Narrative of a Journey
From Hokitika to the Mines of the Mount Rangitoto Silver Mining Company, Westland, New Zealand.
Warrington: Printed at the Guardian Steam Printing Works. 1877.page break
The Author of the accompanying Narrative is not responsible for its appearance in print. It was not written with a view to its publication, but for the amusement and information of relatives and friends in England, who consider that its truly graphic and eloquent descriptions of those vast and comparatively untrodden solitudes should not perish with the paper on which they were written, but should live in the future in this more permanent form.
William Manning.24, Regent-Street, London,
Narrative of a Journey
From Hokitika to the Mines of the Mount Rangitoto Silver Mining Company, Westland, New Zealand.
On the morning of the 23rd April, 1877, we started for the mine, having taken our seats in the well-appointed mail coach which runs daily to Ross, a pretty and important digging township, 20 miles south of Hokitika. The sun shone forth in splendour, the air was cool and bracing, and nature seemed as though she had issued her invitation for all to join in holiday pleasures, and every face one met expressed, in a degree, the influence of such charming weather. My fellow-travellers were all true colonists, and were not long in breaking the ice of any unnecessary reserve. On this occasion it may be attributed in a great measure to the genial nature of an old friend of mine, a true type of the Hans Breittzmann class, a genuine son from the Faderland, who regards "lager" as the elixir of life, and when lager is not procurable never feels offended with Tennent's excellent XXX as a Substitute; but as mail coaches are not generally supplied with these luxuries, my friend had to have recourse to his large silver snuffbox, which always contains the choicest rappee, and which he produced at once, handing it round to all with undisguised affection, for although he could not reach the hearts of his companions by pouring liquid down their throats, still he secured it for the time being by sniffing up the nose.
We were soon a merry company, in consequence of the early disposal of all formalities. Arriving at page 6 Kanieri, four miles distant from Hokitika, the once populous digging township, where many pile-claims existed in the early days, and once the scene of all the wild excitement incidental to a digger's life, but which now assumes more of the character of a small village midway between the farming district of the Kokotahi and the metropolis of Westland, we embarked on board the punt, and crossed the Hokitika river in safety. We then pursued our course through Woodstock, up the winding hill, from the summit of which a beautiful view is obtained of the Hokitika valley, with its river winding through it, the well-cultivated farms of the Kokotahi settlers, and the surrounding bush country, backed up by the grand and imposing chain of mountains, forming part of the great Southern Alps, with summits clad in winter garments of snow, completing a picturesque and lovely scene, such indeed as would cause a Cockney's heart to leap with excitement, and for ever rebel against the beauties of Rosherville or the attractions of its bear pit!
From this point to Ross there is but little to interest the traveller. The road passes through a dense and impenetrable forest, through which no glimpse of distant scenery is obtained. The only relief to the monotony of the journey is a stoppage at the half-way house, the "Empire Hotel," where man and beast can be refreshed on the shortest possible notice. There was not a solitary "Good Templar" travelling with us, and consequently we all received the warm congratulations of the worthy host. Her Majesty's "plate" was soon in demand, and as the discovery had been made en route that one of our fellow travellers was the Hon. W. Gisborne, a veteran politician, who was about to woo the sweet voices of the electors of the district for a seat in parliament, it became a matter of importance to the issue of such an unusual event that he should ask everybody about the place to refresh themselves at his expense. This, I page 7 need scarcely relate, was accomplished without much effort, much to the gratification of all concerned, even the candidate himself, who was thus casting his bread, or rather I should say, his small change, on the political waters of popular colonial practice. The lager was delicious, Hennessey too played his part, and last, though not least, the Grand Cow was I also in request. This latter beverage derives its name from the fact of "G. T.'s" being fond of a glass of milk, although some of the modest members of that exemplary fraternity sometimes take a very wee drop of—well, we need not say what, to qualify it, and render it Grand Cow in the fullest acceptation of the term. The Empire Hotel on the Ross-road is therefore well known by thirsty travellers of all degrees. It has been remarked with regard to "milk and water salvation," or in other words "teetotalism," in mining communities, in Westland, that it takes a firm hold upon the miner—that is to say, when claims are yielding badly, and money "doocid "scarce. Aye, but this I will not do; the driver is shouting out, "All aboard," which properly interpreted means, "Take your places at once, or you will be left behind," an event on this road which, after all, seldom occurs, unless it might be with a devotee who cannot tear himself away from the "Grand Cow."
Our horses certainly did not take fright in completing the remainder of the journey, but it is a wonder, for never did they carry such a load of politicians and politics before. If the previous portion of the journey was monotonous, it was soon forgotten in the intensely lively discussions which ensued, "Bolitics," as my lager friend exclaimed, "Yes, we most remodle our politicians, the guntry is going to the doks, money is wasted in all zorts of extravagant ideas, little rings, sir, little rings of bolitical adventurers. Look at the miserable vailure of the special zettlement at 'Jackson's Bay,' the disgraceful exberimend, for bersonal benefit page 8 only. Beoples doo is daking up vast dracks of gundry, mineral gundry, dousands and dousands of acres, and nod butting a bick into the ground, and shudding oud the legitimate brospecdor. We wand roads through oud this grand Province, men of stirling integridy do rebresent us, to pud down abuses, and exbose the miserable vactions that exist in Westland. The blace has j been ruined by blace-hunters, misrebresendation has followed on misrebresendation, and one of the vinest bor-tions of New Zealand has been zistematically neglected.! Our Government debartments are filled from batronage and not from merit, and boys without exberience manifest the bretensions of men of zience and gulture. Do not therefore ally yourself with any barty or clique, and your return is zafe."
Subsequent events proved the correctness of my friend's assertion, for the Hon. W. Gisborne was returned for the Totara district by an overwhelming majority over his opponents, who were local men, and thus has the constituency secured one of the ablest politicians in New Zealand as their representative.
A general concurrence in the views enunciated by my friend ensued amongst the rest of the passengers, and a deal of red-hot republicanism percolated through the substratum of the arguments adduced for the salvation of the masses in the future, and the subject generally then under discussion. By the time full vent had been given, and every hypothesis of political economy reviewed, we fast approached the town of Ross otherwise easily noticeable by the number of urchins chasing the coach in swarms, and hanging on behind, like bees round a sugar hogshead, until whipped off by the driver. "Good gracious, where do they all comfrom?" is a natural exclamation, for the nearer you approach your destination the more numerous they become, and decidedly more saucy. Driving up the New Road, you pass the State School on your left, a commodious and substantial building, a credit to the dis- page 9 trict. I am very much afraid that the teaching of good manners does not form an important item of instruction in the educational establishment referred to; at least there is no outward and visible sign of such being the case, unless it is intended that the conduct of the young "Street Arabs" should be accepted as the standard of proficiency in this particular branch of education.
After alighting from our vehicle and consulting the inner man, an adjournment was most opportunely proposed to "Mrs. Kitchen's," to get dinner. The name was so suggestive and alluring that it required no farther persuasion; so to mine hostess of the Devonshire Dining Rooms we adjourned accordingly; and did full justice to the good things provided, as well as bearing testimony to a true Devonshire welcome by the genial proprietress. Immediately afterwards" we resumed our journey on foot. At Donoghue's, a mile outside the town of Ross, we changed our clothing; for, bear in mind, such a course becomes absolutely necessary unless you are quite indifferent to your personal appearance on your return; and those who have not taken the friendly advice of wearing old clothes when going to the mine have had cause to repent it; for there are instances on record of travellers returning with only one leg to their "unmentionables," and otherwise tattered and torn, much to their discomfiture. We certainly were not a very elegant pair when we resumed our tramp, nor could we possibly be regarded as over expensively dressed, particularly my companion, who, if he made his appearance in Regent-street in such a character, would be very likely told to "move on," or "show his ticket," an insult "which as how no gen'lman could stand!"
Notwithstanding these outward defects, we received many friendly salutations along the road, and performed other little "colonial" ceremonies, which are inseparable attendants on a journey in the colonies; but being page 10 of an exhilarating nature, no further description is needed, for, doubtless, that will be perfectly understood.
Arriving at Redman's, the works of the "Koh-i-noor, Gold Mining Company" form about the most attractive feature in connection with mining at present in the district. The machinery for working the mine consists of three large water wheels (two overshot, and one undershot), which are kept constantly going in order to keep the mine free from water, which has hitherto proved the great obstacle to its progress. The veins of gold in this mine are very rich, and the enterprise displayed in its development deserves the highest reward, The yield averages 50, 80, and sometimes 100 ozs. of gold per week, and the most sanguine expectations are; indulged in with regard to future operations. The Company's claim consists of a ten acres' lease, of which about one-eighth is worked.
The district from Ross to Redman's, a distance of four miles, is one large goldfield, which only awaits capital to develope its treasures. The same difficulty, water, has to be contended with in the lower levels of all the mines, and where the richest deposits exist, the General Government have long contemplated bringing in a large water race, so that water power could be employed in the drainage of this important and extensive goldfield. Circumlocution, Red tape, j and possibly impecuniosity may be accepted as the explanation which retards this undertaking, and destroys the patience of the best friends of Westland—the "sturdy miner," the pioneer of her civilization.
We now cross the Mikouni river in the ferry boat, and catch the first glimpse of Mount Rangitoto, for its towering heights form the background of the Mikonni valley, and give the first idea of the nature of the following day's journey. Arriving at the ferry house, we were most hospitably entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Ross. It may here be mentioned that this intrepid lady is the first female who ever visited the Ran- page 11 gitoto mine, and possibly will be the only one who will ever again attempt the journey by the steep, rugged, and somewhat dangerous mountain track. Some of the promoters of the mine are about to present her with a souvenir, in the shape of a complete set of silver jewellery, accompanied by an appropriate address, in recognition of the courage displayed by her on the occasion referred to. Many regrets were expressed by the worthy pair at our early departure at 8 p.m., both of whom were very pressing that we should stay the night beneath their homely roof. It was, however, a lovely moonlight night, and we determined to push on as far as the Sawyers, three miles distant, a place at the foot of the mountain track. Our friend Ross accompanied us about two-thirds of the way. The road is only a bridle track, about 4 feet wide, intended as the nucleus of a dray road in time to come. We were compelled to walk Chinaman fashion, that is to say, one after another; but notwithstanding this unsociable, and un-English style of promenading, it may fairly be related that we all enjoyed the walk. At length we reached our destination, a lone house in the forest, near the roadside. The inmates were soon aroused from their slumbers, and appeared positively pleased to be disturbed; for all our attempts at apologies were rejected, and we soon felt that the expressions were sincere, and that we were welcome. The proprietors are two hardy Germans, honest, hard-working, good-natured fellows, known as the firm of "Mueller and Mahler" the sawyers, but in reality the packers for the Rangitoto Mine. The inevitable courtesies of colonial life were again indulged in, and the time passed pleasantly on in friendly converse until about 11 p.m., when it was thought desirable to retire to rest, in order that an early start might be made the following morning. A comfortable shakedown was soon prepared for each of us; my companion slept on a pile of straw mattrasses, I took a bunk opposite. We page 12 were also supplied with a mosquito net each, at which I marvelled, and which I at first declined, as superfluous, and too great a refinement for the situation, It, however, proved quite the reverse, and a wise precaution, for the bedroom was literally swarming with these pests, by which we were kept awake all night praying for daylight, and regretting our early retirement. In the morning I discovered James * rolled up, head and all, in his blankets, nearly underneath my bunk, for he had tossed and rolled about to such an extent under the night's infliction, that he had at last got clean away from his mattrasses. He asserts that the mosquitoes were such cannibals, that they actually got at him through the blankets. One thing is certain, their unblushing effrontery is unpardonable, they have no idea of decorum, and have a particular relish for the eye and car. Respectable Australian mosquitoes only take advantage of people in their sleep, and retire at the first glimpse of daylight to the nearest wall to roost, but this Maori race of mosquitoes have an insatiable appetite, and continue their depredations through out the day as well. They are certainly without exception the most inhospitable rascals to be met with in the bush, which leads one to marvel greatly at the wisdom of their creation, or whether a place was allotted to them in the Great Eastern of the ancients, the Noah's Ark of old. It also becomes a matter of serious consideration whether it is a sin to bless their "stars," beleaguer their "eyes," send them all to perdition, and murder them wholesale. Be that as it may, they are responsible for many unworthy exclamations and declamations, and teach anything but a lesson of patience and resignation to the weary traveller. They formed a topic of conversation at breakfast time, and received many a colonial page 13 blessing. Jack Frost is the only fellow who can master them. They are really a spiteful, bloodthirsty lot, and totally unfit for civilized society.
Immediately after breakfast we got into marching order, Henry Mueller, one of the packers, handicapped by a 60lb. swag, taking the lead, with a miner bringing up the rear; for you have to travel in "Indian trail" fashion through the bush. About 200 yards from the road, the ascent begins, termed a "gentle rising" by experts, who are simply taking a "gentle rise" out of you and your credulity; for before you get over the first mile, you discover that you have been on the tramp for nearly an hour, that you have divested yourself of all superfluous clothing, unbuttoned every unnecessary button, and even crammed your hat into your coat pocket, and also find yourself intuitively wishing you were a noble savage whilst on such a journey, so that you might dispose of the encumbrance of clothing altogether, and enjoy the freedom which such a condition would produce. I soon learnt that mountain travelling for fat men meant total annihilation of the species,—at least, such was my conviction on this momentous question, but which from puffing and blowling I was then unable to express; but this much is certain in my experience, that I dissolved rapidly under the interesting operation; and I am fully satisfied that if Kenealy's pet rogue, the "impostor claimant," could possibly try the experiment, it would have a more astonishing effect upon him than all the rigid discipline of Dartmoor prison.
Our considerate leader made many halts, and as I had entertained a keen perception, prior to leaving, of the incidents of the journey, and had induced Harry (without much persuasion) to introduce two or three "gilt battle axes" into his swag, be it known, that when we halted for rest, we also performed a suitable "refresher" from the battle axes aforesaid (as the lawyers put it) properly diluted, much to the satisfac- page 14 tion of all concerned. By dint of great perseverance and straining of the muscles, we arrived, at about eleven o'clock, at "Uncle's Hill," a nearly perpendicular ascent of between eight hundred and a thousand feet. "Uncle's Hill" derives its name from the time that Mr. Charles Manton, a gentleman 73 years of age, and uncle to the manager of the Rangitoto silver mine, was on his way thither in the early part of 1876. Arriving at the foot of this hill with his attendants, about three o'clock in the day, the contemplation of the ascent fairly compelled him to camp at the foot of the hill for the night, and make it the first task of the next day's journey, which was accordingly done, and successfully accomplished by the hardy old gentleman—henceout of compliment the hill was named. The miners had previously christened it the "Buster." I must confess that the latter appellation is the most appropriate, so far as my experience of it is concerned, for it nearly proved a "buster" to me. When we reached the top, the miner who brought up the rear accosted me thus, "My word, Sir, you do look hot!" I could only nod an acquiescence; but when I got my breath again, I told him I really felt so, and that I had no ambition to interview any more of the "Buster" family: he, in the meantime, had thrown down his "horse collar" swag, declaring, as he sat on it, that he never would believe that Providence had ever intended that man should be a beast of burden, and for his part he wished he was a gentleman, for he could well afford to do without work. Harry by this time was again ready with a refreshing draught for each of us, which soon disappeared, and settled all doubts as to our fainting condition, or inability to proceed. At about 1 o'clock we reached Manuka Flat, which is considered half way to the mine, and here we again halted. A good tent has always been kept at this place, ready pitched, so that it might afford shelter in case of any traveller being taken ill, or unable to proceed further on his journey. page 15 The wisdom of this kindly precaution has been proved on more than one occasion since its erection.
Although the Manuka bed inside looked very inviting, still there were none of our party who could be deemed to be knocked up, unless it might be your humble servant to a certain extent, and who could have indulged in an hour's rest there, if it had been practicable in the day's journey. This plateau is only about six acres in extent, and is the only piece of level country met with. From this point is obtained the first view of the highest peak of Mount Rangitoto, which still looks uninvitingly high, and lies above a series of "gentle rises," not over pleasant to contem-plate, when fatigue is beginning to make itself perceptible.
Our journey thus far had been through dense forests of giant pine, rata, totara, birch and other innumerable varieties. The wild fuchsia and sweet-smelling manuka also grew in great luxuriance, and many varieties of beautiful-leaved shrubs, fit to adorn the most cultivated parterre, are met with in every direction, not forgetting the elegant and stately fern trees which grace every woodland scene in Westland, and are always the admiration of all beholders. The manuka tree is the digger's favourite, a few leaves of which are often used to impart an aroma to the tea; but the manuka is always used as the digger's bed, because it forms an excellent substitute for a spring mattrass, and is a most pleasant nosegay at all times. There are also many other varieties of mountain shrubs, home of which possess remarkable curative properties; one species in particular, with a silver white leaf on one side, and dark green on the other, is said to be greatly used by the Maoris in the healing of hounds, one side of the leaf possessing the peculiar property of drawing out virulent matter, whilst the other side completes the cure. A botanist, or a true lover of nature, would be enraptured with all page 16 he sees, for everything the eye rests upon produces delight, from the tiniest fern to the tallest pine, all have alike a language of their own.
Our course now lay across the open mountain brow, where the life-giving breath of heaven, wafted across the trackless hills and mountains of its vast domain, invited nature to refresh her weariness, and drink deeply of the invigorating draught. But now what shall I say of the grand and imposing panorama presented, stretching out beneath from north to south, uninterruptedly, a distance of fully 80 miles? for by this time we have ascended to the top of the first open mountain "rise." Every sense is alive to the beauty of the scene. Looking inland from the sea along the chain of mountains, one first beholds "Mount Cook," the ever hoary-headed giant of the south, rearing aloft its snow-clad heights, 13,000 feet above the level of the sea, the monarch of all, the greatest land mark in New Zealand, and alongside of which all others seem insignificant, but none the less grand in the glorious picture presented!
To the south and immediately at the base of the point of observation, one sees the valley of the Waitaha, Duffer's lake in its solitude lying still and motionless, enclosed by high mountains. The rivers "Wangauni" and "Wataroa," "Bold Head" and "Wanganni Bluff," the scene of many of Ocean's mighty furies and the terror of the traveller at times, when trying to get round its perpendicular and iron bound cliffs, and as far as the eye can reach one beholds headland after headland laved by the mighty Pacific Ocean, the white fringe of its ever restless surf looking in the sunshine like a silver thread upon the storm-beaten shore.
To the north a similar but less imposing scene presents itself. The peaceful valley of the Mikouni at the base. The river Totara, Lake Mahinapua in the distance with a glimpse of the Hokitika river, and some page 17 portion of the town, the long stretch of sea shore for many miles, a few habitations here, and there, and at length closed in by "Point Elizabeth" stretching out into the sea, a few miles north of Greymouth, completes the view.
It is impossible for me adequately to describe such a glorious panorama, for the point of observation being within a few miles of midway in Westland, one obtains a view of nearly the whole of the Province. It requires the descriptive powers of a Chevalier, or a Von Guerard, to do justice to it; and if either of these celebrated artists could behold it under such favourable circumstances, a cloudless sky, the sunshine dancing in the foliage, on the glittering bosom of the restless and azure deep, over the rippling river falls, on the still waters of the silent lake, and marking in bold lights and shades the prominent and time-worn features of every mountain in the great Southern Alps, could not fail to enrapture and create at once a response to the demands upon his talents, by repeating the scene in miniature, with all its beautiful details. Another couple of hours' tramp brought us at length to the top of Rangitoto, overlooking the mine. A glad and welcome sight indeed to see the smoke curling up in the evening sun from the many chimneys of the embryo township below. A loud "cooey" from one of our party announced our approach, and immediately brought forth a similar response of recognition from the camp, which appears to lie almost at one's very feet, and as though a person could throw a stone from the top of the mountain into its midst without any difficulty. The descent is now commenced in earnest, at a very deep grade, so steep, indeed, that it is necessary to take firm hold of shrubs and boughs of trees in order to ensure safety. The whole body is, in consequence, brought into violent agitation, which is more trying, in point of fact, than climbing the steepest hills. At page 18 length, just as evening was closing in, and night proclaiming its approach in sombre shadows around, we reached the welcome camp, having been nearly an hour in performing the task of descending 2,000 feet! A warm and hearty greeting from Mr. Manton, the manager of the mine, soon assured us that in the lonely mountains we had found the comforts of a home, for we were soon ushered into his new quarters, which consists of a well-built cottage with iron roof, containing two rooms nicely lined and papered throughout, and otherwise most creditably furnished. The blazing logs in the large fire-place, not being the least of the attractions either, for the atmosphere by this time was cold, and therefore the cheerful fire was doubly inviting, and soothing to the weary limbs. It is almost superfluous to state that good appetites waited on good digestion that night, at least the skeleton of a fine roast leg of mutton would have convinced the most sceptical on that point, as the table was being cleared after supper. As a matter of course, the universal pipe of peace was smoked by those who indulge in the soothing weed, and who swear they can't live without "bacca." The night soon wore apace, friendly topics were discussed, and a most agreeable evening spent; but before retiring to rest we went into the cold night air, to behold a scene of unparalleled beauty, for by this time the moon had risen high in the heavens, but had only just lilted above the high peak of Rangitoto, and shed her bright beams, like silver rays, along the highest pinnacles of the snow-capped bills, in clear and uninterrupted outline, and across the vast solitudes of the primeval forests, lighting up with diffusive light the white beaches of the distant river banks, whilst leaving in deep gloom and shade the valleys far below.
Once more to the cozy fireside, and then to bed.
Early the following morning, after a refreshing night's rest, I took a flying survey. 'The Rangitoto camp page 19 consists of the manager's house, several diggers' huts, carpenter's shop, blacksmith's shop, and a very good assay house; altogether forming a picturesque village, for the buildings are erected one above another on the sloping face of the mountain, part of which had, in each instance, to be cut away, in order to make a level spot on which to erect the building. Breakfast having been disposed of, we started to inspect the workings of the mine. This was accomplished by descending a rough staircase hewn out of the rock, on the face of the cliff below the camp, some 500 feet at least, and which, for a considerable period in the early history of the discovery, was accomplished by the miners with the aid of a rope, securely fastened to a tree above. This dangerous method of going to work was, however, soon abandoned hence the adoption of what is now called "Manton's" staircase. After struggling over rough boulders and other debris the first tunnel is reached, which is duly entered and examined; the same with the second tunnel, which is at a greater elevation. These tunnels are six feet high by four feet six inches wide, clear of timber; and the best description I can furnish is from the manager himself. No. 1, "Main Drive," is 90 feet in length, the ore dipping at the end of same at an angle of 80 degrees northerly, good ore, about 10 inches wide. No. 2, "Bevan's Drive," is 125 feet long, good ore, 2 feet thick; but has been cut off by a cross course, and thrown down 12 feet, but again found by sinking shaft. No. 3, "Stoping Drive." The lode here much broken and mixed with quartz. No. 4, "Church's Drive," 13 feet below level of Bevan's drive; this is an excellent ore, lode very solid and compact, about 3 feet thick; ore rising as it extends to the eastward at an angle of 30 degrees. No. 5, "Air Drive." No. 6, Continuation of "Church's Drive" under "Pollock gully;" ore very good, solid and compact, 2 feet thick, lode rising at an angle of page 20 35 degrees easterly. No. 7, a continuation of No. 6, ore dipping 20 degrees northerly. No. 8, "T. Drive," to prove lode in a westerly direction; ore very good, lode perfectly solid, dipping at an angle of 45 degrees, north-easterly.
In these upper workings there are about 800 feet of tunnelling in various directions, all very substantial work. The ore is discernible in every direction, and is ready for stoping.
The place where the discovery was first made is next pointed out. This is in the gully alongside that cliff in which the lode is first seen, and can be traced right across to the opposite side, the lode widening as it extends, until it disappears under the rock at a thickness of about three feet. A large waterfall runs over it, and, in consequence, the ore is always bright and beautiful to look at. Here a person is naturally struck with surprise, how the adventurous spirits could make such a discovery in these vast and uninviting solitudes, miles away from any habitation, or trace of civilization; hemmed in on all sides by overhanging rocks and frowning precipices, with the deafening roar of the water falling from its various sources thousands of feet above, bounding down thdir rocky incline, in grand and beautiful cascades, having displaced rocks in their descent which more than a thousand-giant strength could never restore, and hitherto unknown, save to the ravaging hand of time!
"Ye wilds, where heaves-rapt fancy roves;
Ye sky-crowned hills and solemn groves;
Ye low-browed vaults, ye gloomy cells;
Ye caves, where mystic silence dwells!"
* * * * *
The lower main tunnel, 100 feet below the upper workings, is next visited. This tunnel is 300 feet long, and is intended to drain all the upper workings, and also intercept the various lodes, which are calculated to be reached in about 500 or 600 feet. It will be, page 21 when completed, the main working tunnel of the mine, from which all important operations will be conducted. Another large waterfall passes within 50 yards of these workings, on the south-west side. Both these splendid water supplies will in good time be utilized in the development of the mine, and will effect an enormous saving in driving machinery.
A visit to the "Assay house" was our next care, in order to get specimens of ore assayed which we had knocked out for the purpose. The Assay house is well furnished, and is a complete little laboratory. It contains a French melting furnace and also a cupel furnace, both of excellent quality; brought to their destination by the packers under most extraordinary difficulties, as some pieces weighed fully 150lbs., and were more fit for a horse load than for that of a human being. The laboratory is also supplied with a first-class assay balance, which turns to one-thousandth part of a grain; and in fact, with very requisite, chemical and otherwise, for conducting necessary assays. Under the skilful manipulation of the manager, several beautiful buttons of silver were produced, all of which were satisfactory results on the ore operated upon, and yielded from 200 ozs. to 600 ozs. of silver to the ton.
The heat of the furnaces by this time reminded us that a large amount of animal evaporation had taken place under the exciting influences of the various assays, and that an adjournment to cooler quarters was a moral necessity, and might prove more conducive to our prolonged endurance, if we so desired it. We accordingly retired to the "Manton chateau," and discussed a very excellent curry of mountain duck, served a la Rangitoto, that is to say, sans ceremonie, or any pretensions of enfeebled appetite. We also indulged in Guinness's stout, which gratified us in a far greater degree than the knowledge that the eminent brewer of this restorative was a millionaire; but possibly even now it might not be uninteresting to page 22 him to know, that in the silver regions of Rangitoto, on the mountain brow, and in the most secluded valleys, a large army of his "dead marines" proclaim the excellence of his invigorator on the digger system; but it must be also borne in mind that his great coadjutor, Hennessy, likewise holds a place amongst the great civilizers in the march of progress of the nineteenth century, and that both, to a certain extent, form the index to a natural, and a wee bit "spiritual" world, which is not, after all, demoralized by them, unless it be by prejudice and hypocrisy or the want of self restraint!
The remainder of the day was spent in viewing the grand waterfalls, and climbing about the mountain in the neighbourhood of the mine, a most interesting, although tiresome, amusement, especially after the fatigues of the previous day. In every direction outcrops and reefs are met with; but they are mostly overgrown with moss, which precludes the possibility of thorough investigation at present. A magnificent variety of fern plants abound, some of rare species; and, to a collector of these interesting botanical productions, it would afford a vast amount of delight to discover them in such luxuriance and profusion.
The following morning we bade adieu to Rangitoto, and, accompanied by the manager and two guides, pursued our return journey down the valleys of the Waitaha, which river we reached after a three hours' tramp through the bush. Our two guides (one known as Norby and the other as Old Jack) insisted that we should ride on their backs whilst crossing the river ford. I at first protested, but Old Jack was inexorable and I was feign to submit under the penalty of his profound displeasure; and thus I was carried across a swift flowing river, the bed being of rough boulders, by this gallant old man, who felt quite offended at a remark I made, that I, his junior, should carry him, instead of his performing the like office for my- page 23 self. A word for Old Jack. He is a hardy mountaineer of the William Tell type, who loves his I country, but above all, his liberty, and c m make as comfortable a night's rest in a hollow log, or in a bush "miamia," and possibly more so than many who lie on downy pillows, surrounded by luxury and wealth, and even affection, but still have aching hearts. Give him but his gun and his dog, and maybe, a little flask of "creature comfort," and Old Jack has no cares, no envies, and no ambitions. The wild bush is 'his domain, and yet withal his kindly nature is proverbial amongst those who know him. The honest old face was lit up with satisfaction when, with a hearty grip, I bade him good-bye, and left in the palm of that honest hand a portrait of Her Gracious Majesty for his acceptance, and in recognition of the generous impulses of his nature.
We are now fairly on the government new road, and shortly afterwards reached the contractors' camp, where we were most hospitably received and entertained. The remainder of our journey was performed along the new-made road or track, for at present it is only metalled a width of four feet six inches, and is intended as the nucleus of a dray road in time to come, and when the mine is in full operation. The survey line for the road has been well chosen, and reflects great credit on the survey staff employed, and when completed will be amongst the best in the Province. Another three miles of road will about complete the connection with the mine, and contracts are now let for two miles of the construction, the company undertaking the balance. It may fairly be estimated that in the month of September uninterrupted communication will be established. The deviation from the main Bower and Okarito road to the mine will be about nine miles in length, and altogether about 35 miles from the port of Hokitika.
Having once more crossed the river Waitaha (this page 24 time on horseback) we soon reached the sawyers at the foot of the mountain track, and finally reached Host, at about 8 p.m.
The following morning we took coach, and reached Hokitika at noon, after having enjoyed a splendid holiday, under the most favourable circumstances with the most glorious weather.
Here endeth the chapter.
Guardian Steam Printing Works Warrington.
* James Bevan, brother of the Author, and one of the three discoverers of the Silver Mines.—W. M.