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high water the tile flows up to the foot of the hills, and at low water there is a narrow pebbly or rocky beach, bounded by the rise and fall of the tide, and deep water close to the shores. The great depth of water in the middle of the estuary and extending close to the shores, renders it undesirable as a harbour of refuge, for which its locality in Cooks Straits might otherwise be favourable.
The trees, so far as we could judge, were principally the Kykateah, an inferior description of wood. There were few, if any trees with tall stems clear of branches, and we did not consider them, generally, fit for masts, yards, and spars of vessels. There are at irregular distances, a few small coves at the foot of the hills, formed by their undulations , but the steepness of the hills is without exception. Where they are not covered with trees and jungle they are covered with short stunted fern, looking quite brown, and having the appearance of being blighted by the wind,—this is said to indicate poor land. There are several streamlets of fresh water in the ravines on the sides of the hills, hut in general this can only be ascertained by landing, being hid from sight by the trees and jungle. At one o'clock, having still kept the tide and a strong wind with us, we were at the head of the navigable inlet, where it is terminated by a mud flat, and where the Pelorus had anchored in four fathoms, finding it impracticable to go farther up. We were now by estimation about forty miles from the mouth of the inlet, and over the whole of this extent the same description of steep hills, covered either with wood and jungle, or stunted fern applies. The head of the navigable inlet terminates on the left, in what may be called a valley, covered with stunted fern, and which valley is said to be opposite to an abandoned native settlement in Cloudy Bay, called Wijro. Supposing the land here to be fit for cultivation, which, from its being covered with stunted fern, we doubt, we consider it, irrespective of that too steep for the purpose.
After pulling over the mud flat, on which the grass was growing amongst the salt water in many places, and on which there were abundance of shags, and red bills, (sea birds,) and wild ducks, some of the latter of which we shot; we entered a creek, being what we considered the mouth of the Pelorus River, though it is clear there was not water to float that vessel to it or in it. After pulling two or three miles up this creek, we met two bush natives in a canoe shooting wild ducks, one of whom came into our boat as pilot. The creek was here from 100 to 200 feet wide, according to the time of tide, and although the land was flat on the left side, it was evident from the trunks of trees washed up on the shores on both sides, that the flat land was at times, after heavy freshes, completely overflowed. It was covered with impenetrable jungle, as we found on landing, beautifully green, and many of the shrubs covered with flowers. This flat being an island, as we afterwards discovered, '(having gone up on one side of it and returned on the other,) the probability is that it has been formed by alluvial deposits washed down from the mountains by freshes. A few miles higher up the water was quite fresh. There was abundance of New Zeeland flax growing on the marshy land on the banks of the creek. New Zeeland flax when growing, has the appearance of large and strong sedges, and is said to grow on poor soil. The steepness of (be hills on the right still continued, and on the left the vision was bounded by the flat jungle. Still nothing like plains, or land covered with natural grass were anywhere to lie seen.
About eight or ten miles from the mouth of the creek the boat grounded on a shallow, although it was then the very top of high water, which at that distance up, and with the current constantly running down, still affects the height of water by impeding the current at its mouth, and the crew had to get out to lighten the boat and get berover the shallow. Here the current was constantly running down, and the trunks of many trees lying aground on the shallows in the middle of the river, and washed up on its banks on both sides. We attempted to proceed, higher up, but found it impracticable owing to the boat taking the ground so frequently, and the strong current running down. The object (of finding land desirable for a location) was also gone, as it was evident that should such land exist higher up, it was not accessible either hy land or water owing to the steepness of the hills and the shallowness of the creek. Failing, therefore, in our efforts to proceed higher, we landed about four o'clock in the afternoon on a pebbly flat on the right bank of the creek; the left bank being ten or twelve feet high, as perpendicular as the wall of a house, and a marsh or swamp covered with jungle lying behind the bank. We hauled the boat up three or four times her own length from the edge of the water, and turned her bottom up and took shelter under her, it having come on a heavy rain. We estimated our distance here to be about fifty miles from the mouth of the inlet.
As the evening- closed in, and the rain continued, we became apprehensive that should it last during the night, as it was clearly evident from the banks tbat the water rose occasionally eight or ten feet higher than where we then were, we should be flooded before the morning. We therefore made everything ready to righten the boat, and put everything into her, intending to anchor her where she was, and remain in her exposed to the rain, as it would have been quite impracticable to descend the river over the shallows and amongst the snags and trunks of trees lying aground on them in the night. Fortunately the rain ceased about nine o'clock, and these measures were rendered unnecessary; notwithstanding the rain having ceased, the river rose in the course of the night to within half the length of the boat, so that at daybreak it 'as time to be on the move. We proceeded on foot as far as the banks of the creek would allow us, to view the scene higher up the creek, and found it to be confined on both sides by nearly perpendicular hills. The hills being so high, and the valley formed between them so narrow, it was clear that it must be late in the forenoon before the sun's rays could penetrate it, and there was no prospect of any kind of crop, requiring much sunshine to ripen, ripening in it. As already mentioned, there was plenty of New Zeeland flax, the Phormium tenax, growing on the banks, but no land covered with natural grass, or plains fit for cultivation on an extended scale was anywhere to be seen.
The rapidity of the current down having greatly increased owing to the rain, any attempt to proceed higher up in the boat was quite impracticable; having, therefore, no object to remain where we w^ere, *"o being in no desirable quarters should the rain again come on, we got a hurried breakfast, and on Sunday morning began to descend the creek. Although the water, owing to the rain, had risen at least two perpendicular feet, the current down had become so rapid, that it was only by the most skilful pilotage of the native we had taken in in poing up, and the most dexterous and able handling of the boat by Simmons and the crew, who seemed to be quite aware that all our lives were at stake, (the boat often having to pull where there was scarce room for the oars between the trunks of trees lying aground on the shallows right across the rapid stream, for had she touched any of the logs she would have upset in an instant,) we were at last, by the Divine Mercy,- carried safely over the danger.
After we had passed the danger, our pilot informed us that before the pah or native settlement higher up had been abandoned, a number of canoes had been upset and natives drowned on these shallows every year; a statement to which we gave full credence, and resolved never again to expose ourselves voluntarily to such danger. In short, it appeared to us to be nothing short of madness to think of residing in siich a place, which seemed to our comprehension to be totally unfit for the residence of civilized man. In returning, we landed our pilot where we had embarked him, and learned afterwards that he and bis companion were the only natives who lived at the head of the Owerrie, and they were in exile, for fear of some other tribes with which tbey were at war, they being the relics of their own tribe. As we descended we took another survey of the limited landscape of the Owerrie, conr fined on both sides by nearly perpendicular hills, to correct our first unfavourable impressions of it, but which instead of removing, only confirmed them.
It being low water when we crossed the mud flat, formed at the head of the inkt and mouth of the creek, the boat'repeatedly grounded, and the men had to get out to lighten her and get her over. There were some poles placed on the flat to shew the deepest water, said to have been put there a few years ago by Captain Stein, of the William the Fourth, in which vessel he loaded a cargo of timber. The wind being against us, so that we could make no use of the sails, we landed for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, and got some dinner consisting of the wild ducks we shot on the previous, and potatoes. After which, we again embarked and continued rowing till the evening, when we pulled into a deep cove forming one of the branches of the estuary ; and after landing and getting some victuals, at cooking which the natives are very expert, we made a tent of the boat's sails, and although lying on the hard pebbly beach, we slept far more comfortably than we did the night before. Our tent was formed partly of branches at the foot of the hill, and in the morning at high water the lower edge of it was in the water.
The boat had been moored off the night before, and though it was then about five in the morning and very cold, one of the natives made no scruple of swimming off to her and bringing her to the beach. New Zeelanders indeed, make no scruple of going into the water on occasions when it would be considered a punishment by Europeans. The wind still continuing to blow strong up the estuary, it was about ten o'clock in the forenoon of Monday the 13th of January, before we got to Pilot Beach, from which we had set out, and we returned to it thankful to the Almighty for the preservalion of our lives, and with the worst opinion of the Owerrie, (being an inlet of the sea or an estuary, miscalled a river,) for any useful or profitable purpose whatever.
Pilot Beach which we set out from and returned to, is a small cove within a quarter of a mile of the mouth of the inlet on the left hand side in entering it, on which there is about an acre or two of clear land, and it is beyond all comparison the best place we saw in the course of our travels. On this spot, being the only one we say, in the whole distance adapted for the purpose, Captain Stein, above-mentioned, landed a few young cattle some years ago,' which were said so have greatly increased in number. A house is now however building on the ground formerly occupied by them, and it is to be presumed they do not approve of their new companions, for they have taken to the hills, although it is a mystery not yet solved how they contrive to climb them. It was proposed to shoot one of them for Christmas and New Year's days dinners, and whether they were aware of the kind intention of their friends or not is uncertain, but it was found utterly impracticable even to get sight of them, even by stealthy and active New Zedanders to get near them, nor unless the spectator was in a boat, and might see them on the side or ridge of a hill. Whoever may be the proprietor of them, he will do no injury to his fortune, by giving them to whoever can catch or shoot them.
We afterwards learnt from Colonel Wakefield, whom we met at Port Hardy, in D'Urville's island, that he had been twenty miles higher up the Owerrie than we were, having gone up above the falls in a canoe which was carried over the shallows, and that he entertained as unfavourable an opinion of it as we did. He told us there had formerly been a pah higher up than we had been, but in consequence of its being flooded in the night by a fresh, and sixty of the natives drowned, they had abandoned it. He said he considered the Owerrie utterly unfit for the residence of settlers, an opinion in which we cordially agreed.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 15th of January, Captain Rhodes of the barque Eleanor, of Sydney, accompanied by Mr. Espie, of Poverty Bay, having been two days up the Owerrie in a whale boat, examining it with a view to purchase it of the natives, returned and •topped the night at Pilot Beach. They both had formed the same opinion of it as we did, that it was not worth any person's accepting in a present, if coupled with the condition of residence. In short, the natives having abandoned it, seems to be conclusive proof of its being of no value, either to civilized man or savages.
Amongst the petty miseries of a temporary residence on the beach, before our excursion up the river, was the heat of the sun in the middle of the day, confined as the place was at the foot of steep hills, and owing to the absence of all circulation of air, to go under a tent only made matters worse. Add to this, the noxious visits of a large blue fly, destroying by its deposits, the blankets and every woollen thing, and being bit to death by sand flies during the day, and by bugs, lice, and fleas, the latter of which were got in swarms from the natives, whom it was impossible to keep out of the tents by night, and some idea may be formed of the comforts of bush life in New Zeelaud; although it was oppressively hot in the middle of the day, a great coat was worn with comfort in the morning and evening. The importunity of the natives in begging everything they saw, was also troublesome, but it must be added, they were strictly honest, as nothing, however trifling, was ever missed or stolen.
The writer of the above article was in various parts of Cook's Straits during the months of December and January last, and he considers the climate to be unfavourable for a settlement, as it was either blowing a gale of wind or raining in torrents. He was on board the Aurora, the first ship with emigrants for the New Zeeland Land Company, before and after her arrival in Port Nicholson. The emigrants were on arrival in good health and spirits, but did not approve of the mountainous look of the land. The first of them were landed on the beach on the day he left the port. No huts, tents or shelter of any kind were to be found, and their new quarters were inhospitable enough. It was however reported, that they were to be allowed to sleep on board the ship for a few nights, a measure which would be indispensably necessary, as it came on a very heavy rain that night. They were landed on what had the appearance of, and proved to be, a swamp, covered with jungle, and they were sent out so soon after Colonel Wakefield and the pioneering party that the limits of the township of Britannia, the name of the proposed town had not been fixed, nor its site scarcely determined on before their arrival. It appears by the papers, they have since been obliged to abandon this locality, and choose another for the township. Many of the emigrants at that time were so disappointed in expectations, that they wished they had had the means of getting to New South Wales. The land at Port Nicholson is of a very similar description to that of the Pelorus River, and forbids all communication with the interior of the country, be it of what description it may, by impassable mountains. Nearly all supplies for the township of Britannia must be brought by sea. Nor is Port Nicholson a good harbour, it is too large, and a reef of rocks partly above and partly under water, runs off the head, within which the township is now to be formed. It blew so hard on the day of arrival off the harbour, as to render it impracticable to work in.
Instead of New Zeeland becoming the granary of New South Wales, the writer is of opinion it will, with its increased population, have quite enough to do to be a granary for itself for some years to come. He does not apprehend that rearing stock, or the cultivation of the land can be carried on to a great extent. The want of natural grass, and frequent heavy rains are serious objections to rearing of stock, and the general hilly nature of the land, and want of roads, are serious obstacles to the cultivation of the land. He was in eight different ports in New Zeeland, including the Bay of Islands, and standing on Batmans Hill, or the high land to the east or west of Melbourne, he sees more level land within range of his vision, than he saw in the eight ports of New Zeeland, although all the level land in them had been put together. The climate of the Bay of Islands is very superior to that of Cooks Straits, but there also, are frequent heavy and loug continued rains.