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The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series

First Explorations

First Explorations

Tripp and Acland first explored the head waters of the Rangitata. In March, 1892, Acland wrote an account of their explorations in the first number of page 305the N.Z. Alpine Journal. Tripp and Acland went up as far as Forest Creek in September, 1855, and in March, 1856, explored the Ashburton and crossed over to the Rangitata, passing the lakes which are named after them. This time they got as far as the mouth of the Potts. After that the business of starting their stations, and visits to England, prevented any more exploration until 1860, except that Acland and his halfcaste henchman, Abner Clough, once went as far as Mesopotamia. While they were examining the bush there, a violent sou'-wester came and Abner built a V-hut to shelter them. Some years afterwards Edward Jollie came across it while surveying up there, and thought he had discovered Maori remains.

In 1860, Tripp heard from the Maoris that above Cloudy Peak the Rangitata opened out on to a large plain. They had probably confused the country there with the Mackenzie Country, but Tripp and Acland and Charles Harper went to see. They reached the mouth of the Lawrence and camped in some bush where McRae's homestead was afterwards built. Next day they went up the Lawrence as far as horses could go (seven or eight miles) and came in sight of some of the small glaciers. They realised they were on the wrong track for the 'open plain,' so turned back and went up the Clyde. They went up the Clyde until they found the river bed was nearly three thousand feet above sea level, in a narrow valley with high mountains on each side, and decided there could be no open plain. It was May 20th, the nights were getting very cold, they were running short of tucker, and had no chance of getting more of it nearer than Mt. Peel, fifty miles away, so they turned back.

In 1861, Samuel Butler settled at Mesopotamia. He was fond of climbing, but seems to have been keener on getting to the tops of the hills than to the sources of the rivers. Acland made several more expeditions during the early 'sixties, taking various people with him, but it was not until the autumn of 1865 that Chudleigh, Tom Acland, and Bell (who had by then page 306settled at Stronechrubie) got to the head of both branches of the Clyde and they were probably the first people actually to get on to the ice there.