CHAPTER II. RIVERS AND HARBOURS.
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RIVERS AND HARBOURS.
OTAGO is essentially a well-watered country. Each main valley has its large river; every smaller valley has its permanent stream; every glen its burn, or creek; even every gully has its occasional water-course. Commencing at the north, the Waitaki, constituting the boundary between Otago and Canterbury, has its sources in three lakes--Ohau, Putaki, and Tekapo--all within the latter province. It also receives the waters of several considerable confluents on the Otago side. It is a large and broad river, but runs with a swift current through and over vast shingle-beds, and is only navigable a short distance for boats. In its upper course it traverses a rough mountainous country, but the lower portion abuts on the beautiful Oamaru Plains. Further south is the Kakanui
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River, navigable at the entrance for vessels of 50 tons burden. The Waihemo, or Shag River, a smaller stream, also rises in the Kakanui Ranges, and flows through a fine valley, falling into the sea at Vulcan Point. Next in order of succession is the Taieri. This river, rising in the Lammerlaw, receives an astonishing number of tributaries in its peculiarly serpentine course. After traversing more than 100 miles of country, its channel is still no more than twenty miles from its sources, as the crow flies. Passing through the Maniototo Plains, it enters into, and again emerges from, a small lake. Thence it flows, still in a sinuous direction, through the beautiful valley of Strath-Taieri, and subsequently pours its waters through a succession of deep ravines, till it finally debouches through a rocky gorge into the great Taieri Valley. Here it flows sluggishly in a westerly direction, its channel widens, and it becomes navigable for small craft to a considerable distance from the coast. Finally, it joins the united waters of two lakes, Waipori and Waihola, and then, turning sharp round to the south, it mingles with the ocean.
The Tokomairiro is a small river of no great length, rising in Table Hill and Mount Stewart, traversing the rich agricultural plains of the same name, and entering the sea to the south of Cook's Head.
But the great river of Otago is the Clutha--originally named, by Captain Cook, the Molyneux. This river is the outlet for the collective waters of the great lakes--Hawea, Wanaka, and Wakatipu; and it receives into its capacious channel many other rivers, some being of considerable magnitude. The northern branches issuing from the two lakes first named have their confluence at the small township of Newcastle, flowing thence through the Upper Dunstan plains to Cromwell. There it is joined by the Kawarau, which, after draining Lake Wakatipu, is largely increased in volume by the Shotover, the Arrow, and the Nevis rivers. The united waters then flow in a southerly direction to the sea at Port Molyneux. The other principal affluents of the Clutha are the Lindis, the Manuherikia, the Earnscleugh, the
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Teviot, the Beaumont, the Tuapeka, the Waitahuna, the Pomahaka, and the Waiwera. A glance at the map will enable the reader to form some idea of the extent of country drained by this river. A few miles above its mouth the river divides into two branches, which encircle the delightful settlement of Inch-Clutha, below which they again re-unite in one broad stream. It is navigable a short distance for vessels of small tonnage, and a stern-wheel steamer of light draught (similar in construction to those in use on the Frazer and other American rivers) proceeds 40 miles inland to the mouth of the Tuapeka.
The other most noticeable rivers are the Mataura and the Waiau, constituting respectively the eastern and western boundaries of Southland. Catlin's River and the Waikava drain the valuable timbered country lying between the Clutha and the Mataura. Patupo, or Big River, is the outlet for the waters of Lake Howloko in the south-west, and the Hollyford debouches into Martin's Bay. The entrances of all these rivers are navigable, and afford safe harbourage for small craft.
The most important harbour is Port Chalmers, which is the port of Otago, and is one of the most securely land-locked and picturesque bays in the world. Its entrance faces due north; but immediately within the Heads it trends to the westward. At the upper end of this arm is the port and town of Chalmers, where large vessels lie at anchor. Above Port Chalmers are three small islands, beyond which the bay takes a southerly direction to the city of Dunedin. This portion of the harbour is only available for smaller vessels. Its final termination is within a very short distance from the ocean, from which, indeed, it is only divided by a range of sand hummocks known as the Ocean Beach. This beautiful bay is surrounded on all sides by wooded slopes, dotted with neat residences and pleasant homesteads, above which, on the landward side, tower the lofty eminences of Mount Cargill and the Flagstaff Hill, whilst at the head of the harbour stands the capital of the Province--the whole presenting a panoramic scene of no mean effect.
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The other harbours may be briefly mentioned. To the north are Waikouaiti Bay, Moeraki Bay, and Oamaru Bay; and to the south and west are Wiltshire Bay opposite Port Molyneux, Tewaewae Bay, Preservation Inlet, and Milford Sound. These, however, are open roadsteads, with the exception of the two last named, which are available as harbours of refuge. Martin's Bay, on the West Coast, is also a good and safe harbour for small craft.