wife would not venture into the mine, but Miss Izard and my daughter were delighted to go, and we went down two shafts and along several drives to where the miners were breaking the quartz reef in which the gold seams lay. It was extraordinarily interesting, and we were more than an hour underground, and did not get back to Reefton till long after dark.
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Early the following day, we went by an omnibus to the railway, and though it was very wet, we were all turned out to walk over a bridge that was not supposed to be safe. The line, which goes through the charming wooded country of the Grey River Valley, where there is a good deal of settlement, passes Totara and Ahaura.
We left the train at Brunner, and stayed there three hours to visit the well-known Brunner coal mine. The manager took us down himself, and we went a long way in a trolley worked by an endless wire rope, and saw the principal faces where the miners were hewing out the coal; and we all thought it nearly as interesting as the gold mine. It was not many months later that there was a terrible explosion here, when numbers of men lost their lives.
We then continued the journey by train to Greymouth, where we stayed at Gilmer's Hotel, and in the afternoon we had a delightful walk to the end of the breakwater at the entrance to the Grey River. It is not as fine as the one at Westport, but the town itself seemed to us much more solid and better kept.
Next day we went back by the same railway to Stillwater, where we left that line and joined another, which took us past the Brunner, or Moana Lake, to use the Maori name, to the Taramakau River. Having crossed this, we arrived at Jackson's, at that time the terminus of the railway. There we secured seats in Cassidy's coach, and proceeded up the Otira Gorge, so often described, with its wonderful road winding up to Arthur's Pass. In some places it is cut out of the rock, in others it is carried over ravines on solid embankments
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faced with walls of timber or stones. The slopes of the mountains are covered with trees, ferns, and flowering shrubs, manukas, veronicas, fuchsias, the lacebark or ribbonwood, with its beautiful white flowers, and the lovely crimson rata. I had been through the Gorge before, but my wife and daughter had not, and it was most unfortunate that rain came on and spoilt the best views; we did not even catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Mt. Rolleston. We arrived at the top of the Pass, 3,038 feet, and the rain ceased as we rattled down the other side through groves of stunted birch trees and along the banks of the Bealey River to its junction with the Waimakariri, where we stayed the night at the accommodation house.
Making an early start, we soon reached the Cass River, and saw Grassmere station, where twenty-three years before, when she came out to New Zealand as a girl, my wife and her twin brother had stayed with the Arthur Hawdons. We passed the pretty little Grassmere and Pearson Lakes, changed horses at Craigieburn, and after crossing the Broken River, arrived at Castle Hill, where we were glad to have some hot tea. Then turning to the east at Lake Lyndon, we mounted Porter's Pass, 3,100 feet, and, tearing down the other side, reached the Kowai River and Springfield, where we found a train ready to take us to Christchurch. There Miss Izard left us, and we were sorry to part with her as she had been a very pleasant travelling companion. We stayed for a couple of days at Warner's Hotel, and, one of them being Sunday, we went to the Cathedral to hear the beautiful musical service, of which the town was so justly proud.