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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, October 1974

Others Who Made the Trip Down the Wairau Valley Before us

Others Who Made the Trip Down the Wairau Valley Before us

page 17

Cotterell, in December 1842, found the Tophouse or Wairau Pass and saw the grassy plains of the Wairau Valley.

After the Wairau Massacre, Morse and Cooper drove sheep through this pass into the head of the Wairau at Tophouse. Then Mr George Duppa took up land at Birch Hill and others followed.

By 1850 the valley had been opened up to settlers and the following were the first licensed to occupy runs there.

Owner Run
N. G. Morse Top House
Geo. Duppa Birch Hill
J. F. Wilson Part of Birch Hill
A. G. Jenkins Hillersden
E. D. Sweet Hillersden Cattle Run
C. F. Watts Lansdowne
G. W. Schroder Erina
D. Monro Bankhouse
Joseph Ward Brookby
J. Alison Avondale
W. H. Shepherd Summerlands
F. Witherby Te Arowhenua
F. Vickerman Stronvar
E. Green The Delta
W. O. Cautley Part of Benhopai
C. & F. Kelling Castle Run (part of Benhopai)
C. A. Dillon Leafield

In 1953, Captain MacKenzie, retired Bombay Infantry, visited Australia and New Zealand.

From Wellington he sailed to Flaxbourne and then set out for Nelson:—

19th December 1853

Left Flaxbourne, travelled through Wairau and set out for Nelson. I started out about 6 o'clock up the Wairau Valley. Hills on the north side wooded and very broken and rugged. I overtook a man on the road going to Nelson, named Gibson. He is a shepherd and has charge of Mr Green's run, and appears a very decent old man.

[Ed. The run referred to is the Delta, then owned by Mr E. Green, Nelson]. I determined to go with him. We halted at Mr Dupper's station. [Ed. Mr George Duppa, Birch Hill].

We were overtaken by a storm but found a hut on Manuka Island. Saw a woodhen. Silly bird. Easily caught. After crossing streams and hills passed through a black birch forest to N. G. Morses Tophouse.

page 18

20th December

At sunset entered another forest where I perceived the road had been laid out with ditches on either side of it and about four miles further on we came to a house where we put up for the night. The owner, Mr 'Gork' Rodger, a Yorkshireman, was drunk.

[Ed. Likely John Gaukroger—hotel keeper at Foxhill. He never touched alcohol].

21st December

Up at daylight. On leaving this place the roadside shows signs of cultivation. A good many small cottages, fences, patches of grain had increased in number.

Halted at Richmond for breakfast and then into Nelson where I arrived at 12 o'clock.

29th December

I have determined to leave Nelson today. A man named Collier is going with me to Port Cooper. At last we set out and rode as far as 'Gork' Rodger's where I arrived at 1 o'clock and put up for the night.

30th December

Up early but my companion detained me until 1 o'clock when we rode off to Davie Kerr's, the furthest up house on this side of the bush. I found no difficulty in tracing my way back through these hills.

31st December

The house was full of people last night so I had to sleep on the floor, not liking the plan of going halves in a bed, which I find is thought nothing of here. I got up at 4 a.m. and called the others. We soon got breakfast and at 6 a.m. got away and rode to Mr Duppa's station. We took four hours to get through the bush. On the Wairau side we halted at the 'top house'. It is situated in a very pretty spot near a birch forest with the river below, some way off. It was an inn but has been deserted on account of the distance from the only place where supplies are to be had. Here we remained for two hours to let our horses feed and then went on to Mr Duppa's.

Sunday 1st January, 1854

I slept in the store on some wool packs with a bloody disgusting-looking ram's head above me. This is the country to learn to rough it in and no mistake. A little rain fell this morning but it soon passed off and it is now a fine day.

15th March 1855, David Monro wrote:—

Started about ten. Rode to Gauks. Waited there for rest of party.

page 19

16th March

Made a fair start. Reached Davy Kerr's about two and had a snack. Got through the wood a little after sunset and camped under the trees for the night.

17th March

A splendid morning. Rode down to Manuka Island and breakfasted at the accommodation house, the people very civil. Pushed on, the sun blazing down and got to the dairy, about an hour after dark, having ridden 53 miles.

18th March

Walked down in the direction of Godfreys and breakfasted there. Horses lost. I went up the Waihopai. Called at Frasers, found Mrs Fraser and had some excellent Scotch kale. No traces of horses. Met Weld.

19th March

Up at daylight and rode to Frasers. Then across to Leefield which is much shaken by the earthquake. Met Sam Eves. Horses are in Omaka. Found them.

20th March

Made an early start. Gave our horses a bite and washed in the pass (the Blairich Pass—which led into the Awatere). Then to Flaxbourne.