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THE DENSE FORESTS AND SNOW-FED STREAMS OF THE WEST., Otago Witness, Issue 2706, 24 January 1906
THE DENSE FORESTS AND SNOW-FED STREAMS OF THE WEST.
BOSS TO WANAKA VIA THE HAAST PASS. THE MAYOR. OF ADELAIDE AND MR TOM SEDDON ON THE TRACK.
A good deal of interest has centred in the possibilities of the future tourist route from Southern Westland to the Otago Central Tegion in consequence of the foreshadowing by the Right Hon. the Premier of a railway that will some day connect Westland with Otago via. tbe Franz Josef Glacier and th« various rivers that have their Eource in the impressive snow-clad mountains that stand in lonely grandeur in the- region stretching away beyond Mount Cook to tbe south-west. The railway may well be left for consideration of a practical kind for a great many years, but the route as a tourist traok for the more adventurous and hardy of the lovers of Nature in her grandest aspects has. been demonstrated as entirely practicable, and the latest successful accomplishment, of this trip, by "Mr Bruoe,' Mayor of Adelaide," and 1 Mr Tom Seddon, son of the Premier, who reached Dunedin last night, after a journey of 10 days' constant travelling from Ross by way «f the Haast Pass and Wanaka, affords us an opportunity of giving some particulars of the route that will be of interest to our readers. Scan last night by a, representative of the Otago Daily Times, Mr Seddon. who looks in the pink of health and vigour, courteously acceded to a request that he would furnish our readers with an acoount ©f the trip. It had been intended (said Mr Seddon) that the party should consist of Mr and Mrs Bruce and myself, if it were found at all possible for the lady to get through the somewhat rough experiences that inevitably lay before us, and we made a start from K-oss toy e»ach about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the 9th inst., our first river-crossing being the Mikonui, shortly after leaving Ross. The country through which we travelled was densely wooded, and this was a feature of tbe roads a.nd traoks we traversed from start to finish. Subsequently, crossing the Irtttle Waitaha and Big Waitaha respectively, we reached Hende's Ferry, on the Wairganui River, which was forded, and at a point about 30 miles from Ross we stopped! for the night. Next morning fJiere wa3 a heavy downpour •of rain, but it -in no way damped our ardour, and we set out at 9 o'clock. This,- I may remark, was the only rain ire experienced", and lucky for us it was ao. The clouds passed off, and a pleasant drive- in sunshine took us to Gunn's. We had crossed the Little Wanganui and the Waitangi Rivers on the way. Proceeding we encountered another of the many rivers that one meets with on the coast — the Wataroa, which was running high and fast, making our crossing not only exciting but somewhat dangerous At anyrate, all's well that ends well. We left the coach on the north side of the river, and Mr and Mrs Bruce, with the driver, resumed the journey in a spring-cart, while I mounted a sturdy tteed. About 5 o'clock we made the Forks. It was a lovely journey, the <-njoyinent of which was enhanced by th-e splendid view we obtained of Lake Waiiiaka. At this stage we met quite a number of people who. having heard of Mr Bruce's coming, had come from far and hear to see him. It was not every day these people see a man of distinction, and when they get the opportunity of welcoming one they are not slow to do so m a very cordial manner. Wo had a brief spell and then went on to Waiho, skirting the beautiful Lake Mapourika, whioh we saw to advantage just at sunset. At Waiho IMr and Mrs Bruce put up at the accommodation house, while I stayed at Mr Patrick's, where I was made most welcome by my kind host and his amiable wife. On the following day our little party, With Batson as guide, spent the afternoon on the Franz Joref glacier. Wo enjoyed ifche time immensely. In the evening I had ihe mostJjovel bath of my life. The river rushed wildly on 'with its volumes of icybold water, while m an adjacent pool, not - 83 y«r<fe away. I sported in beautifully warm water. I swam about with joyous glee for 20 minutes or so, and then reluctantly left by fairy bath for Mr Patrick's hospitable home. The warm water, I may explain, comes from deep springs. It is, needless to cay. a popular resort for the people of the district. I quite believe the statement that the water possesses strong «uro±iw* Properties. Qfle resident firmly
holds that he was absolutely cured of rheumatism by bathing in it. The Government has erected a bath-house close to the river for the convenience of the residents. The water is pumped up into a large bath, and anyone may enjoy a splendid immersion at his leisure. The district is commonly known as the Springs. I spent a pleasant evening with Mr and Mrs Patrick. M.v Patrick is an ardent worshipper of Scotia's far-famed bard, and in this outlandish corner of the earth my genial host reeled off to me witb the greatest ease verse after verse of many of Burns's poems. I read " Tarn o' Shanter" to him. as well as other poems, and though ho knew them all from beginning to end I could see that he listened with rapt attention to hear the tales once more. Next day. the 12th, we- started from Bateon's house on staunch, river-bred horses owned by the well-known mailman, Jock Anderson. It was an ideal clay. The Franz Josef glacier was a picture. We looked at it with delight, almost with amazement, and words seemed inadequate to express our admiration. The ride over the saddle into Sullivan's, crossing the Oamam and Waikupukupu rivers, was bracing. Our pace, owing to the nature of the track, was a walkiog one. We made the Fox Valley shortly after 2 o'clock, when Mr and Mrs Williams gave us a hearty greeting, followed by a hearty dinner. Being then in a better frame of mind to view the landscape, we found we were in a haven of perfect rest. Bush fires were ablaze, and the rising smoke lent to the surrounding 1 mountains 'a lovely blue tint —a delicate veil, as it were, that passed slowly up the mountain sides, and then lost itself in the azure of the skies. The Fox River appears to have a score of branches, , and is very broad. We also crossed the Cook River, and at half-past 7 reached Scott's, whore we were agreeably surprised and pleased to find a commodious and comfortable residence. At this point Mrs Bruce decided to return to Ross. In truth, the road was now becoming very rough indeed —too rough, perhaps, for a woman —and, though Mrs Bruce had so far attached the difficulties of the journey with great courage, her decision to retrace her steps to Ross was a wise one. Saturday saw Mr Bruce and myself leave Scott's at 10 'clock, Mr Scott accompanying us to guide us at the Karangarua fords. We also crossed the Jacobs River, a very broad river, which drew from Mr Bruce the remark: "I wish we had some rivers like that in Australia." Mr Ritchie, a resident of the district further south, treated us handsomely, and then escorted us along Bruce Bay beach, and up the banks of the Mahitahi to Conlon's. In order to reach this spot it is necessary to cross the Mahitahi no less than six times, but, considering the kindness that awaits the weary traveller at Conlon's, it is worth all the trouble. Our welcome was spontaneous, hearty, and free, and we appreciated it. We were provided with every comfort. Even a copy of the Otago Witness was at hand, and we eagerly scanned its bright pages for the latest news of the outside world. Mrs Conlon and the family are capable of extending real West Coast hospitality to the wayfarer, and no one makes a mistake who reaches their cheery home, Jar removed though it be from the busy haunts of man. Accompanied by Jim Nolan, a fine specimen of the young West Coaster, we started next <fay p or the Haast Pass. The pace, owing to the distance we had to cover that day —SO miles —(was a cracker from the jump, but the horses stood it well. The Paringa was crossed in good^ time. The Blue River, mountain-fed, is wide and deep at the ford, but we negotiated it without mishap. Then we began the ascent of the Maori Saddle, which meant a stiff climb of five miles i-o a height of 1900 ft above- sea-level. It was tiresome -work. Our •* iew, unfortunately, was spoiled by thick fog. Descending, we reached Nolan's home at 4 o'clock. Here Mr Bruoe's horse gave in, but another being at his service our journey was continued. We crossed the Maori River and Copper Creek, and after spinnins? alone ilie li&aeh for fiv-e miles reached the • Haast River. It is a magnificent river, and the view we had of J it on our approach was extremely fine, i At the Crons" home we received another welcome. No notice had been given of our arrival, but for all that we could not have been better treated. On Monday, 15th, we prepared for our mountain journey, our objective being the mountain hut. We wended our way along the banks of the Haast for miles, and found the 25 miles we had to cover anything but exciting. It was a case of crossing and recros6ing the river. The view, however, compensated for evers' ill. As we neared the snow-line the majestic mountains loomed up hi all their grandeur until we reached a point whence we looked upon them with awe and reverence. We were truly looking upon a picture that no artist could paint. About nightfall we reached the hut. We lit a fire to ward off the swarms of mosquitos and' &andfli«s, and tiie smoke soon deprived us of the troublesome pests. Onjy for a time though. When \>e went, to bed and the fire died down they returned, apparently reinforced, anel we were not sorry to leave our couch at daybreak and start another- flic. It is a splendid means of getting rid of th-e nuisance. I Next day we wended our way still upwnrcte. The scenery was errand. The sight of the lofty Alps, with Mount Cook and its glaciers towering above everything else, furnished a spectacle that, I am sure, we j will ever remember. At the top of the gorge we crossed a ridge, where the track along the mountain side is very poorly defined. In places it is dangerous —narrow or else washed away altogether —so (hat we were compelled to "risk a good deal, and leave ourselves as the Hibernian remarked, in the hands of our horse*. Travellers should bo ware of this ridge. Before leaving (ho Haast Valley we saw some hillocks swarming with rabbitsthousands of them —of all colours. We did not lose th-e Haast till near its source, and then, almost at once, took up the course of the Fish River to Wanaka. We reached Mr Ewing"s about 3 o'clock, and were kindly provided with refreshments. Two hours later wo were af Wanaka. and there we took Mr M'Dougall's launch for Pembroke. Having reached the confines of civilisation once more, Sir Scddon and his com- < panion drove to Cromwell, where they took tho coach to Omakau, and thence the train to Dunedin. Ma- Seddon leaves by this afternoon's express for Christchurch.
THE DENSE FORESTS AND SNOW-FED STREAMS OF THE WEST., Otago Witness, Issue 2706, 24 January 1906
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