Anyone who can enjoy a mountain ramble, should, if he has not already done so, climb to the summit of Flagstaff Hill, which rises behind Dunedin to the height of 2192 feet, and from whose top an extensive view over the surrounding country can be page break
Scene in the Leith Valley, On the Road to Reservoir.
obtained. There are two routes by which this can be accomplished; one by way of the Halfway Bush up the south-eastern spur over the open ground, and the other by a steep path through the bush from Ross Creek, which leads on to the open land on the north-eastern shoulder, whence the top is most easily reached by making a detour to the northward. To anyone unacquainted with the country who desires to go one way and return by the other, the ascent by the Ross Creek track is recommended, as the way down by the other route is easily found, but it is not so easy to discover the opening of the bush track; indeed, persons who have ascended by that path and who were not blessed with what is known asa "good bump of locality," have often failed to find the track again, and have in despair taken to the bush and made the descent at the expense of great exertion and torn clothes in scrambling downwards through the thick undergrowth, a process not unattended by personal danger. Choosing then the route by Ross Creek, and leaving roads and habitations below, the climber enters the bush a little way beyond the furthest dwelling. The ascent is steep, and after rainy weather somewhat muddy and trampled into holes by the cattle, but a stick to assist in the climb is easily procurable, and there is much to please and attract the eye in the bush vegetation, which may afford an excuse for frequent stoppages to admire these beauties of nature more closely. Shortly after entering the bush, by turning aside to the left a few yards, a glimpse may be had of a, pretty little waterfall, pretty in itself, but which derives its main beauty from its surroundings, for the little stream comes tumbling down the mountain side overshadowed by embowering trees, whilst ferns of innumerable form and shade deck the banks with a mantle of green. It is a temptation to linger in such a spot, but the goal is afar. Returning to the track and climbing steadily upwards, only stopping now and again ostensibly to admire some fairy moss, lovely fern, or other sylvan beauty, but possibly really to gain a few minutes breathing space, the climber at length emerges on the open land beyond. After a short rest on some grassy knoll the upward way is resumed, and keeping well to the right and circling round the hill top to avoid encountering some rough stony ground, the summit is reached by an easy climb. A glorious prospect over hill, dale, and ocean is the reward. To page 262
the northward the prospect is limited by Swampy Hill and Mount Cargill, but turning to the eastward an extensive view is obtained of the lower lying hills about Dunedin and over the Otago Peninsula, with the wide Pacific stretching away beyond. Turning further round, the Green Island uplands, the Chain Hills, and those of Otakia district meet the eye, with glimpses of the lowlands between, while the dark wood-crowned summit of Saddle Hill stands out conspicuously against the sea and sky beyond. Away in the south may be seen the distant coast-line and the hazy forms of the South Molyneux ranges. Looking over the Taieri the bulky form of Maungatua looms large, beyond which lies the rounded top of the Lammerlaw. Further round again to the westward the long range of the Rock and Pillar mountain appears, with possibly patches of snow in its hollows, and if the day be clear the summit of distant Mount St Bathans and the Old Man or Umbrella Ranges, may be descried, whilst some long-sighted mortals say they have even seen the far-off peaks of the rugged Remarkables. Leaving these distant mountains the eye completes the circuit by resting on the grey rocky pinnacles of the Silver Peaks, and the bush-clad gullies of the Silverstream and its tributaries. By proceeding a little way down the mountain a more extensive view of the Taieri Plain is obtained, which lies at the feet of the observer like a gigantic irregularly marked chess board with its squares of varied colours, and the gleam of the sunbeams on the Waihola and Waipori lakes may be seen in the distance. The lover of such fair scenes will linger long revelling in the grand panorama by which he is encircled. But the descent must be made, so choosing that by way of the Halfway Bush and keeping well to the right along the leading spur, he rapidly descends the grassy slopes till he joins the North Taieri road near Ashburn Hall, whence by the Halfway Bush and Eoslyn he makes his way back to town, tired probably, but certainly pleased with his excursion.