Welcome to the Wikisource Sandbox. Feel free to use this page to practice editing or for experiments; see our help pages for more. Since this is a Sandbox, content added here will not stay permanently. You can also experiment with templates using Template:Sandbox.
|An image should appear at this position in the text.|
If you are able to provide it, see Wikisource:Image guidelines and Help:Adding images for guidance.
THE HAAST RIVER-BED FROM THE SOUTH BANK.
London and Melbourne
Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin
WHITCOMBE & TOMBS LIMITED
This is the story of a ride—of a five weeks' wandering in the Back-blocks of a land still in the making—a land whose conditions, even to-day, are often primitive. Properly speaking, there is no story—only impressions, gathered in those wanderings: things I saw, things I heard, in isolated settlements, where the men and women, living face to face with Nature, seem to show a readier kindness; where the robuster virtues still thrive, and the heart of the race is young.
Looking back now from under English skies, surrounded by sights and sounds of an English summer, it seems very far away: a land apart—a people who belong almost to another world.
An enchanted land of cool, dim, forest aisles: of lonely snow-peaks filling the end of some purple gorge: of rushing, hurrying streams: of untouched solitudes, where one goes all day long in wondering worship.
In the House of the Forest a voice calls to one unceasingly, and bids one understand. Those to whose spirit it has spoken can never more be sundered from it, though the hills may lie between, for they bear the memory of it ‘‘about in their hearts continually, as it were a new strength.’’
No greater contrast can be imagined as one passes from the yellow eastern plains, with their purple setting of distance—where the glare of sun lies on far-reaching landscapes drawn in very simple lines, where the bare mountains show but a blue-black patch of native beech-wood—to this cool shadowy forest world, with its thousand varied forms in leaf and tree.
As I write of sunsets on shining waters, and pure snow peaks rising against a New Zealand sky:
I hear again the tumbling river and the tuis calling: I smell again the mingled perfumes of the bush. I see the glacier pushing its frozen finger down even among the tree-ferns and the ratas; their splendid scarlet shines against the ice itself, and the high peaks glitter against the wondrous blue. The fresh, cold air is on my face of mornings when,
Aloft the mountain lawn was dewy dark,And dewy-dark aloft the mountain pine. . . .
Far up the solitary morning smoteThe streaks of virgin snow.’’
Those memories seem at times very like paradise. This coast I write of is a West Coast, and to a large extent it has been peopled from that other west coast across the seas. Was it the name ‘‘West Coast’’ that acted like a charm to draw these wanderers from Galway and from Clare?
They brought with them that touch of romance and melancholy that lie behind all their strenuousness, and gay light-heartedness. Here they found a climate soft and moist, but no other likeness, save in the name, to their own west coast.
They came to a forest land of deep shade, and tangled growth, and struggling life :
A land of silence and mystery, save for the voice of many waters.
As we passed among them, they gave us of their best with cheery welcome. All unconsciously they taught us of their forest craft: to them I owe a debt I can never pay, but I hope they knew and felt that we were not unmindful.
There is a certain sacredness which lays its seal on many a story I was told, and on many a detail of the life on the West Coast. It prevents me writing more of the dwellers there, but to one and all I would offer the thanks I can never say.
And since it is due to those who may read these pages to know the raison d'être of things, I would further add that Tom and the Scorpion were the two horses: that our journeys were made in primitive fashion, carrying a few needfuls on our saddles. In rain and shine we travelled; stopping where we could for as long as we felt inclined, or when the horses needed rest; covering sometimes twenty miles, sometimes fifty, in a day. When the homeward journey by Lake Hawea and the Lindis Pass, over the McKenzie Plains and through South Canterbury, came to be added to the trip here described, we found we had covered between seven and eight hundred miles.
In the second half of the narrative, the eastern plains and on to Mount Aspiring is described—that strange, little-known region we first learnt about on the West.
And lastly, to anyone who may be fired like ourselves to seek the forest world, and plunge into its untracked fastnesses, I would say: leave most of your kit behind, but take with you, as indispensable, a botany book. No after-reading quite makes up for the longing—so often unsatisfied—to know the names of plants and trees in that unfamiliar world. Let the book be Laing and Blackwell's ‘‘Plants of New Zealand,’’ with its beautiful photographs and descriptions.
Leave your gun behind: the birds are so trusting and so friendly; and when there is no need to shoot for the pot, it seems a shame to disturb them.
For game on the West Coast, one only has wild duck and black swan—unless one counts grebe and pigeon as game. Many of the interesting native birds are dying out—as their forest goes, they must go too. They cannot live elsewhere, and of many settlements, especially in the North Island, the lament is only too true:
Eaters of honey, honey-sweet of song.
The tui and the bell-bird—he who sings,
That brief, rich music we would fain prolong.
Gone the wood-pigeon's sudden whirr of wings;
The daring robin, all unused to wrong.
Wild, harmless, hamadryad creatures, theyLived with their trees, and died, and passed away.’’
It is a new and baffling world to the traveller where the old order is often reversed, and where he is bewildered by the strangely foreign look of leaf, and tree, and plant. He hears famihar names, or strange Maori ones that remain but a moment in his head: but strange or familiar, they seem to convey nothing to his mind. Vainly the eye wanders round seeking something familiar—something other than a fern, of which it might be said, ‘‘I know to what that belongs.’’
I went into the forest ignorant of almost every species. How I longed for someone to tell me its secrets, to make those baffling problems of thebush plain to me! I was bewildered; all one's European ideas seemed only to make matters worse. I heard of pines, but not one among the many species seemed even faintly to resemble those I knew. Take for instance the lily family in New Zealand: not a single species calls to mind a lily. Cordyline australis, the cabbage tree of the settlers, grows to a great size, with
bushy heads of yucca-like leaves, and sprays several feet long of minute, creamy flowers, whose perfume is heavy and sweet, and full of honey. In the bush grows its near relative with broader, greener leaves (sometimes reddish) springing direct from the root-stock. And these are lilies. The cordyline is a numerous family spreading all over Australia and the South Sea Islands. Cordyline terminalis provides in its roots an important part of the food of the Polynesians. Another member of the family is Phormium tenax, the flax of the settlers, with sword-leaves as much as ten feet long. It has a lofty spike of red-brown flowers, full of honey—decorative rather than beautiful. This lily has a fibre so strong, I have known a horse throw himself in his attempts to break away, when tied to a knot of flax blades.
Then there are the various astelias: some epiphytic, some growing in the damp leaf-mould of the bush—all conspicuous rather for their brilliant berries than for their flowers.
One sometimes finds an upland covered with the orange gold of the Maori onion—Bulbinella Rossii. The spikes of flowers might at first sight be taken for field orchids, but again it is a lily.
Of orchids there are many in the bush—not very conspicuous, as a rule, except Dendrobium Cunninghamii, which is rose-coloured—but as on this journey I did not find either orchids or clematis, I have not mentioned them. The PREFACE. xm Clematis indivisa is very conspicuous in late summer on the West — one of the most beautiful of all New Zealand flowers. When we consider that of 1,400 flowering plants of New Zealand, three-quarters are found nowhere else, and that the remainder belong to famihes scattered over Australia,Malaya,Melanesia, and South America, it will be seen how wide is the field. Constantly one is asking the question : " What does it belong to ? " And as often as not no one knows. Yet the charm of being brought face to face with the unknown forest world is very great. Except in a few instances, I have taken my chapter headings from poems of that band of singers that has been growing up across the seas — singers whose music is often as sweet and liaunting as that of the birds in their forests. My grateful thanks are due to Mr. Tomlinson of Christchurch, New Zealand, for his kindness in allowing me the use of his beautiful photographs of the Haast Track, and to the New Zealand Government Tourist Department for their courtesy in allowing one of the Franz Josef to be repro- duced ; to the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, N.Z., and the Curator, Mr. Edgar Waite, for that of the Kiwi, and to Kev. H. E. Newton, for another of the Franz Josef glacier. And here I would Uke to ofler grateful thanks to the Hon. W. Pember Keeves, Mr. W. Warde Fowler, SirSamuel Dill, the Rev. H. E. Newton, and Miss XIV
Graves–who have so kindly read and criticised my MS. My descriptions deal entirely with the South Island ; to those who have only visited the warmer North Island, possibly they may appear untrue to what they remember ; they are, however, taken from journals carefully kept throughout our wanderings–a faithful record of my impressions.No attempt is made to describe the rapidly growing towns and busy life on the East ; beyond the mighty barrier of the Southern Alps lies the land of which I write–South Westland.
CHAPTER ni. PAGE The Berline ------- 143 CHAPTER IV. The Niger Hut - - - - - - - 152 CHAPTER V. The Old Homestead - - - - - - 158 CHAPTER VI. The Shieling on the Matukituki - - - - 165 CHAPTER Vn. The Rob Roy ------- 173 CHAPTER Vin. Ufe on the Matukituki - _ _ _ _ igj CHAPTER IX. Storm --------- 190 CHAPTER X. The Silver Cone ------- 195 CHAPTER XI. The Lost Trail ------- 204 CHAPTER Xn. Farewell -----___ 2II APPENDIX. The Chmbing of the Silver Cone, Mount Aspiring 215 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. PART I. Frontispiece. — The Haast River-Bed from the South Bank. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. FACING Sketch Map to Show the Authors Route in the First page Journey _______ Porter's Pass : " Drearier Hills rising up to Stonier Mountains "-_-_-__ 4 Near the Bealey --_-___ 6 Ascent to Arthur's Pass _____ g Effects of a Storm in the Bealey - _ _ _ H Otira : "The Sun-flecked Woodland Way " - - 13 On the Main South Road : "At times it was there ; at times it was not "_____ 17 A Hatter --______ 19 Crossing the Mikonni ______ 21 The Waitaha ______ 24 In Front of the Wataroa Hotel _ _ _ _ 28 The Forks -----___ 30 The Minarets : From the Tasman Glacier - - 32 On Okarito Lagoon ______ 35 Tree-Fems on the Fringe of the Bush _ _ _ 3§ " Where the Glacier and the Forest Meet " - - 43 The Franz Josef Glacier : Looking down the Gorge. N.Z. Gov., Phot. _____ 46 Ice Formation on the Franz Josef _ _ _ _ 50 Looking up the Franz Josef. Rev. H. E. Newton, Phot. -------- 55 The Approach to the Fox Glacier - _ _ - 63 Ice Fonnation on the Fox Glacier - _ - _ 66 Our Convoy over the Karangarua - _ - _ 68 Jacob's River: "The only quiet Ford in South Westland "_--____ 70 xvm LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. FACINft " The Track, winding ever upwards through Dripping vxas Trees" _---___ 77 Looking towards the Mouth of the Haast. C. A. TomUnson, Phot. ------ 92 Fohage on the Haast Track. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. 102 A'pteryx mantelli ; Apteryx haasti. A. Beken, Phot. 107 The Clark Hut : Where we passed the night, with Mount Alexander in the backgroimd. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. ------ 109 Near the Junction of the Rivers, Haast Pass. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. - - - - - - 115 In the Upper Haast. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. - 116 The Fish River : Beech Forest. C. A. Tomlinson, Phot. -------- 119 PART II. The Old Homestead ------ 125 A Comer of Lake Hawea ----- 139 The Berline Leaving Pembroke - - - - 144 Our Night's Quarters in the Niger Hut - - - 151 Submerged ___-__- 152 Mr. Ross to the Rescue - - - - - 154 The Berline is Towed Ashore - - - - 156 " The Gate of Death " ----- 165 The Lone Shieling ------ 167 Rob Roy Gorge ------- 175 Rob Roy Glacier - - - - - - 178 AKea ------- - 184 In the West Branch of the Matukituki - - - 196 The First View of the Silver Cone - - - - 198 The Berline Starts Homewards - - - - 211 We watched him Ride away _ - - - 212 Finis -------- 214 A Sketch 3Iap to show the Author's Route in the Second Journeyis folded in at the end.