E. of Tongoriro
28th. November 1867.
My dear Sir,
I find that this is said to be an available track for pack horses, by the Rangitiha river, along the West side of the Slate Range; and as this is a district of country I am anxious to see, I intend trying to get down to the Coast by this route, instead of returning to Napier.
I will therefore feel much obliged if you will cause my box etc., to be sent on to Wellington by the first steamer; also the Vouchers, and an Abstract of the Barometer readings, taken by Mr.----(?) from the 20th. October to date, for the purpose of calculating the altitudes.
We have had very bad weather for the last fortnight, and at present it is snowing hard. Notwithstanding, I have seem a great deal of the country, and have been twice on Tongoriro, but could not reach the top of the cone on either occasion. The whole country is under snow, except this plain, where the snow does not lie for any time.
I am quite two months too early, but the natives say that this is a most exceptional season.
The letters which you kindly gave me have been of great use; and the natives have been, everywhere, most kind and hospitable to me. They all seem to be very well disposed, and anxious to get white men settled amongst them.
I passed through the Hau Hau country on the North side of the Lake; and though a few self-important old men made some fuss, the majority of the natives were glad to see us, and told us not to mind what these mis-chief-makers said. With careful management, I see no reason why the whole country in this district should not be open, and safe, in the course of a few months.
I am pleased, on the whole, with the prospect of the country round the Lake, for sheep-farming; especially the land on the West side, which is much superior to that on the East, where there is a great deal of worthless pumice land. On the North side the country is very similar to Bank's Peninsular, in its geological structure and uniform features; and there is a fair proportion of natural grass, which seems to replace the fern, when burnt, with the same fertility there is down in the South. The open land round the Lake, ranges from 1200 to 2600 ft. above the sea level, which is a favourable
altitude for pasturage in this district, and in this latitude.
The country to the North of the Lake round Tongoriro and Ruapehu reminds me very much of the natural pasture land in Otago, and is capable of carrying a very large number of stock. Taken as a whole, I believe we should have the Taupo district in a few years; a most important pastural country; and that a great deal of useful land will be found further to the Westward.
The present access to the district, from Hawke's Bay is very bad, but a good road could easily be made, by the valley of the Oripia (?) river, - one of the tributaries of the Mohaka. This would be the direct road for Auckland, and could be made available for drays, at very small expense. I am now waiting till the weather improves to have a good look at the Kaimanawa Range. What I have already seen of these, leads me to expect them to be formed of the same rocks as the Slate ranges in the mountain district of the Nelson Province; where there are a few isolated gold diggings, - where the gold is obtained by sluicing the drift in the beds of streams flowing in deeply cut gorges. I have seen nothing to indicate the existence
of the peculiar gold-bearing formation characteristic of the Coromandel Peninsular, as yet. Nor, on the other hand, of the numerous gold-bearing formations of Otago, or of the granitoid rocks of the West Coast of Canterbury; and as the volcanic rocks abut directly on the Western slopes of the slate rocks, we must not hope for any developements of the auriferous drifts. I believe that the townies (?) are again out prospecting between this place and Postea and I shall endeavour to see them before I return, and hear from them what grounds they have for looking for the existence of gold in this district.
I am close to the town of the Waikato here, at an altitude of 3200 ft. above the sea; and on proceeding a few miles south of this place, will begin the descent towards the Whanganui plains.
From Patea there must be a good route to Napier, as a half-caste passed here yesterday, and said it only took him a day and a half to ride through alone, although he had never been the road before. This is a point worth looking into, as an available access in this direction would open up a very extensive district of pastoral country, for the Hawke's Bay run-holders.
I do not abandon the idea of our trip to the East Cape, as I hope that I will be in Wellington before the "Sturt" leaves, and that I will be able to get away with her for a few weeks.
I think it would be very advisable to have a thoroughly reliable agent at the south end of Taupe Lake, especially at the time of this great Mutiny, which is to be held in December, between Tuhua and Mohau; as the natives expect great results to follow from this Meeting; and there is no place where reliable information respecting what takes place will be obtained than through Te Heu Heu and Hia Hui Hui at Tokanu.
I send this direct from Patea by a native, and trust it will reach you without delay.
Please tell Mr. Weber that the weather was too unfavourable to permit my getting the Latitude of Tarawera. The Latitude of Hatipi (Hunimaieri) on Taupo Lake is 38. 25' 6" S. Hoihatihu (?) range begins a good deal of country to the East of Taupo.
P.S. Written under difficulties with a shaky pen in drifting snow, so please excuse.
P.S. Patea Settlement 2nd. December 1867 I have seen the Patea country, and the Kaimanawa
Range, and am very much pleased with the extent and quality of the pastoral country. It is the best I have seen in the North Island. I fear there is very small chance of gold being found. The rocks are the same in the Upper Pelorous valley, and the only claim is the owner of a valley like Wahapiarnui, just as in that claim which is suriferous; while the surrounding country is barren of gold.
On this account I would not discourage prospecting, but I am not very sanguine as to the results.
The natives here say they have no objection to a few diggers coming, if they come openly, and don't march through the country arriving at the settlements as if they wished to work mutiny. There is some reason in this of course, but it will be contrary to the usual practice of prospectors if they let their movements be known. The natives say that if anyone comes to prospect, they would like them to bring a writing from some Government person, to show that they have not come without the knowledge of the Pakeha Government. It is a good idea, I think, and would be a check on bad characters coming up and making disturbances.
(Signed) J. H.