Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 6, 1873
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“The district comprises some of the best land on the Otago Peninsula, as well as some of the very worst. The coast line is a series of high, irregular cliffs rising to 400 or 500 feet above the sea, and forming here and there small bays and promontories, against which, the water being deep close in, there is always a heavy surf beating, even in fine weather. The district contains some magnificent scenery and some natural wonders of a very interesting nature.” The author first visited the lime works, where, he says, “the lime is of excellent quality, the rock cropping out on the side of a low hill, and bearing marks of extensive and long-continued water action, being worn into curious deep holes now filled with clay.” He then went along the side of a steep hill, through a heavy rock cutting of hard bluestone, to Sandfly Bay. The rocks there are very much broken and full of cavities, and the heavy waves dashed with prodigious force upon them. “The phenomenon known as the ‘water-rocket’ was frequent. Small masses of water are thrown up with great vigour, with tails of spray, just as if fired from a gun, often at right angles to the way the wave is moving. This is caused by the air being compressed in the hollows of the rocks by the advancing water, and, expanding rapidly when the pressure ceases in the hole, is blown through the wave into the air.” At one end of the bay several stacks of rocks, called “Gull Rocks,” stand at a short distance from shore, and are much frequented by sea birds. A bank of loose,

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crumbling rock at the end of the beach is said to contain fossil shells. The point opposite Gull Rocks resembles at some places great beds of hard, black cinders, and at others hard, compact, ribbon-like masses, the strata being very much inclined. In the next bay is a large sandy cave, 120 feet in diameter, the result of the action of the sea at a former time, when the land stood at a lower level, which is the abode of numerous rabbits. Further on immense cliffs of black rock stand straight up from the water's edge to a height of at least 600 feet. The cliff then divides, forming a terrace, partly under cultivation, on the slopes around which the timber is being rapidly destroyed. “Away before us extended a huge gap in the ground, the bottom of which we could not see. To our left rose a high precipice of black basaltic pillars, from the base of which sloped gently down a beautifully green patch of low bush. The precipice extended on our front to the sea, the pillars being brownish coloured, standing perpendicularly, like the pipes of a great organ, and ranging from 35 to 50 feet in height, capped by a great thickness of amorphous basalt in several beds. Down to our right was a patch of sandy-looking rock through which the sea came rolling in through a great archway.” Nearly in front of the arch is a large pyramidal stack of rock in deep water, rising to about 350 feet in a pretty regular cone, and frequented by numberless birds. From a lofty cliff an extensive view of the surrounding country was obtained, and “a short way down the other side of the ridge we came to a very curious piece of ground. There was no soil on it, but plenty of stones of all sizes. The south-west and north-east winds sweep over this tract of land with great force, and carry away every particle that is moveable, blowing it into the valley on either side; the sand is thus kept perpetually passing, either one way or the other, over this arid belt. As a result of this motion all the stones are worn and polished into peculiar triangular shapes, something like those found in the wind-hollows among the sand-hills on the ocean beach near Dunedin.” * Several species of Raoulia were gathered here.

[Footnote] * See Trans. N.Z. Inst., Vol. II., p. 247.—[Ed.]