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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 11 (February 1, 1936)

A March in the Hunua Ranges

A March in the Hunua Ranges.

“Early next day we climbed up the wooded ranges on the northern side of the Hunua, and entered the bush. Indian file was the order of march, and as we wound our way through the rich green undergrowth our long line of blue-shirted desperadoes, with their revolvers and breechloading carbines, and three days’ provisions in haversack, presented a most picturesque coup d'oeil. The morning was fine and we followed as yet a well-marked track, the whole was more like a pleasure party than anything else. We halted at Buckland's clearing and broached our provender with a most injudicious appetite. Here Jackson confided to me his intention of penetrating through the forest to the rear of Paparata, a large native settlement to the south. A surprise was talked of, and besides, on the way we might fall in with all sorts of adventures.

“In the afternoon we started anew. We now left the track and had to force our way through high fern for a mile or two, a fatiguing process for the head of the line, who have to do all the breaking and tramping down for the rest; in such cases the men leading should be relieved frequently. Once more we entered the bush—now, however, without a track. We looked for Maori plantations, said to be somewhere in this neighbourhood. But we found only some old clearings which had been plantations four or five years ago. The soil there was of exceeding richness, of a light brown chocolate colour, indicating thereby its volcanic character.

“The elevation of the forest ridges became now considerable, and sometimes dark gorges of the wildest character, with weird veils of mist trailing along dim ravine bottoms, opened up at our feet. It wanted but some savage figures of a brown tint in the foreground to make the picture ravishing to whoever loved the wild and the grand. But there seemed to be no hope even of the appearance of such figures; not a track (footprint) had we seen, not even an old one. We were then, I now believe, in a part of the ranges which even the Maoris avoid on account of its broken nature, at least of late years.