23 October 2009

Roughing it in the South Island

'...[T]he experiences of the surveyor and explorer Thomas Brunner, scrawled in a damp journal while traversing the south-west coast of the South Island [of New Zealand] in 1847, exposed just how little British civilisation (or any other for that matter) had penetrated these vast tracts of the country's territory [...]

26th. I am getting so sick of this exploring, the walking and the diet being both so bad, that were it not for the shame of the thing, I would return to the more comfortable quarters of the Riwaka river.

27th. Worse and worse walking, the rocks being steep and rugged, and covered with underbrush and quantities of brier, the bush almost impassable for the quantity of dead timber and moss. The evening showering for rain.

26th. Heavy rain all day. Broke our fast on a species of fungus found on the rotten trees.

24th. Last night we were again visited with a deluge of rain, which completely covered the surface of the earth, so that we had to sit all night ankle deep in water.

27th. [...] our dog nearly consumed (I was compelled, though very reluctantly, to give my consent to killing my dog Rover), and we could find no other eatable: the weather too cold for eels, and birds are not seen in the black birch woods'

- Quoted in Paul Moon, The Newest Country in the World: A History of New Zealand in the Decade of the Treaty, Auckland, 2007, p176.

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