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Letters from New Zealand 1857-1911


page 89


Sept. 20th, 1866.

My dear St. John,

I am here on my return to New Zealand. It was no easy matter to find the men I needed, especially as more were needed than I anticipated; amongst them a Head Master for Christ's College, Christchurch, —a responsible post, for which I have secured the Rev. W. Chambers Harris, a man of much promise. Moreover, further discoveries of gold have occurred on the West Coast of Canterbury, and a great "rush" has set in thither of miners and their camp-followers. This affects my future, for I have been appointed Archdeacon of Westland and, having arranged with a clergyman in England to follow me in a short time, I have to undertake the work of organizing the Church on the Goldfields. In all, I have secured seven good men for our Diocesan work.

After nearly two years again at home, with old friends and relations, and the interesting work I had in hand, I confess it was no small wrench to leave England. You can hardly realize the force of the old Greek "nostalgia," Home sickness, till you find yourself in a country, not only divided from the old by the whole circumference of the Earth, but so new that a decade or so ago it was uninhabited by white page 90men; more than half of it a vacant wilderness; devoid of all historic associations, and even now only occupied by a handful of British settlers, quite out of touch with the old world, save for a mail which brings news about three months old.

True, there is the romance of personal adventure, and the joy of living a vigorous, healthy, simple life; add to this that it offers a share in the making of a new Colony, and, in my case, the purpose of my life's work, and that I have chosen my furrow and hope to drive it straight to its end, without looking back; and yet,—leaning on the bulwarks of the good ship Norfolk, and watching the Devonshire coast gradually sink out of sight, as scores of emigrants were doing, with much the same feelings as my own,—I felt the inwardness of Horace's lines, "Coelum non animum qui trans mare currunt"—"They change their sky but not their mind who run across the sea."

The three months' voyage was uneventful; a full ship, with plenty of work for me as the only Clergyman on board. It is curious to note, in the leisure which a voyage gives for talk and debate, how inevitably, at times, discussion becomes theological, and this amongst those with whom you might least expect it. Here is a sample: In the tropics, on a Sunday evening, the sea like glass, the sails flapping idly against the masts, as the vessel rose and sank with the slow heaving of the ocean, I was in the waist of the ship, near the forecastle, which was hidden by the drooping foresail. Some of the crew, sitting there, smoking, were talking of someone, by common consent, it seemed, regarded by them as a thorough blackguard, who had come to a bad end. "Well," said one, "there's nothing else in it as I can see; I page 91ain't so very particular myself, but that chap was such a d——d bad lot, bad all through; what can you make of 'im? In my opinion he got what he ought to get, and he'll get it 'otter by and bye." "D'ye mean, Bill, then, that there ain't no chanst for the like of 'im? Just 'Ell, and no more to be said? Why, we heard passon say just now, leastways, he seemed to mean it, that there is a chanst for all; 'twas somethin' about that cove in the Bible who owned up just as he was a-dyin', and he must have been an out and outer. That's in the Bible as well as 'Ell and damnation." Then a third voice cut in: "You believes in the Devil, don't you? Well, I don't see no use in havin' no Devil, if he don't get 'im."

I slipped away unnoticed. The same problem, which is the crux of keen controversy amongst learned Divines, put in a nutshell here on a forecastle deck.

Oct. 6. S.S. Tararua, a steamer of 2,000 tons, full of miners and others, bound to Westland; men sleeping in every possible corner; another steamer not far off, the Alhambra, as full as we are. We are lying at anchor after a passage of 1,200 miles from Melbourne, off the West Coast of the Southern Island of New Zealand, waiting for a tug steamer to take passengers ashore.

A lovely spring morning; and before us a panorama of coast-line more than a hundred miles in view, slightly incurving at either end, one unbroken mass of forest which flows down to the top of the low cliffs which flank the beach; folds upon folds of forest-clad terrace, hill, and ranges which lie up against a Southern Alps, snow clad, above 7,000 feet, even in summer. This great backbone of the Southern Island towards the south culminates in Mt. Cook, over twelve page 92thousand feet in height, which uplifts its massive crest, like a lion couchant, with the paws in the sea. Between us and the beach several lines of heavy surf, through winch the narrow bar entrance to a river is just visible, and on the shore a clearing in the forest, with wooden buildings, tents, and corrugated iron structures, which form the metropolis of the new El Dorado, named in Maori "Hokitika." "So this is the place you are going to," said a fellow passenger to me, as we stood admiring the view, "are you going to land?" "No," said I, "I must go on in this boat to Christ-church to report myself, and then return by coach across those mountains, by a road which I hear has just been opened." "Well," said he, "I am going ashore for a few hours on business, and will report on my return what I have seen." Presently he returned. "I'll give you a year or two there at the most; such a place, and such a crowd! One long, narrow irregular street, over a mile in length, of wooden houses, built right on the sandy beach, just clear of huge trees, some fallen; its suburbs a wilderness of gigantic stumps; crowds of men, rough and rowdy; their talk of gold; deep and shallow sinking; new rushes; water races and sluicing. Eighty socalled Hotels in one street; strings of pack-horses heavily laden; no vehicles, for there are only narrow paths through the forest; a few coaches which run up and down the beach. Forty thousand, they say, are at work within a few miles of the town, getting gold by handfuls; everyone evidently flush of money, and yet I didn't see the sign of any sort of weapon or revolver, and only a few well set-up mounted police. Talk was running on the capture and trial of a gang of Australian bushrangers, who have been lurking in page break
River. Waimakariri.

River. Waimakariri.

page 93the forest some way north of Hokitika, and are said to have murdered foully some thirty diggers for the sake of their gold. Yes, a beautiful place to look at from this deck, but …. I give you two years there at the most."

"Many more," I said, "if I am to do the work there as I intend; I haven't come all the way from England for merely two years; it's true, I believe, that the word 'Hokitika' means, 'When you get there, turn back again,' as the Maoris regard it as the end of the earth, and hold that the souls of the dying flit from this shore; but I am going to make a home there for some time." "I don't envy you," he said, as our vessel weighed anchor, going northward to Wellington, and I watched Mt. Cook's icy peak till it was only a tiny splinter on the horizon.

Oct. 15. Hokitika. Two days' coaching brought me here, after a journey and road which deserve a better pen than mine to describe its magnificent variety and beauty. Five a.m., so as to start at six, with twelve hours of it for two days, is the order of the day. The coach,—dismiss all visions of the "Vivid" or the "Rocket," surviving still in Scotland and Wales, and imagine an American "notion," invented by one Cobb, immortalized throughout Australia and New Zealand by "Cobb's Coach";—clumsy in appearance, but capable of negotiating the roughest road and fording the worst rivers. On a strongly built bed and wheels, a sort of roofed van, open at the sides, is suspended fore and aft on thick leather bands, which allow it to swing freely in every direction; a very powerful brake, worked on both sides of the box by hand and foot, enables the driver to put on such pressure that he can hold his coach standing page 94even down a steep hill; four well-bred horses, with a minimum of harness, the driver sitting almost level with his team, wielding a whip, short in the handle and long in the lash, thicker hi its centre than an ordinary English lash, and terminating in a flat thong, which descends with great effect and precision. Each day we do about a hundred miles, with stables and change of horses every twenty miles, a short halt allowed for breakfast and luncheon. The first forty miles on the plains which gradually rise to the hill country would be monotonous, were it not for the splendid snow-clad ranges which seem to change their shape and increase in height hourly as you approach them. Fortunately the weather was brilliant; in bad weather the "outsides" need the best waterproofs yet invented. Winding in and out the lower hills, we come to Porter's Pass, a two mile ascent, of very steep gradient, a mere shelf cut in the side of a great spur, which takes you over three thousand feet. This means walking for all, as a rule. Then for the rest of the day, inside the first great dividing range of the alps, the road runs through country covered with tussock grass, and only wooded here and there, but across it innumerable streams, and some rivers full of boulders, and at times in strong flood. Bridges nowhere; but the horses here are amphibious animals, quite at home in rough water. With a few exceptions of flat ground, everywhere the road may be said to be dangerous, though well made, and fairly smooth underfoot: narrow ledges cut in solid rock, with overhanging cliffs and deep precipices below; deep ravines where it is not possible to avoid very steep gradients; sharp corners on a cliff side, round which you almost lose sight of the leaders; no room for a page 95mistake, or any hesitation on the driver's part; and yet, after a few hours of it, one loses all sense of danger. During this part of the journey the district is subalpine, but with scarcely any characteristic flora, a vast stretch of good sheep country, rising as high in places as seven thousand feet, well watered, but liable to heavy winter snowfall. Its inhabitants are few and very far between. At night we find comfortable hospitality at the half-way house, ready for another morning's start. The second day brings you to the true Alpine region. Starting at six, a halt is called at nine for breakfast on the banks of a formidable river, the Waimakariri, one of the South Island glacier-fed torrents, which wanders, in dry seasons, over a river bed more than a mile in width, and in flood time becomes one broad impassable stream. We find it fairly low, but that means half-a-dozen streams, deep enough to cover the wheels, rushing at great pace over such a rough bottom that, as the coach pitched and rolled like a boat at sea, one wondered it could hold together. A capsize would be no joke, for the water is icy cold, and rushing so fast that a swimmer would have but a poor chance. The river crossed, a lovely but very dangerous, long, gradual ascent of the Otira Pass lay before us. Everywhere the mountain sides clothed with mountain birch; every variety of rich fern growth and moss, nourished by the never-ceasing waterfalls which pour down from the heights above, where snow is always lying. As you near the top of the pass, which is nearly four thousand feet, the road is amongst huge masses of rock, fallen from above, and continues for nearly eight miles, up and down, until it reaches the western descent; but sterile and bleak and savage enough to be the haunt page 96of Kuhleborn himself, with his attendant gnomes and sprites, for it is flanked by magnificent precipices of bare rock, two thousand feet above you, which are scored with channels, down which the water god comes in grand cascades; yet the whole place is relieved by a growth of Alpine flora; daisy, ranunculus, the Mount Cook Lily with its plate-like leaves, and a great variety of veronica. The pass is said to be the ancient moraine of a great glacier.

Looking down westward, you stand on the edge of the old moraine dyke which cut across the deep ravine below and blocked up its eastern end; with a precipitous face, once bare rock, now thick with forest growth; in the ravine you can trace at intervals a rushing glacier stream, losing itself in a continuous mass of trees. To make a road down this and onward was a bold undertaking, but successful. For eighteen hundred feet it zig-zags down with such sharp turns that at several corners the leaders' feet are within a yard of the edge; they curve and round about like circus horses; the road has a surface of soft broken metal, good holding ground; the driver knows his work, the breaks grind and squeak; "Hold her now your side," says the driver to me, as I put my whole weight on it. "Now easy; hold her again" and so we get down safely, and at a good pace, which is necessary to keep the coach from swerving; and after two miles of cavernous, rugged rock-cutting, just above the roaring blue glacier torrent, every now and then besprinkled with the spray of waterfalls, we pull up at a little shanty for a welcome lunch. Down steps an elderly gentleman from the seat behind me, shakes himself, and says, "Well, sir, I'm thankful we're here; nothing shall ever induce me to come page break
Arthur's Pass, Otira.

Arthur's Pass, Otira.

page 97down that pass again; I shall return to Australia by sea."

The next fifty miles to Hokitika took us through the great primæval forest which clothes the western flanks of the Alps from one end of the Island to the other: pines, birch, hard wood trees, tree-ferns, which often reach a height of thirty feet, underwood so thick that without cutting tracks it is impossible to move; a good road only completed a few months ago, intersected by countless streams and rivers. We made good time in this part of the journey, in brilliant weather, whilst I thought of the very different experience which the Bishop met with, and my brother George, on a first expedition to Hokitika, a short time ago before the road was complete, in order to arrange matters for my arrival, and get a general idea of this new part of his Diocese. Riding, with a spare pack-horse to carry tent and blankets and food, they took a whole week to accomplish the journey. The track was in places little better than a quagmire, falling timber and snags barring the way every mile; crowds of travelling miners, engaged by the Surveyors at high wages to push the road through as soon as possible. One of my fellow travellers told me a characteristic story of the Bishop. He got to the banks of the Taipo river, a glacial torrent, a tributary of the Teremakau, in a state of angry flood, worthy of its Maori name—"The Evil One. There he found some forty miners camped for the night, unable to ford the river on foot. The Bishop and his son camped with them, and finding them short of tea and sugar, contributed their share to the common stock for supper. Next morning, with their three horses, they convoyed the miners across the stream, taking six at a time holding on to their page 98 stirrups, waist deep in water, carrying their gear for them on the pack-horse. Unable to start again until they had dried their clothes, they again camped together for the night. Round a big camp fire, in the general talk some oaths were rapped out, till a big fellow, a sort of leader amongst them, got up, and said: "Look here, mates, this old gentleman and his son have done us a good turn; I make a proposition. Here's a tin; every fellow who lets out a bad word shall pay half-a-crown into it, and we'll give it to the first hard-up chap we meet. That's agreed, is it, so long as this gentleman is with us?" "Aye, aye!" "Well, then, I'll take charge of the tin, and I'm d——d if I don't make you pay up." Shouts of laughter as he had to drop his half-crown into the tin. I don't fancy they recognized the Bishop even as a parson, for he was bespattered with mud from head to foot, as his horse "Dick" had rolled over with him in a swamp, his hat crushed out of shape, reduced to the colour of clay.

As a result of his work, I found an energetic committee established; a small, four-roomed cottage nearly ready for me; a large rough wooden church, just completed, both standing in amongst huge stumps of pine trees lately fallen, a most picturesque scene, with tents and miners' huts wherever there was a little clear space; all encircled by a background of magnificent forest. Going to an hotel—it was Saturday evening—for the night, I came across a man I had known in Canterbury, a typical specimen, younger son of a good family, impecunious, but enterprising and never at a loss, ready for any job to pay his way. "You here!" said he, "Well, you have your work cut out; such a crowd!" "And you?" "Oh, I page 99am doing well, boots and bottle-washer, lamp trimmer in this hotel; a pound a day, board and lodging. Yes, coming to church to-morrow, shall bring all I can.; you won't get any private sitting-room here, but the grub's good."

Sunday came. There was no bell, but the Town Crier had been engaged with his bell. "Roll up, roll up, boys,—Church service,—roll up," and then, with stentorian voice and ingenious invention of titles: "Roll up! Roll up! His Riverince! the Archdeacon! His Honour! His Grace! will preach to-day,—roll up! roll up!" And they did roll up, lots of men, few women; a most hearty service morning and evening; my friend there too, in a good suit, and kid gloves! "Got a Sunday off to-day; gentleman again to-day; bottle-washer to-morrow."

A month or so has passed, and I have settled myself, and can tell you something of the place. A lovely summer morning, soft, yet exhilarating, so unlike the East Coast in its absence of dry mountain wind; an early wander down to the sea-beach before breakfast, just behind the main street of the town. Eighty miles southward Mt. Cook rears its great mass of snow and ice and rock, as clearly seen as if only one-third of its real distance; the sandy beach strewn with huge drift timber, blanched white, washed down from the forests which fringe the Hokitika river; an incessant tumult of heavy lines of surf, which make bathing impossible; in the offing, where anchorage is good (for the wind seldom blows home on the coast), steamers and other vessels waiting for lighterage, or for a full tide on which to cross the river bar. Just clear of the town I find men at work in an excavation in the sand about fifty feet square, and half as deep; page 100a ladder leading down, by which, they invite me to descend. Their plant consists of long-handled shovels, tubs of water, a cradle for washing gold. The sides of the pit in places are streaked with lines of fine black metallic sand, about two inches thick. They give me a shovel and, with it nearly full of sand, direct me to shake it gently in the water till all the sand has gone, and then round its rim is a thin line of gold, fine as dust, enough to cover a threepenny bit. This is the easiest way of getting gold, so easy, it is called "Hay-making," but it will not last long, as the black sand brought down by the river, with its gold, from the mountains, and cast up on the beach, where it has lain for centuries, is of limited extent. Looked at with a lens, the gold dust is composed of tiny angular nuggets, and is so pure that its value is four pounds an ounce, though the miner, after paying the duty on gold, and the expenses, only realizes about three pounds, seventeen shillings. This gold dust is so sharp that it is difficult to carry in the ordinary chamois leather bag, which it will actually penetrate. Blotting paper is found the best material in which to pack it.

I have found that miners are very chary, with ordinary visitors, as to their gains. "Yes," they say, "doing a little, making tucker." But as I never ask inquisitive questions, and perhaps because I'm a parson, they seem to trust me. There were four men in this "claim," Welshmen. The claim was not expected to last more than six months before being worked out, and they were making about ten pounds a week per man.

Back to breakfast, then to the School, which I have begun in a rough wooden building, having lit upon a good master and mistress. We have already some page 101one hundred and twenty children; they pay from one shilling to half-a-crown per week, and also for books and stationery, and with a small Government grant all goes well. Every morning I am there for prayers and Bible teaching, and, finding that we have several children of the well-to-do, I spend an hour in elementary Latin, French, history, and some mathematics. Sunday School is held in the church, well attended, with the invaluable help of several young fellows, bank clerks, and Government officials, just the right sort, good Churchmen, and keen to do all they can to help me. The town has also a Presbyterian and Roman Catholic day-school, and some small private schools, but, so far as I can gather, the Church is in the majority here.

Come with me, this afternoon, on foot, for there are no roads in this forest country, only rough tracks at present, and we will go up the river side to a gold field, named Kanieri, about four miles distant. Boating across the river, it is possible to walk along the further bank, where the forest tapers down to patches of under-growth; the river itself, wide and swift, is scarcely navigable up stream, except by poling, though boats descend with ease. Our destination is a small settlement newly started, opposite the Kanieri diggings, where we have managed to build a small church, in amongst a considerable population. Meeting a man, I made some enquiries." Yes, there's some there, and doing well; the place goes by the name of Tiger Bay, for they are a roughish lot; you'll find them easily, as it's Saturday, and they've knocked off work as usual for the afternoon; but as to going across to the service in the church to-morrow, well, it's not much in their line." Rising to a spur which came down to the river page 102and enclosed "Tiger Bay," I looked down on a group of tents, one a biggish one, from which came laughter and sounds of revelry, whilst the inevitable miner's dog announced the arrival of a stranger. The path was so steep I had to run down, and just as I reached the bottom, out came from the tent a big young fellow, in flannel shirt, bare armed, with a can of beer in his hands, quite a couple of quarts, which he held up before me, as he straddled across the path. "Have a drink?" he said. "Yes," I said, "I'm hot and thirsty," and I took a moderate draught. Instantly an uproarious burst of laughter in the tent; the flap of it drawn back, and a lot of merry faces, apparently poking fun at me. "I want to introduce myself," I said. "I'm going to have a service tomorrow across the river; I hope you will come." There was a general response: "We'll be there, and give you a show," a bit of digger's slang, which I found meant—"Here's your chance, can you use it?" Then a good deal of talk, and more merriment, which I didn't understand, until on Sunday, after the service, one of them stayed to talk. "I'm going to come regularly. Do you know what brought them all here to-day? We were in the tent, drinking beer, and someone sang out, Look, here's a parson coming; never saw one here before; I'll go and offer him a drink, and I'll lay anyone of you a fiver that he won't take it. The bet was taken by several, and that chap lost his money."

I shall have to revise my ideas of New Zealand gold diggers, taken chiefly from what one reads of California, or Australia. So far as I have seen, they are a class by themselves, lusty, powerful fellows, given to occasional sprees, with something sailor-like in page 103their comradeship, rowdy, but honest, and free from crime. Most of them seem to have travelled much, and they have a way of treating you on the equal standing of your manhood, as if class distinctions did not exist. Whether I shall be able to use the chances they give me, in "giving me a show," remains to be seen. There is one great advantage in this work. The nature of their employment allows me to be amongst men whilst at work, as few parsons could be in town or country at home. It doesn't interrupt their work; they welcome my visits, and are greatly pleased to tell me all about it. Though their work looks like navvy work, it is work which calls out their abilities of observation and contrivance, for much depends on their rough and ready knowledge of the strata which may prove auriferous, and their skill in tunnelling, sinking, and the engineering of their water supply. They work in parties, in partnership, not for companies at present, and are not mere "hands," doing what a "boss" arranges. All this means much more than mere digging, and implies intelligence above that of the ordinary labourer. In fact, many are well educated men, whatever the external man may seem; all sorts, English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, with a sprinkling of Swedes and Danes. A few days later I was visiting a "sluicing claim" at Kanieri. Under a high terrace cliff, topped with big trees, a party of men were working, with the aid of a powerful stream of water, conducted through a hose, with which they attacked the cliff side; as the earth fell it was guided into channels formed of wood, called "tail races," with rough bottoms, in which the gold sinks and is retained, whilst the force of water washes the dirt away. Dangerous work; a man atop page 104of the cliff to give warning, in case of any sudden and extensive slip of earth which might overwhelm, the men working below. "Glad to see you,—Ah! look out! stand back!" and down came a huge mass, all hands retreating just in time. They turned the hose off, and sat down to talk. "We don't wash up till Saturday, but if you look here you can see some gold in the boxes. Yes, we are getting a choir together for the services, and a harmonium; and we'll have a concert for funds to fence St. Andrew's Church,—plenty of instruments available, and singers; and we can show you a newly cut track through the forest to Hokitika, so that you needn't return by boat."

Entering the track, I found myself so shut in by a veritable jungle of lofty pines and thick underwood, that I lost sight of the sunshine,—about three miles of rather rough going, set with sharp stumps of saplings and shrubs. Presently, on ahead, a man emerged from a side-track, who turned to see me, and began to talk, though we could not walk abreast in the narrow path. "I'm working with some mates up there on a terrace, and it's my turn this week to go to Hokitika to sell our gold. I came from California, and have been here six months, and we're doing well! "I told him that this was my first experience of a goldfield, and asked if I was right in thinking that this place was unlike the fields in California and elsewhere in the orderly nature of the population. "You're right," he replied, "I've got a matter of twenty-five ounces of gold on me, and if I was in California I'd have a couple of revolvers also; you won't see a weapon here on any man, and I've never yet heard of any case of 'sticking up' or robbery, except those Australian bushrangers, who didn't belong to the page 105place." "How do you account for it?" said I. "Can't say, but it's so; something in the country and people; somehow Law rules here, and it don't there. Well, good-bye, come and give us a look in some clay,—so long!"

I began to think that my lines were cast in pleasant places, and with a people with whom it will be a real pleasure to work; and in good heart I got back in time for the choir practice in All Saints' Church; some boys, ladies, and men, an amateur, capable organist and choirmaster, and harmonium.

Our Diocese, here, extends thirty miles to the north, to the Mawhera, Anglice "Grey River," where there is a considerable town, with rich fields adjoining, and seventy miles southward, including the gold field at Ross. Lately I have visited both these centres, and have arranged for Church building, and services so soon as my colleague arrives from England. There is no road as yet to either place, but coaches run along the beach, fitted with very broad wheels so as not to sink in the sand. It is a standing joke, but also a fact, that after heavy surf much black sand, with traces of gold, is thrown up on the beach, and that the driver makes something after the journey by carefully washing the wheels and bed of his coach. At Greymouth I had an enthusiastic meeting, and liberal contributions for the church, which is to be begun at once. The place is prosperous, most of the gold found here differing from that near Hokitika; much larger, nuggety and rich. Entering one of the Banks, I found it was their smelting day; miners bring their gold to be assayed, and receive its full value before it is melted and moulded into ingots. On a counter stood a good-sized copper urn, sixteen page 106inches high, full of nuggets, none smaller than peas, some like walnuts, and one piece the exact shape of a small shoehorn. "If you can lift that," said the Manager, "as it stands, level with your elbows, you are welcome to it." The smelting is done in plumbago pots, which become white-hot in the furnace; a little borax is added as a means of collecting the scum, and when that is cleared off, the melted gold at first is as brilliant as sunshine, but soon passes through lovely phases of glowing red, till it settles down into its ordinary hue. It is then poured into iron moulds, which hold from one to five hundred pounds' weight of gold; a pound being worth fifty sovereigns. So elusive is gold, and so valuable, that the clay floor of the furnace room is periodically scraped, washed and burnt, returning an appreciable amount of the metal. With all the treasure they contain, one wonders that burglary and robbery are almost unknown here, especially as the Bank buildings are flimsy structures of wood; the unwritten code of honour with regard to gold on this Coast protects it. Miners bury their gold in the floor of their huts, but no one seems to expect robbery.

Going to Ross, southward, I had to cross the Hokitika, which widens out opposite the town into a considerable estuary. On the further side there is a settlement, with a large rough building used as a hospital; also a stable well supplied with horses. A groom brought out a fine upstanding animal, and I got into the saddle, noticing, as I did so, a second groom came to his head. The moment they let go he was off like an arrow, doing his best to buck me off; fortunately the beach was soft, with hummocks of sand, and sticking in the spurs, I sent him at a page 107gallop for several miles, till he quieted down. We then proceeded on good terms, having occasionally to negotiate streams which cut through the beach, and were often dangerously soft. Arriving at the Totara river, some eighteen miles distant, I learnt from a ferryman how to cross it and join a track which leads to Ross. Why, "You're on Black Billy," he said, "any trouble with him? 'cos he bucks like the d—l, at first, but if you can stick on it's all right." I made a mental note to eschew Billy's acquaintance in the future. When I returned, I asked the stable-man why he did not warn me."Oh," said he "I hadn't any other 'oss in, and when you went off, I says to t'other chap, 'He's all right.'"

Ross is a lovely valley, encircled by forest-covered hills, as yet unspoilt by the devastating search for gold that gradually turns the most beautiful places into a wilderness of upheaved desolation of stones and earth. Some 5,000 men at work here, chiefly in deep sinkings; winding and hauling gear visible everywhere; some steam engines at work; work going on day and night; the busy hum of machinery and labour filling the valley, which two years had never been trodden by white man's foot.

The Warden of the District, whose special work needs knowledge of mining law, welcomed me. "My house is too small, I shall have to give you a mattress and blankets on the floor of the Court House, for all the hotels are full. I have arranged for our meeting about Church building to-morrow night." Going amongst the miners, I found no difficulty in making acquaintance. Noticing a man on the top of a heap of tailings, single-handed, working a double-handed windlass with two big buckets, and straining at the page 108work, I stepped up, took the other handle, and turned it for some time. A bell sounded from below; the man stopped, and said: "You came just in time; I was getting done, my mate fell ill, and I was obliged to go on alone, and what might your line be?" He hadn't noticed my attire, as I had on a light water-proof." Oh, I see. I know you're the Archdeacon. I'm coming to the meeting; come and have a bit of tucker with me." At one of the large Company's works I went down a shaft with the Manager; the ground is wet and dangerous; powerful pumps are at work, and work goes on night and day. He shewed me the result of one shift's work, eight hours, a large tumbler full of gold; some of it scaly, the rest small nuggets. The rainfall on the coast would be reckoned phenomenal elsewhere; six inches a day nothing uncommon; but abundance of water is needed for gold saving, so that wet weather is welcomed more than the sunnier driest days. It in no way hindered our meeting, which realized several hundreds towards the erection of the Church, to be begun at once.

The downpour, however, threatened to bar my return to Hokitika in time for Sunday, as it was impossible to ride down the river in its heavy flood, the only "road" out of Ross to the beach. A Surveyor came to my assistance, and piloted me, together with a young fellow from his office, through the forest, which was trackless, to the beach, where we arrived wet to the skin. There a ferryman put us over the river, and we tramped the eighteen miles of beach, very heavy going, reaching the Hokitika river in the evening. After some welcome food, I went in search of a boat, but was met with the reply, "No boat has crossed for two days,—can't be done." At last I page 109found a waterman lately from London, who got a four-oared wherry and a couple of men, and with myself at the stroke oar, and my friend steering, and a Roman Catholic priest hi the stern sheets, who had been weather-bound, we made a start. The river was in strong flood, but the first mile of our course was easy going, as we had the advantage of the stream of a tributary which flows into the Hokitika. Then came the tussle, half-a-mile of the river to be tackled; sheltering from the full force of it under the southern bank, we got up a long way before attempting to cross, for there was no small risk of being swept out to sea. On the further side the wharves were crowded with shipping, numbers of men watching our progress. Presently we made across, and had to put our backs into it with a will; shot past the vessels, just made the landing steps, and were hauled in safely by men waiting for us with boat hooks. "That was a tough job," said the Thames man, who was rowing just behind me; "Why, Master, you ain't sweatin' as much as I am." "It's the beer coming out in you," I said; "I expect you've done little but drink this last two days, and besides, I've just come off a long tramp." We went up the steps amongst a crowd of boatmen, and my man took me aside; "There's goin' to be a Regatta, New Year's day, and good money for a pair-oared race; suppose you and I enter for it, and keep it dark?" "No," I said, "it wouldn't do; get someone else, and I'll come and see you win." He did so, and won. Poor fellow, in a few months, at Greymouth, the river in flood, he fell off the wharf on a dark night, and was washed out to sea.

I have kept this for some time, thinking to add to it, as I have much to tell you.

Yours, etc.,

H. W. H.