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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

15 October 1871

15 October 1871

I came out with the gallant Colonel Whitmore who crushed out the last Native War, and have thus heard a good deal about it, and continue to do so, as we have taken up our abode in the same house here for the time being. We got away from Taranaki at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon Oct 15 and sailed for Nelson, which we sighted at 5 in the morning, discovering the high snow ranges about the clouds. I can compare the scene here only to the view from Berne, looking over the Bernese Oberland. This range is not so extensive but the view is rendered more beautiful by the addition of the bay and water. It is simply charming, and altho’ it bel blew a gale outside, we soon got to the little Town which was as peaceful, and calm,, and beautiful as one could wish. It was Sunday when we arrived, and we only left the Mails, departing again in about an hour or two. The Harbour of Nelson is a most singular one; - as within the large bay which I believe is about 35 to 40 miles long, a large pebble bank has formed, which protects the Shipping lying at Nelson, and vessels having to enter are carried through a very narrow channel of not much more than 120 feet wide with a tide rushing thro’ at the rate of some 7 or 8 miles an hour; - nevertheless no accidents occur. The town is neat and clean, and the gardens page 23 beautiful; - perhaps after so long a voyage one might exaggerate this idea. When the rains occur the water shed being so precipitous, the rivers are rapidly swollen, and the bridges have been repeatedly carried away. Diment’s Brother (Porthcawl) came to see me at the boat. It seemed curious to be recognised so far away from home. We sailed about 9 o’clock in the morning, going thro’ the French Pass, or as you may see between D’Urville Island and the Main Land. The little Strait is narrow, but beautiful, and was discovered by accident by a French vessel drifting into it, and being carried along by the sweeping tide at the rate of 12 miles an hour! The rapids occur at the further part from Nelson. After this we run thro a sort of Lake Scenery, passing up to Picton by the Island on which Captain Cook lived, - his garden is visible as we pass, being a place cleared in the midst of the forest. The hills are covered with verdure to the water’s edge, the large tree ferns visible among the foliage. On arrival at Picton, I found Mr Henderson and Mr Dees, who were engaged surveying the proposed line of Railway from this town to Blenheim which is the supposed to be the first to commence with. I am told it will never pay and is only a sop to the Province. We left at night Henderson coming with us, and again had to thread our way thro’ narrow channels, the whole course out into Cook’s Straits being tortuous and lying between abrupt hills. It looked nervous work indeed, - for with difficultly could we see anything, and it was blowing a terrific gale. I watched our exit with some anxiety until clear of the land, and then we got into one of the worst gales they have had in this neighbourhood.