The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
The train ride from the Lower Hutt onward is exceedingly pretty all the way, and the minor stations of Belmont, Haywards, Silverstream, and Wallaceville are passed. The traffic at these minor stations is but small. The stations are mere sheds, and the trains stop only when required to pick up or set down passengers.
Beyond Belmont very few of the residents make daily visitations to the City. The population is very small, being made up of farmers and platelayers. After passing Haywards, the train crosses the river, and keeps its course on the opposite margin of the valley. The scenery is very pretty, and as cultivation progresses, this part, including the Lower Hutt and Taita, will be by far the most English-looking of the country immediately around Wellington. The signs of civilization are, however, almost lost soon after passing the Upper Hutt; and the traveller unaccustomed to colonial conditions might easily fall into the error of supposing that as the distance from Wellington increases, the conditions of the surrounding country become wilder, reaching the climax only when the influence of some other coastal town is not more remote. It is but fair to say that any such imperfect theory receives a severe shock as Featherston is reached, and still more so as Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton come into view.
The Upper Hutt is distant from Wellington about twenty miles. The Lower Hutt is almost at sea-level, but the steadily-increasing grade from this point onward accomplishes an altitude of a little over 200 feet at the Upper Hutt. The effect of this is particularly noticeable on the return journey, for the train makes really excellent speed on this section. The station and railway sheds and appurtenances are fairly important, though the passenger traffic is not very large. In the minds of passengers, the Kaitoke station, seven miles further on, is more permanently fixed, for it is here that the wants of the “inner man” are hurriedly satisfied. With anything like a full train, the rush and bustle at Kaitoke is a sight to be remembered. All must be accomplished in the short space of eight minutes, and though the refreshment rooms are large and well provided with attendants, only the fortunate or “travelled” can be sure of entire satisfaction. The refreshment rooms are, however, a great convenience, and recent changes in the management are fully appreciated.
The Upper Hutt and neighbouring townships are well supplied with hotels, though the distance from Wellington is not sufficient to ensure a great deal of business from travellers. Nor is this part of the province particularly attractive to holiday-makers, though there seems to be hardly sufficient reason for this. The valley is beautiful, and is improving every year. The roads are good, and there are hills to climb of varying height. Whiteman Valley, within half-an-hour's walk by track, or twice the distance by road, is also pretty. Probably the Upper Hutt suffers considerably from the superior attractiveness of the Lower Hutt and Belmont on the one side, and the famous Rimutaka incline on the other. This discrepancy, however, will not be everlasting. A glance at the picture on page 322 of this volume will show that very fine views of the Hutt river are to be had in these parts. The native bush, unfortunately, is disappearing, but the cultivation of acclimatized evergreens is becoming more general. As the hills become bare the valleys are being clothed, the grass paddocks and clumps of pines and fir trees making a pleasing combination.
Mails for Upper Hutt close daily at Wellington at 6.45 a.m. and 2.50 p.m.; and for Wellington close daily at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The education of the rising generation is well looked after in this scattered district, as a reference to the following pages will show.
Settlement is by no means rapid in this district. There are, however, quite a number of farms of various sizes; and the natural increase alone must soon be felt. Both sheep and cattle have a healthy, well-cared-for appearance, and there is good reason to believe that steady progress is being made by the settlers.
The business establishments of the Upper Hutt are neither extensive nor numerous, but they are evidently quite equal to the demands of the district. The principal store, conducted by Mr. Edward Wilkie, would be a creditable concern in many a larger place; but it will probably be many years before there will be a satisfactory opening for a competitor.
At Mungaroa, three miles beyond the Upper Hutt, the railway attains an altitude of 450 feet, which is increased in the following four miles to 836 at Kaitoke, this part being the steepest climb going north. The Summit is 308 feet higher, but it is eight miles further on. After leaving the Summit the descent is very rapid.