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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)

In the Snow River Country

In the Snow River Country.

There are far worse rivers, however—the icy torrents of South Westland. The Waiau, which rises in the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier, was a nightmare to far-south travellers. It has been bridged during the last two or three years—a blessing to all whose occasions take them south of the Waiau. Getting wet in one of our northern rivers is a trifle, but it is a serious business in one of those snow rivers if you have a long ride to follow, and have not time to thaw out and dry your clothes immediately on getting out of the chilling bath. But the worst risk is that of getting rolled over and over in the torrent should your horse lose his footing—one of those rock-bedded glacial watercourses where you never can see the nature of the bottom because of the discoloured water.

Queer bridge some of us have crossed—sometimes literally straddled—in the back country. Often just a tree felled across a stream and its branches roughly lopped off. I remember in particular one which it was a ticklish trial to tackle; slippery smooth above a deep, dark creek; but a Maori woman with a big kit of potatoes strapped on her back took it with so little concern that she paused when half-way over the log to light her pipe. The lady, however, was barefooted, which accounted for her confidence.