1866 - Henderson, G. Otago and the Middle Island of New Zealand - Chapter III, p 53-56

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  1866 - Henderson, G. Otago and the Middle Island of New Zealand - Chapter III, p 53-56
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The Middle Island--Its various provinces--Their adaptability for settling--Special advantages of Canterbury and Southland.

BEFORE laying down my pen, it seems desirable that I should say something regarding the other provinces of New Zealand, and in doing so I shall confine myself to a few remarks upon the Middle (or as it is frequently called the South) Island.

So much has been written on the Northern Island, that it would seem a work of supererogation to say anything about it. I shall only remark, that the native war, and the general character and numbers of the natives, together with the almost universally rugged, heavily timbered character of the country, render the North Island an undesirable place to settle in. There is little country fit for pasturage, and clearing the land for agriculture is very expensive, and does not pay.

The Middle Island embraces three large provinces, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago, and two smaller ones, Marlborough, and Southland.

Nelson, which occupies the Northern end of the island, is a fine pastoral country, with a mild, yet healthy and bracing climate. Nearly the whole of the pastoral country is freehold, having been sold to the settlers at five shillings to ten shillings an acre.

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The capital (also called Nelson) is the prettiest and most picturesquely situate town in New Zealand. There is not, on the whole, much opportunity for settling either in town or country. Marlborough being merely a corner of Nelson, erected into a separate province, requires no special notice to itself.

The large province of Canterbury, occupying the centre of the island from sea to sea, offers an excellent field for settlers, both on account of its possessing a large tract of rich arable land, open to purchase, and also owing to its numerous fine squatting stations, which are constantly changing hands.

Pastoral pursuits are extremely profitable here.

The colony being a settlement of the Church of England, and the original colonists having been chosen with great care, offers great inducements to a gentleman intending to emigrate. Here is none of that ruffianism, violence, perjury, subversion of justice, coarseness, ignorance, mercenary spirit, and servile meanness, that have too long abounded in Dunedin. Good society is to be found in the capital, Christchurch, and a large number of educated gentlemen are scattered over the province.

The chief features of Canterbury are, an immense plain of arable land some seventy or eighty miles long, by forty or fifty broad, backed by beautiful pastoral hills; and beyond these a magnificent range of Alps, crowned with everlasting snow, and rivalling, if not surpassing, those of Switzerland, as I have often gazed on them from Berne, or Interlachen.

Christchurch stands on the plain, at the distance of ten or twelve miles from Port Lyttleton. A lofty

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mountain lies between, but it has now been nearly pierced for a railway, which will soon connect the capital and its port.

Of Otago, coming next in order as we proceed southwards, I need say nothing, having already treated fully of it.

The last and most southern province of this island and New Zealand, is Southland. Like Otago, it possesses many fine sheep and cattle stations, and has this further advantage, that there is a large quantity of splendid arable land, still unsold by the government.

A period of great depression has overtaken it, as well as the other provinces, but, when that has passed away, it will, probably, be the most flourishing of them all. Its capital, Invercargill, is admirably situated upon level ground, on the banks of a river up which vessels sail, while at its mouth, some eighteen miles distant, is the Bluff harbour, the nearest port to Melbourne, in Australia, and where steamers passing to and fro are constantly calling.

The government of Southland has been the most enterprising of all, and has constructed a railway (the first in the whole of New Zealand) from the harbour to the capital, and thence twenty miles further into the interior, through a rich undulating and arable country, only waiting for the plough. There is no timber to be felled, merely fencing or ditches to be made. Yet there is no want of wood, as in Otago, the country being dotted over with beautiful and compact patches or islands of timber.

Some miscalculation, and haste to go ahead, has brought the province to the same bankrupt state as

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Otago; but with plenty of fine farm land to dispose of, a railway to open up the country, and the wise system of economy introduced by the new superintendent, Mr. J. P. Taylor, there is little doubt that when the present crisis is over, Southland will rise "like -a phoenix from its ashes," whatever that may be, and be one of the most prosperous of our colonies.

Meanwhile, owing to the present great depression, both it and Otago offer splendid opportunities for investment.



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