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NOTES OF A JOURNEY TO THE HEAD WATERS OF THE AORERE AND TAKAKA RIVERS, OCTOBER, 1856.

Wednesday, October 8. — Started from Pakawau, accompanied by Mr. John Clark, with the intention of finding a plain which was described by the natives as lying between the head waters of the Aotere'and Takaka rivers. It was stated by the natives as being a lara;e grassy plain running towards the Kawatiri or Buller river. None of them had been to it ; they had an idea that it existed from the reports of the Ngfttihnpa and Ngatitumatakokiri tribes, who formerly inhabited Massacre Bay. At noon, reached the Aorere pah, and after getting strict injunctions from the Maories to look out for the Macro or, Wild Man of the Woods, a gentleman described as having very long arms, we started up the valley, our course lying S.S.W. ; crossed several streams ; one of considerable size we called the Slate river, from there being a great deal of slate on the hills surrounding it and in its bed ; camped in a manuka bush, 8 miles up the Aorere Thursday, October 9.— Wet all day ; had to keep in the tent. Saw Hori, a native of the Parapara, who told us that one of his slaves, a Ngatihapa, had formerly told him there was a lake called the Warau, beyond the Rangiora range. Friday, October 10. — Wet morning; started at ten o'clock, and crossed several streams running into the Aorere. We had to bivouac at one, which I got half-way over, when Clark, seeing it very high and rapid, called out to me to return, as he thought we had better not try it. This I named Lead river, from there being a large quantity of plumbago in its bed and on the adjacent hills. Lead river runs from the S.E. We did not make more than ii miles in a direct line this day, owing to the , country being very broken and covered with a J weather-beaten and matted manuka scrub, j through which we had to tear a road. We j could not keep the Aorere valley on account of floods, and it was thought advisable to keep the hills and look out for passes and new •country. Saturday, October 1 1 . — Crossed the Lead river ; Lead-hill, so called from the quantity of plumbago found in it, bearing S.S.E. After walking about 1 2 miles through very bad manuka scrub, only six of them being in our direct course, camped nearly opposite a pass between Lead-hill and one of the highest of the Itangiora range, now named Mount Olympus. Wet all night. Sunday, October 12. — Wet more or less all day ; jeroeeed a large river which issues from the pass between the before-mentioned hills. I called this Clark river. It had enormous blocks of rock in it, and we had to hunt about for nearly two hours before finding a crossing place, us the water ran with fearful rapidity between the rocks. We at last managed to get across by jumping from rock to rock, and had to head up the river and then down for at least ten chains, taking our chance of slipping or falling off the rocks into the river ; if we bad done so, no power on earth could have saved us. The pass, which bears S. by E., appeared impracticable. Distance got over this day, 5 miles. Pitched our tent by the banks of the Aorere river, opposite Brownbill, so called from a large brown patch on it ; a branch of the river below us running from the S.W., through the pass to Wakapohai, on the West Coast. The bush so wet that we could not make d fire, consequently had no tea ; rained all night. Monday, October 13. — Had to dry all our things before starting ; walked along between the hills and river, which comes from the south. After travelling for 3£ miles, found a branch named the Brown river, coming from the S.W. ; it soon divided into three, one tributary coming from the west, and the other from the S.S.W. Seeing the Snowy Range from which the Brown river issues, I thought it advisable to follow the main river, which kept winding away in a S.E. by S, direction ; got up it 8 or 9 miles, but the distance travelled over was fully 12 miles. Saw some fine birch, rimu, and totara this day's journey. About mid-day, we crossed a good-sized stream, running W.S.W., coming from Mount Olympus, which was named the Brora. Sunday, October 14. — After breakfasting, continued our journey up the Aorere in a S.E. direction, crossing a stream named the Spey. 5 miles further up, we came to a large tributary, the Ncsa, falling into it from the southern range of hills named the Grampians ; we walked up the river two miles further, when it became so completely walled in that we conld not follow it to its source, which was in the Snowy Range above us. We were now obliged to take up a ridge, running in a northerly direction to the Snowy Range, which appeared to run S. E. Had to camp about a mile up the range, and, not finding water, had for a second time to go without our tea. Wednesday, October 15. — Hoping to see the country we were in search of from the top of the Snowy Range, we made an early effort to reach it, when, on getting a mile further up the ridge, a considerable part of which had snow on it, we came within 100 feet of the summit, and found, to our mortification, that we could not walk on the top of the range, as it came up to an acute angle, in fact, it was nothing but pinnacles, the highest of which I named Mount Deception; the opposite side appeared to be perpendicular. We were now considerably above the snow-line, I should say fully 800 feet, without any appearance of vegetation, and very cold. Finding it to be impossible to proceed further south, but at great personal risk, it was now necessary to alter our route,. but before doing so I took the bearings of all the places I could see, viz., Snow-hill, forming part of the Grampian Range, in which the Aorere rises bore S.S.E. ; Mount Olympus, N.N.W. ; Lead-hill, N.; and Brown-hill bounding the Wakapohai Pass, N.W. In this direction an open sort of country, bearing W f N.W., was soen above the

pass ; it appeared a large patch of plain and broken country, covered with manuka scrub, and as it corresponded in size and description to what the lower part of Aorere is, we did not deem it worth visiting, as from its limited size it could not be the anxiously looked for plains which led us to visit this rugged and inhospitable region. Looking around us, we could see nothing but snow-capped mountains — in fact, we seemed to be surrounded by snow. The belt or circle commencing at the source of the Aorere, and running in a N.W. direction towards the Wakapohai Pass, I named the Grampians, on which the snow looked beautiful, glittering in the sun, in fact it dazzled our eyes ; enormous icicles hung from the rocks like stalactites, and we now and then heard masses of snow and ice slipping off the rocks : they were avalanches on a small scale* Nothing looks more beautiful than to see the snow melt slowly on some lofty peak, and suddenly drop into a gully which has deep snow in it, each lump as it descends gathering a little more in its passage, till it becomes a huge mass, and as it rolls down the ravine, leaves a sparkling track as it exposes the ice below the loose snow. We now turned off to the N.W. about 2 miles, where I saw a practicable range, which we had great difficulty in crossing to, it being separated from us by a deep ravine. The small tributary of the Aorere, which I named the Spey, takes its rise here. This ravine at its head was almost perpendicular on both sides, and after descending some distance we found a few stunted birch and nene trees to hold on to. We could not get down the watercourse, owing to several falls in it ; and to give an idea of its steepness, there were five falls in a distance of 200 yards, the smallest 20 feet and the largest full 70 feet in height. Having got over to the ridge by which we wished to ascend to the main range by, we pitched our tent for the night with snow all around us, find very cold ; so much so that our boots were frozen as hard as boards. Thursday, October 16. — Started at sunrise, and got on to the summit of the range we attempted to reach yesterday. From this we could see the range of mountains on the west side of Takaka valley, but no sign of plain or { level country. After travelling a short dis- | tance found ourselves at the source of Clark i river, which runs between Mount Olympus ; and Lead-hill. Fancying I could see an opening to the N.E., about 4 miles down this river, we resolved to descend to it ; and leaving Clark where a small stream from the N.E. joins the main river, I ascended it for 3 miles, and crossing a low spur saw the lake which I recognized as the Warau two miles below me to the N.E., at the foot of Lead-hill. Finding a practicable spur, I ascended to the summit of Lead-hill, from which I had a view of the whole of the Aorere valley, the West Coast, and the sea by Wakapohai, and to the N.N.E. the whole line of the sandspit ; could not see Nelson as the clouds were lying on the Takaka range, and a fog coming on. I was glad to descend, the summit being rather dangerous, and in fact so sharp that when I sat astride on the top of it I could have kicked one boot down to Aorere and the other into the Warau Lake. On joining Clark, found he had pitched the tent, luckily before it came on a very wet night. Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18. — Owing to the wet weather, had to remain both days in our tent. We suffered from cold and want of firewood, and agreed when it cleared up to make the best of our way to Aorere, over the ranges, via Warau Lake, and get a fresh supply of provisions, previous to starting up the Takaka. Sunday, October 19. — Fine morning at last, so we started by my previous route for the Warau Lake, which we passed on our left. The Lead river takes the water from the lake. On getting over towards the Takaka range could see no break in it, so we felt convinced that the plain sought for must lie farther from the Aorere, and somewhere at the head of Takaka'; then making towards the Aorere over the Onetoke range, shaping our course so as to avoid the Lead and Slate rivers, as we should not be able to cross them after ! so much rain, found ourselves in sight of Thomas Freeman's pah at the mouth of Aorere. Separation Point bore N.E. Descended the range for 2 miles, and then camped. Monday, October 20. — Rained hard, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Started with the intention of making Freeman's, but it was so foggy we could not see which range to take ; we both got drenched and had to turn into the tent with wet clothes and blankets, and to crown all could not get a fire. Tuesday, October 21. — Fine morning, and after some trouble I found a dead stump which I contrived to make a fire with, and after drying our things made a fresh start for the pah, when we soon found we had taken the wrong range, got on another, and fortunately landed on the right side of the Slate river. It was near sunset when we reached the pah, where we were made very comfortable by Thomas Freeman, and had no reason to complain of our quarters, the more so as the night turned out very wet. Wednesday, October 22. — Reached Pakawau early, and requiring some rest, and having some private affairs to attend to, the exploring was not resumed till Monday the 27th, when we were delayed by bad weather until Wednesday the 29th October, on which day I started for Takaka, accompanied by Inia (a native), instead of Mr. Clark. Wednesday, October 29. — Left Aorere in the morning for Takaka, passing Parapara and Onekaka. From Puremuaia the Takaka valley bore S.S.E. to Mount Campbell ; from thence it seemed to run S.S.W. in the direction of Mount Arthur. Crossed the Onetoke river, and remained at Dodson's for the night. Distance walked, 15 miles; our loads upwards of 601bs. each. Thursday, October 30. — Crossed the Waingaro early in the morning ; found it coming from the S.S.W., and some coal in the bed of the river. About 2 p.m. got to the Riwaka road, and ascended the hills on the East side of the Takaka, so as to get a view of the ranges on the West side. ' Afterwards returned to the river, and proceeding two miles further up the valley, encamped for the night; distance travelled, 9 miles. Friday, October 31.— Left the Takaka, and ascended a spur to the west of the river ; did

not roach the summit, and had to pitch our tent where we could get no water. Saturdaj', November 1 . — Got to the summit of the range about 9 a.m., and from not finding water since early yesterday morning, we had to squeeze moisture from the moss to drink. We now saw snow hills to the west of us, dividing the Waingaro and Ouctoke rivers. And walking along the main range 4 miles in a southerly direction, discovered the head of the Takaka river (Mount Arthur), which bore S. Also the pass to Painga Totara, leading to Motueka, S.E. by S. ; a peaked hill (not named), S.S.E. ; Moketapu (Nelson) E. £S. ; and the upper part of Waingaro pass, S.W. Seeing nothing but snow hills and ranges as far as the eye could reach from the south to the north-west, I was now satisfied that no such plains existed within the compass of my journeying as the Maories had described ; and they were not alone in this opinion, as it has been currently reported that a party residing in the Takaka valley had seen an extensive plain from one of its western ranges. This, from the course which I have travelled in both these journeys, must be a mistake, as I think I have clearly proved that nothing but rugged snow-capped moutains lie between the valleys of the Takaka and Aorere. It is, however, possible that the individual in question, if he ascended the Onetoke range from the Takaka valley to the north of the Waingaro pass, may have seen the Aorere valley between Slate river and Lead hill, with the land to the west of the river under the Wakamaraini range, which would all look open country from such a height. We now retraced our steps to the Takaka river, and walked down its bed in the dark to the ltiwaka road, where we bivouaccd. Sunday, November 2. — Started for the Riwaka at 6 a.m., leaving the native (Inia) to return to the Aorere with my tent, &c. Ascended a fern ridge which had been burnt 7 or 8 months ago.. When I reached the bush, found a ridge running E.S.E. ; about half way up it, I came to a ledge of limestone rock, which was easily avoided by bearing to the south of it. On getting to the top of the main range, found a very good and practicable ridge running the whole way to Mr. Cook's, in the Riwaka valley. I reached Mr. JJochfort's at 4} p.m. being 10^ hours on the journey. I found no limestone on the descending range I travelled but could be avoided by going to the south side of it, and having driven cattle over a worse country over the Wakapuaka bluffs, I have no hesitation in stating, that if a good line was cut by the ridges I travelled, there I would be no difficulty in driving cattle, or j i riding on horseback, to and from the Massacre Bay district. I am also of opinion that it would be better to ascend the ridge at Cook's than to go farther up the Riwaka valley, as parties driving stock would have less difficulty in getting at once to the main spur, as the first j mile is fern, and cattle would go better and more readily through it than the bush higher up the Riwaka. James Mack ay, Junior.

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY TO THE HEAD WATERS OF THE AORERE AND TAKAKA RIVERS, OCTOBER, 1856. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XVI, 22 August 1857

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