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EXPLORING THE WEST COAST., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889
EXPLORING THE WEST COAST.
Mr Robert Paulin has just returned from a lengthened trip to that comparatively unknown part of the country lying between the seaboard and the dividing range which separates the Wakatipu district from the West Coast, and has kindly given one of our staff a few notes concerning his travels in those parts. Where have I been to ? you ask. Well, I travelled about forty miles inland from Jackson Bay. We disembarked from the steamer at the settlement, which, by the way, seems to lack signs of prosperity, taking a boat with us in which we—by the “we ” I mean four men besides myself—packed our stores in her and towed them up the river bed for about twenty-eight miles. The river lam referring to is the Arawata, It is a glacial river, emptying itself about three miles north of Jackson Bay. The bed of this river varies from a mile to two miles in width. The surrounding scenery is particulary bold and imposing, even by comparison with the wellknown grandeur of these West Coast districts, The river runs just about north and south. On the eastern bank rise the Thomson Mountains and the Aspiring Range with its tallest peak 10,000 ft above the sea level; while on the other, the western side, you have the Olivine and Barrier Range, as bold a series of peaks as one could desire to see, the greatest altitude of this range being 7,000 ft. When we had got the boat 28 miles up the river we came to a gorge, at the mouth of which the bed suddenly narrows to a width of about two chains. It will give you an idea of the tremendous rush of water there must be down this gorge in rainy weather when I tell you that there are water marks in the gorge 50ft above the level of the river bed, and the level valley below is in times of flood covered several feet deep with swiftrunning water. Just at the foot of this gorge there is a splendid waterfall. I went right up to it and photographed it, and also took careful measurements, with the result that I And it to be 1,700 ft high from the top. It falls over a ’series of terraces, and terminates [in a sheer drop of 814 ft, fifty yards wide. This fall runs all the year round. We were there, you will bear in mind, in the winter
time, when there was a hard frost. The face must be singularly beautiful when rain is more abundant. Has this fall never been seen before ? I believe it has, for other people have been pretty well up the river bed : but so far as I know I was the first to make a close inspection of it.
What is the name of the fall ?—lt has no name. Mr Mueller, the Government Surveyor at Hokitika, says that it has never before been fully described, and he proposes to do me the honor by calling it the Paulin Fall.
And what sort of country is it in those parts?— Well, one of the most important features about the place is that all the river beds around the district, including tho Arawata, of which I have been specially speaking, are dusted with fine floury gold, You can get the color anywhere. You could put a piece of moss between two stones in the water and go after a flood and squeeze out a prospect; and in one of the likeliest-looking spots I knocked out one pennyweight as the result of a day’s work with a rough cradle made by one of my men out of kerosene tins and a meat case. The whole formation round about is of broken mica schist, the mountains being entirely com' posed of it. Generally speaking, the ground would not pay for working, tho gold being 80 much distributed on the surface —I am speaking of a depth of six inches or thereabouts. But there must be concentrated deposits somewhere about —some place that has caught and held the gold, but which cun be ascertained by systematic borings in the river bed—and the only question is Where does this gold come from ? The answer naturally suggests itself: in the range dividing the sea coast from the auriferous country, the Sbotover and other old fields, on the eastern side. The head of the Dart must bo within a comparatively short distance t>f the place where we were camped. But did you make no attempt to prospect ■or cross this dividing range ? —I intend to do so, prospecting the heads of the various sources of the Arawata, the intense frost of this winter rendering any attempt futile.
As to the character of the country, apart from its auriferous nature? Well, the scenery 5s just delightful, and the climate the best I have lived in, but the place is awfully rough. The gorge I spoke of is only five miles long. To get to the head of / it we had to cut a track through the bush alongside the foot of the mountains, and a tough job it was scrambling over boulders and fallen timber and landslips. Some of the boulders were 100 ft high. When we emerged into the open at the head of the gorge we found ourselves 1,200 ft above sea level, and from that altitude we could see that the Arawata has four separate branches, each of which comes out of a glacier. There are open tussock flats in these valleys above the gorge, which might carry a few sheep or cattle. In one of these valleys we found plenty of rabbit?. There is a fair supply of timber available—mostly red and black birch and kamai—but not of much Use except for fuel, the large trees being few and far between. There are about 100 people at the Jackson Bay settlement, and they live by farming and occasionally getting a little gold. You might mention that it seems a pity no attempt has yet been made to acclimatise salmon in the rivers of that coast. The Arawata, the Hollyford, the Okura, the Waitoto, the Turnbull, the Haast, and other rivers coming from the mountain ranges, are just the places that salmon would thrive in, the conditions being the same as in the rivers of Norway. I regret to hear that the Government are introducing ferrets to the West Coast. I was told that twenty had recently been turned out at the head of the Haast. I doubt if rabbits will ever be troublesome on the West Coast. At some places where they appeared they have died out. The ferrets will only exterminate the native birds.
Mr Paulin also spoke of a visit that he paid to the Okura settlement, about seventeen miles north of Jackson Bay, where the residents live entirely by agricultural and pastoral pursuits. The soil hero is particularly fertile, and the settlers have iu profusion everything they want except money and more frequent communication with the outer world.
EXPLORING THE WEST COAST., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889
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