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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 1 (April 1, 1939)

Highways and Byways … Some West Coast Scenes

page 39

Highways and Byways … Some West Coast Scenes

A seene on the Coast Road, Westland.

A seene on the Coast Road, Westland.

The West Coast of the South Island is famed for the natural beauty of its scenery. Few people realise, however, that there are in reality two types of “coast”—South Westland and its much frequented glaciers, having a much wetter climate than the more northern area of Buller. It is obvious, too, that the attractions of the glaciers—the Franz Josef and the Fox, have made that part of the country much better known, so that many people think that they have seen the Coast when they have in reality seen only part of it.

The Coast road from Greymouth to Westport is one of the most beautiful motor drives that could be undertaken. Here the bush grows profusely and tree ferns are common all along the route. In fact, one sees here a cross-section of most of the types of bush that are to be encountered throughout the whole of New Zealand.

The road is traversed for only a short distance when the traveller comes upon clusters of nikau palms growing practically on the verge of the beach. Intensely brilliant multi-coloured sunsets are frequent here and to see these palm trees silhouetted against a late afternoon sky needs no imagination to transport the onlooker into a tropical setting.

The road winds up hill, through dense bush, into a clearing with the blue-green sea visible beyond, variation all the time—a road without monotony and full of unexpected surprises. It has been remarked that the New Zealand bush is not very colourful, but unless one's colour perception is faulty this criticism could not be levelled at this piece of country. The colour of the trees varies to almost every imaginable shade of green and the whole effect is splashed here and there with a brilliant red of the native mistletoe, or earlier in the year it may be the white of the clematis.

We, in New Zealand, are becoming more colour conscious with the popularity of the travelogue on the screen, produced in technicolour, and we notice particularly the colours of the rocks and other features of the country's formation. Now that we are developing the eyes to see we realise with delighted surprise that wonderfully delicate colours lurk in many of the New Zealand rocks. Along this road especially, some of the mountain vistas, with their many-coloured outcrops, varying from yellows to dark browns, and even purples, would afford an excellent location for a colour film production. Recently a colour photo which I took in this district revealed to me the colours which I had simply overlooked in examining the scene as a whole. In the foreground was the bright yellow-brown of the clay bank beside the road, the purple-brown of the near bush, giving place to darker green in a shaded patch, and extending in the distance from a brighter green right through to a hazy blue. Beyond this rose distant mountain peaks touched with snow on the tips and behind them a crystal clear blue sky with flecks of white cloud. The modern colour photo has an amazing ability for picking up distance and at times traverses sixty miles in the one shot.

Every now and then we come upon outcrops of coal right at the side of the road and the approach to one coal mine that is passed en route has been made of coal instead of shingle. It is a fact that, in several places on the coast, where good road metal is scarce, coal has been used to build up the road! It seems surprising to those of us who have to pay the coalman at the back door when he delivers our weekly bag of coal, but it is more economical to use coal from an outcrop nearby than to cart shingle over a distance.

About half-way between Greymouth and Westport a notice directs the traveller to the Punakaiki blowholes

continued on page 40.)

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