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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 5 (November 2, 1931)

The Old Adventurers

The Old Adventurers.

Some of the hardy old pioneers of the West Coast survive to tell of their moving ‘scapes by flood and forest in the brave days of the gold rushes. Away down the surf-bound coast at Okuru, two hundred miles south of Hokitika, lives the daddy of them all to-day, the venerable Sam Fiddian. He has been there for sixty-four years. It is just about as far out of the world as one can get in New Zealand; down there where the only road from the north is a horse track, where no one ever sees a motor car, where the only ship seen is a small vessel from Hokitika or the Grey three or four times in the year.

Sam Fiddian arrived at Okuru, which is just to the south of that formidable snowy river the Haast, in the year 1867, in an open boat, all the way from Riverton, in Southland. There were thirteen others in the boat, which was only 28 feet long; they were all young fellows, eager for the great adventure of the day—gold-digging on the Westland Coast. Their voyage round the rugged south-west corner of New Zealand was a series of thrilling escapes, knocking about in gales of wind, running under a close-reefed sail for shelter in one or other of the Sounds. Chalky Inlet was one of their havens, many-islanded Dusky Sound another. It was eight weeks before they were off the entrance to the Haast River, where they intended to land, but it was so rough that they had to get ashore at Okuru. Most of the crew who had shared those perils made their way up north to the big diggings from Bruce Bay to the Grey, but Sam Fiddian dropped anchor for good in bushy Okura, and did not wander more. He had had all the adventure he wanted.