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PROVINCE OF OTAGO.
IN attempting a brief description of the Province of Otago, I will first notice the rivers and their basins, with the enclosing ranges of hills and mountains: the various classes of land will then come under consideration: the known mineral fields will be indicated; and in conclusion I will offer such remarks on the resources and capabilities of the Province generally as I may hope will be worthy of your attention.
Beginning at the North-eastern boundary of the Province, the river Waitaki, which forms the same, is the first in order. It has its source in the Southern Alps, about 20 miles to the north-east of Mount Cook, and distant from its mouth, as the crow flies, 120 English miles. The first 40 miles of its course is through a deep gorge, enclosed by high precipitous mountains, utterly barren, and covered with perpetual snow. Mount Cook, named after one of Britain's most distinguished navigators, almost rivals the Alps of Europe in height, attaining, as it does, nearly 13,000 feet of elevation above the sea. Viewed from the northern spur of Ben Ohau, the scenery of this part of the Waitaki may be described as magnificently picturesque, yet possessing so much of dreariness, wildness, and sterility as to be forbidding, and to the solitary traveller appalling. The valley of the Waitaki presents an immense bed of sand, extending from the Pukaki Lake up towards the mountains. Through this desert of sand, the river, divided into many branches, finds its tortuous course; and I was informed that quicksands so abound in this desert as to render it uncrossable.
The Pukaki Lake, into which the Upper Waitaki flows, measures 10 miles long and 4 broad. Its waters have the peculiarity of being milky white in colour--more especially so during the summer season, at the melting of the snow on the mountains, when the floods bring down immense quantities of white and yellow coloured detritus, of so minute a nature that the particles are borne down even to the ocean. At distances of 9 and 11 miles below the lake, the river is joined by the branches called Tekapo and Ohau respectively. These issue from lakes of the same names, which are fed by the waters of the lower ranges of the Southern Alps. Proceeding 14 miles further down, the minor branch, called Ahuriri, joins the main stream from the westward. In the vicinity of the junction are three high mountains, viz. --Benmore, 6111 feet; Totara Peak, 5876; and St. Cuthbert, 4962 feet, above the sea. The heads of the Waitaki run through extensive plains, measuring 60 miles in length and 20 miles in breadth, having an elevation of 1180 to 2136 feet above the sea, and covered with grass of generally scanty growth, yet well adapted for the rearing of sheep.
The Waitaki is joined by no more large branches; and, after flowing through a gorge at the north of the Kurau Mountains, it passes through the Lower
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Waitaki Plains by many channels. The plains and adjacent downs, while destitute of timber, bear superior grasses, and are eminently adapted for the rearing of stock. This district is bounded on the west by the Kurau Mountains, which attain an elevation of 6393 feet above the sea.
To the south of Waitaki, the first river of importance is the Kakanui, which has its source in the Kakanui Mountains, distant from its mouth 24 miles. The mountains from which it issues are 5195 feet in height, and for many months of the year are covered with snow. The Kakanui, in its lower course, flows through a very superior district, whether it be for pastoral or agricultural purposes.
The district comprised between the Horse Range, Kakanui, and Kurau mountains, the Waitaki, and the sea, being protected on the south-west aspect from gales at that quarter, possesses a milder climate than any other portion of the Province, and altogether, to say the least of it, is a highly favoured region.
The next river is the Shag or Waihemo, having its scource in Kakanui Peak, which is distant from its mouth 30 miles. This stream runs through a fine undulating country, well grassed, but destitute of timber, excepting near the sea.
The Waikowaiti follows. This stream has two sources, the northern one being in the Waikowaiti Downs, and the other in the Silver Peak Hills; the former 19 and the latter 12 miles from the mouth. The district through which this river flows is generally rugged and of inferior quality of soil, excepting within five miles of the sea coast, where a fine agricultural district exists, in the midst of which is the beautiful and well cultivated estate of Cherry Farm.
The harbour of Otago, though not properly a river, comes next. The beauty of its finely wooded scenery has drawn forth the admiration of the most of us on our first entry into our adopted country. The extensive forests that grow on the peninsulas on either side of the harbour will, in future times, be of great utility to the capital in providing timber. The hills overlooking the harbour are Mount Cargill, 2297 feet, and Mihiwaka, 1895 feet, above the sea.
Following the harbour of Otago comes the Taieri river, which takes its rise in Lammerlaw, distant from its mouth 35 miles as the crow flies, but as it has a very tortuous course its actual length will be two or three times greater. In its upper course it traverses spacious plains, where it receives the waters of many branches. The principal mountains bounding the same are Ida, 5498 feet; Kyeburn, 5129 feet; and Rock and Pillar, 4375 feet above the sea. At the north of the latter mountain a depression of the channel forms the Taieri lake, in length 1 1/2 miles and in breadth 1 mile. After issuing from the lake the Taieri traverses an undulating and well grassed valley for 40 miles, whence it flows into the Lower Taieri plain by a deep and rugged gorge. Here, from being a rapid torrent, it becomes a sluggish creek, flowing through the central marshes and lakes of the plain, at the lower end of which it is under the influence of the tides. To the south eastward of the plain it again passes
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into a hilly district by a narrow gorge, from which it issues on the Ocean. Its lower course is bounded by one of the best and most improved agricultural districts in the province, promising in the course of a few years, under the skilful and industrious labours of its proprietors, to rival the finest in New Zealand.
From the Taieri we pass to the Tokomairiro, which takes its rise in Waitahuna Hill, at a distance from its mouth of 20 miles. The plain in the middle part of its course has been occupied for some years by enterprising and energetic settlers.
Next comes the Clutha or Molyneux river, by far the largest in the Province, and probably exceeding in volume any river in New Zealand, not excepting the Waikato of the North Island. The sources of this river have been viewed, but not made the subject of actual survey; consequently there is some doubt as to whether the largest branch runs into the Wanaka or into the Hawea lake. As the Wanaka lake is the larger, I am disposed to believe that the head feeder of it is the source of this great river. It is named the Makurara, and takes its rise in the Great Western Ranges near Mount Aspiring, making the source of the Clutha distant from its mouth 130 miles.
Mount Aspiring forms a magnificent spectacle--not only owing to its great altitude, viz., 9,135 feet above the sea--but owing to its bold and symmetrical shape of a steep cone or spire.
The face of the country at the sources of the Clutha is of much the same description as that of the Upper Waitaki, being quite as rugged, bold, and barren as it; yet further down in the Lake district the aspect becomes exceedingly pleasing, abounding, as it does, in grassy plains and valleys, behind which are mountains clothed with luxuriant forests rising from the white gravelly beaches of the deep blue Lakes. The mountains in the vicinity of the Wanaka and Hawea Lakes are Black Peak, 7,328 feet; Pesa, 6,426 feet; and Grandview, 4,703 feet above the sea. The Wanaka Lake is 1036 feet above the same level, and the climate appears admirably adapted for the residence of natives of temperate climates. It may yet be within the scope of some of our lives to see these beautiful Lakes frequented as summer retreats for change of air and recreation from business.
Prior to my proceeding into this district, a few months ago, I endeavoured to gather from the natives information as to the routes and topographical features, and I must state that I have found their descriptions to wonderfully coincide with the facts, even though none of them had been so far inland for a period of thirty or forty years. A few items of their information consisted of the following:-- that a family had fled from the sea coast into this district at the time of Rauperaha's exterminating inroad, and of whom they had never since heard. They anticipated that I might meet with them. They also described an animal as frequenting the Lakes, whose habits indicate the beaver: further, they spoke of a natural bridge over the Clutha, and the existence of a volcano. The above items of information, on more minute search, may prove correct, for I may state that time was not permitted me to investigate.
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As I believe that our party were the first Europeans to sight this interesting district, I may state that the view of it suddenly burst upon us from the top of Grandview mountain, up whose long spurs we had spent a day in climbing, expecting as we attained each eminence to sight the lakes, but meeting with no other view than the surrounding snowy peaks. At length, on arriving at a large rock that I had been calling Black Knob, the range of mountains suddenly terminated with a steep declivity, at the bottom of which, 3,000 feet beneath, was the Hawea Lake, and in the distance, Wanaka. The Clutha was seen meandering amongst the grassy plains, coursing its way downwards till it was seen to enter a deep gorge at the termination of the Dunstan mountains.
Sixteen miles below the Hawea Lake the Clutha is joined by a beautiful stream called the Lindis, and twelve miles further on it is joined by a large branch called the Kawarau. This branch issues from the Wakati Lake. The Clutha now leaves the spacious plains of the Upper Valley, and pursues an almost southerly course amongst high lands, till it is joined by the Pomahawk, and till there, it is joined by no large stream excepting the Manuhirikea.
The valleys of both these branches are spacious and well grassed, but the latter is destitute of timber. From the Pomahawk junction to the sea, a southeasterly course of 18 miles brings the waters of the Clutha or Molyneux to the sea. Near the sea is a delta, in which the waters of the river separate into two arms, but they rejoin near the mouth. The lower district of the Clutha is undulating, low, and well grassed, and its delta possesses rich soil, which may be made available in future times by the application of drainage.
After the above river come Catlins, Tautaku, and Waikawa, all of small importance as to size, but the latter is notable as having a good harbour at its embouchure. These rivers flow through a country difficult of access, by reason of its extensive forests, high scrubs, and ferns. It was in the difficult mazes of this district that the late Dr. Schmidt, who lectured to an audience in Dunedin some three years ago, lost his way, and it is supposed died from starvation. The district has since been surveyed, and its intricacies delineated in the public maps, by my able and zealous assistant, Mr. Garvie. To this part of the Province will probably be directed the attention of sawyers, timber being abundant, and water power attainable.
The River Mataura is the next in succession. It takes its rise 86 miles from its mouth, in the Eyre or Takerahaka mountains, flowing by a rapid course through a beautiful and picturesque valley till it enters a deep and precipitous gorge to the north of the Dome Mountain. The Dome being a remarkable object, I ascended it last year for the purpose of obtaining observations. I was favoured by a fine day, and gained its summit by noon. The hills about Dunedin were at the same time visible, with the mountains and islands on the south-west coast, while stretching beneath us were various mountain ridges, together with the Waimea, Oreti, and Mataura plains, whose spacious breadths seemed to invite the occupation of man.
The day was warm when I and my assistant started for the ascent, but when we gained the summit the cold was intense, and the streamlets were fro-
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zen. While engaged with my observations, I was attracted by the chattering of the teeth of my companion, whom I saw sit down shivering without a coat on him. I told him to put on his coat, to prevent his catching cold by the sudden change from the heat of a toilsome ascent to standing in the cold breeze on the summit. My companion evidently had not had the benefit of Mr. Will's lecture on astronomy delivered here last year, for he said he did not think of carrying up his coat, it was so warm below that he thought it would be far warmer on getting up so near to the sun.
The Eyre Mountains rise 6084 feet, and the Dome 4505 feet above the sea level, and, on issuing from their proximity, the Mataura flows through a level and fine undulating country till it reaches the sea, which it enters at the small harbour of Toi-tois. The lower plains of Mataura are admirably adapted for agricultural purposes, wood, water, and rich soil being in abundance.
The estuary of the Bluff, or Awarua, comes next. There is little available country in its proximity, from its being generally marshy and wet, but the estuary forms a capacious harbour, suitable for the entry of all classes of shipping. Some years ago it was noted as a whaling station, 8 or 9 square-rigged vessels lying in it at one time.
To the north-west of the Bluff is New River, the most important in the south of the Province, as on one of its branches stands Invercargill, and as it forms a secure harbour into which vessels of 500, and even 1000 tons may enter. This information I give on the authority of competent navigators acquainted with the river. The New River branches into two--the Oreti and Makerewa, the former having its source in the Eyre mountains 88 miles from the sea, and the latter 37 miles. Both branches flow through extensive pastoral districts, abounding with wood and water; and at their junction a district having superior soil for agricultural purposes, with good water communication, exists.
Following New River comes Jacob's River, or the Aparima, which has its source in the Takituno Mountains, 48 miles from its mouth. This river flows through an extensive pastoral district, variegated with mountain, hill, and plain. The principal mountains are Takituno, 4998 feet; Hamilton, 4674 feet; and Lingwood, 2602 feet above the sea level.
At the mouth of Jacob's River is a whaling station, the most distant and obscure of all British settlements. When I first visited this place I was struck with the primitiveness of the manners of its inhabitants, and disinterested hospitality was not the least apparent of their customs. The series so graphically described in one of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, as obtaining in times of old amongst the Shetlanders, were recalled most vividly to remembrance. The personages described in his story had their living representatives, from the old Uddaler to the Minnas and Brendae.
With an apology for this digression, I will next proceed to the Waiau, a large and rapid river, yet considerably less than the Clutha. Its sources are in the western mountains, and these collect into one body in the Te Anau Lake. The upper part of the Waiau has only been viewed, and it remains yet to
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be the subject of actual survey. To the east of the Waiau the country is grassy-- to the west it is wooded. It enters the sea after a rapid course of nearly 100 miles.
Between the Waiau and the Western Mountains the country has not been surveyed. Still, overlooked from several prominent positions, it was seen to consist of heavily timbered valleys, barren ridges, and snowy precipitous mountains.
Between the Western Mountains and the ocean also the country remains unsurveyed, excepting on the coast line; and we are indebted to Capt. Stokes, R.N., and his assistants, for such information regarding this territory as I am now enabled to lay before you. It is as follows:--
"The only places of shelter for shipping along the whole extent of the West Coast of the Middle Island, a distance of 500 miles, are those singular and truly remarkable sounds, or inlets, which penetrate its south-western shores, between the parallels of 44° and 46° south latitude."
The precipitous and iron-bound coast line, which forms the sea wall, as it were, in which these extraordinary inlets may almost be likened to so many breaches, runs in a N. N. E. and S. S. W. direction; and the whole, 13 in number, are included within a space of little more than 100 miles.
The shores, which rise almost perpendicularly from the water's edge, are, in the immediate neighbourhood of the sounds, covered with trees suitable for all purposes among them the red pine, which, although heavier and inferior to the kauri, is well adapted for masts; and a vessel requiring spars could procure them of any size up to a sloop of war's lower mast, with little difficulty. For this purpose the southern inlets are preferable.
A view of the surrounding country from the summit of one of the mountains bordering on the coast, of from 4000 to 5000 feet elevation, is perhaps one of the most grand and magnificent spectacles it is possible to imagine; and standing on such an elevation, rising over the south side of Caswell's Sound, Cook's description of this region was forcibly called to mind. He says-- "A prospect more rude and craggy is rarely to be met with; for inland appeared to be nothing but the summits of mountains of a stupendous height, and consisting of rocks that are totally barren and naked, except where they are covered with snow. We could only compare the scene around us, as far as the eye could reach, north to Milford Sound, south to Dusky Bay, and eastward inland for a distance of 60 miles, to a vast area of mountains, of every possible variety of shape and ruggedness. The clouds and mists floated far beneath us, and the harbour appeared no more than an insignificant stream.
"The prospect was most bewildering; and even to a practised eye the possibility of recognizing any particular mountain as a point in the survey from a future station seemed almost hopeless.
"In Dagg's Sound the following circumstance took place:-- A remarkable scene occurred during our stay in this Sound. Our anchorage was at the head of the northern arm, a cable's length from the shore, in 12 fathoms. The change of moon brought a N. W. gale, with heavy rain, and in the course of a
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few hours no less than 14 magnificent cascades were pouring down the sides of the mountains (upwards of 3000 feet high) by which we were surrounded, bringing with them trees of considerable size, and all other obstructions met with in their passage. The effect was as if a heavy surf were breaking round the vessel; the mist, floating as low as our mast-heads, occasionally obscured everything but the summits of the mountains and the foam below, and produced altogether a scene as grand as it is possible to conceive, which lasted, without abating in any degree, for two days, when the water alongside, which had been as salt as the ocean, was for a considerable depth below the surface perfectly fresh."
At Milford Sound the cliffs are described by the same authorities as "stupendous; rising as a perpendicular wall from the water's edge to the height of several thousand feet, investing it with a character of solemnity and grandeur which description can barely realise." A little to the north of Milford Sound it is also stated that there is a waterfall 700 feet in height, thus rivalling the famous falls of Terni, in Italy, or Garsippa, in India.
Such is the physical character of this portion of the Province as described by Captain Stokes and his assistants; and as this brings us round to our starting point, viz., the source of the Waitaki, I will leave this imperfect view of a large subject to glance over the geological formations and known mineral fields.
My remarks on these subjects must necessarily be confined to the surveyed districts, the unexplored western ranges remaining unknown; but regarding them, I may be permitted to remark that the settlers of Jacob's River, who yearly frequent the west coast, state that copper, coal, and green stone are met with on the spurs of the ranges adjacent to some of the sounds.
The formations of the sea board of this Province are principally aqueous or sedimentary, seldom exceeding a distance inland of thirty miles; to the interior of that the prevailing formations are igneous or plutonic, and metamorphic or altered.
The most common class of igneous or plutonic rocks is trappean, graduating from blue compact rock to light and drab-coloured cherts. These are met with in the Southern Alps, Kakanui, Benmore, Dunstan, Eyre, and Takituno mountains, and the two latter groups contain also granite, gneiss, and other rocks that might be expected to be in juxta-position, such as porphyry, greenstone, and amygdaloids. It is worthy of remark that of the igneous rocks, granite--being valuable for stone constructions and of an excellent quality--is to be had on the Bluff peninsula, adjacent to good water carriage. Columner basalt is met with in the Maruwhenna and North Waikouaiti.
The most prevailing of the metamorphic or altered rocks are micaceous schists and clay slates. These are abundantly met with on the Waikouaiti Downs, Rock and Pillar Mountains, Rough-ridge Hills, and Blackstone and Raggedy Ranges, on which the sharp serrated edges of the formations protrude, giving the country a most peculiarly tuberous and rough appearance. Clay slate and compact rocks are found to be the prevailing formations on the Kaihiku, Otarea, Hokanui, and Waireka ranges, which are found to be inter-
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sected and ramified by veins and concretions of foreign substances, such as quartz and ferruginous matter.
The aqueous or sedimentary formations consist chiefly of sandstones, quartzose conglomerates, shale, shingle, and clay beds, disposed in the lower ranges, downs, and valleys. The modern debris of the existing highlands in many places overlies these formations, stretching from the sea board up the river basins to the feet of the mountains.
Of Minerals, gold has been detected in the Mataura, and very generally on the Waiopai plains, also in the Tuapeka and Lindis, but its existence in remunerative quantities has not yet been made apparent. Coal is very generally distributed, and is found frequently of very fair quality, notwithstanding that surface coal only has as yet been taken out. Coal and lignite are formed on either slope of the Kurai and Kakanui Mountains, and the Horse Range; these are exposed to view in various river beds. The districts of the lower Taieri, Tokomairiro, Clutha, Pomahawk, and Mataura also possess these stores of subterranean fuel. Limestone is met with abundantly on the Maruwhenna, Waireka, Awamoko, Kakanui, and Shag rivers. It is also found near Dunedin, at the Waihola Lake, in the Waiau, Orawea, Aparima, and Mataura rivers. Flagstones and roofing slate are found in the Maruwhenna and Kakanui. Such is a very superficial view of the formations and mineral fields of the Province hitherto discovered.
The round boulders on the Moeraki beach, though of no utilitarian interest, must not pass unobserved. They consist of spherical balls, varying in diameter from 9 inches to 6 feet, and bear a remarkable resemblance to huge cannon balls. Their colour is blueish grey, and they arc observed to have been washed by the action of the sea out of the adjacent beds of soft amorphous blue clay, of which the overhanging cliffs are composed. The balls, on being examined internally, were found to be composed of the same material as the clay beds out of which they had fallen, but with this difference, that they were much intersected by veins of carbonate of lime, radiating from the centre or nucleus to all parts of the exterior. Under a natural process, induced by chemical affinity, the formation and augmentation of these veins of carbonate of lime appear to have been the medium of constructing the balls out of the clay, for as the nuclei increased, so would they press outwards on the surrounding plastic material, hardening it, and altering its formless mass into layers disposed parallel to the centre of action, and this with less and less energy and effect as the distance from the centre increased; consequently we see, where little carbonate of lime has accumulated in the manner above described, the balls are small, and where much has accumulated they are large. The disposal of clay in layers parallel to pressure may be readily observed in broken bricks or common pottery, which may be taken as a familiar illustration of the process.
Before leaving the subject of formations, I may as well offer a few remarks regarding what I have found to be a very popular notion, viz.-- the recentness of New Zealand. I once heard an Editor of one of the leading Journals in another province than this one remark, that these Islands must have been under the sea 500 years ago. My observations have led me to a very different
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belief; for if we look at the immense alluvial deposits in the flats and valleys, the huge escarpments of the hills made by the waters of the rivers, and the miles of solid rock scooped out by the same action, we must confess that the age of New Zealand, as it is, cannot be measured by hundreds of years, but by hundreds of thousands. No subject more strongly exemplifies the care and beneficence of Nature's God over his creatures than the extreme slowness of the process by which the mighty changes made on the face of the earth have been produced--and they have been very mighty; but the study of the structure of the earth leads us to see and confess, in the language of Scripture, that with Him a thousand years are as one day--a truth most peculiarly brought home to the Geologist.
The different routes into the interior I have no doubt will be useful information to intending Stockowners. I will therefore shortly point out those most easily available.
Oamaru is the port of the North, and from thence a dray with little difficulty could be drawn up to the Pukaki Lake, the Ohau Lake, and the Lindis Pass that leads into the Upper Clutha Valley.
Waikowaiti is the next port of importance, and from thence a dray following the valley of the Waihemo might with some difficulty betaken to the Upper Taieri plains, and thence with little difficulty to Ida and Manuhirikia valleys. From the latter an apparently easy pass conducts through the Dunstan Mountains into the Upper Clutha Valley.
From the port of Otago drays can only be taken to the valleys south-west of the same, adjacent to the sea board. From Clutha harbour a dray may be taken inland to the Upper Pomahawk and Waipaki. From the harbours of the New River a dray may be taken to the two latter districts, also to the Upper Mataura, and by way of Jacob's River to the valleys of the Oreti, Aparima, and Waiau. A boat on the Wakati Lake, I am credibly informed, would also effect communication between the Upper Clutha and Invercargill. All parts of the Province may be said to be accessible to pack-horses. The rivers formidable to travellers are the Waitaki, Clutha, and Waiau; all others can easily be forded excepting during freshes.
During the last summer I had to cross the Ohau in its highest state of flood, which continues for three months; and to this end a young gentleman acquainted with the river volunteered to pilot me across. When we reached the banks we found it rolling down in a majestic stream. Choosing a spot where the river divided in two, he dashed into the waters, keeping at the head of the rapids. Above him was a deep powerful body of water--below, a broken and overwhelming torrent. The large and stout animal that bore him stemmed the current of the first branch, but in the second, with the waters dashing over his shoulders, he stumbled, righted himself, and stumbled again. The head and neck disappeared, and the rider was lifted out of his seat. With a feeling of horror, that in doing me a service he should meet an early end--for this was certain in the torrent beneath--I could only wait the result; but he was a firm-nerved athletic Caledonian, accustomed to such adventures from his childhood. With a strength of effort he righted himself and his horse, and reached the opposite side. This done, he fearlessly dashed into the torrent
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again, returning this time without accident. Being myself poorly mounted, I need scarcely say that I did not court an end to my survey operations in this spot, but with many protestations of gratitude bade good bye to my friend, and after further search, I crossed the river at a better ford, but still not without difficulty.
The extent of the Province and its natural divisions come next to be considered. The Surveys executed during these last two years have extended over 15,407 square miles, and there remain to be surveyed 11,233; the whole area of the Province being 26,640 square miles, or 17,049,600 acres.
In the surveyed districts the natural divisions consist of Forest, 1320 square miles; Pasture, 12,516; Swamp, 144; Barren, 1309; and Lakes, 109. In the unsurveyed districts the natural divisions can only be approximated to; and having viewed the whole eastern parts of them, I am disposed to believe that about 2500 square miles of natural pasture will yet be found in them; while the remaining 8,733 consist of barren snowy mountains and wooded valleys.
With the above data before us, the natural resources and capabilities of the Province may be submitted to tolerably accurate estimate. The value of our forests are less apparent at present than they will be in future times, but the great extent of natural pasture is a fund of wealth, whose development will be rapid. The total area of natural pasture extends over 15,000 square miles, or 9,600,000 acres. This, when fully stocked, may be assumed to carry 2,400,000 sheep, whose fleeces alone will afford an annual export, valued at £360,000 sterling: that is, allowing four acres to carry one sheep, and the average weight of a fleece to be 3 lbs. Nor need we anticipate that our export of wool will stop at this limit, for, with the increase of population and capital, our finest lands will be improved and laid under artificial grass, thereby increasing their productive powers five or ten fold.
More tardy in development, but not less important to the permanent welfare of the Province, is the agricultural interest. The progress of this branch of industry will so much depend on the contingencies connected with immigration from the mother country, that it would be useless to speculate on the rate of its extension. That our agricultural capabilities are great there can be no doubt, for corn is sown and reaped in all parts of the Province, stretching from the Waitaki to Foveaux Straits. On the banks of the Ohau Lake, 1500 feet above the sea level, I have seen the potato growing to perfection; and as I believe fully half of the area of this Province is below that level, it will be a safe estimate to put down a fourth, or 4,250,000 acres, as capable of producing corn and vegetables.
Whatever may be the ultimate limit of population seeking support from the above area, in the meantime it is evident--possessing as we do a fertile soil, and a climate analogous to Great Britain--that our pastoral and agricultural products will be the same, equal in quality and as highly esteemed, whether they be wool, corn, or dairy produce, fresh or cured meat, or malt liquors.
Our under-ground resources have been too little examined to permit of much certain speculation. That we have considerable and easily available Coal Fields is undoubted; and Gold may be a valuable part of our exports.
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Contemporaneous with the advancement of our town, rural, and pastoral interests, will be an improvement in our communications, domestic and foreign. Regarding the former, all will agree that easy communication, especially by land, binds separate, and what would otherwise be antagonistic, communities into one. Illustrations of this in the history of the world are numerous, and the most prominent to ourselves is the example of England and Scotland. Formerly separated by difficult and unsafe marches, they bled each other to weakness, and the memory of mutual injuries nourished a hatred that a common Crown could not dissipate. Now, united by the easy but unrelaxing bonds formed by Macadam and Stephenson, the fathers of the common road and the rail, how firmly do these two nations cling to each other in their advance towards the most glorious and powerful position ever occupied by a people!
It will already be seen that the area of this Province is little less than that of Scotland, and that our surface capacity to support a population is not far behind her either, if it be not greater. Then, if roads are found to be so advantageous to Scotland, and to her neighbour England, how much good may we not expect from the same source? Were I to suggest that we might have a passable road to the Taieri Ferry on the one hand, and to Waikouaiti on the other, ten years hence, many would probably pronounce me too sanguine, yet our neighbouring and younger Province, Canterbury, has done more than this. Viewing this important subject in its practical bearings, £30,000 would effect the object stated, and a mail coach could then be driven into the heart of our finest districts, north and south. And what would be the result of this? Fivefold of the money expended would come to the public revenue by the sales of waste lands; and ten-fold would accrue to the private settlers, in the increased marketable value of their properties; while Dunedin, the focus of all, would advance with all.
But material prosperity, I feel assured, is not the main object coveted by my fellow-colonists; a higher one they will ever tenaciously keep in view, as the ultimate end. Without improvements to our internal communications no lands, however rich, can be made valuable, nor any returns extracted therefrom. To the agricultural class especially, which will eventually be the most numerous, is this subject fraught with the deepest interest. Without outlets for their productions, how are they to find the means to support their aged, or rear their little ones in comfort? and what is as important a question--how are they to find means for the intellectual training of their rising generations? I take not into account the exertions made by the Government for the provision of schools; their efforts can be but small as compared with the exertions of the heads of families, possessed with means to command so desirable an object. Under adverse and untoward circumstances, this most estimable portion of our fellow-colonists must lapse into a state of sordid ignorance; while under more happy auspices, they would rise as a community to the enviable status of their forefathers of Great Britain, whether it be in wealth or mental acquirements, end then would they form the stoutest of all bulwarks to guard and maintain our noblest of priviliges--civil and religious liberty.
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Regarding our foreign communications, it will appear, on reference to a representation of the world as shown by the globe, that New Zealand lies in the middle space of the three great oceans, viz., the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian. While it is the most remote of lands from the home country, yet coming events connected with ocean traffic will alter our condition. Practically speaking, we, the inhabitants of the south-west portion of the New Zealand Islands, are the antipodes of the inhabitants of the south-west portion of the British Islands; consequently, a direct route on the surface of the world, or, in other words, a great circle passing through the two positions, in whatever direction, is the nearest that can possibly connect the two; and it so happens that such a course, with slight divergencies owing to the western projection of the shores of Africa, and the interposition of the frozen regions of the Southern Pole, can be pursued on the Ocean. Thus, neither the routes by Suez nor by Panama to England have any advantage in distance, while they have the important and overwhelming disadvantages connected with transhipment during the voyage, such as unloading, land transit, and reloading. So far, with reference to our communications with the mother-country. But there are other facts that may ere long be of great importance.
By direct ocean steam routes this end of New Zealand is the nearest of all the Australian and New Zealand colonies to the mother-country, and near our shores is one of the most easily accessible and secure harbours in the world, viz., Port William, in Stewart's Island, capable of holding the largest class vessels yet built.
The importance of these facts will be best judged of by the following statement:--
The ocean steam routes out and home from Plymouth to Melbourne, and also to Auckland, extend to...24,480 MILES.
Ditto from Plymouth to Port William.........23,280
Distance in favour of Port William...........1200
The facility with which Port William commands the various cities in different directions will be judged of by the following:--
From Port William the distance to Hobarton is.......900 MILES
. " " Melbourne.............................. 1140
. " " Sydney .................................. 1080
. " " Wellington.............................. 480
. " " Auckland ............................... 060
It would be far from me to support an idea that this obscure port on our southern proximity would, under present circumstances, attract the attention of the proprietors of ocean steam liners: I desire only to bring its peculiarly commanding position to your notice with reference to our local interests; and I may further state that Foveaux Strait, in which Port William is situated, is in the direct route from the centre of Australian commerce, viz., Melbourne to England.
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Intimately connected with this subject is what is now going on in naval architecture in England. The crowning achievement in ship-building has been effected in the launch of the "Leviathan;" for this monster steam vessel, when racing over the wide ocean at the rate of 450 miles a-day, may be said to annihilate space, for she could bring us within thirty days of London. She is the first of her kind; and those that have confidence in the power and destiny of Britain will admit that she will not be the last. And may not New Zealand, with her increasing resources and rising energies, be worthy of such an ocean liner for her own peculiar benefit? I think this will be doubted by none. Then, if such be the case, the advantageous position of Otago for home connection over the northern provinces will also not be doubted.
As many of you may not have had an opportunity of obtaining information regarding a vessel that is likely to initiate a new era in the intercourse of distant nations, I have extracted the following from a description of her given in the Illustrated London Times:--
The length of the upper deck is
Breadth across paddle boxes
Ditto of hull
Tonnage (old measurement)
Capacity of coal bunkers
Accommodation for 1st class passengers
Ditto 2nd do.
Ditto 3rd do.
Length of saloons
She is little less in tonnage than the whole English fleet that sailed out to oppose the invading Spanish Armada, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. England then could only muster 197 petty ships, not exceeding in burden 29,744 tons.
The objects of the immense dimensions given to the Leviathan are the following:-- An ordinary steamer of 1800 tons burthen consumes, on an average, 50 tons of coal in a day; a voyage, therefore, of 36 days would exhaust her coal, supposing her to carry nothing else. Her fuel must therefore be sent to various coaling stations on the route by sailing ships.
From this cause some steamers going to Australia lost £10,000 to £12,000 by the voyage. For a time steam was foiled. Was it to be abandoned altogether? The Leviathan is calculated to solve the difficulty, for she will carry coals to serve to Australia and home again. She will take her coals in England at 12s. a ton, costing £7,200 for the voyage. A steamer of 1,800 tons, or 12 times less in tonnage, would require £12,000 for the same purpose; hence the great superiority in one important item of monster steam ships, over those of ordinary capacity. But not the least advantages are in the rapidity of service, the great capacity for passenger traffic, and the slight motion on the heaviest sea-way. Thus it will be seen how intimate is the relation of this great feat of naval architecture with our isolated and remote position amongst the great oceans of the world.
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Another important Ocean route is that connecting New Zealand with Eastern Asia. On this point our interests are identical with the rest of New Zealand and the Eastern settlements of Australia. The opening up of these regions to the enterprise of our population will have the most advantageous results. From thence we will derive our luxuries--such as tea, sugar, rice, and spices. The East presents an enticing field to the educated youths of the Colony, who, reared up in as bracing and invigorating a climate as were their fathers, and being as carefully instructed in the knowledge and principles of religion, they will possess those qualifications of energy and probity which raise the natives of the British Islands so highly in the estimation of all nations.
In conclusion, I believe that you will all join with me in looking forward with good hope. Enough has been advanced to prove that the original promoters of colonization to these parts have succeeded. in their paternal desires; and highly gratifying must it be to the venerable and much respected leaders--temporal and spiritual--who, tearing themselves from the endearing associations of their native land, forsook all, and risked all, for the good of our adopted one.
W. LAMBERT, "OTAGO COLONIST" OFFICE, DUNEDiN