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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 6 (September 2, 1935)

The Wild Way to the Coast

The Wild Way to the Coast.

Tramping and clambering westward, making for the sea, the explorers encountered the most difficult part of the journey. It was a gorgeous savage country, with its lofty mountains, its precipices, tangled bush, snowy torrents and cataracts. “Among other curious places,” wrote Haast, “we were camped for several days under an enormous overhanging rock, with a vertical precipice of 150 feet near us, and the thundering and deafening roar of the swollen main river, forming here a large waterfall as its companion.” The Burke, Clarke and other rivers were named. Often the travellers had to scramble for hundreds of feet above the river, in making their way along the jungle-choked cliffs. It rained as it only can rain in the Westland country. At last, following down the wide many-branched river they reached the beach, and “stood in the surf, giving three hearty cheers.” The journey from Wanaka had taken them thirty days. It can be done now on horseback in two days, provided the rivers are not in flood.

It was March 2 before they completed their return journey, continually through the rain, emerging at Mr. Thompson's station at Lake Wanaka, all in rags, nearly shoeless and without any provisions. Remaining at the hospitable far-out settler's home for a week to recover their strength, they set out homeward, with a story of moving adventure to record. Besides the results of the geological and topographical work done, large collections were obtained in zoology and botany, so that considerable additions were made to the material brought from former explorations, which formed the foundations for a public Museum in Christchurch. In accordance with the direction of the Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury, the great river discovered, the Awarua of the Maoris, was named the Haast.