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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Roads and Communications

Roads and Communications.

In the matter of internal communications, Hawke's Bay is reasonably well provided. The chief means of transit and transport is, of course, the Napier-Wellington railway, which runs for about one hundred miles within the limits of the district. The country between Napier and Woodville, where the line crosses the border, is the most thickly populated part of the district, and contains the largest proportion of arable land. Some idea of the extent to which it has been taken up and settled may be derived from the fact that though very large areas in this part of the country are still in the hands of the natives, there are nearly a million acres sown down in grass. The existence of a railroad in a country so well adapted for settlement has naturally done much to promote the prosperity of the district, and to spread civilisation in these once trackless wilds.

Alongside the railway there is an excellent road which was made before the rails were laid down. This main road is well served by a system of lateral branch roads, which radiate in all directions, and provide efficient means for internal transit From the main road, a branch runs westward to Kuripapanga, for forty-five miles, and thence on to Inland Patea, where the roads from Tokaanu, Hunterville, and Wanganui converge with the road from Napier. The main north road from Napier is the coach route to Taupo; it runs through the fertile Petane Valley, and thence onward into the pumice country, of which the centre of the island is chiefly composed. The road which connects Wairoa with Napier is broken by the Waikare and Matahouroa streams, and while these were unbridged the weekly mail coach to Napier was occasionally stopped by floods.

Beyond Wairoa the northern section of the district is connected with Napier by a road, which runs through Tiniroto to Gisborne, a distance of seventy-five miles. Much of the country is hilly, and there is little metal available for the roads. The consequence is that wheeled traffic is almost entirely suspended during the rainy months of winter; but a coach runs weekly for about ten months of the year. A road to Gisborne from Wairoa has been constructed so as to reach the Nuhaka Hot Springs, and this is now open for wheeled traffic.

The communication between Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty district is very much in the state that might be expected from the general condition of the North Island in this respect. A road has been surveyed from Gisborne to Opotiki, a distance of 120 miles, along the lines of the Motu track; and it has been formed as far as Motu township, sixty miles from Gisborne. The rest of the distance must still be traversed on foot of on horseback, and, as the country is heavy, and thickly wooded in places, these districts are still practically isolated on the land side from the rest of the colony.

For a long time past an agitation has been carried on in Hawke's Bay, for the construction of a railway that should connect the Gisborne and East Coast country with the Bay of Plenty, and also with Rotorua. Already a railway has been started from Gisborne, in the direction of Motu, and it has been carried past Ormond to Te Karaka; eighteen miles in all. The completion of this line would, of course, vastly improve the prospects of the district. But the East Coast-Rotorua railway is already (1906) one of the greatest public projects before the people of the North Island, and it will soon assume the importance that should rightly attach to a scheme of such great colonial utility.

North of Gisborne the country which, as already described, is mostly rugged and comparatively inaccessible, is already being opened up. The coastal road is open for traffic as far as Port Awanui. But the greater part of the passenger and goods transport, is carried on by the small steamers, which trade regularly at the numerous bays and harbours—Tolago, Tokomaru, Waipiro, Tuparoa, Awanui—which lie between Mahia and East Cape.