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NOTES OF AN EXPEDITION FROM MOTUAKA OVERLAND TO MASSACRE BAY.

From the apparent approximation of the Rewaka Valley at the Motuaka to the Takaka of Massacre Bay, according to the charts, and also from a report that a native slave woman had formerly made her escape from one valley to the other, over the mountains, I was induced to undertake an expedition, for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of the country between the two bays.

December 18.— Left the Motuaka, with two men, carrying ten days* provisions, &c. ; and ascended the Rewaka Valley to the limit of the survey.

19 th. — After an unsuccessful attempt to ascend the ranges by the southern branch of the stream, the mountains being too precipitous, returned down the valley to the first fern ridge to the north, by ascending which we got on to the chief, dividing wooded range between the two valleys. There is here a considerable plateau of uneven land, densely wooded, and possessing a most remarkable geological feature ; each depression of the surface, instead of communicating with gulleys or streams running to the coast, leads to immense crate-like hollows, terminating in dark cavernous wells, by which the country is drained.

Our course was west, by compass. From the great quantity of supplejack, vines, and other parasitical plants, very little progress could be made, and at the conclusion of the day's work not more than three miles had been gained. Encamped this evening without water. 20th. — After making a fruitless search for water amongst several hollows (one of which had precipitous sides of about 400 feet in depth), continued to follow the same course as on the previous day. Having at length gained the greatest elevation, which we named Mount Poynter, we saw the white bluffs of Tasman's Gulf bearing 2° 31' south, and in the opposite direction a high snowy range, between which and the heights we stood on lay the Takaka valley. During the course of this day's progress I descended the most peculiar and conspicuous of the before-mentioned wells, and found several leading to a greater depth than it was possible to follow. By the assistance of ropes and torches, I believe these wells might be traced to subterranean rivers. Encamped in a dry watercourse; for the second night without water.

21st. — Descended to the valley, and at length found water in a beautiful stream running to the northward, and passing through some excellent tracts of level woodland. We followed the course of this, stream, which I named the " Duffey," for about two miles, to its confluence with another stream of superior magnitude, flowing from the south-west. Below the junction of these rivers, the Takaka is for some distance too rapid to ford, and assumes the character of a large mountain river. Having ascended a fern hill on the right of the valley, I discovered the sea of Massacre Bay, distant to the northward about fifteen miles j the valley gradually widening, and exhibiting a fine expanse of probably 30,000 acres of rich wooded land. Above the point at which I entered the valley it might extend seven or eight miles to the south-west, along the banks of the " Parkinson " (the name given to the principal branch), with a width between the hills of from one to two miles and a half. At the head of the valley and along its western side are high, rugged, and snowy mountain ranges. The Takaka, though a rapid torrent in the upper part of the valley, is soon altogether lost, by its entering subterranean channels, and we walked along the dry river-bed for several miles, without meeting with the slightest appearance of moisture. Just as we were thinking of making our encampment, subject to the inconvenience which had attended us on the two preceding nights, we discovered an old survey station, with a pond adjacent to it. The surveyor's lines now offered an easy path to the coast, and we halted, satisfied at having attained the object of the expedition. 22d. — Descended the valley to the coast. On our suddenly entering a potato ground in which some natives were at work, their surprise was excessive, and they could in no way account for our appearance, knowing that we had not arrived by water or by the coast. Although anxious to hear the particulars of the

journey, their inquisitiveness was chiefly upon superstitious matters; and I was repeatedly inquired of as to how often and in what shape 1 had teen "Taipo" (the dtvil), and assuied me that the mountains- which I had crossed were his particular and favourite abode. The fabulous and extinct birds, the moa and kakapo, also, in their belief, inhabit the same locality. From the Takaka I proceeded to the Hauriri Valley, nearer to Cape Farewell, and which is fully as fertile but not more than hah 7 the extent of the Takaka. Its survey is just completed by Mr. Budge, from whom I met with a most hospitable reception. From the Hauriri I returned by the coast, and after nine days of the most difficult journeying which I have met with in New Zealand, arrived at the Motuaka on the 4th of January. In a direct line, the distance from the surveyed sections in the Rewaka Valley to available land on the Takaka is not more than six miles. The height of the pass is about 2,000 feet; but the ascents are easy, and with proper care and judgment a bridle path might be carried over the range at no very great expense. In the road from Wellington to Porirua the ascents are steeper, and the distance as far again. The pass, however, is not so much as half the elevation. By making a road over the Poynter range, the whole of the upper part of the Takaka Valley would become available for addition to the surveyed lands of the settlement, and about 7,000 or 8,000 acres would be added to the 27,000 acres already laid out in that valley. In the Hauriri, 14,850 acres have been surveyed, and there remain probably 4,000 or 5,000 acres to be surveyed in the Tomatia and Taupata valleys farther northward. The whole of the available land in Massacre Bay will thus amount to about 55,000 acres, which extent of country would be connected with Nelson and the accommodation land around Tasman's Gulf, by the formation of a road from the Motuaka through the Rewaka Valley to Massacre Bay. Should a practicable line of communication be found (as doubtless it will) with the Wairau by the Kaituna Pass, there will then be an uninterrupted and easy route through all parts of the Nelson settlement, and from the western to the eastern coast of this island. Charles Heafhy.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NENZC18440113.2.14

Bibliographic details

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume II, 13 January 1844

Word Count
1,126

NOTES OF AN EXPEDITION FROM MOTUAKA OVERLAND TO MASSACRE BAY. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume II, 13 January 1844

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