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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 2 (May 1, 1934.)

Okarito, Old and New

Okarito, Old and New.

It is peculiarly interesting to hear that some of the olden importance of Okarito, that lost-and-decayed golddigging town far down the West Coast of the South Island, is about to be restored by the development of the harbour there, by private enterprise. This is under the authority given by a special Act passed by Parliament a year ago. It will be an excellent thing for all that rich South Westland region should the long silted-up bar entrance to the lagoon at Okarito be made a navigable channel again. Nearly seventy years ago, when there were ten thousand diggers working the golden sands thereabouts, Okarito was regularly visited by coasting schooners and now and again a small steamer. It had a harbourmaster; that official, indeed, was an Okarito institution even up to 1903, when first I disembarked on the moss-covered relic of the digging town—one solitary publichouse left out of thirty-five—from the box-seat of Jock Adamson's stage coach.

Okarito, in the mid-Sixties had a bank, where gold was bought in immense quantities; it even had a weekly newspaper. Now some of its ancient prosperity is likely to be revived, though not in so hectic a fashion as in the roaring days of 1865. There are vast quantities of timber down that coast, there are dairy produce and flax; and there is gold still won steadily by the sand-dredges. All that is wanted is to reopen that cut between lagoon and ocean, and keep it open.