Art. XLIII.—Notes on the Geology of the Outlying Islands of New Zealand; with Extracts from Official Reports.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, November 13, 1869.]
The Official Reports from which the following extracts have been made, were forwarded to the Museum, along with specimens of the rock formations, and I have thought the information they afford worth communicating to the Society, along with my own notes on the collections submitted.
These small islands were visited by Mr. Henry Armstrong, in the course of the cruise of the brig “Amherst,” which was undertaken in 1868, on behalf of the Provincial Government of Southland, for the purpose of landing supplies for the relief of cast-aways. Mr. Armstrong made the following remarks on them in his report.*
“The Snares are in lat. 48 deg. 03 min. S., long. 166 deg. 45 min. E., and under this name comprise two islands, a large reef to the N. W. of the main, three and a-half miles distant, and several outlying rocks. The small island (half a mile long), is separated from the main on its east side by a very narrow passage. The larger island I take to be about four miles in circumference. Greatest elevation, 600 feet. Coast line, very bold. It is almost entirely covered with scrub and trees of stunted growth, the Tupari, Akeake, and Kokomuka. Of M'Quarrie cabbage there is abundance, and of fine growth, some of the leaves measuring two feet in diameter. Patches clear of scrub are clothed with the Lutaki tussock. The soil is peaty, and well mingled with guano, and very moist. We found no water at all palatable, some I drank being quite brackish; but then, the birds would render the best undrinkable. Those who trade in mutton-birds, would find a visit to these islands, in March or April, prove remunerative.”
“We pulled away for the N. E. side of the island, where is a small gulch or cove, the only boat harbour on it I believe. Thousands of mutton-birds, nellies, penguins, etc., heralded our approach, and to some extent prepared us for what we saw on landing. Once on shore our party was divided, and we commenced our search. I and two others made for the west side, where we climbed a high bluff, some 500 feet high, commanding a good view of the whole island. Our progress was painfully slow, the entire surface being literally honey-combed
[Footnote] * “New Zealand Government Gazette, Province of Southlnd,” April 11, 1868, p. 51.—“Cruise of the brig ‘Amherst.”’ By H. Armstrong, J. P., M. P. C., acting on behalf of the Government.
with mutton-bird holes, into which the foot sank deeply at every step, the inmates thereof betokening their dissatisfaction at our presence by giving vent to a half-choked querulous cry. The penguins—ludicrous birds—in hundreds, drawn up in rank and file, stood to oppose us on our march, and it required not a little vigorous kicking to force our way through them.”
Thirty-five specimens of rocks were obtained on the Snares, and in general appearance the collections resemble the rocks of the Dunedin peninsula. They consist of
1. Varieties of Basalt, both compact and granular, containing Augite and Sanidine crystals. 2. Claystone Porphyry, and tufaceous clay. 3. Chert and Jasper.
We may conclude therefore that the islands have been formed by one of the volcanic outbursts that took place towards the close of the Miocene period, along the south-eastern border of New Zealand.
This island was also visited by Mr. Armstrong, and respecting it his report gives the following information:—
“Campbell Island (Erebus Point, lat. 50 deg. 32 min. S., long. 169 deg. 12 min. E.), is about eight miles from north to south, and the same from east to west. It is traversed by ranges of hills of considerable height—Honey hill, to the south, being close upon 1600 feet. The geological formation does not differ materially from that of the Aucklands. In West Bay, however, the cliffs are composed of chalk and beds of flints, resting on limestone. I had heard a rumour that copper was to be found here, but I saw no indications whatever of its presence. Iron pyrites may probably be present, and have given rise to the report. In Perseverance Harbour the geologist will be interested by the appearance of the basaltic dykes, of columnar structure, the pillars vertical, horizontal, and in one place radiating from a common centre, as though the basalt, forced up through a small orifice, had spread out in the shape of a fan. The ground is very uneven, which made our travelling toil-some, the foot constantly going into holes two feet deep. The soil is very wet and peaty, the surface between the tussocks (Patiti) carpeted with beautiful mosses and lichens of most varied hues; even the branches of the scrub are so clothed—an unerring indication of the humidity of the climate. The M'Quarrie cabbage, cotton plant (I have an idea that good serviceable paper might be made from the latter), and wild carrot grow abundantly forming most excellent feed for the pigs which we put ashore. The inevitable Piri-piri appears everywhere. Of timber proper, there is none on the island. It would take a boat's crew a considerable time to collect a supply of firewood, the scrub being of the very smallest growth. There is no Rata, and the Enaki is of a smaller and finer species than that of the Aucklands, and bears a small white bell-shaped flower, with a strong perfume, as of hawthorn. There are, of course, copious supplies of water of an excellent kind. This island seems to be the favourite haunt of the larger sea birds, the molly-mawks frequenting the north-east side; the albatross affecting the ranges between the north and south harbours; mutton birds par-tout. I think Nature has contented herself with fitting up this island for the reception of such birds—and pigs. The (so called) highland albatross (the noblest of all sea birds) lays but one egg in a nest raised about ten inches from the ground. The young birds were just breaking the shell at the time of our visit. The grey duck is found here. Of land birds I only saw the common ground lark and a small bird like the wren. Rats are numerous, and of a large size. No traces were seen of the pigs, game cock, hens, and geese, landed by Capt. Norman, of the ‘Victoria.’ The barometer, during our stay, stood at 29–20; average temperature of the air, 51°.”
The collection from this island contains twenty-five specimens, and, besides volcanic rocks belonging to the Doleritic series, is highly interesting from indicating the occurrence of sandstones of the same mineral character as we find in New Zealand among the Lower Mesozoic formation, and also true chalk with large flints but without fossils unfortunately that can be seen by the naked eye, though probably a microscopic examination of the chalk might reveal some characteristic forms.
There are also fragments of reef quartz with Phyllite or blue slate attached, so that there must be a considerable variety in the geology of the island, which is a true rocky island, and not a mere volcanic mass, built up by submarine eruptions.
On referring to the description of this group in the “Flora Antarctica,” and to the sailing directions published as late as 1868,* I find it stated that landing is impracticable on these islands, so that Mr. Armstrong's party appear to have accomplished the feat probably for the first time on record.
His report states, that—
“On Friday, 29th Feb., 1868, after having made more than one attempt to leave our anchorage in Campbell Island, we succeeded in getting out of the harbour, and with a steady breeze from the S. W., we soon ran the distance to the Antipodes Islands, making the land before daybreak on the 2nd March, and verifying their position as fixed by Capt. Norman. But for his observations we might possibly have ascertained their true position for ourselves, in a manner far from pleasant, the chart placing them some fifty miles to the east-ward, and ten miles to the north. When close to the island, we fired our gun, and lowering a boat, I went ashore with an officer, effecting a landing very easily under the lee (east side), although a considerable sea was running outside. Firing the grass as we went, we made for a hill in the centre of the island, which we climbed, and from its summit carefully scanned the whole surface around. We saw nothing but the tussock waving in the wind, the albatross sitting quietly on their nests, and a few parroquets flitting about. We remained four hours here; the men spread out in different directions, and then returned to the boat with the conviction that no human beings (with the exception of ourselves) were present on the island. Before leaving, we placed a board on a high rock, securing it with stones, on which is carved, ‘Brig Amherst, in search of castaways, March, ’68; by order of the Government of Southland.’ With it, two bottles, one containing some matches, a flint and steel, fish-hooks, and a parcel of dressed flax; the other, a letter, in which I mentioned what had been done on the Auckland and Campbell Islands, etc.
“The Antipodes Islands (two, a small one lying about half-a-mile off the S. E. end of the main), are situated in lat. 49 deg. 42 min. S., long. 178 deg. 43 min. E., the coast line bold and rugged, the cliffs having a weather-beaten bleached appearance. The main island is about three miles from east to west, and two and a-half miles from north to south. Greatest elevation, 700 feet, the hills dotted with high tussock (pa-ti-ti), and patches of M'Quarrie cabbage and cotton plant. The soil is peaty, but drier and firmer than that of Campbell Island; of scrub, there is none worthy of the name, scarcely enough to make a good fire with. The albatross here is the ‘lowland,’ and lays two eggs. To walk across country required a little circumspection, progress being made by hopping from tussock to tussock, a false step causing the unwary one to subside up to his chin amongst the grass and piripiri. It reminded me forcibly of crossing swamps in our own province, on top of the Maori-heads. The
[Footnote] * Description of the Outlying Islands, South and East of New Zealand,” p. 16: printed for the Hydrographic Office, Admiralty, 1868.
rocks on the island are purely volcanic. Close to where we landed are large beds of ashes, and ferruginous scoria. From this and other indications, the conical shape of all the hills, and their rounded tops, I am of opinion that the island has been the site of an active volcano.”
The rock specimens obtained, twelve in number, support Mr. Armstrong's view of the geology of these islands, which appear to have been formed by volcanic eruptions, at first submarine, as shown by the specimens of Dolerite with large crystals of Augite, and true Phonolite or Clinkstone, but latterly the eruptions must have been subærial, as the other specimens are scoriaceous lavas, and fragments of volcanic bombs, exactly resembling the volcanic rocks of the northern parts of New Zealand, especially near Auckland. No specimens of older rocks are represented in the collection.
Respecting Bounty Island, Mr. Armstrong states, that—
“They are a group of naked detached rocks, extending from N. W. to S. E. about two miles. The sea rose in spray to the tops of the highest (some 100 feet), and breached clean over the lower ones. There are several outlying rocks awash, at some distance from the main body. Of course no attempt could be made to land, but we saw every rock distinctly with the naked eye, and had there been anything as large as a goat moving on them we must have perceived it. Neither man nor beast could exist on the Bountys, and had I known their nature, I would not have deemed it necessary to visit them.”
This group is better known than any of the others, and collections have been received from Mr. Armstrong, and also from Mr. J. H. Baker, Chief Surveyor of Southland, from whose careful report I make the following extracts:*
“The Auckland Islands were discovered by Captain Bristow, in the year 1806, and formally taken possession of by him in the name of the King, when he visited them a year later. They were next visited by Admiral D'Urville's, and Commodore Wilkes' expeditions, in 1839. The vessels of the Antarctic Expedition also called at them in 1840, and during their stay Drs. Lyall and Hooker made a large collection of the different plants and shrubs indigenous to the islands, of which they published a full account in the first volume of the ‘Antarctic Flora.’
“About this time the Auckland Isles seem to have been the favourite resort of the South Sea whalers, and in 1850 a large whaling establishment was started at Port Ross, in Rendezvous Harbour. The number of houses, now fallen into decay, and the large amount of work that has been done in clearing the scrub, would indicate that, at some time, at least two hundred people must have been located at this spot; and at that time the settlement must have been in a prosperous condition, as a surgeon of one of the whalers, in giving an account of a cruise in the South Seas, mentions the settlement, and remarks that in the course of time it would probably become a settlement of considerable importance; but in 1852 the whaling establishment was broken up, and the islands were totally deserted.
“The Auckland group consists of two large and several smaller islands— Enderby, Rose, and Ocean Islands—forming the north-western, and Green Island, the south-eastern, entrance to Rendezvous Harbour, situated at the extreme northern part of the island, in lat. 50 deg. 32 min. S., and long. 166 deg. 13 min. E. This harbour is of considerable size, and would afford shelter and secure
[Footnote] * —“N. Z. Government Gazette, Province of Southland,” 1865, p. 117, et seq.
anchorage to vessels of the largest description. It is nine miles in length, from the entrance between Enderby and Green Islands, to the head of Laurie Cove, which is only separated from the west coast by a short valley, ending in a saddle of considerable height. The site of the old settlement is situated on a low peninsula, at the entrance to Laurie Cove. It is the most level spot in the whole island, and even this can hardly be called level, as it consists of irregular mounds of peat, from which the dense scrub, with which it was originally covered, has been cleared away. The last vestiges of the old settlement have nearly disappeared, and in a few years it will be difficult for a stranger to find the site of Port Ross. Shoe Island is a remarkable feature in this port, as it lies in the centre of the harbour, half-way between the Heads and Laurie Cove, and is formed of basaltic rock, which takes the form of a shoe. It rises perpendicularly out of the water, which is of a considerable depth all round it.
“Basaltic Hump, which I see is called ‘Deas Head’ by Sir James Ross, in the ‘Antarctic Expedition,’ is another curious feature in this harbour. It is formed of a large mass of basaltic rock in perfect columns, which rise to the height of one hundred feet.
“The main island is nearly twenty-five miles in length, and the whole group from Enderby Island to South Cape on Adams' Island, in lat. 50 deg. 56 min., and long. 166 deg. 7 min., is about thirty-two miles.
“The main island is extremely narrow at the northern end, and gradually increases in width towards the south end, where it is fifteen miles across.
“Adams' Island is at the south end of the main island. It forms the south side of the entrance to Carnley's Harbour and its western arm.
“The east coast of the main island greatly resembles the west coast of Otago, on a miniature scale; being a succession of rocky headlands, which form the entrance to the remarkable inlets, which penetrate in most cases to within a few miles of the west coast of the island. The character and description of these inlets so much resemble each other, that it is impossible to give a detailed account of them; from the eastward there is so much sameness in their appearance, that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other, some of them having more the appearance of ravines between the mountains, than the entrances to harbours. Between Rendezvous and Carnley's Harbour there are six large bays, some of them being nearly landlocked, and five sounds or inlets. Most of these have two arms which are rarely more than half a mile in width and often not so much; in some of them we had only just room to swing the steamer. A small river, or rather a mountain torrent, runs into the sea at the head of each of them, but so steep and precipitous are the mountains, that some of these form waterfalls and cascades half a mile from the sea. One of these sounds I named Cascade Inlet, and I have seldom seen a more grand or magnificent sight than we saw here. One of the largest mountains on the island forms a semi-circular cone round the head of Cascade Inlet, and down the side of this mountain fell innumerable waterfalls and cascades of all shapes and sizes, and of considerable volume. All of them apparently spring out of the ground, and the white spray rising in clouds, when it reaches the rocks below, glistens in the sun, and gives them at a distance the appearance of masses of pure white marble. There had been a heavy fall of snow the night before, and at this time of the year it melts very quickly, which would account for the large amount of water that was pouring down when we were there.
“Basin Bay was another striking and interesting feature on the east coast. So evenly do the mountains rise up all round it, that one might almost fancy it had been scooped out of a tremendous hill, and that the bay was a little water at the bottom. Here, as at Cascade Inlet, the drainage of the hills falls in numerous little waterfalls, which have not as yet, as far as we
could see, made any impression on the side of the hill which might be called a water-course or gully.
“The entrance to Carnely Harbour, in lat. 50 deg. 50 min., is extremely narrow, being little more than a mile in width, the cliffs on each side being nearly perpendicular. The harbour is divided into three main arms, the northern. middle, and western. The northern arm is most exposed. It is here the ‘Grafton’ was wrecked. It runs in a north-westerly direction to within a few miles of the coast, being only separated by a low saddle which I over-looked from a high hill on the north side of the harbour. The middle arm is separated from the northern by a peninsula, the hill on it rising up in the shape of a beautiful cone. It is covered with scrub at the base, and grass at the top; the neck of this peninsula being only a few chains wide.
“The Middle arm has two round bays at its western extremity, and the large quantity of debris that has been brought down, by the mountain torrents, at the head of them, has formed two large flats extending across the bays nearly a mile from the shore, which are uncovered at low water. They are composed of angular fragments of rock and mud. Between the south head of this arm and Masked Island there is a deep bay, which, from the peculiar appearance of the mountain above it, we called ‘Amphitheatre Cove.’ The view of this bay from the harbour is strikingly beautiful. From about half way up the hill, which is nearly 2000 feet in altitude, basaltic columns rise in regular order (with a small intervening space) one over the other, to the top of the hill, which is one colossal mass of basaltic rock. These columns extend with few breaks entirely round the bay, in regular order, and the lowest columns are at least one hundred feet in height. They decrease in size towards the top of the mountain, or the elevation gives them the appearance of doing so.
“Camp Cove and Masked Island form the north head of the western arm. The former is perfectly landlocked, and forms a miniature harbour in Carnley's Harbour. It affords safe anchorage for vessels of any size, the depth of water ranging from twenty to four fathoms. It was here the ‘Southland’ was moored whilst we remained in Carnley's Harbour.
“Masked Island is just off the head of Camp Cove. It is very small, and seems to have been a favourite resort of seals, before they were disturbed by Captain Musgrave's party.
“The Western arm is extremely narrow, not exceeding two and a half miles in its broadest part. It is connected with the west coast of the island by a very narrow passage which has a small island in the centre, named by Captain Musgrave ‘Monumental Island.’ The tide rushes through this passage with great velocity, rendering it unsafe for any vessel to pass through; and with a strong westerly wind the breakers rushing through such a narrow gap, make the whole passage one sheet of foam, which in a strong gale must be a really magnificent sight.
“The south coast of Adams' Island presents an almost unbroken line of perpendicular cliffs, which extend in a south-westerly direction to the South Cape. On the west side of this cape a narrow inlet running in a northerly direction ends in an abrupt ravine. The entrance to this inlet is between two immense cliffs, which tower like walls to a height of several hundred feet.
From the South Cape, the coast line runs in a north-westerly direction to West Cape. A little to the east of this cape the entrance to the narrow passage running into the Western arm commences; on the east side of the entrance are two curious rocks, jet black in colour. They rise like two immense pillars, and mark the entrance of this dangerous passage.
“From the West Cape the coast trends to the north-east, almost in a straight line, to the north point of the main island, a distance of about twenty–six miles. This coast may well be called precipitous and iron-bound, as the
cliffs form a continuous wall, almost without a break, some of them overhanging one another, and attaining an elevation of at least six or seven hundred feet.
“The whole of the Auckland group is mountainous in the extreme. Nowhere did I see a flat of any considerable size, and ‘the level plains covered with beautiful grass and refreshing verdure’ (as quoted by F. F. Shillinglaw, F. R. G. S., the editor of Captain Musgrave's journal) is all a myth. I ascended to the top of the range on the west side of Rendezvous Harbour, and obtained a good view of the whole of the backboue range of the main island as far as Giant's Tomb (so named by Captain Musgrave), the most elevated hill on the island, situated on the north side of Carnley's Harbour.
“The main range commences at Mount Eden (1325 feet). This is the most remarkable feature at the north end of the island. The top of the hill is composed of an immense rock, which can be seen all the way up the east coast. It was ascended by Mr. Richardson, who describes it as being sixty feet in height, and of a considerable circumference at the base. From here the main range runs down the west coast, forming on the one side the immense cliffs and precipices observed there, and on the other throwing out spurs which form the dividing ridges, and headlands between the numerous inlets on the east cost. I only observed two breaks in the whole range; one about half way down the east coast, at a place we named Saddle Hill Inlet, because a saddle at the head of the inlet led directly across to the west coast. The other is nearly at the end of the range, being the saddle at the head of the northern arm of Carnley's Harbour.
“The range on Adam's Island runs nearly at right angles to the main range, and probably at an early period formed part of it.
“The shores of the whole of the Auckland Isles, with the exception of the west and part of the south coast, are covered with scrub for a considerable distance up the sides of the hills. In some places it is rather thick and difficult to penetrate; but in others it is very open, and not at all bad travelling, for such hilly country. The largest scrub is found round Carnley's Harbour. It consists chiefly of iron wood, and a tree called the black oak. Neither of these grow to any height. The iron wood grows to a considerable thickness, but is very knotty and irregular. It might be used for the knees of ships, but I did not see any fit for sawing purposes, the open land on the tops of the hills is all peat of a very spongy and wet description; in fact the whole surface of the island, with the exception of the rocks, is pure peat, and I can safely say that during the time I was there, I never saw an acre of ground that was not perfectly saturated with water; it can only be in very dry seasons that the surface gets thoroughly dry.
“The open country is chiefly covered with large tussocks of snow grass, cotton plant, moss and other plants indigenous to the island. The average temperature whilst we were at the islands was about 50 deg. I see that Sir James Ross, in the Antarctic expedition, gives the average temperature for the same month at 45–27.
“The whole surface of the islands, even to the top of the highest hills (Mr. Richardson and myself having ascended five of the highest), is covered with a deposit to a considerable depth of genuine peat (not lignite), similar in appearance and physical character to the peat of the Irish bogs. This when cut (as we found in one place at the old settlement in Rendezvous Harbour), from some distance from the surface and dried, becomes quite hard and firm, like the Irish turf, and produces the same cheerful and pleasant fire, altogether free from the usual suffocating smell of lignite. This deposit, as it rests directly on all the different rocks alike, might also form some clue as to the age of the formation of these islands.”
The geology of these islands is exceedingly meagre, but not uninteresting. The rocks of which they are formed, judging from the specimens submitted, thirty in number, being as follows:—
Dolerites, claystones and basaltic porphyries.
Chert and pitch opal.
Tertiary sandstone and conglomerate with streaks of coal.
Bituminous peat, like that which is found on the Chatham Islands.
Granite porphyry, syenite and hornblende rock.
It thus appears to be a granite island, with patches of tertiary strata resting in hollows on its surface, and the whole overlaid, more or less, by volcanic rocks of post-miocene age.
The geology of this group has been made known to us by Dr. Haast's notes on the collections of Mr. Henry H. Travers,* but since then two important series of specimens of rocks and fossils, from the Chatham Islands, have been deposited in the Museum, accompanied by copious notes. The first consists of 200 specimens, forwarded in February, 1868, by Mr. Charles Traill; and the second, comprising 102 specimens, was received from Mr. Percy Smith, in March, 1869.
Notwithstanding the completeness of these collections, there is little to be added, from their study, to the information we already possessed.
The tertiary series, as in New Zealand, appears, however, to belong to two distinct epochs, the upper of which is alone associated with igneous rocks, chiefly dolerites. There also appear to be two distinct carbonaceous formations, the older occurring in Pitt's Island, representing the brown coal series of New Zealand, and a newer formation which may be considered as a modified peat, which is quite superficial in the district south of the salt-water lagoon. In this formation are large masses converted into a highly bituminous mineral, probably by the action of the fires described by Mr. Travers, † which might prove of considerable value, either as fuel, or for the manufacture of oil, and for the composition of which I may refer to the Laboratory Reports for 1868.
Among Mr. Traill's specimens are also fragments of flints, and of a calcareous rock resembling the chalk from Campbell Island.
The older tertiary limestones are much changed by contact with volcanic rocks, so that in part they are converted into true lithographic limestone, in the same manner as occurs in the vicinity of Oamaru in Otago.
The area of schistose rocks, exactly similar to the auriferous formation of Otago is, in the Chatham Islands, very considerable; and reef-quartz of several varieties is represented in both collections, but no discovery of gold has yet been reported.
This island should not properly be classed with the small islands previously alluded to as outlying islands of New Zealand, but, as an extensive series of rock specimens from it was forwarded at the same time with the other collections, I will include the notice of them in this communication. The collection was made by Mr. Walter H. Pearson, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Southland, in the course of an official visit round the island for the purpose of ascertaining where settlements could be advantageously placed. With reference to this point, Mr. Pearson states in his report:—
[Footnote] * See “Trans. N. Z. Institute,” Vol. i., p. 180.
[Footnote] † See “Trans. N. Z. Institute,” Vol. i., p. 177.
“On the whole, I cannot but conclude that Stewart Island will prove, and that shortly, a very valuable and important portion of the Province of Southland. There are many industries which, dormant at present, will, when quickened into life, prove remunerative. Irrespective of any mineral wealth which may exist, of which I can only form a conjectural opinion from the singular appearance of the different strata of rocks on the south and west coasts of the island, I am of opinion that it will be well adapted for the small class of settlers—say fifty-acre men. From the peculiar configuration of the land, a large extent of it is rendered available by its frontage to the water. Its being covered with timber and scrub cannot form a very serious impediment to its settlement, inasmuch as in many parts of the North Island, heavily timbered land meets with ready sale, though in the interior; while the densely-wooded shores of Blueskin, Port Chalmers, and the harbour up to Dunedin, in the Province of Otago, were bought and cleared long before the fictitious stimulus to the price of land consequent on the discovery of gold.
“One of the most serious difficulties a young settler has to contend with in a new and sparsely-populated country, is the carriage of his provisions from the town to his land, pending his being able to raise sufficient produce to support himself and family off the ground he has purchased. He must either buy a team of his own or pay the heavy rates for carriage consequent on bad roads. These expenses, to a man of small means, are very heavy, and not unfrequently so crushing as to seriously retard his advancement. The means which would have enabled him to cultivate and improve his land with rapidity, are dissipated in the expenses of carrying his food. On Stewart Island much of this will be obviated. His fishing line and gun will supply him with one of the necessaries of life; and if he has a whaleboat, he can obtain the rest at no expense, so far as carriage is concerned, from the main land, or, if he has none, at a trifling cost, both in money and time, in comparison with land carriage. He will thus be in a better position to devote his energies and means to the clearing and cultivation of his land than his compeer, settling fifteen miles inland from Invercargill. I believe the sale of the timber would more than pay for the clearing in most of the bays. The admirable water communication would enable the logs to be floated or shipped to where a saw-mill might be established, and if it will pay to saw timber anywhere, it will at Stewart Island. At Port Pegasus, the splendid spars, and the knees, ribs, etc., of the rata, will always command a good price for shipment to the Mauritius—a trade with which is already established in Dunedin; vessels from the former place would only too gladly load with such on their return. Thus the cost of clearing the land will be less than on the main, while produce once obtained, the facilities for exporting it are greater. The local consumption of agricultural produce in all young settlements is not great, and the demand easily satisfied, the majority of the population being occupied in producing the same staple. To pay the agriculturist he must export, and on the main he is met with the usual difficulty—defective internal communication. The settler at Stewart Island will be in a very advantageous position in this respect; he has Nature's highway—the sea. He can boat his produce across to the Bluff, and ship it on board a steamer for Australia or the West Coast; or sell it to a merchant, delivering it as above. He will thus be enabled to sell it at a moderate price, and will consequently find a ready market.
“Shipbuilding is an industry which could be conducted with great success on the island, some of the bays in which are peculiarly adapted for the purpose. The numerous sheltered coves in Paterson Inlet and Port Pegasus, furnish a hundred dock-yards from which vessels of size could easily be launched, while the raw material abounds, and is of the best quality. I saw a vessel of 180
tons being built, every rib of which was formed out of the natural curve of the rata tree, the strongest and toughest wood for the purpose. I was also given to understand that there were one or two natural dry docks.
“The scenery is magnificent. At the south and west coasts of the Island, the weird appearance of the jagged mountains—the fantastic fissures in the bare rocky islands and coast, worn by the turbulent seas to which they are exposed—the lofty cones of bare granite—the singular colour of the rocks abutting on the ocean, unite in conferring a degree of grandeur to the tableau, such as I have not seen equalled in any part of New Zealand,—while the natural beauty of the landscape in Paterson Inlet and Port Pegasus is equal to that of the Sydney Harbour, setting on one side, of course, the artificial adjuncts of cultivated shores and ornamental villas.
“From all I could gather, and from my own observation, I would imagine that all along the east coast of the island, from Port Pegasus northward, the climate is fully equal, if not superior, to that of Invercargill. I had a good opportunity of testing it in every part of the coast during the five weeks I spent in exploring the island. Judging from the accounts I heard on my return to Invercargill, the weather on the main land must have been less fine than that I had experienced; nor do I imagine that a larger quantity of rain falls there than on the main. That drizzling rain is frequent is not surprising, seeing that the high range of hills running down the centre of the island naturally attracts and holds the cloudy vapours floating about, which are in some measure again discharged before being dissipated on the rising of the sun; but it is generally only an early shower, light and not lasting, which more assists than retards vegetation. I have no doubt that as the forests get cleared away in the progress of settlement, the climate will improve in this particular. From my experience, I would imagine the thermometer rises higher in the bays and bights on this island, than it does at Invercargill.
“The bays on the east coast are sheltered from the westerly gales by the high ranges already alluded to. The slopes of the hills have, as a rule, a north-easterly aspect, and the rays of the sun being concentrated by the contracted space into which they are poured, the heat obtained is greater. On more than one occasion I noticed how well sheltered the land in these bays is, when it was blowing half a gale outside.
“The distances of the various ports from each other, I have taken from the ‘New Zealand Pilot.’ I found the Admiralty survey wonderfully correct, so much so that the enlarged charts of the various bays would answer as selection maps under the present system of free selection, pending the ordinary survey of the island.”
The rock specimens, sixty-three in number, are carefully distinguished as from the different localities, visited by Mr. Pearson, round the coast; but they only prove that there is a remarkable similarity in the geological formation throughout the whole of the island, consisting of granite, gneiss, mica-slate, felstone-slate, and other crystalline metamorphic rocks, associated with granite-porphyry, diorite, and syenite. No metallic ores are represented in the collection, but traces of copper and silver have been obtained from specimens sent from the western side of the island by prospecting parties.
Gold is obtained also in that quarter, as fine alluvial gold, on the surface of elevated terraces excavated in the decomposed granite. The gold is associated with large garnets, oxide of titanium, iron sand, and, occasionally, scales of platina, but this valuable metal is not so common, I am informed, along with the Stewart Island gold, as with that obtained on the opposite shore of Foveaux Straits, and in the Waiau river.
In 1863 I visited Port William and Preservation Inlet, which are both situated on the north-east side of Stewart Island. At the former I found the
rock to be a coarse-grained red or grey granite, which is traversed by veins of granite of more recent date and a lighter colour, and afterwards pierced and shattered by dykes and injected veins of hornblendic trap or greenstone. Most interesting sections abound, clearly displaying the facility with which the trap rock has penetrated the granite in all directions, most probably, however, only following and expanding previously-existing lines of fissure.
No minerals of interest or value were observed, although several might reasonably be expected to occur in this formation under the above conditions.
On the beach of one small cove that is surrounded by lofty cliffs, and situated in the north bay of the harbour, the sand is almost wholly of magnetic oxide of iron, in a very minute state of division, but neither gold nor tin was associated with it. The hollows between the ridges and bosses of granite are filled up with an unstratified deposit of stiff yellow clay, containing sub-angular boulders of large size.
In Paterson Inlet no other rock was observed but coarse-grained granite, which decomposes with great facility to a coarse sandy clay. This granite is irregular, from its containing nodules of compact fine-grained granite, so that it is probably only an extreme form of metamorphic rock.
In Ruapuke Island, at the eastern entrance of Foveaux Straits, it is worthy of note, that the granite and hornblende rock is traversed by quartz veins containing large masses of iron pyrites, that yield minute traces of gold.