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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

Advance South Westland! — Settlement and Scenery

page 26

Advance South Westland!
Settlement and Scenery

The following article appeared recently in the “Hokitika Guardian.” It presents a picture of steady rural progress in South Westland and shows what is being done by the provision of up-to-date hostelries at selected places to cater for the comfort and convenience of tourists who visit this unique forest and mountain region in ever-increasing numbers.

The South Westland district is a very important part of Westland, and its advancement means a great deal to the rest of the province. The dairy farmers of the southern area have had a successful season, with perhaps a more promising one in the near future. Buyers of cheese and butter output are looking for business at advanced rates, and the farmers are in good heart at the prospects. The fat stock are now coming forward from the south. Herds were to be seen on the road; while many were in the paddocks waiting their turn for the sale pen. The condition of the fat stock speaks well for the pastures, and it was noticeable how green the paddocks looked. The provision of more and more feed is being recognised, and the plough and the fertiliser are both doing good work. The sheep farmer is rejoicing, too, in a promising lambing season, and it is anticipated more lambs than ever will come out of the south this season. General improvements about homesteads are also noticeable. Some new buildings are in hand, especially about the Harihari district, where several new homes are in course of erection. At Wataroa, also, new homes are to be seen. It is apparent that the settlers are prospering and those who have gone out into the back country well deserve their luck.

The hostelries along the southern route are all preparing for a busy tourist season. Several of the buildings have been enlarged of late. This is noticeable at Harihari, Matainui, Okarito and Waiho Gorge. These are all centres where accommodation is required all the year round, and special provision is being made for a busy season. The very commodious premises at Waiho Gorge are a fine advertisement for the district and must have assisted very greatly to develop the tourist traffic. There is an unusually fine hostelry now established there, and the comfort and attention provided for patrons makes it a very popular centre with travellers.

This season a further stage south will be established by the provision of a hostel at Weheka for tourists and travellers. The enterprise shown by Messrs Sullivan Bros, in this respect, will surprise all who see the fine building now approaching completion. It is a twostorey edifice, over one hundred feet in length, has some forty-five rooms and will accommodate comfortably fully fifty people. Quite an ideal situation has been selected for the site at the foot of the wooded hills under the shadow of Mount Cook, with Cook's River flat spread out before the dwelling. The building will be opened in November next. Expense is not spared in the equipment of the house, and every comfort is being provided. The building will be lit and heated in the main electrically.

Just as Graham Bros. were the pioneers at Waiho Gorge, and have done so much to advertise the district by a well-connected hostelry, so Sullivan Bros., some eighteen miles further south, are setting out on a similar mission of natural development. This enterprising spirit is to be commended greatly, and when one regards the growth of the tourist traffic to the district, one must not be unmindful of what is being done by those who are preparing to cater for the traffic, and who thereby do so much to advertise the district in regard to a very natural phase of the tourist traffic—the provision of first-class accommodation in out-of-the-way places.

The Main South Road is reported to be in excellent order. As far as Waiho Gorge it is a main highway. Beyond that it is a Government road. Excellent work is being done over the full length of the road in regard to maintenance, page 27 and the consequence is an excellent surface. The bridges are being built progressively. All the principal rivers are now bridged, and the main streams are being attended to. It has been given out that all the bridges (practically to Weheka), which are urgently necessary, will be provided very shortly. Potter's Creek bridge near Waiho will soon be in hand—the material being on the ground. This will dispose of a crossing which blocks traffic in flood time.

The road beyond the Waiho Gorge to Weheka, a distance of eighteen miles, is outstanding for scenery. The road winds over three saddles, Oemoeroa, Waikukupa and Weheka. In doing so it traverses high sidelings, which overlook valleys of heavily timbered forest, backed by the snow peaks and fields of the Southern Alps. The whole region is of great beauty, for the forest growth in all its varied shades of trees, ferns and under scrub makes remarkable variety in scene and colour. Numerous watercourses come out of the hillsides, revealing glimpses of cool sylvan scenes of unusual charm. There is all the glory of mountain scenery for a background, and the forests of Westland at their best for the foreground. Many travellers of world experience describe it as the most wonderful scenic drive in their knowledge, and this is not praise too high. It may be recalled that Mr. Amery was specially struck by this wonderful section of mountain road and scenery, which appears to be unique even for Westland.
“See The Mountains Kiss High Heaven…” —Shelley. Pinnacle peaks of the Southern Alps seen across the wonderful forests of South Westland.

“See The Mountains Kiss High Heaven…” —Shelley.
Pinnacle peaks of the Southern Alps seen across the wonderful forests of South Westland.

It is as though there were three or four Otira Gorges displayed in sections for four times the length of the Otira Gorge, for the whole eighteen miles are crowded with examples of Nature's handiwork.

Then, at the end comes the wonderful view of Cook's River flat. The ocean is visible beyond. In the bright sunlight the scene is a remarkable one. Leaving mountain, forest and torrent behind, the traveller comes upon the flat, dotted with settlers’ homesteads and wellstocked paddocks. Nearby is the new hostel, and this wonderland is dominated by Mounts Cook and Tasman, silent sentinels of the impressive scene presented below.

Thought For Summer Tourists

The average automobile weighs, say, 2,000lb. without a load. Such an automobile, even when loaded with four or five people weighs less than 3,000lb. Suppose this 2,800lb. load tries a tilt at a railway crossing with a freight engine weighing close to 400,000lb. Is there any doubt in your mind as to which would be victorious? Yet, daily, car drivers try to beat the engine to a crossing, and busy newspaper men are forced to write heart-rending stories of the manner in which the passengers in the automobile were either killed or injured. —From the “Railway Age.”