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MR FOX AT THE GLACIERS., Otago Witness, Issue 1062, 6 April 1872
MR FOX AT THE GLACIERS.
The following ia a condensed report from the West Coast Times : —
The Hon. Mr Fox and his private secretary, Mr Brown, accompanied by the Chief Surveyor of Westland, Mr Mueller, started from Hokitika on Monday, the 4th inst., to visit the southern goldfields. The party having passed that night at Ross, were on the road at daybreak, and "although the , Wanganui Bluff was very bad and ' the travelling around it positively dangerous, they managed to reach Okarito the same evening. On Wednesday morning, -fresh horses having been obtained, they' proceeded' to the Five-Mile Beach, and were there joined by Mr Tizard, Mr Canavan, and others, with whom they proceeded to the Waiho River, to visit the glacier on the right hand or southern branch of the river. The only road available is a natural one —-the river-bed. They safely reached the camping ground, at the foot of Mount Mueller, by five o'clock in, the evening.' # -The .scenery, was charming. The widening river bed, and the ever winding, ever rushing stream';. the changing patches of bush and scrub ; the lofty hills, backed by the towering mountains, clothed in their bright snowy garments ; and then the glacier, picturesque and beautiful, bathed in^ the sunshine, and' clinging to the mountain with icy hand ; blood^red blossoming rata, contrasting with the dull green bush.
On the" road up sketches of the glacier were taken by Mr Fox and by Mr Brown. The horses, with the aid of a few strokes of a bill-hook, were all placed in natural stalls in the scrub of the riverbank, and fed ; fires were lit, dinner cooked, and tents pitched. Breakfast had, and horses fed and watered, the journey afoot up the river was commenced. The highest point attainable by horses is the forks, and a distance of about two miles has to be travelled afoot to reach the glacier. In some places the river appears to have risen about thirty feet, and'occasionally to have completely covered the summit of its banks. Approaching nearer, ever changing views of the 1 glacier present themselves ; deeper and deeper becomes the bluish green tinge, deepening still more in the depth of fantastic clefts in the icy mass ; the tips of its picturesque points, or many steeples, one might say, seem to become shaded in mourning for the passing away of the bright white winter snows.
The effect of the view of the glacier from a short distance was considerably heightened by the rata on the adjoining hills being covered with their bright red flowers, brightly contrasting with the dull green bushes and the delicately-tinted glacier — and all together bathed in a flood of sunshine. The glacier is about half-a-mile across the point, rising abruptly like a wall, here and there cut into caves, the lower part having at a short distance much the appearance of grey r rock, from the gravel and stone Covering it. From a large cave at the (southern end flows forth the first of the Waihb,' which runs close across the front of the glacier. Upwards for miles lies the solid' icy mass, filling up the huge gully between the lofty hills, and finally hiddenfrom sight by a bend of the mountain. /The ice assumes all manner of fantastic shapes. .At' the base there is a perfect bridge, bright and clear, but not to be trodden by human foot. Higher up is a huge pinnacle with an eye through which the sunlight seemed to stream. These were striking points, but ever new beauties in the view met the wondering eye, and the effect produced on the mind is beyond description. The low altitude of this glacier — about 675 feet above the sea level — and the luxuriant vegetation in close proximity to the iee — a vegetation covering the hills on both sides of the glacier for a height of from 300 to 1000 feet-^are the most remarkable features.
Several excellent sketches were taken' by ( Mr Fox. Air length they started on the return journey, ■ reaching the camp ab'oxit ihree o'clock in -the' afternoon. There' they saddled, and' arrived at MiFriend's lower station at about six o'clock in the evening. Mr Fox and his secretary, Mr Mueller, and Mr Tizard, were hospitably entertained there for 'the night, the remainder of the parly returning to Okarito. On Friday morning the party started for Gillespie's Beach; where they spent the remainder of the day. ' Originally it was intended to visit the mouth of Cook's River only," but' some statement respecting the .existence of a glacier at ori'e of the source's of the river, having reached Mr Fox, he determined to search for it Accordingly, Mr M'Lellan having volunteered" to accompany the expedition and 'give" " the exploring party the; benefit of his knowledge of the river, arrangements were made, and a start effected a little .before daylight on Saturday morning. The party proceeded up the river, but 'found the -first ' and second ford rather deep. " The river bed
at the mouth is considerably less in breadth than that of the Waiho, but higher up it opens into a far more extensive country, some parts covered with light scrub and grass, appearing to afford an excellent run for cattle. After following the river from its mouth for three or four miles, the party proceeded in a northeasterly direction for about five miles, when- they came within view of a grand glacier, falling from the ' lofty mountains in one solid body, and conveying the idea of a mighty, rushing, overwhelming river, suddenly chained and fixed by frost. When first presented to the view, the scene was most grand and singular. By perseverance the glacier was reached, but to obtain a good view of it, crossing the river to the south side was necessary, and that at first sight seemed impossible. Soon, however, the discovery was made that close up to the base of the glacier the river ran in several streams. Crossing some of these, and crawling over large boulders, and sometimes over the lower part of the glacier, the party succeeded in reaching the south side in safety, when Mr Fox took some sketches of the magnificent scenery before him. The debris continually falling down from the glacier is very considerable, and the whole of the lower part appears, from a short distance, as if composed of grey stone. On the southern side of the point stands a lofty wooded hill, from which a fine view of the stupendous mas.s of ice can be had, but there was not sufficient time to examine it from that spot. The appearance of the glacier, when closely approached, is not so picturesque as the- Waiho glacier, but isj perhaps, more nobly grand in its simplicity. Its height is 770 feet, and, therefore, nearly 100 feet higher than the Waiho glacier. The water doe* not seem to flow out of it as from the Waiho glacier, but bubbles up in its front, where there is a remarkable fountain throwing out a great body of water, boiling up some feet in height. The effect of the whole view, like that of the Waiho glacier, is much heightened by the bright red of the rata flowers. As the party proposed to return to Gillespie's Beach the same day, but little time could be spared at the glacier, and, having christened it the "Fox Glacier," the return was commenced soon after 2 p.m. Travelling homeward, several stoppages were made, and excellent views obtained of the glacier and Mount Cook range in their majestic grandeur. The return journey's end was reached at about 8 o'clock in the evening, every one being pleased with the excursion.
MR FOX AT THE GLACIERS., Otago Witness, Issue 1062, 6 April 1872
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