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REPORT OF CAPTAIN GIBSON'S EXAMINATION OF HOKARITA RIVER AND BRUCE BAY.

{From The Colonist, May 16.) The steamer Bruce arrived last night from Hokitika. She brings bbout thirty-one passengers, among ■whom was Captain Gibson, Port Officer, and reprenontative of the Canterbury Government on the Hokitika and West Coast districts. The Bruce brings 2700 ounces gold ; and reports the satisfactory intelligence that few diggers seem desirous to return. Below we give important particulars respecting the Hokarita river, and of an official examination of a well sheltered bay, some distance south of that river. With these particulars we have been favored by Captain Gibson, who left for Canterbury by the Airedale ori Friday last and who had examined the coast between Hokitika and the Matahitaki rivers. It will be remembered that wo announced the. hiring of the steamer Bruce by the representatives of the Canterbury Government, for the purpose of examining and exploring the Hokarita. Captain Gibson, who Was accompanied by Mr. John Eochfort, examined the bars of the various rivers between the two above-named, with a view of finding another port. • The Bruce started, as we stated a week ago, on Saturday evening, for Hokarita, with a south-west wind and hazy weather. She found herself at daylight on Sunday morning, the 7th instant, opposite the river Waiau, which Captain Gibson describes as being five miles south of the Hokarita, to which river they.stearaod back, the weather still continuing ha«y, and the swell rapidly increasing when opposite Hokarita. The swell at the mouth of the Hokarita frequently broke in nine fathoms water, breaking with great irregularity off the entrance, indicating a foul rocky bottom. The bar appeared one masa of broken water, showing no channel. At the suggestion of Mr. Eochfort, who is known to have probably the most intimate knowladge of this part of the coast, Captain Gibson vibited a small bay described by Mr. Rochfort as well shelltered, being and situated midway between the Hokarita and Jaek•on's Bay. Into this sheltered bay there runs a smal lirer, named the Mahitaki. The examination of this river would allow the party time to see the Hokarita on their return, when the sea had fallen, and when the mouth of that river might present a more favorable Mpect than it presented under the swell caused by the 8, W.,wind. The Bruv;e steamed, close in shore at half-speed,

and at 2 p.m. ran out* of a heavy swell into fine .smooth water, taking soundings all the time till close under the south head of the bay, when the Bmce dropped anchor in three fathoms, at dead low water. Here the bottom was hard speckled sand, presenting i what the explorers considered good holding ground. Captain Gibson reports very favorably of this bay, considering it a much better harbor than the harbors - of Timaru, Oamaru, and Moeraki on the populated side of the Canterbury province. What makes it ' superior to these harbors is the fact that it. is protected from everything except a northerly wind, which ' seldom blows here with any violence, and even if it did, on auy necessity, a sailing-vessel, Captain Gibson says, could put to sea without any difficulty. Another i valuable point regarding this bay, (which has been named " Bruce Bay," after the trim little Bteamer which was the first steam craft that dropped anchor in its waters) is the fact of which Captain Gibson feels convinced, that vessels could generally discharge their cargoes in their own boats, so little surf is there on the beach, and were there a short and inexpensive jetty constructed in the south corner on the sand, the Captain thinka that even in a northerly breeze, with such an adjunct, cargo-boat communication could hardly be interrupted. Ho also expresses his fixed opinion that this bay will prove a great acquisition to the larger description of vessels seeking shelter from a southerly breeze, as it is the only protected anchorage between Wanganui Inlet and Jackson's Bay, which latter place it closely resembles. The southern headland is a bold rocky promontory, stretching out a mile and a half in a N.W. direction, and forming the shelter. On this the explorers landed, stepping from the boat on a rock, and re-embarked the same way after dark, dry shod. The excellence of this bay as a harbor is testified by the subsequent experience of the party on board the Bruce. The weather looked fine, and the water in the bay was as smooth .as glass when they weighed anchor at half-past three next morning, but no sooner , did. the steamer leave Bruce Bay than : they met with a heavier swell than that which they experienced the day before, and hopes of being able to enter any of the smaller bar rivers proportionately fell. However, as close an examination of the coasb as circumstances would permit, was made, hugging the shore as closely as was safe. The shore, as far as Bruce Bay, partakes of the same characteristics all the way along, that is, says Captain Gibson, in diggers' parlance, " made terraces," and is " thickly-timbered ; the coast line, with a few exceptions, being sandy beach." At Waikapuka, which h a small creek abreast of Mount Cook, the " Trader" was observed safely riding at anchor. This vessel left Hokitika about three weeks previously, with a party of prospectors who intended entering the Wanganui. Five tents were pitched on the shoi'e not far from the vessel. The heavy surf prevented the Bruce from holding any communication with the cutter or her party ; but as the Waikapuka Creek was reported by Mr. Rochforfc to be not more than ankle deep at low water, this was of le9S consequence as regarded the purpose for which the steamer sailed, and the weather being perfectly clear the Bruce steamed to the Hokarita, standing aa close in as possible. A good view was obtained of the entrance of the Hokarita river, which was found to be much more confused and intricate than had been represented, and very much inferior to the Hokitika. This quite agrees with what was stated some weeks ago in the letter of one of our Hokitika correspondents, as having been reported to him early la9t month by Mr. Rochfort. On the south side of Hokarita is a high rocky headland, called Hohuhauiaru, from which a rocky bottom evidently stretches to the north-west, causing an irregular heavy cros3 swell, frequently breaking, so as to to preclude vessels from anchoring outside. The north side is "a low sandy bank, covered with coarse grass and flax, extending some five miles north, and enclosing a lagoon of considerable size. The resident natives told Mr. Rochfort that in their remembranco the entrance to this lagoon ha 3 been completely closed up, and that they could walk across dry-looted, in this respect being similar to Lake Ellesmere." The wind and sea increasing, and Captain Gibson seeing no prospect of being able to enter in the limited time at his disposal, he visited in turn the Wataroa and Wanganui rivers, standing in as before to the edge of the broken water. As the entrance to each of these rivers was narrow and more exposed to the south-west or prevailing swell, Captain Gibson did not consider these rivers worthy of further notice, as they could be entered by only a very small class of craft, and by them only in chosen weather ; and he therefore steamed back to Hokitika. The following are the concluding paragraphs of Captain Gibson's report:— "Bruce.Bay is situated in latitude 43 cleg. 36 mm. south (roughly), and Mount Cook bears N. 71 deg. E. magnetic. It is the bay shown on the Admiralty charts lying between Makawiko and Porahgirangi Points. Mr. Rochfort informs me that a bridle road, taking advantage of all the sand beaches, can be made at a trifling expense. "In conclusion, I would mention having seen a camp about three miles north of the Waian ; also the encampment before mentioned with the ' Trader' at Waikupuha, and some six or seven men travelling south between Wanganui and Albert Head. We also saw smoke at Xarangarua, eleven miles north of Bruce Bay, supposed to be natives of the locality ; and at Mahitaki communicated with the natives, Tokoko and his wife belonging to tbe Wakatepu, who said they had not been visited by any European since Mr., Rochfort was there last year, so that the diggers have not yet got so far down."

The Customs duty collected on imports at the Port of Hokitika from the 13th to the 27th inst. amount* to £1481 Is. 3d. The total West Coast gold on which duty has been paid at this Port since March 21—or ten weeks —is 38,744 ozs., giving a duty of £4843. Besides which, since January Ist, more than 8000 ozs. have paid duty at Nelson—giving a total yield of not less than 46,744 ozs. in the first five months of 1865, during half of which period the number of diggers was not above 3000.— West Coast Times, May 31. A parcel of 12£ onnces of gold was lately seized upon a person named Antill, on board of the Miskin, just leaving port. As ho pleaded ignorance of the law, and stated his intention to pay the duty at Nelson, the strict letter of the law was not carried out, which subjects the offender to fine and forfeiture; but ke was allowed to retain his property on payment of the export duty. It cannot be too widely known that the law does not allow gold to be taken from the port under any circumstances unless the same is declared and duty paid. Any infraction of this rule will entail the. inevitable consequence of forfeiture, nud a heavy fine to boot. — Ibid. Pbogeess of Hokitika Township.—The West Coast Times of 31st May lias the following : —" The town of Hokitika assumes daily larger proportions, and while a mouth ago it was limited almost to a single street, now it has developed into a dozen, and th'>re are signs of its increasing still further. The influx of business people and progress of building have not occupied a fiftieth part of the" available allotments ; and yet, with all this addition of building ground j the difficulty of finding a site is as great as ever. New comers, or merchants desirous of erecting larger premises or forming a branch house, look in vain for a vacant space on which they may commence operations : the word ' Registered' stares them in the faeo at every turn, and if they require ground they must pay for it, for it is all taken up. That this is a result merely of a demand for land is out of the question, for few care about entering into great expense till the Hokitika gold-fields are more developed ; but the true reason is the ' fatal facility' with which land can be held for an indefinite, time at a merely nominal rate. A man has a business license: he takes a section, puts up a tent, and lives in it, thus holding that allotment. He then takes another and gets its registered, on the same license, and watches his opportunity to sell one or both. Others take half a dozen sections on as many licenses, and get them registered as long as they please, or till they can see an opportunity to sell them. The rule which limits •registration to twenty days is a mere dead letter here, for wo know of several sections that have been registered for a couple of months, and in all probability will continue so for the same period longer. No questions appear to be asked if the necessary fee be paid ; and thus while some half a dozen cormorants hold the majority of the best business sites in the town, the bonafide improver—the man who would build if he could get a tolerable site—is debarred from obtaining his right unless he choose to buy at an exorbitant, or at all events, a high price from monopolising harpies. If. Mr. Sale would insist upon

building being commenced and continued within the twenty days, at farthest, and decline to register for a longer time, it would soon put matters on a level; but while the present system of favoritism and partiality—we use the words advisedly^-continues, so long the abuse we complain of will exist, and. the; town present the appearance of a piece of land in a" state of mild eruption—just one: building here —another a mile off, and the rest a mere waste; with the exception of such evidences of civilization as the boards bearing the word ' registered' present, glaring from nine-tenths of the sections in Hokitika. Those who may feel inclined to doubt the correctness of our remarks, or who censure our warmth on the subject, may amuse themselves with taking a turn round the quay, Weld-street, Sewell-street, Fitzherbertstreet, and others, and try to find an allotment above water that is not registered or 'occupied,' and compare them with the number of buildings erected, in course of erection, or of which signs exist that they ever will be erected. Then let them fancy to themselves the injury likely to accrue to the town by such a pettifogging system of land-jobbing or swindling—for it is the same thing; and ask themselves should not that man deserve the thanks of the community, through whose culpability such system is practised P" A Bad Night at Hokitika.—A rather heavy storm of wind and rain burst over Hokitika on Sunday, 14th May, about midnight. The latter came down in a perfect deluge, and the wind gradually increased in force till about four o'clock, when it reached its culminating point, and blew with intensify sufficient, j to cause material damage to the more fragile buildings ! in the township, besides causing fears for the safety of the more substantial ones. Iron was ripped off in many places, and the flapping of rent canvas at some periods created a most horrible din. There are few who have not suffered in some degree from the violence of the weather, though in many cases the damage has been merely nominal. Of course the tents were the first to give way, and before morning many a wreck gave evidence of the fury of the storm. On Monday morning might be seen the proprietors of many of these luckless tenements, gazing at the remains of their domiciles lying in various stages of dissolution. The entire absence of wind of any consequence, for the last two months, had induced many new comers to doubt the representations of those who described the West Coaßt as a stormy one ; and, indeed, as it was, it might not have been alarming to any old resident of Christchurch or Wellington ; but we think few from other places will doubt now the propriety —in fact, the absolute necessity—of building their stores and residences of more substantial mateials than canvas. — West Coast Times, May 17. The Customs at Hokitika.—An advertisement appears in the West Coast Times of the 13th May, as follows :—'' We, the undersigned residents in the township of Hokitika, having seen with extreme regret, an article in the West Coast Times, reflecting j in a most unjustifiable manner on the official and personal character of Mr. Lemming, the representative of H.M. Customs, in this port, beg to bear our testimony to the energetic manner in which this gen- ! tleman has performed the arduous duties devolving on him, and more particularly to the courtesy and urbanity invariably invariably displayed by him under most trying circumstances. Hokitika, sth May, 1865." To this is appended the names of nearly thirty persons, of mercantile, marine, and digging occupations. Body Found on the Gbey.—Captain Holmes, the master of the schooner Nautilus, found the body of a man stranded on the beach on the 7th of May. It was in the last stages of decomposition, and could by no possibility be identified. It was evidently the body of a digger, probably a man past middle age, as his teeth were greatly decayed. It was that of a person about 5 feet 10 inches high. In the pockets were found one sovereign and gold dust to the value of £4 2s. 6d., tied up in a small bag, a wooden match box, and a pipe. It is supposed that deceased had been prospecting in the Grey, and been drowned. He had been some considerable time in the water, for the flax with whidi the boot* were laced was quite white from the action of the water. The body was buried by the police. Gold Export.—The Tararua shipped at Nelson for Sydney 19,183 ounces of g'ld; of the value of £74,320, which is the accumulation in Nelson since 3rd May. The Tararua had also on board, about 20,000 ounces from Otago. — Colonist, June 6.

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Bibliographic details

The Colonist, Colonist, Issue 795, 9 June 1865

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2,805

REPORT OF CAPTAIN GIBSON'S EXAMINATION OF HOKARITA RIVER AND BRUCE BAY. Colonist, Issue 795, 9 June 1865

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