Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand : a report comprising the results of official explorations
The next river, the Weheka, may be said to be, with the exception of the Waiau, the most important river on this part of the coast, draining from snow-fields by which the highest peaks of the Southern Alps are here surrounded. It is formed of several confluents, of which the northern, although the shortest, is the most important. This branch issues from the Prince Alfred glacier, the terminal face of which I calculated to be 702 feet above the sea level.*
This beautiful glacier is, with the Francis Joseph glacier, the lowest in New Zealand. Having already alluded to the characteristic features of the latter, which those of the Prince Alfred glacier resemble in many respects, and having also shown from the meteorological con-page 227ditions of the western slopes of the Southern Alps, why these glaciers do descend to such low regions, I need not again enter into this subject, but refer the reader to pages 196 to 199. The Prince Alfred glacier is fed by an extensive snow-field stretching from the north-western slopes of Mount Tasman to the south-western of Mount Haidinger and is separated by a high rocky ridge into two portions From the terminal face of the glacier to its mouth, the Weheka has a nearly westerly course, about 12 miles long, the glacier thus being one mile and a half nearer to the coast than the Francis Joseph glacier. The next or middle branch uniting with the main or northern branch eight miles above its mouth, has a west-by-north course for seven miles, its mam source being the Hector (Balfour) glacier principally fed from the western slopes of Mount Cook. This glacier lies in a deep gorge and although I could distinguish, from some hills which I ascended near the coast, several glacier channels both north and south of Mount Cook feeding the trunk glacier, no such continuous channels on that mountain, owing to its steepness, could be discerned; so that I believe a great deal of this glacier is formed by enormous avalanches falling upon it continually. The western branch uniting, after a north-north-west course for about eight miles, with the outlet of the Balfour glacier, is also formed by severai streams issuing from glaciers on the western slopes of the Southern Alps beginning at Mount Stokes, and reaching as far as Sefton Peak in the Moorhouee range. As before observed, many of the details in the map of this portion of the Southern Alps have been filled up from eye sketches only, although numerous bearings taken all along the coast, of the directions ot the valleys, the size and position of the snow-fields and of the glaciers formed, at their lower extremities, have offered me ample material to lay down at, least the principal features with some degree of accuracy.
* A few years afterwards, this glacier was visited by the Hon. W. Fox, and re-named by members of his party, the Fox glacier. Mr. S. H. Cox, of the Geological Survey, paid a visit to the same locality in January, 1876, and calculated the altitude of its terminal face to be only 660 feet above the sea level.