Object #1008725 from MS-Papers-0032-0123
From: Papers relating to provincial affairs - Taranaki. Inspector of police, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0123 (71 digitised items). No Item Description
Page 1 of 14. View high-resolution image
A REPORT OF AN EXPLORING EXPEDITION FROM NEW PLYMOUTH, THROUGH THE NEW ZEALAND COMPANY'S SETTLEMENT, OVER PART OF THE MIDDLE RANGE, COMMONLY CALLED BATU-WA TO MOUNT EGMONT BY EDWIN DAVY SURVR. AND ROBT. GILLINGHAM.
Wednesday 17th March, 1847.
Started from Ta Raranga Farm in company with Mr. Nairn, Mr.Law and two natives Crossed the Waiwikio about a half mile above the River taking a S. E. direction, soon after falling in with Nob's Line we followed the same up for about a mile and 1/2, which led us into a native path. The bush of a very light and open description with little or no Timber. About 2 Miles up the same path we came to a Fern clearing of about 10 acres and a short distance farther to another of about 4 acres, from which we had a beautiful view of the Wiwaikio, soon after we appeared to be travelling on a ridge between two deep ravines. The whole course since leaving Nobs line was finely adapted for a road, timber continuing very light. We then crossed the 1st small brook which emptied itself into the Waiwikio, and considered it to be about 6 miles from the Devon line. The Stones in the Brook had evidently been subjected to the agency of fire and the Country more broken, The Native path ended and the gully from having steep banks presented a difficulty of continuing a road, not however, to be considered insuperable. About a half mile to the S.E. crossed another gully with very precipitous banks the Red pine became more plentiful, but no white pine seen as yet. The Waiwikio still on our left and the land appearing more level. Sent the Natives up a very tall Remu to ascertain if the Mountain was to be seen, which they could not, reported the Wiwaikio to take a very crooked course, Since leaving the native path found considerable difficulty in making our way thro the bush consequently our pace was very much retarded. A mile further up sent a native up another tree (Pine) of immense height to get
Page 2 of 14. View high-resolution image
a sight of the mountain, which he reported to be about the same distance from us as the Waitera was from the sugar loaves and to bear due south, he thought if we followed a straight line we should reach the base of the Mountain the following day. The Sun being fast approaching the horizon we determined to encamp for the night at the 1st Stream, discovering low land to the East we made towards it, where finding water in a Gully we pitched our camp for the night.
At day light, after breakfast we proceeded in a South Easterly direction and after a quarter of an hour's walk had a fine view of the Mountain standing due South. Shortly after one of the party ascended a tree from which by the assistance of a Telescope, a great deal of red sand was seen on the Mountain and our course to be thro two deep gullies, well stocked with Remo. Another hours walk took us thro a long and flat bottom standing E. and W. with an immense quantity of Remo and Mero. Saw many marks of pigs, very recently made and the land of the best description, when Mr.Nairn climbed a tree from which he saw the Sea about Rawai and did not think the Mountain to be 12 miles distant or the country towards the Mountain to be of a rugged character, he however could not judge of the country to the right as the timber intercepted his view. From this place the Mountain appeared to be very difficult to ascend. Supposed the Waiwikio from not having lately seen it to be a considerable way to the left. The land towards Rawai appeared to be of the most rugged character. The country from this elevation (which was considerable) towards New Plymouth could not be seen neither could Tongariro. We considered our walk this morning to be over one of the best districts we had yet seen. After crossing a large flat
Page 3 of 14. View high-resolution image
and very deep and dense gully, we ascended a hill covered with Etowara wh. the natives stated to grow in large quantities at Wanganui and on wh. we discovered the remains of a shelter which the natives said was put up by Dr.Dieffenback close to which were laying the remains of an old pig with those of a litter of young ones and a glass bottle. We again ascended a hill and thought we should get to the commencement of the rising ground in an hour and half, Ascertained the time by compass to be 9 O'Clock A.M. The soil in this place appeared of the same description as the bush land near N.P. For the next 2 hours we had a very fatiguing walk over a succession of ravines with very steep banks but evidently from their being little or no water in them they were not of any great length and therefore may be avoided in making roads. The vegetation immediately adjacent these gullies was extremely dense with a tolerable sprinkling of Remo. The next hour's walk was thro a more level part, but the currawau was innumerable, pigs appeared to be very plentiful from the number of places turned up, and without pig dogs voted the gun a nuisance. Proceeded about a mile and half thro underwood forming a complete net work. The land tolerably level and moderately timbered, during the next hours walk crossed a very small stream running from E. to W. From a tree the native saw the sea to the left of the Mountain thought it but a short distance but considered it doubtful whether we should get to the mountain tonight. Made a considerable bend out of our way to the East in consequence of not following the compass and spent much time in sending natives up trees to get a sight of the Mountain wh. for a long time they were not able to do. Passed thro a considerable quantity of fine
Page 4 of 14. View high-resolution image
level land, with some few pine trees and an immense quantity of carrawau wh. made it difficult to proceed at any sort of speed. Soon after came to an open space and it was now time to pitch our tent.
Turned out at day break sent a native up a tree close to the tent reported the Mountain to be S. and B. E. and as far from us as the Sugar loaves were from the Wiha. The soil on examination was very deep in fine black soil with a dark brown subsoil, it now commenced raining heavily with every appearance of a wet day, but the Natives prognosticated more favorably. At 7 O'Clock proceeded again on our journey and in a very short time came to one of the finest flats we have yet seen in New Zealand with very little heavy timber. Crossed 2 small gullies with sand stone bottoms and water running to the Westward. Noticed the berries to be much riper here than at New Plymouth from wh. we considered it warmer and from the immense quantity of Moss wh. had been increasing ever since we left the 1st nights resting place and wh. here hangs to the length of several inches from the branches the rain appeared to be much more frequent here than at the Settlement. Another hour's walk took us across a small stream running N. W. wh. the natives called Tabawai but we thought it more likely to be the Enui after wh. we ascended a rising ground of great extent and of the finest description with an occasional pine of Gigantic size other timber thin and light, the land in this neighbourhood was finely adapted for agricultural purposes, skirted a smallbrook wh. apparently rose in a S. S. W. direction. A light rain falling all the morning up to 11 O'Clock A.M. followed the same course thro precisely the same beautiful district when it came on to rain heavily from the S.E. and we pitched our tent. Pig marks everywhere seen and from their late appearance must have made off on hearing us approach. The bush in this place being thin and light, some fine shooting may be obtained by the assistance of pig dogs found several of their nests under Rota stumps.
The rain continuing all yesterday afternoon
Page 5 of 14. View high-resolution image
and last night with every appearance of a wet day, went a short distance thro the wood to a Stream of water this like several others lately seen, is not in such deep gullies as they are at N. P. consequently if required could be made to overflow a great extent of fine level land for water meadows. The timber in this locality do not present such a variety as the bush more immediately adjoining the Town. We have not seen any white pine nor for the last 2 days any black birch honey suckle or iron wood. From the immense quantity of pigs we imagine to be hereabouts, a very lucrative living might be picked up if the Government would not recognize the native claims to the Pigs, by starting a salting establishment. A difficulty might at first present itself in the event of a road but we are quite sure from the nature of the country we have passed thro that if a person undertook it who had only an ordinary notion of road making, that an excellent road from the Devon line to our present situation could be made. The fern trees in this neighbourhood cannot be considered so fine as they are near the Town, the Niko is however much finer the stems being particularly high and beautifully marked. Tower Koi Koi and Remo are the prevailing woods in this locality.
12 P.M. Having all agreed that it would not be adviseable to move, the tent to-day, charged the gun with a brace of bullets and went a considerable way to the East and West with a view to ascertain the extent of the beautiful Country we are now in. It now commenced to rain more heavily and was obliged to return to the tent.
The rain continuing to fall in torrents during the whole of the night - 8 O'Clock A.M. The weather clearing, on examining the soil found it not so deep as some before noticed, 12 P.M. struck the Tent and took a S.W. course passing over several
Page 6 of 14. View high-resolution image
insignificant gullies. Remo was very plentiful and Currawau as thick as in any part yet seen. 2 O'Clock P.M. we expected we were on very high ground as for the last half hour we have been ascending a very gradual slope with here and there a small gully. The next hour's walk took us thro much the same country as before described crossing 2 or 3 very small gullies. The Remo not so plentiful bush mostly composed of currawau and Tower the former as dense as ever, one of the party ascended a tree and reported the Mountain to be some miles off bearing due South - he also saw the Sugar loaves. The travelling wh. we kept up till dark was over land something more broken, but eaven in this we do not consider there is more water than necessary for agricultural purposes nor the gullies obstacles to callivation
as the gullies or not so wide or deep as those at New Plymouth. Currawau still continues to be an intolerable nuisance.
At day break it rained heavily for an hour with every appearance of a wet day. We travelled South and after three hours hard walking over an average country arrived at the (Mongarere) which at this place was about 24 feet wide and extremely rapid over frequent falls of from 4 to 5 feet - Found tolerable traveling in the bed of the river, tho exceedingly rocky, and the banks of the most picturesque description, to be conceived. After a most rapid walk of 4 or 5 miles up the bed of this river we came to a division one arm taking a south direction and the other a westward the latter of which we determined to follow. Observed a considerable quantity of Totara on the banks. The machine power of this river is inestimable. Saw the 1st White Pine.
Proceeding about 2 miles farther up the river we encamped for the night and here one of
Page 7 of 14. View high-resolution image
the natives left us for about of an hour, on returning he told us that he saw from an elevation above us Wanganui, wh. was a falsehood, he also saw the smoke from the houses in New Plymouth and discovered there was no vessel in. This cheering news put us in spirits wh. had been sadly damped in missing our footing when jumping from rock to rock in the(Mongarere). In ascending this arm we particularly noticed the soil to be a conglomeration of sand stone, granite and cinder. Pitched our tent close to the River
being all wet through, as we had been for the last 4 days - could get but little fire wood and the ground miserably wet, from the late rains.
Tuesday the 23rd.
Started by day light up the ascent for about 2 miles seeing in our way a great deal of Totara, the bush gradually diminished in height and size as we ascended, on reaching the top of one of the spurs of the Middle range found the totara moro etc. so stunted as to be entirely impassable without cutting our way which was the most tedious operation conceiveable, descending from this ridge we re-ascended the range crawling on our hands and knees in one of the water courses. The magnificent view we had from the top of all the Island North of the Mountain at once repaid us for all we had gone thro in the preceding six days, before us lay an immense track of level land extending from the Sugar loaves to about 4 miles beyond the Wika then at right angles or thereabouts skirting a range of hills whose tops were hidden in clouds and appeared to extend thro the centre of the Island probably ending at Wanganui or thereabouts the precise limits in this direction we could not define
Page 8 of 14. View high-resolution image
in consequence of Mount Egmont intercepting our view. The above block encompasses two beautiful grass plains or swamps of considerable extent, appearing about 50 miles distant in an inland direction from the Settlement of N. P. which we considered to be those spoken of by Mr. Maclean as laying in his course between Wanganui and
Taupo and standing from our present situation on this range E.S.E. from the same place we took the following observations.
Sugar loaves N.B.W.
Tongaredo summit covered by clouds E.N.E.
Rawai point and Wangaroa N.B.E.
We found as we expected a considerable quantity of grass on the highest lands in this range of mountains and most decidedly the finest land we have yet met with in the country. The soil being 2 feet deep and an excellent subsoil, therefore it cannot be doubted, but if this land was used as a pasturage it would increase amazingly in quantity, it would however require cattle and sheep of a hardy nature to stand the cold and wind, and almost continual moisture. One of the natives has just discovered that he has lost the telescope and is now returned to search for it, this delay will prevent us from ascending the Mountain this afternoon - therefore all hands set to work collecting grass scrub etc. to make a fire that our friends may know our whereabouts. Soon after the native coming up with the glass we moved towards the Mountain descending one of the Middle range torrent courses, in our usual way, either on our hands or knees being quite impossible to effect a passage thro the scrub which was densely thick on every side sheltered from the S.W. winds. From the frequent land slips we had an excellent opportunity of examining the soil at various depths which with other likely places we attentively examined for the existance of lodes etc; but astonishing to relate
Page 9 of 14. View high-resolution image
that in this the generally considered richest mineral district in this part of the Island, not the slightest approach to any kind of ore could be seen. The magnificent Mountain being close to us, we were possessed with the most ardent desire to reach it that evening, to commence the ascent at day light the following morning; the desire therefore carried us imprudently far so that we had not time before dark, to erect the tent therefore we were compelled to lay the tent flat over us. In a very short time a thick cloud came over us and dissolving the rain fell in torrents, and of course, the tent was no longer tenantable, we were therefore compelled to get round the fire, sleep being out of the question and during the other part of the night were almost drowned by passing clouds.
At earliest dawn of day got breakfast underweigh surrounded by clouds and the scrub being shockingly wet was a promise treat in prospective. We had besides to deter us the startling fact of having but one days provisions. Still we did not flinch, the desire to ascend a Mountain now within musket range, which was the admiration of visitors and the pride of the Settlers and which had only been ascended by one white man (Dr.Dieffenback) and supposed never to have been ascended by a native by whom it was regarded by superstitious awe - cheered us forward - 1 O'Clock A.M. left the tenting place the weather clearing away most beautifully followed the torrent course down which emptied itself into a swamp of about 500 acres, from wh. many of the largest streams on the west coast appeared to take their source, and at the farther end stood the Mountain. We found the base of the mountain to the height of one third covered with stunted bush Totaro Mero Gill wood etc., the next 3rd with grass of very good quality and in the greatest abundance. In the upper 3rd bare rock and snow. In the grass we found a small species of Toto about 12 inches long and resembling Lucerne, this plant was covered with Toto berries of very sweet flavour, and like small bunches of Grapes in appearance.
Page 10 of 14. View high-resolution image
The natives carried their superstition so far as to request us not to eat them and we fearing they were poisonous did not, but we were afterwards told, that they were perfectly harmless. We also saw a great many plants of Curramiko in this part of the Mountain. About this place our party divided, the majority considering that an easier ascent to the top might be found more Westward and accordingly tried this place which abruptly terminated at a considerable height in a perpendicular precipiece. The other party was more fortunate but still unable to ascend the summit being stopped by a precipiece which he considered to be the lip of the crater. The snow was exceedingly hard and very dirty from the sand and pieces of rock being blown into it from the adjacent rocks. The top of the mountain must be considered considerably less than mentioned in Dieffenback's New Zealand, we had no opportunity of seeing the country from this
elevation, as the top of the mountain was hooded in the clouds, seeing no prospect of an immediate change, we descended and being now out of provisions made towards the Wanga-ta-tu river with the intention of walking down its bed to the nearest native settlement wh. the natives said was about 20 miles distant and thereby most reluctantly compelled to abandon our intention of returning by the West boundary of the New block. Had we persevered in this scheme we must have been (supposing we had the finest weather) at least 5 days without provisions. After descending about 2 Miles we came to fire wood but not water, wh. having little or nothing to cook was of little consequence and therefore determined to encamp for the night.
After passing a most miserable night we started at day light for the river before spoken of and walked about 3 miles, down its course, the rain
Papers relating to provincial affairs - Taranaki. Inspector of police, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0123 (71 digitised items)
Series 7 Official papers, Reference Number Series 7 Official papers (3737 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)
Usage: You can search, browse, print and download items from this website for research and personal study. You are welcome to reproduce the above image(s) on your blog or another website, but please maintain the integrity of the image (i.e. don't crop, recolour or overprint it), reproduce the image's caption information and link back to here (http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1008725). If you would like to use the above image(s) in a different way (e.g. in a print publication), or use the transcription or translation, permission must be obtained. More information about copyright and usage can be found on the Copyright and Usage page of the NLNZ web site.
View Full Descriptive Record in TAPUHI