Thursday, 5 March 2009


Yesterday, at the request of Terry Thomsen, I am posting three more chapters on James McKerrow's three remarkable Reconnaissance Surveys conducted in the years 1861-63. This was probably the most land surveyed by a single survey team in such a short period of time.

I have to edit them further as mistakes have crept in when changing formats.

I would like to dedicate this posting. and the next two, to my Auntie, Francis McKerrow, who got a copy of James Herron's thesis way back in 1969 and sent to me when I was working in Antarctica. I spent the winter of 1970 at Vanda Station, Wright Valley, Antarctica, and one of my hobbies was retyping his wonderful thesis.

A map of James McKerrow's survey expeditions 1861-63. This map shows the enormous area he covered


Between the time of McKerrow’s arrival in Dunedin and the completion of his work in rural section survey, the search for pastoral land had been going on space. The disinclination of pastoral explorers to wait for survey before occupation led them far beyond the boundaries of the 1857 and 1858 Reconnaissance Surveys.

As early as 1856 John Chubbin, the Morrison brothers, and M. McFerlane, following directions given them by Reko, a Maori at Tuturau, left McKeller’s station on the Waimea Plains and forced their way through spear grass and matagouri to the south end of Lake Wakatipu.

There they were obliged to 1 immerse themselves in the lake, for a lighted match had fired the parched vegetation.
From that time on squatters advanced2up the Mataura Valley in a steady stream.
In 1859, W. Saunders and N. Bates led the rush to Wakatipu by this route, and the former hastened back to Dunedin to lease a block of land.
In the same year D.A. and W. Cameron 3and A.A.McDonald induced a Maori from Riverton to guide them up to the south-eastern side of the lake. J.T. Thomson appreciated all the information on this region that this party could give him when they arrived in Dunedin to apply for runs.4 A more comprehensive exploration of the lake was made in the latter part of 1859 by Donald Hay, a hardy Australian sheep farmer, who was introduced to the Wakatipu district by D.A. Cameron. Hay found an abandoned moki on the lake and used it to establish the fact of the existence of the great north arm of the lake. 5

A lone piper, facing Lake Manapouri and the mountains of Fiordland, plays a tribute to the hardy Scottish explorer and surveyor, James McKerrow, who surveyed this lake. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Soon after, the Canterbury surveyors Jollie and Young spotted the lake from near the Motatapu river whilst engaged in plotting the boundary between Otago and Canterbury.
They were not able to visit the head of Waneka since they had no boat, and it was left to H.S. Thomson and G.M. Hassing 6 to explore this region. These two went twenty miles up the Makarora and set fire to the wilderness of ax, fern and cabbage trees. 7

Upper Makarora from Scrubby Pass

An extensive area of land between Wanaka and Wakatipu still remained unexplored. In 1860 W.G. Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelman pushed their way down the Cardrona Valley
over the Crown Range and on to Lake Wakatipu. Their four more faint-hearted companions had turned back at what was seemingly impenetrable scrub. Following some exploration on 8 the lake itself, Rees supplied the Lands Office with a sketch map, and secured a pastoral license for land on the east side of the lake. Von Tunzelman took up land on the west side, near the mouth of the Von river. 9
The mountainous district between Lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau remained unexplored until 1861 when D. McKellar and G. Gunn went up the Mararoa River, over the Greenstone Saddle, and eventually sighted the coast. 10

The pastoralists were playing an increasingly important part in the a airs and prosperity of the Province. Between 1855 and 1861 the number of sheep in Otago increased from 59,000 to 694,000, and cattle numbered 44,000 as compared with 6,500. Pastoralists began to penetrate into every corner 11 of the province, and the survey staff found it impossible to keep up with them. The basis of most surveying systems is triangulation. If one side and three angles of a triangle can be measured, then the other two sides can be calculated. Any one of these sides may form the base of an adjoining triangle, and a network of triangles varying in size and shape may be extended throughout the country. As the three established stations of a triangulation may be too few from which to cover an area for topographic detail, triangulation is supplemented by traverse lines. A traverse is a local survey, complete and accurate in itself, but tied to a triangulation before its true position can be calculated. Baselines may be measured along a stream or a road, and o sets referred to bends or nearby objects. Ultimately bearings are referred back to the initial starting point and the traverse should close. It remains then to refer the end points of the traverse to the trig station of a triangulation. When the traverse has been linked to a triangulation, the true position of all its points can be calculated. The ideal arrangement for a survey is a general triangulation interlaced by traverse lines.
The steps in general survey adopted by Otago surveyors were as follows : After marking the block boundaries, the surveyor laid out the roads, connected the traverses to the sides of a triangulation, and designed the shape and arrangement of sections. These were generally quadrilateral in shape and varied from forty to three hundred acres depending on the course of the road, the topography of the country, and fertility of the soil. The details were plotted on a black plan of eight inches to the mile. About one tenth of the plans were examined in the field; the remainder was completed in the o ce. When the plans had been passed and the press notified, lithographed copies were made available to the public as an index for selecting land. 12
This system was admirable in every respect, save one. T was too slow; it was creeping westward with tantalizing deliberation.

Squatters sought accurate fixations of boundaries, but could get little assistance from the Survey O ce. At least one third of the best map available was a virtual blank although often decorated with caricatures of the great lake and river systems.
These represented an ingenious but unavailing attempt to interpret and reconcile an accumulation of Maori tradition and squatters’ reports. Thus Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island, was shown by a mere dot, while Wakatipu had been
represented in so many ways that many believed there were two lakes in the region.
It was left to Hay and Rees to explode 13that myth.
The land office had no option but to delineate applications for runs in squares and oblongs on a blank map. These were to be systematically assorted after survey. Confusion arose almost immediately. Mountains, lakes and snow-fields were tentatively
granted to speculators as runs, and “spotting” surveys, 14.15
related neither to one another nor to a common point, proved a fruitful sources of dispute, claim and counter claim.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield had foreseen this very di culty and in his “Art of Colonization” devoted a few lines of warning to the avils of exploration before survey. The explorer, having chosen his spot, could not describe its boundaries to
the government; in most cases, he could not even tell the government where the spot was; for without a map, he could not say it is here or there. Without a map, all he could say is, it is somewhere where I have been, but whereabouts the spot is I cannot tell, except that it is near a river, and not far fromsome hills . . . A good map, the result of a careful survey, is indispensable . . . The sur veys should extend over the whole colony; and at any rate, for all colonies, a very large extent of the waste adjoining every settlement should at all times be keptsurveyed, in order that so wide a liberty of choice should at all times exist.”16
In his diary Goldie painted a picture of confusion which bore out Wakefield’s views. “One gentleman (goes) in search of a run for himself, finds a suitable places, fixes his marks from a certain mountain or stream giving the name of these points or streams himself, then . . . applies to the Westland (sic-waste land) Board for a run and gets it by paying his license. In course of time another . . . does the same, fixing on his point from a certain point eastward to a certain point westward, perhaps one of his points are (sic – is) from the centre or part of the first applicants’ run, thus they have become all locked and intermixed with each other, and I would not be surprised although some by the end will (be) . . . without runs altogether.”17 Infiltration by pastoralists into the country between the di erent lakes and north of the Takitimo mountains made the need for a further Reconnaissance Sur vey urgent. The Provincial Government sympathized with the feelings of the squatters since it had itself felt the need of a map of the country as far as the Southern Alps for purposes of administration. Accordingly it issued an order to the Dunedin Survey Office sanctioning the dispatch of a party to the interior.
J.T. Thomson was nothing18loath to comply with these instructions.
As early as May 1860 he had intimated his intention of carrying out a project of this sort,and in his report for the 19 1860-61 season, provision for a surveyor to carry out this work had been listed as a first priority.
Major Richardson 20the Superintendent of Otago readily gave his consent. “In accordance with the suggestion of the Chief Survey,” he said, “I am desirous that he should in the ensuing season devote the attention of the department to firstly a Reconnaissance Survey of the Waiau and Lake Districts, and if possible of the West Coast.”
Thomson was eager to undertake the task21 and complete the survey he had unfinished in 1856, but multifarious duties and failing health compelled him to entrust it to a subordinate.

All the other members of the staff were 22therefore invited to submit their qualifications for the task. 23

To his surprise James McKerrow was chosen. His satisfaction at receiving the appointment was tempered with di dence as to his ability to overcome the inherent di culties of the assignment.
“I happened to be the junior member of the survey staff at the time,” he wrote many years later, “and was therefore not a little surprised when the Chief of the Department called me into his room one day and said, `You see the blank on the map? I wish you to fill it up. Make ready and proceed as soon as possible. You have `carte blanche’ as to all your arrangements.’”
Thomson24had doubtless been impressed by the initiative, trustworthiness and hardiness already displayed by the young surveyor and it
was these qualities in addition to the essential knowledge of practical astronomy
which McKerrow possessed, that won 25 him this distinction in competition with his more experienced colleagues.
As the blank referred to on the map extended more than 8000 square miles and was known to be characterized by high snow-clad peaks, stormy lakes, dense forests, and uctuating snow-fed mountain torrents, McKerrow’s fears were no mere flights of fancy. Early explorers and squatters had left reliable reports of the conditions which could be expected. A general idea of what he might encounter could be gained from a perusal of the New Zealand Pilot. “A view of the surrounding country
from the summit of one of the mountains bordering on the cost, of from 4000 to 5000 feet elevation, is perhaps one of the most grand and magnificent spectacles it is possible to imagine,” it maintained, “and standing on such an elevation, rising over
the south side of Caswell’s Sound, Cook’s description of the region was forcibly called to mind.
He says - `a prospect more 26 rude and craggy is rarely to be met with, for inland appeared to nothing but the summits of mountains of a stupendous height and consisting of rock that are totally barren and naked, except
where they are covered with snow.’” 27 In addition to the thought of having to scale cheerless and uninviting peaks, knowledge of the depressing numbers of pioneers who yearly met death by drowning, and speculation
on the mysterious fate of Dr. Schmidt must have given 28each explorer food for serious thought. Exploration in Otago was indeed no sinecure. Obstacles of a nature rarely encountered either in Eastern Otago or in the North Island had to be conquered almost daily. Dr. J.R. Elder describes these difficulties thus: “The high alpine chain, that forms the backbone of the island presented a formidable barrier to his who sought to cross from east to west. The search for low passes over which a roadline might be carried, involved long journeys into di cult country, where the bed of the mountain torrent usually presented the only practicable route. The ever present danger was that the creek which presented no obstacle and was easily forded today, might tomorrow owing to sudden rains on the melting of snow on the great divide, become a deep rushing torrent impassable by man or beast. Cut off from supplies amid the desolate mountains the surveyors were often called on the face starvation. Death by drowning was the fate of many who risked the danger of swollen rivers in the endeavour to return to the base for supplies.” 29
A further potential menace, if prevalent and persistent rumours could be believed, was the presence in the remote recesses of fiordland of a truculent renegade Maori tribe, the so called “Lost Tribe” of the Ngatimamoe people.
In deference 30 to the pleas of friends that he should arm himself, McKerrow purchased a gun from Mr. Mills, the well known gunsmith in Stafford Street. Before the sale was legal, the purchased was required to sign a form declaring that his weapon would notreach the hands of natives engaged in the Maori Wars. While
the form authorizing the sale was still in the post, events in Dunedin made the completion of the transaction impossible. “I found the shopkeeper standing at his door with a very long face,” wrote McKerrow recalling the incident, “I said, showing him the authority. `I have come for my gun.’” “He said, `have you not heard what has happened?’” “No, what?” “Some of these rascals from Victoria have cleaned out my place and taken your gun also.” 31 The “rascals from Victoria” were some of the rougher lement among the so called “New Iniquities” who were pouring into the recently discovered goldfields in numbers hat soon reduced the “Old Identities” to the position of a inority group. From this time on Otago gradually lost some of its distinctive pecularities. Locks and keys became necessary,
the former pervading atmosphere of trust became somewhat modified, and imperial troops and an e cient police force replaced, as the guardians of law and order, the two plain-clothes government servants who had found time to engage in sundry duties besides that of keeping the peace. The threat previously used to intimidate runaway seamen, namely that they would be excluded from the jail and a night’s lodging if they overstayed their leave, became no longer practicable. Roads improved, and with this improvement the bullock, slow, independent and invaluable under bad conditions, began to give way to themore active horse. Even the thatched fern tree or clay houses, which had been hastily constructed in the early days when remunerative labour was of primary importance, were being replaced by more stately and pretentious structures. 32
This sudden influx of immigrants on an unprecedented scale threw an even heavier load onto the shoulders of Mr.Thomson and his already overworked staff. “The work of
a surveyor in a new country is very onerous, as he has first to survey lands suitable for immediate settlement of the immigrants and colonists, and then to permanently secure their titles, the former task requiring rapidity of execution, and
the latter practical correctness.”33

“The Surveyor may leisurely proceed with his 36-inch theodolite to measure the various angles of his great triangulation, and may occupy his time in solving . . . interesting geographical problems . . . without a single person feeling the want of his services or being possibly aware of his existence.”
“It is, however, quite another matter where the surveyor is required to deal with naked portions of the earth’s sur face and, with the least possible delay, divide the some into suitable portions for the occupation of the colonists.”34
It was the latter situation which faced the Otago survey staff . Their activities were of such general interest and importance, that they enjoyed a greater amount of limelight than do members of their profession today. Their work was often spectacular and exciting but the chief surveyor was frequently called on at a
moment’s notice to accomplish accurately, simply, and speedily, tasks which were beyond his resources.
Such was the position which Mr. Thomson faced in late 1861. He was expected to arrange for the survey of a huge block of virgin country in such a manner that the subsequent map would be useful in giving the heights of mountains, passes, and of lakes for use in later survey work. It had also to act as a guide for the distribution of pastoral runs and leases, and for the subdivision of the province into districts within natural boundaries for various registration purposes. It had to
be of some assistance in promoting village settlement and road construction, and should also serve as a general and intelligible geographical guide to Government Authorities. Every day’s delay meant that more miners were surging towards unsurveyed
lands.35 The system of survey Thomson finally adopted was almost
identical with that use in 1856-7. In his 1859 report he had written “Requirements . . . numerous and urgent . . . could not be met in a limited period by conforming to the most approved and tardy systems adopted in Land Survey, viz., triangulation and traverse. Considering the above circumstances and the
nature of the country to be submitted for survey, which possessed in every direction prominent features or natural survey stations in the numerous peaks . . . considering also that the requirements of the Board did not demand absolute
minuteness as a foundation to their measures . . . it appeared to me that the system so much had recourse to in Nautical Survey, viz., the ascertaining of di erences of latitude for the basis, and the observation of converging angles for the details, was
admirably suited to compass the objects in view, by its rapidity of execution and correctness of principle.”
From the summit 36 of an initial station, the true position of which was known, the surveyor took bearing with a theodolite to some prominent
objects in the area to be surveyed. The position of these latter could be fixed by plane trigonometry as soon as bearings had been directed from it both back to the initial station and to other points seen previously from the initial station.
Observations of angles were taken at every two to four miles to three or more of the stations in view, and the position of such topographical features as rivers, ridges, and bushes fixed by cross transit and tangent bearings and by rough sketches.
The beauty of this system, employed by McKerrow with only minor variations, lay in the fact that no artifically constructed stations were necessary. In addition, since for its basis the system depended on the distance between objects at the extremities of the operations, any incidental errors decreased as operations contracted from the extensive to the minute.37 Since the survey was being conducted inland, the most immediate and fundamental requirement was the establishment astronomically of the true position of the three initial meridians on which all subsequent observations were to be built.
At 38 each point observations for latitude, longitude, true meridian
and altitude would be necessary. Sextant observations of the circummeridianal altitudes of the sun would readily determine latitudes but the determination oflongitudes presented 39 more di culty. It was decided to calculate them through a comparison of the di erences in time of two chronometers set
to the time of observation Point Port Chalmers, the focal point of the Otago Coast Survey. The method was relatively simple in theory, but in practice it proved difficult. The longitude of a first station is known; also the time at which the sun is at high noon over it. In addition the rate of the sun’s progress East to West is known. If the di erence in the times of high noon at the first station and a second can be measured accurately, it is possible to calculate the distance between the two stations and hence determine the longitude of the second did not fulfil expectations for after a severe jolting from a packhorse picking its way over tortuous mountain track, the chronometers were found to be inaccurate. 40
By December 1861, McKerrow and his three assistants, John Goldie, James Bryce, and Malcolm McLean were ready for their preliminary trip. The region they hoped to explore extended 170 miles from the head of Lake Wanaka in the north to Sandhill Point in the South and varied in width between the outposts of former surveys in the East and the watershed of the est Coast. In all, it embraced over 4,000,000 acres. 41

On the 11th of the month the party packed their baggageand turned to the north. Three packhorses swayed under bulky loads made up of provisions, a tent, oilskins, blankets, clothes, a barometer, a thermometer, an ar tificial horizon, a
prismatic compass and a theodolite. Everything except the 42 indispensable necessities for the trip were pruned from the load. The only cooking utensils carried consisted of two billycans and a frying pan. Even the o er of a six-barrelled revolver for defence purposes was refused, and it was decided to rely on
improvised means rather than firearms for stocking the larder with game.
The start was inauspicious and provided the party with a foretaste of the trials they could expect. Three weeks had been spent waiting for a glimpse of the sun in order to set the chronometers, but before more than a few miles had been covered
one of the instruments was found to have stopped, and it was 44 necessary to return to Dunedin in order to regulate it. 45
After this experience particular care was taken in carr ying the chronometers. They were carried by hand for five hundred miles, but the attempt to keep them steady while traversing 46 rugged country was doomed to failure. The daily comparison of the two instruments showed that not only was there a discrepancy in time, but that this discrepancy varied a second or two from day to day.47 Conditions at the outset were wretched.
Two of the horses 48 shed shoes on the first day, a pack saddle broke on the second, and drizzling or torrential rain soaked the party all the way to
Waikouaiti. From there, provisioned and with the horses re-shod, they made their way up the Shag Valley to the parched and rocky hills at the head of Taieri Lake. Here they pitched camp for a night before tackling the scattered low-lying ridges
and muddy creeks of the Strath Taieri Plain. The Ida Valley plain was still before them. They crossed it the same day and pitched camp on the bank of the Manuherikia River. The nearby plain was interlaced by a number of streams issuing from the rugged
sides of the nearby Dunstan Range, and Christmas Day being foggy, it was decided to utilize it in shifting camp nearer thebase of this formidable mountain barrier. On Boxing Day they scaled the double range successfully although not without a
great deal of di culty. The task of leading the packhorses down through the loose shingle on the steep western side was one requiring great care and resourcefulness. That night camp was made at the Lindis Burn. In the morning McKerrow went in seach of a suitable hill for his first meridian. He considered Lindis Peak, a high peaked
knoll situated about one mile north-west of the junction of the Clutha and the Lindis, but came to the conclusion that it would be too di cult to climb while carrying a chronometer. Further search revealed no more prominent landmarks however, and he fixed on Lindis Peak for his purposes. While McKerrow himself was engaged in taking observations for time and latitude, and in referring bearings for tr ue meridian to the highest peaks towards Wanaka and the Southwest, John Goldie went up the Lindis River to secure stores and a shovel from McLean and Gibson’s store. The Lindis district had been the first Otago Goldfield, although by this time its glory had faded and all its inhabitants save the storekeeper had abandoned it to seeking
the red metal in the more recently discovered Tirapeka fields.
It was decided to spend a day prospecting. Pieces of quartz indicated the presence of the precious metal but the party was composed of sur veyors, not miners, and they were without the tools necessary to prevent water fro ooding the holes they had sunk in the river bank. Thus all e orts were fruitless.

The last day of 1861 was spent constructing a large and conspicuous mound over the spot from which the observations had been taken.
On New Year’s day 1862 and with the position of the first of three meridians satisfactorily determined, tracks were made for the Clutha River. Dwarfed by Mt. Dunstan to the rear, seven or eight snow-clad mountains in front, and a high peak
towering on either side, the party crept humbly westward along the river valley, its members awed by the majesty of the scene and fully conscious of their own insignificance. The same night they reached a point opposite Wilkins’ station and took the opportunity to cross the Clutha in a punt. At this point the river was swift and turbulent ood as it surged from nearby lakes, and fording it was out of the question. From Wilkins’ station they forged up the bed of the Cardrona River. Near its source the river became so narrow that tracks had to be dug so that the horses could edge their bulky loads between the rocks and scramble up on to the Crown
Ridge. They struggled along the ridge, heartened by the sight of Lake Wakatipu in the distance, and turn down to the terraces while still a mile short of the Crown.

Tracks had to be dug so that the horses could edge their bulky loads between the rocks and scramble up on to the Crown Ridge. They struggled along the ridge, heartened by the sight of Lake Wakatipu in the distance, and turn down to the terraces while still a mile short of the Crown.

A shepherd living in a hut beside Lake Hayes gave McKerrow detailed directions how to
ford the Shotover, and enabled the party to press on without delay over a well grassed plain to Mr. W.G. Rees’ station. There McKerrow took the opportunity to dispatch a batch of letters and reports to Dunedin.

On Monday the 6th January the horses were turned loose, and the survey party rowed fifteen miles over the lake to Von Tunzelman’s station. The station was deserted, so while McKerrow, Bryce and McLean established the second meridian on Mt. Nicholas, a peak to the south-west commanding an extensive view, Goldie pushed on to White’s station to borrow a packhorse. There he drew another blank – there was not
even a horse in sight; but on his return journey he succeeded in driving before him two horses which were subsequently identified as belonging to Von Tunzelman. Hardly had the horses been secured when they snapped their others and made for the hills. Meanwhile Van Tunzelman had returned home in time to join Goldie and Bryce in an unsuccessful hide-and-seek with the horses. McKerrow and Goldie soon completed their observations and were ready to move on to White’s. The search for the horses
was therefore abandoned, and swags containing blankets and provisions made up. Conditions were wretched and swags heavy, but the trampers still found time to admire the never-ending sea of deep green waving birch trees growing in gravel beyond the Oreti River. Mr. White offered McKerrow the loan of a mare as far as Hamilton’s, and subsequently Mr. Hamilton agreed to lend the party a horse for the journey to Hankinson’s. The latter beast proved to be particularly intractable and
not till she had broken a bullock hide bridle, attempted to rid herself of her pack, and rolled McKerrow on the ground, did she submit to some timely attery and the inevitable tether rope. The route now led up the Mararoa Valley, and the realization
of his proximity to Lake Te Anau, already sighted from Bald Hill near Hamilton’s, prompted McKerrow to veer northward to Mt. Prospect, the only peak near the lake at all suitable for a meridian. The peak proved admirable in many respects, but as
it was too near to Mt. Nicholas, it was resolved to carry on to Hankinson’s station. Hankinson had no boat, and could not suggest how one might be procured, but he gave McKerrow a pen and ink sketch of the district drawn by his brother. He suggested that Mt. York, picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Mararoa near its junction to the Whitestone Creek, might be a suitable meridian. If it was then it would not be necessary to use a boat in looking for a peak. The following day McKerrow walked as far as Mt. York, viewed it without making the ascent, and
arrived back at the camp wet, weary and ragged after the thir ty mile journey, through charred scrub. He had found that Mt.York, although small in comparison with neighbouring peaks, commanded an extensive panorama of rugged and barren
mountains as far as snow capped “Whitehead” on the West side of Lake Te Anau. Next day the whole party moved immediately to Mt. York, and spent three days there securing observations and building a cairn.
On January 21, 1862, provisions were secured from the st Gillow brothers’ station, and the little party headed back up the fertile Mararoa Valley. They spent a night in one of Von Tunzelman’s huts eleven miles from Lake Wakatipu, and those eleven miles to Von Tunzelman’s station were covered in such torrential rain that any halt for obser vations at Mt. Nicholas was clearly out of the question.
At Von Tunzelman’s a fortuitous meeting with Rees’ boatman obviated the necessity for lighting the beacon fire, the signal to Rees that transport was required. McKerrow had no intention of crossing the lake immediately however, always a
stickler for precision he was perturbed at the daily variation of the chronometers, and had decided to check the instruments t the two meridians he would pass on the homeward journey.
It became apparent that one chronometer was fast but losing ime and the other was slow but gaining. The former varied to more limited extent, however, and it alone was considered eliable enough for use in determining the differences in ongitude between meridians. 49

The heavy rain of the previous day had resulted in creeks nd rivers being swollen with oodwaters, and it was found o be impossible to reach Mt. Nicholas on foot. The di culty as overcome by Rees’s boatman rowing McKerrow cross the on River and giving him an opportunity to complete his bservations on Mt. Nicholas in brilliant sunshine. The party hen bade farewell to Von Tunzelman and made for Rees Station.

Lingering there only long enough to secure the packhorses nd to procure stores, they set out for the base of the Crown ange. They crossed the Range in the almost unendurable heat of a Central Otago day, and the sun continued to beat
down mercilessly while the weary travelers retraced their steps down the Cardrona, down the Clutha, and on to Lindis Peak. Everyone was anxious to secure the necessary observations at Lindis Peak and to pursue a rapid course homewards, but the
sun was perversity itself and refused for two days to oblige with its presence. Goldie took advantage of the delay to secure provisions from the Lindis, its population now increased to five by the addition of four goldminers. He and Bryce then took the horses to the junction of the Clutha and Lindis Rivers and awaited the arrival of McKerrow and McLean. All the observations on the meridians were completed and the party pushed on with all possible haste. They followed the Clutha for four miles, then turned eastward on to one of the ridges of Mt. Dunstan. Under a broiling sun which fatigued both man and beast to the point of exhaustion they crossed the rugged Dunstan Range and set out over the upper Strath Taieri plain. The Shang Valley, Waikouaiti and Blueskin village were swiftly left behind as the men hurried over the last lap of their 500-mile journey. From Blueskin, Goldie pushed on over the bushtrack to Dunedin with the packhorses and a batch of letters, but the other members of the party had to spend two days taking observations at Port Chalmers before they could look for ward to obser vations for time on Bell Hill Dunedin,
and the completion of the first Reconnaissance Sur vey. That date was February 1, 1862.

In the report presented six days later for the scrutiny of Mr. Thomson, a strictly objective account of observations was set out.
“Although the chronometers were carried with the 50 utmost care, all the observations obtained with a clear sky, and the rates frequently verified,” wrote McKerrow, “I would not claim any higher value for the longitudinal determinations
than a near approximation; for the chronometers were always a ected more or less when carried over high elevations. This may be attributed to the zig-zag course one has to take at some places and also to the change of temperature. The uniformity of
rate for di erent intervals, and the comparatively small change of rate when it did take place, show that compensation of errors takes place to some extent, but still there will be some error remaining which cannot be eliminated until the chronometers
can be got to act independently of such in uences . . . The observations for latitude and true meridian were taken undergood circumstances. To obtain a clear sky I had to wait several days at each meridian – the weather being broken and clouded
throughout.” 51 The three meridians which were to form the foundations of the survey system, had been determined; the more laborious
task of filling in the details lay ahead. This preliminary survey was valuable experience for Goldie, Bryce and McKerrow. During its course they not only
gained valuable geographical information but learned to adapt
themselves to the life of the wide open spaces. They learned to bake dough, in a hollow in the ground beneath the hot ashes of a scrub fire. “The result called damper was not very sightly, but it passed for good bread when there was nothing better. A baking of damper would sometimes last three weeks, so that in
such a case one’s digestion was not impaired by eating newly baked bread.”52 They also learned to trap the inquisitive and pugnacious“weka” by persuading him that a red rag bobbing on the end of a stick and accompanied by a chirping noise was a challenge to combat; a foolhardy misconception which led him immediately into a noose and ultimately into a stew. The weka was soon discovered to be an astute pilferer, although not soon enough to prevent the disappearance of the camp cutlery. Despite this universal tendency, the species held a warm place in McKerrow’s heart, and he considered it a matter for regret that poisoning and ferrets were gradually leading to their extermination.
Thirty years after his Reconnaissance Surveys he stated that “Even now when I hear their well known cry as they go home in the gloaming, it carries my thoughts back with gratitude to savoury stews, that did not require any sauce to make them
Prolonged absence from their homes and the accepted amenities of town life had accustomed the surveyors to a simpler scheme of things, and on their return home they were forcibly struck by the contrast.
I was just as well that they had 54 no nostalgia for comfort; ten months of the next fifteen were destined to be spent under canvas.

1. Beattie, H., Pioneer Recollections, Vol. I, P. 13
2. Gilkison, R., Early Days in Central Otago, P. 25
3. McClymont, P. 125. Beattie, H., op cit., Pp. 195-6.
4. Beattie, H. Pioneer Recollections, Vol. II, P. 47.
5. Ibid, Pp. 155-159 being letters of D. Hay to D.A. Cameron
6. Beattie, H., op cit. Pp. 187-190 – letters from Mr. Young
7. Hassing, G.M., Pages from the Memory Log of G.M. Hassing, P. 32.
8. Von Tunzelman, N., Struggles of a pioneer in the Lake Wakatipu
District, MSS., Hocken Library, Dunedin
9. McClymont, W.G. op cit. Pp. 127-9.
10. McKerrow, J., Diary, Account of talk with D. McKellar in 1863, see
Appendix D
11. Hocken, op cit, P. 168.
12. Palmer, Major, State of Surveys in New Zealand, App. H. of R., 1875,
13. McKerrow, J., Letter to Hocken, 20th May, 1907, Hocken Library
14. Ibid
15. Mr. J.T. Thomson condemned “spotting” surveys in practically every
annual report.
16. Wakefield, E.G., “A Letter from Sydney and other Writings.” (Everyman
Edition) P. 245
17. Goldie, J., Diary of First Tour in New Zealand. M.S.S. in Hocken
Library, Dunedin
18. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 15
19. Otago Witness, 26 May, 1860
20. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, 11 Nov. 1861, P 262
21. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, 26 June 1861, P. 222
22. McKerrow’s letter to Hocken
23. Kilmarnock Standard, 22 Aug. 1903
24. Reminiscences, P. 15
25. Kilmarnock Standard, 22 Aug. 1903
26. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. III, 22 Sept. 1859, P. 282
27. Cook, Captain James, A Voyage towards the South Pole, Vol. I, P. 96.
28. App. V. & P. Otago Prov. Council, Vol. I, Session II, 1855, Pp. 96-100.
Dr. Schmidt set out in 1855 to carry out a lengthy exploratory trip in
Otago, but disappeared somewhere in the Catlins Bush. His fate is
unknown to this day.
29. Elder, J.R., The Pioneer Explorers of New Zealand, Pp. 33-4.
30. The belief in the existence of a renegade tribe persisted as late as 1930.
Beattie, H., The Southern Maori, O.D.T. 20/9/30, 15/11/30, 7/4/31.
Southland Times, 21/10/30, 23/20/30, 29/10/30, 30/10/30
31. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 16, M.S.S. (Punctuation slightly altered)
32. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, M.S.S. Pp. 11-13.
33. Jourdain, W.R., History of Land Legislation and Settlement in New
Zealand, P. 200
34. Connell, J.S., On New Zealand Surveys, App. Trans., N.Z. Institute,
1875, P. XXVIII.
35. Palmer, Major. State of Surveys in New Zealand. App., H. of R. H1.
1875, P. 22
36. Thomson, J.T., Report, Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. III. Sept. 22, 1859, Pp.
37. Ibid
38. McKerrow J., Reminiscences, M.S.S. and McKerrow, J., Letter to Dr.
Hocken, M.S.S.
39. If at noon on a particular day, an observer measures by sextant the
distance in degrees of the sun above the horizon, he can immediately
ascertain his latitude by consulting the appropriate table in the Nautical
40. McKerrow J., Survey Report, Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V July 23, 1862
Pp. 11-12
41. McKerrow, J., Letter to Hocken
42. Goldie, J., Diary of Town in N.Z., M.S.S. Hocken Library, Dunedin.
Artificial Horizon. At sea level the altitude of a celestial body is
determined by measuring the vertical angle between it and the visible
horizon. In hilly country this is impossible and an artificial horizon is
employed. It consists of a trough of mercury protected by two glass
plates inclined at 45o. The surface of the liquid adjusts itself so as to
form a minor. Re ection is the basis of the method
43. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, M.S.S.
44. Goldie, J., Ibid.
45. McKerrow, J., Diary of Explorations in N.Z., M.S.S. – the property of
Mr. J.A.D. Ritchie, Wellington
46. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences
47. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. V, 23 July, 1862, Pp. 11-12.
48. Unless expressly stated otherwise, information on this first
Reconnaissance Survey is drawn from two parallel sources, the first
being McKerrow’s own diary, and the second the diary of Goldie his
49. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. V. 23rd July, 1862, Pp. 11-12
50. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V, 23 July, 1862, Pp. 11-12.
51. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V, 23 July, 1862, Pp. 11-12
52. McKerrow, Reminiscences
53. McKerrow, Reminiscences
54. Ibid


Chapter IV

In his report on the first Reconnaissance Survey McKerrow wrote – “I will now proceed to the Wakatip(u) Lake, and direct my attention to the survey of the country between it and the Wanaka Lake. How much I may accomplish before the end of the season, I cannot estimate, as the country there seems to be almost inaccessible and the work is new to me: I shall push forward as much as I possibly can.”
Despite his 1 own misgivings as to the accuracy of the initial observations, 2 McKerrow evidently satisfied Thomson that the work had been competently carried out, and he was instructed to carr y on with a more detailed Reconnaissance Survey.
James McKerrow

On Monday, February 17th , 1862, only six days after the completion of their first journey, Goldie and Bryce loaded up two packhorses and set out for Lake Wakatipu. Two days later McKerrow over took them in the Shag Valley. The route from there to Lindis Pass was practically identical with that used on the previous trip. On this occasion however, they managed to find a much easier path over the Dunstan Range and were able to make Lindis Peak in good time. They made use of this peak to fix points towards Wanaka and Hawea, then crossed the Clutha in Wilkins’ boat and pushed on to Roy’s. The manager of the latter station agreed to supply them with provisions, although he did so with extreme reluctance and only after McKerrow as leader of the party had made personal representations. 3

The Second Reconnaissance Survey had not yet opened up fresh regions to the party, but when they turned westward (45)and began coasting round the shores of Lake Wanaka, new and impressive vistas were constantly being revealed.

They turned westward and began coasting round the shores of Lake Wanaka, new and impressive vistas were constantly being revealed.

Unfortunately fog tended to disrupt the work, to limit the visibility, and to mar the view. At the outlet of the Motatapu, McKerrow decided to follow this river to its source. He forced his way up the rugged valley, fixed the position of the river, then turned up the Matukituki. The latter was low at the time, and no di cultywas experience in fording it although it was found necessary to eep a keen look out for quicksands.Ascents of the mountains overlooking the river were interrupted again and again by drizzling rains and thick blankets of fog. On one occasion McKerrow and Goldie discovered that one of the tethered horses was missing, and its more faithful companion subsequently shied, chucking its double burden to the ground and bolted. Even a successful ascent was often accompanied by unpleasantconditions. Goldie described one in detail. “For the first two hundreds yards or so, we had to creep on our hands and knees if not serpent like on our bellies, from the bank of the river till we gained the foot of the mountain through among thick growing high overtopping scrub, then we had to scramble up a pile of steep rugged rocks, clinging to some jutting piece of rock, the roots of some scrubby bush or anything that would favour us with assistance, halting now and again in an eerie swither, whether to proceed or return. Then again we would be weltering amongstthick scrub . . . Again you will find us pulling ourselves up some almost perpendicular rock, thus alternately we proceeded from scrub to rock, till we gained the more open ground, where we were able to walk half bent to the top . . . Mr. McKerrow fell from a rock several feet high . . . fortunately after a little faintness he felt himself little hurt.” As compensation for this effort, Goldie and McKerrow were rewarded with a magnificent view of rugged ranges studied with lofty snow capped peaks.

As the party pushed up the Matukituki to the point where its two branches sidle round the foothills of Mt. Aspiring, it became apparent to them that it would be certainly unprofitable and most likely impossible to find a path to the west over the frozen slopes of 10,000 foot Aspiring and her satellite peaks.

Through the telescope they could discern glaciers hanging precariously to the flanks of these glistening mountain giants. As the party pushed up the Matukituki to the point where its two branches sidle round the foothills of Mt. Aspiring, it became apparent to them that it would be certainly unprofitable and most likely impossible to find a path to the west over the frozen slopes of 10,000 foot Aspiring and her satellite peaks. Instead, it was decided to follow each branch of the river in turn; the south-west first. “At some places,” wrote McKerrow, “the water forces its way through a narrow gorge between two opposing precipices, at others and especially at the many rapids on the course it dashes impetuously through amidst the huge boulders that oppose its progress.” The scenery up the branch rising north of Aspiring was also strikingly picturesque, but it was restricted by perpendicular cliffs rising almost sheer from either side of the river bed. These formidable varriers dissuaded the explorers from probing further afield. They were en foot now, for under the circumstances ahorse would merely have been an encumbrance.

“I can assure you that the scenery here in its native grandeur was beyond anything I have ever seen for beauty,” wrote Goldie.“Each side was clothed with deep green waving birch trees, . . . here and there were to be seen splendid waterfalls, teeming
their water rainbow-like over some rocks . . . of several hundred feet in height high up on the mountain side, while many others were to be seen whose waters tumbled from one high rock to another dashing themselves into foam and mist-like spray . .. I myself regretted not a little at not being able to handle a pencil.” McKerrow was similarly enchanted. “The thunder of the avalanche is frequently heard and its over whelming forcedisplayed in its ruthless track left through the forest where remains of great trees lie torn and snapped into matchwood! Glacier Dome and Mount Aspiring enthroned amid perpetual snow and ice, bid defiance to the sun and forbid the approach of the beholder, who is spellbound, impressed with awe and
veneration at the stupendous forces of nature.”
“The Glaciers 4 pour down from the precipices that support them, every form and variety of cataract and cascade. The eye at one view may
see the waters bounding in sportive mood from crag to crag, as if eager to anticipate the more genial clime that awaits it, at another curling up like smoke as if appalled at the awful abyss that yawns below.” 5
They trudged past the last known cutpost of European exploration and found themselves further up the river and further west than any of their venturesome predecessors. As the ountry ahead appeared to be useless for cultivation and in any
case was within the borders of Canterbury, McKerrow decided ot to follow the river to its source. Itwas a comparatively easy task to make tracks back to the lake, and to push round the shore as far as Stuart Kinrees and Co's Station, but from that point onwards the waters of the lake lapped on to heavily weeded and irregular peninsulas, and numerous mountain spurs terminated abruptly in dangerous,
precipitous ridges. A beat was essential. McKerrow had been promised one sometime previously by the manager of the station, but it had not yet arrived from the head of the lake. In the meantime he occupied himself by determining the position
of the lake, and in comparing his findings with these secured two years previously by the Canterbury sur veyors Jollie and Young. It appeared to McKerrow, (and a comparison of the two maps confirms his belief ) that Jollie and Young had sadly
distorted the outline of the lake.

Only a limited amount of work could be carried out without a boat, and it was a profound relief to McKerrow when it arrived and enabled him to continue with his observations further north. He pursued a zigzag course up the lake, and from
the peaks which rose high above either shore, took observations to other mountains, to bays, or to various landmarks in the Hawea and north-west regions. From the isthmus separating Lakes Hawea and Wanaka he finally determined the position
of the latter lake, then extended bearings to Hawea from the same point. From the upper end of Lake Wanaka and for many miles northward, there extended a long, narrow alley, fringed by rough scr ub and dominated by birth-covered hills and snow-
topped ranges. Through the valley the Makarora River flowed down to Lake Wanaka.

Through the valley the Makarora River flowed down to Lake Wanaka.

It had been McKerrow’s fer vent desire to spend a few days searching for the Maori track which was reputed to lead from Wanaka to the West Coast; a track of mystery and romantic allure to the pakeha, one of imper fectly recalled historical associations to the Maori. The discovery of such a route was one of the objectives of the expedition.

“The West Coast still remains a terra incognita,” Thomson had written. “It would be well to have the mysteries of the locality cleared up and its resources made known.”
The long valley and 6 broken ranges suggested a track, but the eye could pick out no opening in the confusion of forest, snow, and rock, stretching
thirty miles into the distance.

It was the 20th of April and snowstorms could be expected before the survey was finished. Rather reluctantly McKerrow turned his back on the Makarora valley, leaving the elusive pass for others to conquer.
His interest in the pass did not ag 7 however, and at several of the nearby stations he set enquiries on foot. When the sur vey was completed McKerrow received a letter from Mr. Hopwood, the manager of the station of the
station of Lake Hawea. In it some light was thrown on the Maori use of the track. It appeared that a Maori from Noeraki had been paying a visit to Hawea to show a youthful companion the traditional route used in procuring eels and woodhens from
the West Coast. For Hopwod’s benefit the native described theroute from the lower end of Hawea over the range to the head of Wanaka, and from there ten miles up the Makarora to a place where a large Totara grew. Here the party had split. The
narrator had remained there catching eels until his companions returned eight days later. Hopwood had some faith in the tale, for the native was evidently well acquainted with the lake and the tracks around it. 8

It was too risky to venture a oat in a cockleshell boat during the prevailing story weather, and for two days the surveying party kicked their heels at the top of the lake. Then the wind dropped and they rowed down to Kinross’s station in
a at calm. Here they left the boat, took in supplies, recovered their horses, and set out for Roys. At Roys they borrowed fresh horses, but the additional beasts often proved more of a liability than an asset, and their nightly habit of breaking their tethers and bolting kept Goldie busy tramping in pursuit for half a day
at a time. The party next turned southwards, crossed the Cardrona
and followed down the right bank of the Clutha. McKerrow sent the men on to the junction of the Clutha and the Lindis while he continued with his work, but when later the same night be attempted to find their camp, he by-passed it in the
dark and was forced to spend a chilly night in the open with a free as his only shelter. In the morning he heard shouts and was able to rejoin his companions. Downstream they went, taking bearings to Lindis Peak and Trig Hill from all the
Clutha’s tributaries up to and including the Kawarau. When McKerrow had determined the course of the Clutha to his own satisfaction, tracks were made for the outlet of the Cardrona and Wilkins’ station.
At Wilkins’ they left a batch of mail for delivery to Dunedin, then crossed over the Wanaka branch of the Clutha to the fertile run lying between Wanaka and Hawea. From Mt. Brown which lay nearby, McKerrow took observations to the bends of the Hawea River and to the east side of the Wanaka Peninsula.

Later he climbed Mt. Moude and took a set of observations to Hawea and its encircling mountains, and to Quartz Creek. At this latter spot McKerrow met an experienced miner who had been fortunate enough to strike gold. After he had dug thirteen feet, water seeping in had stopped him, but in the spring he
intended to exploit the claim with suitable equipment. This discovery was duly reported to Mr. Thomson. 9

On the 9th of May the survey of Lake Hawea began. After fording the Hawea branch of the Clutha, McKerrow determined its course, then extended bearings from Mt. Maude forward to other land marks. From the south side of the lake campwas shifted round the shore of the lake as far as Jones’ lower station. The place was deserted; even worse, there was no boat. McKerrow and Goldie decided to scramble along the side of the lake as far as Jones’ upper station, and set out prepared to spend several nights in the open. They had covered only four miles however, when they sighted four sawyers rowing down the lake. Both McKerrow and Goldie shouted at the top of their voices, and noted with satisfaction that the sawyers had seen them and were drawing in to the bank. It was the sur veyors’ lucky day, for two miles further on impassable precipices rose perpendicularly from the lake-side. After some discussion the sawyers agreed to row Goldie and McKerrow round the precipices and to set them ashore near a hut occupied by a contractor engaged in blasting out a bridle-track for stock. From that point it would be possible to reach their destination on foot. This course was adopted and eventually the surveyors reached Jones’ upper station. Mr. Hopwood the manager of the station at once lent them a boat, and for two days they rowed up and down the lake taking observations. It was not found necessary to proceed far up the Hunter River since for the most part it lay in Canterbury, and on the 17th May Hopwood rowed Goldie and McKerrow down to the bottom of the lake.

Dunedin was the next objective.
McKerrow had a high regard for those enterprising runholders who were prepared to risk their capital and spend their time on country which would not pay its way for many years. Sheep and shepherds were exposed to the dangers of 10
mountains and gorge, a full muster for shearing was merely a pipe-dream, communications and the shipping of stock were of necessity by water till a bridle-track could be blasted through, valuable cattle land could not be utilized; and in spite of it all hardy pioneers took up runs and, what is more, overcame all di culties with indomitable courage and astonishingingenuity.

The travelers had turned for home none too soon. Warm sunshine prevailed as far as the Dunstan Range, and as there was no vestige of snow on its slopes, the sur veyors elected to camp for a couple of days on the western side. This decision was instantly reversed in the morning when the dawn revealed the countryside thickly mantled with snow. The snow was still falling thickly and continuously, and if the Dunstan Range was to be crossed before conditions deteriorated too far, there was no
time to be lost. The horses were packed, camp was struck, and then began the long weary trudge up one of the valleys leading to the summit. That night, the horses, hungry and without anything to chew, stood hobbled outside the tent in biting frost
and falling snow. Inside, three surveyors lay and shivered on six inches of snow. Before the horses could be saddled next day, frozen snow was scraped from their backs, and they were led up and down until body heat and sweat melted the foot-long circles which hung from their bellies. Shivering in the chill wind the miserable little procession plunged in Indian file through knee-deep snow. Each man took his turn at leading; then returned exhausted to the rear. At times, great balls of snow formed on the horses’ feet and caused them to stumble and fall. Each one of the party had the private fear that their tracks had led up apromising spur only to peter out in an impassable ridge, and it was a welcome relief when the curtain of snow lefted and the Maniototo and Manuherikia Plains burst into view. 11
That night camp was pitched in scrub which provided fuel for a miserable fire and some slight nourishment for the ravenous pack-horses. The following morning McKerrow took a horse and pushed on alone. The unexpected depth of the snow on the plains impeded his progress more than he had anticipated, and at dusk there was no sign of the shepherd’s hut in which he had intended to spend the night. Just when he was pondering on the unpleasant prospect of a night in the open, he saw the smoke of a chimney, and a figure silhouetted against the doorway of a hut. The down-and-out miner who greeted McKerrow invited him in for the night and supplied him with a sheepskin to cut hobbles for the horse, since it was unlikely that the animal would prefer the bleak environment of the hut to shelter and the company of his companions. At daybreak McKerrow set out on another lap of his journey to Dunedin. Two days later, amidst the convenient shades of a winter evening, a very weary and ragged horseman rode into Dunedin and on to his cosy little home in Forth Street Pelichet Bay.

For James McKerrow the second Reconnaissance Survey 12 was at an end. Goldie and Bryce spent three days camped on snow and a further two delayed by rain before they were able to slog their way through mud tracks to Dunedin. They arrive there on the 30th of May, 1862, after an absence of nearly four months. 13
McKerrow set to work immediately to compile a report and to produce a map of the area he had covered. A preliminary report was handed to Mr. Thomson before the end of June. 14 In it McKerrow gave a brief account of the method of survey he had adopted. “A base of three miles was . . . measured on the terrace between the Wanaka Lake and the Cardrona River; from the ends of his base, and with the true bearings brought forward from Lindis Peak, several triangles with sides of from three to six miles were forced – these again, when completed, served in their turn as new bases for triangles, greater or less according to the position of the mountain peaks. In this manner about 1000 square miles of countr y have been gone over . . .
The three angles of each triangle in the middle of the survey were observed; in case where it was only possible to observe the two angles of a triangle a bearing from a third position ser ved as a check.” 15
The report then went on to describe the physical features of the area surveyed and in particular the character and surroundings of the streams and rivers. For example, the Matukituki’s uctuations were ascribed to its glacial origin, the volume of melted show in the river depending on the heat of the day. Of Wanaka he stated that “with its many peninsulas and sinuosities, it yields to the passing gaze panoramic views unsurpassed . . . by the far famed Loch Lomond of Scotland.”
A brief note on the reputed Maori track followed. The report then went on to discuss the evidence suggesting that Hawea, Wanaka and the terraces of the Clutha had at one time all been under one large lake until an earthquake had cut a passage for the Clutha through the Dunstan Range. Another possibility, it pointed out, was that a swift current had worn away the river bed in the rock. The investigation of such a problem could well be left to the Geological Survey.

The complete report,written by the 9th of July 1862, was 16 lengthy without being in any way verbose or irrelevant. It gave a precise summary of the physical characteristics of the country the party had covered. Of the 1829 square miles surveyed, 940 square miles were considered suitable for pastoral purposes.
The balance of the land in Otago consisted of 40 square miles of forest, 180 of lake and 326 of barren ground. The part of Canterbury surveyed was practically all barren.
The permanent snowline, based on frequent observations of 7838 foot Mt. Alta was estimated at about 8000 feet, but observations to glaciers on Mt. Alta and Mt. Aspiring indicated that the permanent glacier level was considerably lower. The source, course and characteristics of the main snow fed rivers such as the Matukituki, the Makarora, the Hunger,the Motatapu, the Dingle and the Timaru were described in appropriate detail, and the contention that their waters varied with the melting of the snow was substantiated by reports of flood marks around the lakes. The lakes McKerrow suggested appeared to act as reservoirs in conserving ood waters and in controlling the ow of the Clutha. Without the lakes, the mighty Clutha might well have been an intermittent torrent.
Some space was devoted to a discussion of the agricultural and pastoral potentialities of the various districts, and a concise and illuminating summary of the details was set out. Another valuable section dealt with di culties which could be anticipated in gaining access to these areas. In McKerrow’s opinion part of
the Clutha Valley would grow cereals and vegetables, although the absence of suitable timber for fence-posts might prove a drawback for farm purposes. The last section of general interest discussed the all important question of communications. McKerrow pointed out that the only overland route to the interior suitable for dray was through the Lindis Pass, but that this track, like the bridle tracks over the Dunstan Range and Crown Ridge, was generally impassable for a few weeks every winter. Even at the best of times drays could be taken no further than the junction of the Wanaka and Hawea Rivers. There their contents had to be transferred to ferries. It was possible to cross the Clutha on horseback at certain times of the year, but in the meantime the upper reaches of Wanaka and Hawea were accessible only by boat.
Short paragraphs on nomenclature and gold discovery concluded the narrative section of the report, but appended to it was a list of the heights of the mountains, a summary of the different classes of land and a day to day record of the 17.18 weather conditions, together with barometer and thermometer readings.
The report was published in the Otago Provincial Gazette.
Its importance can scarcely be overemphasized. For the first time squatters had a reliable and comprehensive description of the upper Clutha Valley. They could venture forth secure in the knowledge that no hostile natives would molest them and
that the land they had bought in Dunedin would be clearly delineated on an o cial map. No land piracy was possible. McKerrow was not feted in any way for his work, but J.T. Thomson, a taciturn Northumbrian inclined to be frugal in his praise, realized that his trust in McKerrow’s ability had not been misplaced. “The service was one of the great delicacy and diffculty” he maintained, “and having being satisfactorily accomplished by that officer, (i.e. McKerrow) much credit is due to him.” 19
For the year of these operations was £805.3.2, and the price per acre of the Reconnaissance Survey worked out at a penny to a penny halfpenny per acre. For a service which fixed the 20 positions of pastoral runs, district boundaries, tracks and routes acquainted the public with the fertility of Central and north-Western Otago and brought large sums rolling into the coffers of the Provincial Council, it was money well spent.

1. Report. Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. IV, 23 July 1862, Pp. 11-12.
2. Ibid
3. Unless stated to the contrary, the description of this journey is taken from the diaries of Goldie and McKerrow. Fixing the position of the Cardrona river and its tributaries. From the Pisa Range bearings were carried west to the Kawarau River. “It is a river worthy of no small admiration,” wrote Goldie . . . Its principal attraction consists in this that it passes through so many narrow and rocky gorges churning its waters into foam, places that at a short distance from them, one would think you could step over them . . . if its equal was in the old
country many a pleasure party would be witnessed on its banks.” From the Kawarau they retraced their steps up the Cardrona valley to the fertile strip of land at the outlet of the Cardrona River. On the way the observations were taken during winds of gale force, and it was found necessary to improvise additional supports for the theodolite.
4. McKerrow’s letter to Hocken
5. McKerrow’s diary
6. Report by J.T. Thomson, Otago Prov Gaz. Vol. V, 26th Nov. 1862 P.206
7. Report by McKerrow, O.D.T., 28th June, 1862
8. M.S.S. Letter from Hopwood to McKerrow – in back of field book No. 127, Dunedin Survey O ce.
9. Report Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V, 23rd July, 1862, P. 16.
10. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. V, 23rd July, 1862, P. 15. McKerrow’s diary for this trip breaks o on the 15th of May on which date he was still engaged in surveying Lake Hawea. Goldie’s diary is complete however, and part of the journey back to Dunedin is described in McKerrow’s “Reminiscences.”
11. McKerrow’s Reminiscences
12. Ibid. – I have it on the authority of the Misses Todd that Mrs. McKerrow lived at “Burnside” in Halfway Bush during the surveys.
The Todds lived next door. I cannot explain McKerrow’s reference to his home being in Pelichet Bay
13. Goldie’s Diary
14. Report, O.D.T., 28th June, 1862.
15. Ibid
16. Report, Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V, 28th July, 1862, Pp. 12-16
17. See Appendix E
18. See Appendix F
19. Report, V. & P. Otago Prov. Council, Departmental Reports, Session
XIX 186 Z, P. 2
20. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol.V, 26th November, 1862, P. 208

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Chapter V

This map shows the enormous area covered James McKerrow and his survey expeditions 1861-63.

Mr. J.T. Thomson was evidently quite satisfied with the scope and accuracy of the first detailed Reconnaissance Survey, for in his annual report covering the period 1961-2 he recommended that McKerrow be employed in surveying an area extending from the mouth of the Waiau River up to Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau, and north of the Takitimo mountains as far as the Crown Range. At this point bearings should close with those determined on the previous Reconnaissance Survey. If possible and practicable an attempt should also be made to reach the West Coast.
On the 29th July 1862,Goldie and Bryce entered the Survey Service at a wage of Rs.1/-per day, and two days later started south on the first stage of a circuitous sweep through Invercargill, the Waiau District, and the mountainous region surrounding Wakatipu. This route was preferable to the northern one in that horses could be used for the major part of the trip. The use of the Shag Valley route meant leaving the horses at Rees’ station. They followed the newly metalled south road as far as the Taieri ferry, where it degenerated into a muddy dray track. Then they pushed across the Tokomariro Plains to the Clutha River, and crossed this mighty waterway in a punt designed and constructed by Mr. J.T. Thomson. The Mataura River was also safely negotiated, and before them stretched a low level plain which provided an easy passage to the thriving little town of Invercargill. 2

Although McKerrow had left Dunedin four days after Goldie and Bryce, he arrived at Invercargill on the same day, the (59)9th of August. Before setting out for Blue Hill in the company of Mr. J.H. Baker of the Southland Survey staff, he made a careful study of those field books in the Invercargill Survey Office which dealt with the Reconnaissance Surveys of 1857-8. On the way to Bluff it became necessary to wade along the side of the harbour but ultimately he and Baker reached Bluff Hill and pitched camp on its summit. They spent a fortnight here, but the weather was so boisterous that the vital obser vations to Stewart Island and inland mountains could be secured only on rare occasions. Mr. Baker later paid a tribute to McKerrow’s ability on this occasion. “This work”, he maintained, “and my conversations with Mr. McKerrow were of great use to me, as they gave me an insight into the higher branch of my profession which I had not had before.” 3 On his return to Invercargill McKerrow determined to his own satisfaction the position of Mt. Anglem on Stewart Island. Later on he used this peak as a point of reference from the mouth of the Waiau River.

Mt. Anglem on Stewart Island was an importrant reference point for future surveying on his 3rd expedition.

All preliminary observations were at last complete. As soon as Goldie and Bryce found the flooded track from Bluff passable, they joined McKerrow in Invercargill and made final preparations for their long sojourn in the interior. Finally stores were procured, and the party set out for Riverton. At Riverton, a picturesque little settlement situated at the mouth of the Aparima or Jacob’s River, and important since the decline of whaling operations as the port of the Western runholders, useful information was collected. Mr. Howell, who owned a run on the west bank of the Waiau, informed McKerrow that there was no bush from the south of his run to within five miles of the coast. In his opinion it would not be necessary for the surveying party to follow their projected course along the coast. Howell also maintained that Solander Island could be seen from Twinlaw Peak. This meant that its position could be determined by means of bearings from Bluff and Twinlaw Peak, and that the position of the mouth of the Waiau could then be calculated from the positions of Solander Island and Mt. Anglem. He volunteered the additional information that the Lillburn River emerged from a lake which could be seen from the vicinity of one of his runs. This fact was substantiated by Solomon, a well known Riverton Maori. According to the latter there were two lakes named Howlako and Monowai lying in the bush west of the Waiau. He had seen neither, but the former had been visited by an old woman of his Kaika, and the latter figured in the traditions of the tribe. Solomon was able to make a rough sketch showing the approximate positions of the lakes, and this he gave to McKerrow. 4
Bearings were taken to Mt. Anglem from a nearby trig station; then the party turned their backs on civilization and set out on their journey to Twinlaw Peak, some forty miles to the north east. The route led through the Aparima valley with theLongswood forest range visible on the left, and, on the right, a broad plain extending as far as Invercargill and the Mataura.

Showery weather and swampy roads made traveling conditions miserable, but eventually they arrived at Twinlaw Peak and secured the necessary observations to the Takitimos and other westerly ranges. The Waiau, just sixteen miles westward, was the next objective. A succession of low barren ridges led to a beautiful little valley, the Wairaki. Through it a limpid stream owed on its way to join the Waiau some thirty miles from the sea; and here was that broad and turbulent torrent, the Waiau itself.
Howell’s station was only two miles beyond the river, and a signal fire lighted on the bank of the river soon attracted the attention of the manager who came down to the river and rowed the party across.
Howell’s manager spent nearly a week in guiding McKerrow round the run; one of the only three west of the Waiau. A base line was measured on gravelly soil, and from it the positions of the Deanburn River and of various swamps and bush terraces were determined. During the week McKerrow noticed some tree trunks stripped of bark. They had obviously been scarred with blunt axes at various times in the past. On one occasion McKerrow, accompanied by the station manager and a Maori boy, went a day’s journey on horseback towards the Lillburn River. Thick scrub continually scratched both men and horses, and it was found necessary to fire it to facilitate progress. On
returning to Howell’s, McKerrow set the men to widening the track he had passed over so that the pack horses could push their way through the scrub. While they were engaged on this work he himself spent some time determining the positions of some of the tributaries of the Deanburn, and in fixing the position of Howell’s house. The following day the journey to the Lillburn commenced. A track was slowly hacked through the brushwood and rank native grasses on the north bank of the river. Fog stopped observations on several occasions, so the surveyors spent some time in an abortive attempt to find gold in the mica and fireclay In the bed of the river.
Lake Howloki, was thought to be somewhere at the head 5 of the LIllburn, and McKerrow was anxious to visit it. Leaving their horses at the edge of the scrub and snow grass, he and Goldie plunged into the bush on what was to prove a fruitless search. The going was hard and seven hours were occupied in covering fifteen miles. “We sank to our knees in fogg (moss),” wrote Goldie; “and what with rotten branches or huge fallen trees our traveling was both tedious and toilsome. Upon each side of the Lillburn, there is a great extent of bush, mile after mile, hill and vale appear robed in . . . dark green foliage.”
As they advanced up the river, Mt. Hindley came into view, standing like a sentinel at the bend of the gorge. By that time the Lillburn had degenerated into a small mountain torrent obviously incapable of draining a lake of any size, and after taking a few observations from a spur, the surveyors pitched camp in the bush for the night. The following day they returned to the base camp thoroughly drenched by pouring rain.
For four days the rain continued, and during that time the Lillburn was found to be impassable. Until the swollen waters subsided, McKerrow occupied himself by taking observations around the camp. Eventually the river returned to normal and enabled him and Goldie to reach their next objective, a high wooded peak twelve miles up a tributary of the Lillburn. From the top of one of the tallest trees on this peak, which was named Double Bush hill, Goldie and McKerrow enjoyed a magnificent view extending north up the Waiau Valley to Dean Hill and the Hindley Mountains, south to Stewart Island, and west to the snow clad mountains. “Around us on every side the country was under one dense forest, stretching in some directions as far as the eye could reach while far in the west, the lofty snow-clad mountain peaks stood high and bold, dazzling in the sun.” No break in the beach forest revealed the elusive Lake Howloko however. 6
Supplies were running low, and they stayed only long enough for McKerrow to secure a few observations from an opening hacked in the trees at the brink of a precipice. They soon discovered that their enthusiasm had led to indiscretion; they had advanced too far on meager rations. Bryce was therefore sent ahead to push through brushwood and swamp in an attempt to reach Howell’s without resort to crossing one of the Lillburn’s tributaries for within a few hours the rain had changed from a mere trickle to a surging torrent. McKerrow tried to cross one stream and very nearly paid for the attempt with his life. A second attempt was unnecessary however, for Bryce soon arrived back safely from Howell’s with the precious supplies. He had been unable to discover the whereabouts of the packhorse which had broken away some time previously however, and although he and McKerrow subsequently spent a day combing the valleys and ridges between Howell’s and the Lillburn, no trace of the animal was seen. Not even the lure of the other two horses was suffcient to rout him out, and it was concluded that he must either be wandering in the scrub, or have swam over to the east bank of the Waiau. No more time was wasted in the search. Instead a passage was cut through the scrub bordering the Lillburn. Occasionally the banks of the intervening tributaries were so steep that the packs had to be removed from the horses backs and carried over, or the horses allowed to swim along until a gently sloping bank provided them with an easy passage from the water. Traveling in this manner became both slow and tedious,especially as frequent halts were necessary for obser vations to determine the course of the Lillburn and the Waiau.
At a point just south of the Limestone Gorge and not far below the junction of the Lillburn and the Waiau Rivers, they struck Mr. Aitken’s station. His run, a beautiful level piece of land extending over some 10,000 or 12,000 acres, stretched to within six miles of the mouth of the Waiau, “a distance though short, never known to have been traveled by a white man,” claimed Goldie. They found some diffculty in making this journey through the forest of giant totaras to the coast and wet scrub, muddy creeks, and a lagoon, made traveling conditions far from pleasant.
Once more McKerrow noted tangible signs of former native occupation – stripped trees, and typically constructed huts containing such articles as a pipe, a piece of iron, a piece of wollen stocking, the remains of a axe basket, and heaps of shells presumably for use as axe scrapers. From the mouth of the Waiau which was obviously unsuitable for navigation, bearings were taken to Mt. Anglem, Solander Island, and the western mountains.
Once more the party turned their thoughts to Howloko, and decided to search for a possible outlet along the coast. They walked fifteen miles east along Muscle Bench,
but saw no river 7 of any size and abandoned the search when a few miles further past Sandhill Point would have seen the party rewarded. They turned north once more, and spent a full day pushing through bush so thick and overhanging that constant reference to the compass became necessary even after a detour of only a yard or two. The six miles to open country took eight and a quarter hours to cover. Next day the party caught their horses, which had bolted in their absence, and turned north to Aitken’s. Mr. Aitken himself was away from home, but one of his employees named Jones and two other men, whalers by occupation, proved very obliging.
When McKerrow and Goldie expressed their desire to cross the Waiau, these three, who had had experience of the crossing, volunteered to make the first trip with a horse. McKerrow and Goldie evacuated the boat and stood on the bank. While the boat was in midstream, it seemed to McKerrow that the horse was being held too tightly, and was dragging the boat downstream towards a rope stretched across the river. The boat drifted closer and closer to the rope, touched it, capsized and flung the men into the current. Mrs. Jons, who was on the bank, gave vent to a series of frantic screams which soon subsided when her husband was seen to be safe, saved by the quick witted action of those on the bank. They had sighted him hanging grimly to the rope in midstream, and severed the taut rope and seen him swung into calm water on the other side of the river. Meanwhile one of the whalers had managed to climb on to the upturned boat, and waiting for an opportune moment leaped to the shore. His companion was not so fortunate however, and was swept out of sight. McKerrow and Goldie spent two days searching for his body, but saw no sign of it and abandoned the search. Meantime Bryce made his way up to Howell’s station, crossed the Waiau, and made down the east bank of the river to a point opposite Aitken’s run. There he met Jones and Mr.Aitken, secured the horse, which had swum out on the east side of the river, and accompanied the two men on their circuitous journey for home. Bryce alone reached the station immediately however, for in showing Aitken and Jones a suitable place at which to ford the Lillburn, he was swept away, and only saved himself by grasping at an overhanging ax bush on the south bank. His horse made for the nor th bank, and Bryce was left, drenched and shivering amidst snow and hail, to make his way to Aitken’s on foot. Aitken and Jones then retraced their steps to the point opposite the former’s station, and shouted across the river that they would meet the surveying party at the Lillburn. Several wet days followed and were used in cutting a track to the Lillburn, but ultimately the weather cleared, the river subsided and Aitken and his unfortunate companion, who was weak, bruised but safe, reached the station. Jones maintained that the accident was not due to the horse’s behaviour, but to a gust of wind which had blown the boat on to the lowstrung and over stretched rope. Aitken, who had been on the east bank of the river at the time of the mishap, admitted that the rope should have been replaced and maintained it had
been his intention to do so. He also said that his instructions had been that no one was to cross in his absence.8
On the 27th of October the party left the scene of the tragedy, and headed via Howell’s for the Wairaki valley. Here they spent some time in mending badly scratched bags and saddles before setting out south for the journey to Cuthbertson’s station. At Cuthbertson’s they picked up the missing packhorse whose whereabouts Jones and Aitken had reported, then turned back past the Limestone Gorge and retraced their steps to the Wairaki River. A few days were spent here in fixing the course of the Wairaki, but on one occasion McKerrow spent the day writing letters while Goldie and Bryce chased the runaway horses over the spurs of the Tokitimu Mountains. Camp was eventually shifted to the base of this ranges over a succession of low lying ridges and grassy plains which auguredwell for the pastoral and agricultural future of the Waiau Valley.
The Surveyors were entranced by the view from the southcorner of the Takitimus, Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, the serpentine meanderings of the Waiau on its sixty mile journey to the sea, great forests and mountains, and at long last, Lake
Howloki, “shining like a great mirror from the depths of the bush at the base of the Princess Mountains.” (9) Several short journeys were made up the valley to creeks and ridges, and from one of these McKerrow caught a glimpse of Lake Monowai.
He considered that Howloko and Monowai would probably be seen to better advantage from the Hindley Mountains, and with this end in view signaled to Rogers’ station on the west bank of the Waiau. If any confirmation for the existence of a large lake in the west was needed, it was found in the large tream which owed into the Waiau to the North of Rogers’ tation. Eagerly they toiled through bush and over fallen timber,
struggled above the bush line, slipped past frowning cliffs and climbed up on to the top ridge of the Hindley Range.
Only two or three points of Howloko could be seen,but that was enough to indicate that it was a lake of fairly large dimensions and relatively inaccessible without a boat. It appeared probable that the outlet of the lake was west of Sandhill point. Beyond the lake was a vast sea of undulating 10 forest clad ridges separated from the party by deep precipitous gorges and snow covered peaks. McKerrow considered that this area might be more easily explored from Preservation Inlet. Somewhat reluctantly he abandoned Howloko, and peered through the fog concealing Monowai from view. He succeeded in identifying the shoreline of the north west corner of the lake, but the north east corner stretched west beyond his field of vision.
“The Monowai lake,” wrote McKerrow, “is regular in its form and beautiful in its appearance, surrounded by high mountains all closely wooded around the lake . . . while the placid waters reflect, as from a mirror the dark green shade of the mountain birch.”
Provisions were once more low, so they pushed on down the Monowai River, crossed the Waiau at Rogers’ station and headed north to Ligar’s station, where they secured supplies by voucher. Once more they headed nor thwards, passing over the extensive plain which stretched right up to the junction of the Mararoa and the Waiau Rivers. This point was only a few miles distant from Mt. York, the third meridian established during the first Reconnaissance Survey, but the link was not closed immediately. Instead, McKerrow shifted camp east to the rich pastureland north of the Takitimu Mountains, and ascended one of these rugged and shingly peaks to take observations to Lakes Manapouri, Te Anau and surrounding mountains. Progress was being constantly interrupted by the continued proclivity of the horses to vanish during the night, although they were always followed and recaptured. A brief trip was also made to Mt. Prospect, which by reason of its isolated position proved admirable for observation purposes.
This particular jour ney involved swimming the Mararoa river twice. Eventually the party arrived back at Gillows’ eager to turn their attention to the survey of Lake Te Anau. One of the Gillows brothers had promised McKerrow the loan of a boat when the two had met previously in Invercargill, but when approached on the spot both brothers showed a decided reluctance to co-operate in any way. The boat was only used twice a year to cross the Waiau; it was unsafe in rough weather and needed careful handling in calm weather; it would be available for use on Manapouri only, as the current was too strong to row to Te Anau. Furthermore their dray was out of repair, their bullocks intractable, their time valuable, and even if they had the equipment and were substantially recompensed they would still be unprepared to assist. McKerrow reminded the younger brother of his promise. The latter temporized and evaded the issue. Finally the truth emerged. It was all very well for the Otago Provincial Council to use his boat when it suited them, but they were not prepared to accept his returns as to the size of his flocks. McKerrow appealed to him not to transfer his grudge to an innocent surveying party endeavouring to open up the country, but the plea was in vain.

Further discussion could obviously serve no useful purpose, and McKerow determined to proceed to Hankinson’s and seek help there. This course proved unnecessary however, for on the north side of the Mararoa river the younger brother Gillow overtook the surveying party and ordered them the boat. His conditions were that in return for the loan of the boat McKerrow would sign a paper to the effect that the Otago Provincial Council took full responsibility if the boat capsized and the party was lost, and under such circumstances would compensate the owners of the boat for their loss. Before he returned home Gillow told McKerrow that he was a fool and would probably never survive his expeditions. 11
McKerrow carried on as far as Mt. York, measured a baseline, and extended operations as far as the Whitestone valley. On one occasion from the summit of Mt. York he was able to see the valley of the Waiau, the Takitimos, the Mararoa valley, and, in the north-east, a series of high mountains still retaining, “in tattered strips, the remnants of their winter robe.”
Manapouri,studded with many small and diversely 12.13 shaped islands, shimmered in the distance, and the protractionof bearings to peaks near the head of the Lake made it evident that the West Coast sounds were not far distant. From Mt.York McKerrow and Goldie followed the course of the WaiauRiver as far as Te Anau “This part of the river,” wrote Goldie, “looks beautiful all along its crooked course. The boughs of the birch trees that adorn its banks yield to take a parting kiss from its limpid waters as they calmly and silently roll along on the
tortuous course.”
It was quite evident that it was impossible to row from Manapouri to Te Anau against the strong current, but no difficulty was anticipated in making the trip from Gillows’ to Manapouri. To the concentration of McKerrow, after he had covered a third of a mile all his e orts to make fur ther progress were frustrated by the strong current. When twenty minutes strenuous pulling at the cars produced no better result, he realized that there was only one alternative. The boat must be carried. It was only a one man, at bottomed boat, apparently a puny craft, but that six mile por tage over rough country was punctuated with many a rest, and the day was far spent before aching shoulders deposited their burden on the waters of the Manopouri. The position of the rowlocks was immediately altered to make room for two rowers, and waiting only long enough for the surface of the lake to assume the placid appearance of millpond, Goldie and McKerrow stepped into their unseaworthy craft, took o their boots as a precaution against foundering, supplied themselves with a stock of damper, and set o to explore the ramifications of the lake.
From various peaks around the lake bearings were taken to the waters edge, the angle of depression determined, and distances calculated. The lake proved to be much larger than was anticipated, and a return for supplies became necessary.
Eventually all the arms of the lake were explored and McKerrow was able to turn his attention to the possibility of finding a route to the West Coast. One glance at the insuperable barriers presented by the sheer 1000 foot granite pecipices at the
western end of the lake persuaded him that he must forgo the attempt.
Both men were enchanted with the scenery. “The 14 lake,” maintained McKerrow “with its magnificence of outline, its many and varied forms of wooded peninsulas and islands dotted over its surface, here revealing and there hiding in its shining surface the precipitous mountains that hem them in, with their jagged and snowy peaks mingling with the clouds, make up a scene . . . which it would be difficult to find an equal.”
“Beautiful water falls are seen teeming their waters rainbowlike over rocks several hundred feet in height, and the more noisy and angry cascades were here seen and there hid among the foliage upon the mountains side churning their waters into foam long before they reached the bosom of the lake,” wrote Goldie in enthusiasm. The lake was not always seen in such a pacific mood however, and as the boat was totally unfitted to contend with the tumultuous seas which arose from time to time, Goldie and McKerrow were often faced with the choice of remaining ashore, or of taking a chance that the slight swell would not break into crested waves at a pu of wind. In the latter case a hasty retreat to shelter was indicated.

The survey of Lake Te Anau was the next objective, and one of the most challenging feats of exploration and surveying in New Zealand.

The survey of Lake Te Anau was the next objective but at one stage it appeared that this would have to be abandoned. The problem was one of supplies. Gold had been discovered in the Lake Wakatipu region, and the yearly supplies for the Te Anau district had been diverted to this new goldfield. Mr. Jackson, one of the Te Anau runholders, rose to the occasion however, and supplied the survey party with provisions from his own scanty stock. 15
The next task was to move the boat the fifteen miles from Manapouri to Te Anau. It was out of the question to row against the strong current, and after their previous experience they did not take kindly to the prospect of carrying it. Ultimately Bryce
was sent for help to Hankinson’s station which was situated some miles north. Although no bullock dray had ever been over the proposed route, Harkinson agreed to make the attempt. The dray arrived in due course, and the boat was carted up to
Te Anau without much trouble.
On occasions Te Anau is as calm as the proverbial millpond, mirroring in its glassy surface the outlines of the surrounding mountains. On other occasions and without warning it can become a raging sea, threatening to swamp all but the most seaworthy craft or to dash unwary rowers against rocky precipices. McKerrow and Goldie impatiently kicked their heels on the shore of the lake waiting until the seas should calm down. Provisions were low and time valuable, and eventually they were tantalized into making a premature move during a temporary lull in the wind. They soon regretted their action. A sudden squall and a rising wind caught them in the south fiord, unable either to make shore or to continue. A sheltered cove two miles distant o ered temporary refuge for two hours.

Then a lull in the storm persuaded them that the worst was over, for four miles they rowed over a calm surface. Suddenly without warning a gust of wind swept down the lake, and within five minutes whipped placid waters into a tumultuous sea of white crested breakers. Desperately McKerrow and Goldie rowed to the protecting shelter of a small cove.
Night drew on and still the storm raged unabated, so it was determined to make an attempt to land. Goldie seized an overhanging branch, scrambled up a rocky incline, and in the absence of any at piece of rock, constructed a platform of branches on which to place the small tent. Standing on it, he seized the provisions from other gear which McKerrow handed up, and finally helped his companion to pull the boat
out of the w ater by its painter and to secure it between two trees. For two nights and a day Goldie and McKerrow perched in their tent on the side of the cli face, while round about them every peak echoed and re-echoed with a roar of thunder, and every storm cloud belched forth deluges of torrential and incessant rain.
In this manner they spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day of 1862; doubtless one of the most memorable festive seasons in their lives. 16
Undaunted by this experience the two men rowed further up the south fiord. They had hoped that from the watershed of the small stream at the head of this arm of the lake they would be able to see the West Coast, but once again precipitous mountains barred the way, leaving McKerrow with his high hopes unrealized. Thwarted here, he turned to the middle fiord, similarly enclosed by lofty mountains and rockbound sides, and studded at its entrance with wooded islands and peninsulas. Triangulation by horizontal angles was obviously impracticable here. Instead, altitudes of peaks ahead were determined for use as bases from which to determine ver tical angles. By protracting a few bearings on a blank map used for plotting progress roughly, it became apparent that the West Coast fiords were only ten tofifteen miles distant from the head of the fiord. 17
One of the avowed aims of the trip had been to reach the West Coast, and McKerrow, unsuccessful at Wanaka,Manapouri and at the south arm of Te Anau, was anxious to
find a pass connecting east and west. Apart altogether from its practical value, the discovery of a mountain pass carries with it a certain measure of allure. “Around most of them,” writes James Park, “have grown a halo of romance. Even in these days
who of us can read of the crossing of the Alps by Hannibal, or the forcing of the passing by Napoleon without a thrill of pride for the genius that made such events possible?” 18
In New Zealand the discovery of passes preserved this romantic flavour, but it was not McKerrow’s lot to find the first in Otago. His only serious attempt to reach the coast failed. Progress up the Doon valley was reasonably easy at the outset but bush, granite rocks, dead timber and finally an unfiordable river impeded and ultimately halted progress, and a shortage of damper forced a return to the camp at the head of the fiord. 19 He then decided to attempt to secure a sight of Caswell Sound, and to fix on any route to the coast which might be cut through with probability of success. It was decided that an attempt should be made on the only accessible peak handy. Goldie and McKerrow blazed a trail through the bush, and zigzagged their way up on to a spur leading to the summit. A disappointment was in store. On all sides was a dismal and confused array of peaks. Shrouded in fog, but of Caswell Sound there was no sign. Drenched with rain, and smeared with wet moss, they slithered down the mountain side and spent a miserable night without a fire, and su ering from the unwelcome attention of swarms of sandflies.
On three consecutive days they ascended this same peak,but each time a climb of four hours had for its reward nothing but the tantalizing sight of snow and black rocks looming through the mist. Damper was again low, the meat had “come to life” once more, and the sand ies were keeping up a persistent attack. They decided on a final attempt. To their delight the fog gradually lifted during the ascent, and there, lying to the west, was Caswell Sound, with the island at its mouth and the surf beating on the rocks fringing it clearly visible through the telescope. George Sound was not in view, as a mountain peakobscured it from sight. “We wave our caps, give three cheers, and down we hurry to the boat, glad to have verified our position
and glad to get away from our blood-thirsty tormentors the sandflies,” wrote McKerrow. 20“There was a good deal of public interest at the time as to who should be the first to sight the West Coast from the interior of Otago. I am not aware that anyone did before the third day of Jan. 1863 the date of the fifth and last ascent. 21
I named the mountain `Pisgah’ in recollection of a mountain of that name in another and distant country from which a 22 long expected and promised land was seen on a much more important occasion.” 23

Mount Pisgah, Southwest Arm, Middle Fiord, Lake Te Anau. McKerrow climbed Mt.Pisgah five times, and on the fifth ascent he got a treasured view of the West Coast.

From the summit of Mt. Pisgah it appeared that the wooded saddle separating Caswell Sound from Te Anau might yield to determined bushwhackers, but the paucity of his supplies, and the realization that a permanent route could only be carved out at a prohibitive initial cost and yearly maintenance, dissuaded McKerrow from making the attempt.

1. Milford Sound road end
2. Bligh Sound
3. George Sound
4. Caswell Sound
5. Charles Sound
6. Nancy Sound
7. Dagg Sound
8. Breaksea Sound
9. Dusky Sound
10. Chalky Inlet
11. Preservation Inlet
12. Doubtful Sound Deep Cove
13. Lake Te Anau
14. Lake Manapouri
15. Lake Monowai
16. Lake Hauroko
17. Lake Poteriteri

“Rain, rain, rain the whole day, and these horrid sand ies,” he complained next day in his diary. The following day broke fine however, and he and Goldie made for the Eglinton river. There they erected a small shelter for their food, beached the boat, and headed across country to Hodge’s station for fresh stores. They spent the
next two days determining the outline of the bush encircling this run, then collected the precious foodstu and swagged their way back over swamps and through bush to the Eglinton river. Mt. Eglinton, six miles north of the camp, was the next peak to beclimbed, and when observations were completed here the journey up to the north end of the lake was commenced. They pulled up the lake to the north eastern corner, thenrowed up the Clinton River for about one and a half miles. 24

Eglinton Valley

Goldie likened this upper end of the lake to the fiords. “The upper end is very much akin in its appearance to each of theother three arms stretching away far and narrowly closing amid the high mountains, while here and there, their bold
perpendicular rocks rise from the brink of its waters to a great height, while here and there upon the more gently elevated par ts of the mountain and from amid the somewhat stunted growing birch trees that grow to a considerable breadth up the
mountain sides all round the west side of the Lake were to be seen the jagged prows of overhanging rocks, dark and grim looking with age.”
From the north-eastern corner of the lake, they made for the north-western corner, they turned south and rowed up the north fiord. It provided no surprises, so they retraced their 25way to the mouth of the fiord, and headed back to the Eglinton River.
From there the east shoreline of the lake was followed without incident as far as the mouth of the Waiau. Here they halted to wipe the sweat from their brows and to consider the practicability of running the rapids. Goldie was quite willing to take the risk, and a hazardous journey commenced. Downstream the dinghyraced, careering merrily along. Just an occasional stroke of the oars was necessary to keep a course past bends, or through the eddies and whirlpools which persisted in turning the boat about. Suddenly they came on a rocky gorge with banks so precipitous that escape was out of the question, and to their consternation the boat literally danced on the strong current towards protruding rocks, broken water, and a mass of foam-rapids!
“What side of 26 that rock in the centre of the river shall we pass? If we go to the right side we are in danger of the snags sticking out of the sideof the bank, if to the left we may be dashed against the centre rock for the current breaks off from the rock above on to it, let us try the latter plan and see if we cannot go partly through it, pull hard, it is done, we are into the rapid, the centre rock appears just over my right shoulder. Thank God we have just cleared it, touch gently with your oar, let us keep end on with the current, or else these waves will swamp us, spread your feet well and keep your seat firmly; look out, more rocks are ahead.

Keep into the smooth water, that is that one passed, just another and then I see we have smooth water, we are now into it; never more thankful for anything in all our lives before.” Later on 27 several less dangerous whirlpools and accumulations of sand or trees were safely negotiated, although the boat grated once or twice on the bottom. “When in my mind I look back over it, I conclude that it amounts almost to a miracle that we escaped,” wrote Goldie.
Camp was pitched on the shores of Lake Manapouri three hours after leaving Te Anau. Both men were eager to satisfy their ravenous hunger after such strenuous activity, but the nervous strain had a ected them more than they realized, and the damper and cup of tea were wasted. (28) It occurred to McKerrow that the worst stretches of the river had been hidden from sight when he had made the survey of its course; otherwise he would never have considered making the trip by boat. He therefore decided to warn anyone against following his example, and to disclaim any responsibility if they attempted unsuccessfully to emulate his unintentional feat.
Strenuous rowing carried the two men down to the Mararoa River and on to the last lap in the little dinghy. Six weeks after its removal, a journey of three hundred miles behind it and none the worse for the experience, the little dinghy was replaced in its scrub boathouse. 29

Upper Mararoa River Area - Overlooking the Pond Burn Area and into the Greenstone Valley from above the Upper Mararoa Hut.

From Gillows’ boathouse McKerrow and Goldie made for Jackson’s station where they picked up Bryce. He had been resting there with the horses since the sur vey of Te Anau had commenced. They pushed on over the Whitestone and Upukerora rivers and as far as Hankinson’s Station. Here they were delighted to receive a batch of letters, and to take the opportunity of writing replies to be posted at Riverton.

McKerrow took some observations from Mt. Prospect to the Upukerora and Whitestone rivers, then the whole party made tracks for Gillows’ station to report the delivery of the boat. For a time they followed that same route up the Mararoa valley which they had used a year previously to the very day, but after a while they branched o towards Oreti river. In time they came up to the Eyre mountains and on ascending a dark, rough spur picked out Mt. Hamilon, the Takitimo Mountains and the Oreti and Mararoa rivers.
At Printz’s station nearby, McKerrow had a yarn with Thos. Brown, an old whaler. He was able to give McKerrow particulars of anchorage at Milford Sound and the Awarua
riverand stated that in his opinion the Maoris had been in 30 the habit of following this river and one of its tributaries until they could pass over a saddle and down the rivers leading to Lake Wakatipu. Brown himself had been part of the way up the river in a Maori canoe.

From Printz’s the surveyors proceeded up the Oreti valley, crossed over to the Mararoa valley and eventually reached Bald Hill from its summit they were treated to an impressive sight. Rugged peaks towards above valleys wrapped in evergreen
beeches or containing detached clumps of bush; to the north stretched the valley leading to Wakatipu. During their stay in this district, the party was fortunate enough to have access to Hamilton’s house, which, although unoccupied at the time,
had been left open for travelers.

McKerrow was anxious to proceed next to the Mavora lakes. He pushed up through a dark wooded valley, skirted the two lakes, and advanced as far as the junction of the contributing branches of the Mararoa. From a nearby peak he caught sight
of the Mararoa, Van and Greenstone rivers. They appeared to rise very close to one another. Supplies were low again, and on the second of February a route was followed which led down to the Oreti Valley and thence to one of White’s outstations about ten miles east. Next day McKerrow took some observations to the watershed of the Eyre Mountains in a wind so gusty that he was forced to steady the base of the tripod with stones.
He then pushed on alone to White’s main station nearer Lake Wakatipu, but as no one was there retraced his steps as far as a hut belonging to Von Tunzelman. There he found Goldie, Bryce and Von Tunzelman himself. The latter maintained that it was possible to take packhorses up the North branch of the Von River as far as the head of the Mararoa river, which rose close to the Greenstone. He led the surveying party as far as the swampy valley leading to the Greenstone, but McKerrow could ill afford to spend a fortnight so late in the season in making a close study of the region, and turned back up the Von river to Tunzelman’s station at the edge of Lake Wakatipu.
After taking a few observations to bays and peninsulas from Mt. Nicholas, Goldie and McKerrow took Von Tunzelman’s boat, which the latter readily made available, and rowed up the lake, taking obser vations from points all along the western shore.
From the end of the lake they pushed six miles up the Ress Valley as far as Mt. Alfred, a small and easily accessible conical hill. Digger fashion, with bedding, food and instruments packed in a swag, they then tramped up alongside the Rees until
the grassy valley narrowed into a rocky and bushlined gorge.
Throughout the valley diggers were constantly encountered. All were prospecting with some success in the gullies opening on to the main valley. Provisions were again very nearly exhausted, but with the splendid weather showing every indication of continuing. McKerrow decided to push ahead with all speed. They retraced their steps down the Rees, skirted Diamond Lake, and made for the Dart. Walking along the shingle of the river bed or struggling through the bush which covered every spur and bluff, they toiled up the valley as far as the gorge beneath the brow of Mt. Macintosh. Prospectors in this valley were enjoying only moderate success, but were hoping for more substantial returnsin the winter. Somewhere in the Dart Valley McKerrow came into conversation with P.Q. Caples who told him of an unknown river flowing into a lake close to the Tasman Sea. McKerrow could not accept the invitation to see for himself, but gave 31 all the help he could to Caples. He presented the miner with a small pocket compass and a tracking of a map showing the true relative positions to scale of Lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau, also the line of the coast from Milford Sound north to about Jackson’s Bay. This tracing was taken from McKerrow’s own camp map which he kept up to date from week to week. 32
Caples eventually reached Martin’s Bay and returned to Dunedin some two or three months later. He gave Mr. J.T. Thomson an accurately drawn sketch of the country which contained some of his own place names, and this, on McKerrow’s advice, was 33 accepted as an addition to the map of Otago then under course of preparation. 34

On the return journey to Wakatipu a rainy spell set in. this was spent in a hut on the shores of the lake. Eventually theweather cleared, and a course shaped for Von Tunzelman’s via Pigeon Island. A halt was called at Von Tunzelman’s to enable
McKerrow to sign some vouchers and to set Bryce off on the first lap of a circuitous hundred mile journey with the horses to Kingston.
Immediately this was done, Goldie and he set 35 out for Queenstown. That night they reached a point opposite the town before a rising sea and win compelled them to seek shelter.
The following day, the third of March 1863, Goldie secured stores from Queenstown, and rejoined McKerrow; then they rowed down to the small settlement of tents which
went by the name of Frankton. They had been greatly surprised to see a small steamer and many other boats plying a busy trade between groups of tents snugly placed in every sheltered nook, but they were astounded at the changes wrought at Rees’ station. Six months previously the homestead had stood isolated. Since then, large stores, hotels, a canvas town, and a seething population had sprung from nowhere. Toiling up the rugged slopes of Ben Lomond, diggers could be seen leading packhorses or bending under swags as they made eagerly for their claims.
At the mouth of the Kawarau, while engaged in taking observations, McKerrow met Mr. Shanks of the Dunedin survey office. He had come down from Frankton to deliver a
verbal message from Mr. J.T. Thomas to the effect that every effort should be made to reach the West Coast. “I am very sorry that time will not permit the attempt . . . or I should be most happy to make the coast if possible,” wrote McKerrow.
He immediately proceeded to measure a baseline at Frankton, completed a triangle by observations from Morven Hill, and gave the series of results and the boat to Mr. Shanks. McKerrow and Goldie then packed their swags, crossed the Shotover by ferry and made for a ridge at the head of Hayes Lake. “Last year,” narrages Goldie, “on our first journey, while we crossed and recrossed these streams and traveled over these beautiful ats through which they ow are they join the Kawarau river, there were no living things to attract our attention and not a sound, no, not even the ba-ba of a grazing sheep to disturb or even cheer our ears. Now the hundreds who daily traverse them and some of the adjoining mountains show how soon the once impenetrable and unknown mountains and wilds of a country can be tamed and traveled over by man, when found to possess the richest of the golden ore.”
From the creek at the head of Hayes Lake, they pushed on to a spur at the head of the Arrow river overlooking Fox’s town, and continued from there down to the main branch of the river where this mushroom canvas town had made its appearance.
Up the Arrow river, clusters of tents were encountered at every bend, for the gullies were still yielding forth fabulous riches in uneven but decreasing amounts. The main force of the rush had been spent however, and the valley was full of abandoned claims.

From a similar spot to this McKerrow wrote "“Standing on the Harris Mountains and looking over to the Upper Shotover, a wild hacked, precipitous scene presents itself, to which it would be difficult to find a parallel,”.

At the head of the Arrow river McKerrow ascended a mountain ridge, and from the summit was able to pick out the course of the Shotover from its source until it was joined by Skippers and Stoney creeks. “Standing on the Harris Mountains and looking over to the Upper Shotover, a wild hacked, precipitous scene presents itself, to which it would be difficult to find a parallel,”, he wrote.

He made some observations 36 to the mountains encircling the head of the Shotover, then moved to the Coronet Peaks, made for Hayes Lake, crossed the Shotover and approached Queenstown.
When they saw the bustle and activity in the town, Goldie and McKerrow sought the privacy of the scrub until sundown should serve to conceal their tattered clothes. Then they crept down to the town. At the Union Bank McKerrow made himself known to Mr. Bradshaw the gold buyer, and borrowed enough money to buy new outfits of clothes. Any lingering doubts that Mr. Bradshaw may have had as to the identity of this rather unkempt individual were dispelled when the two met later in the evening at Rees’ homestead. 37
The following day was spent in the ascent of Ben Lomond. When Goldie and McKerrow set out later for Mr. Shank’s camp, Queenstown was thronged with a crowd of rowdy miners bent on celebrating the St. Patrick’s day sports. McKerrow soon secured the boat from Mr. Shanks, returned immediately to Queenstown, filled in his fieldbooks and wrote a report to Mr. Thomson as well as letters to his wife and friends.
On Wednesday the 18th of March, Goldie and he set off by boat for Kingston. They stopped a number of times to ascend several peaks on the east side of the lake and a single one to the east of the south branch of the Lochy river. At Kingston Bryce
was waiting with the horses. McKerrow measured a baseline there and made the ascent of a nearby peak to pick out the creeks which ran off the Eyre Mountains into the Mataura river. After some little delay in completing business transactions the party, united once more, moved o down to the Mataura River. Behind them they left Wakatipu, a lake which in Goldie’s opinion could not stand comparison with the picturesque and unsurpassed grandeurs of Te Anau or Manapouri. Down the fertile Mataura valley the party travelled, crossing and recrossing the Mataura River from Southland to Otago, and bound for the Waikia Valley, although by a circuitous route made necessary by a formidable barrier – the Garvie Mountains they crossed over the east side of the Five Rivers Plain, touched a point on the Oreti River, and finally headed north-east towards the plain lying between the Waikaia and Mataura Rivers. On the way McKerrow called in at McKellar’s station on the Waimea Plains, and heard Mr. David McKeller recount the story of his explorations in the Greenstone Valley.
McKeller stated that he had followed the Greenstone River as far as the saddle from which he had seen Milford Sound. He 38 considered that a tack might be cut from Milford Sound to the west branch of the Greenstone. Such a project McKerrow considered impracticable. To his way of thinking such a track would be of use only in driving stock to the Mararoa Valley, for the Greenstone followed through a tortuous narrow and rocky gorge on its way to Wakatipu, and to ford it in floodtime would be a hazardous undertaking. “Now that I have seen and partly examined all the possible approaches to the West Coast from the Otago Province”, wrote McKerrow, “I cannot but conclude that there is no practical route for heavy traffic – thatat the very most and only after much labour and expense a bridle track may be formed – that if any metals or minerals be discovered in paying quantities on the west side of the dividing range, all tra c to and from must be by the sound and inlets of the West Coast, that the means of communication to and from the east side of the dividing range must continue to be as at present by following up the valleys of rivers”.

From McKeller’s the party made up the Waikaia valley. Here two or three hundred miners were prospecting, with some success. The weather was cold and equally, and at Cox and Shand’s station they met a party of miners who had been driven from profitable claims at the head of the Nevis by snowstorms. Observations were taken from a high neighbouring peak, then they crossed the Waikaia, ascended a ridge of the Umbrella Mountains, crossed Gow’s Creek and climbed on to the high tableland close to the Remarkable Gap and Rocky Mountain and in sight of the upper tributaries of the Waikaia.
No further observations were necessary to the north, so the par ty was able to return down the valley. On the way they encountered prospectors at a stream draining the north side of the Umbrella Mountains. Some were successful enough to be tempted to spend a winter in the valley. Every other gully harboured its complement of diggers engaged either in sluicing or in cradling.
At the south end of the valley the party crossed the Mataura and later recrossed it by the ford of the new track. This ford was situated close to the Pyramid and contained only three feet of water, but the horses’ hooves sank in the gravel and mud, an indication it would be unsuitable for use by drays in the ood season. At the Pyramid McKerrow made what might be called his farewell observation. Then the whole party turned for home.
Their route led over the Dunedin-Wakatipu track until near Popotuno it joined the Dunedin-Invercargill road. Snow and rain fell and hurricane winds roared over the countryside during the final stage of the journey, and it was with profound feelings
of relief and joy that the three weary travelers entered Dunedin on the 6th of May, 1863.

The computation, mapping and reports occupied several months more, and it was not till October 1863 that the final map and report were forwarded to Mr. J.T. Thomson. The report was a lengthy summary of the geography of western 39 districts, compiled with McKerrows visual painstaking care.

From the appended tables it appeared that of the 4883.3 square miles surveyed, 4579.8were within the boundaries of Otago. Included in this total were 1372.8 square miles of pasture land, 954.7 of forest, 325.3 of lake, 1924 of barren land, and three of swamp. A brief report on the points used for reference during the survey preceded a descriptive account of the actual methods employed.
“The distances throughout the survey were determined from bases measured twice by a common chain; artificial marks were set up till a length of three or more miles was obtained in the sides of the triangles, after that natural marks, such as mountain peaks, edge of landslips etc were used as points for triangulating; where this was impracticable then the method of converging angles was had recourse to. Up the fiords of the Te Anau and Manapouri Lakes, where on account of the inaccessible nature of the mountains and the shore line being shaded over by foliage, neither a triangulation could be carried on nor bases measured, di erences of level between the lake and one or more of the commanding peaks were used as a base for determining distances. This method, from the rapidity it gave to the execution of the work, was found to be of great value in the circumstances. It was generally not di cult to find a suitable mountain peak a mile or so in vertical height above the level of the lake. The angle of elevation to which, after the necessary corrections had been applied, gave an excellent means of determining distances up to seven or eight miles. The bearings were (from the same reason as rendered a vertical triangulation necessary) magnetic. Care was always taken on returning to 40 the stations of the true meridian to obser ve if there was any local deviation in the variation of the compass. In every other part of the survey, the work was done on the true meridian. The difference of bearing between the meridians of Mount York and Mount Nicholas and Lindis Peak 44’, the difference to be added to the meridian of Lindis Peak. These differences are not to be taken as precise, seeing that the instrument had to be set several times to natural objects in taking on the bearing from meridian to meridian; but they may be taken as showing ageneral agreement throughout the survey as to bearing, for the apparent discrepancies are very nearly such as are accounted for by the conveyance of the meridians to the Pole The difference 41between the meridians of the Blu and Mount York obtained in a similar manner to the other di erence is 29’; to be added to the meridian of the Blu . In plotting the survey, the latitudes of the prime stations were found to close one with the other, as also with the latitude of Mount Hamilton as determined by the Reconnaissance Survey of Southland. A discrepancy of rather more than a minute of longitude, or nearly five seconds by chronometer exists between the longitudinal positions of Mount Hamilton as determined from the two surveys; as the discrepancy is one of absolute distance, it does not a ect the value of either survey. The desirability of having a check on the chronometrical determination of the longitudes of meridians was kept in view during the survey by carrying on, with as much care as possible in the circumstances, a triangulation based on short lines. After plotting the work to the scale of one half inch to the mile, it is satisfactory to state, considering the rugged mature of the country that the difference between the chain and chronometrical measurements of the distance
between Lindis Peak and Mount York was not appreciable, the meridian of Mount Nicholas when brought to the same test shows a difference of 2 ½ seconds of the Chronometer”. “To check the altitudes, several peaks were determined, both from the data of Mount Pisa and from the data of the Bluff . The nearest agreement of the two determinations was that of Earnslaw, the diffeence being only two feet. The greatest
disparity was in the two determinations of Mount Nicholas, the difference being 107 ft. The angular measurements of the survey were all made (with the exception of the astronomical observations), by a four-inch Everest theodolite.
Throughout the survey, an equal attention was given to the details of each district; so that unnecessary minuteness was not obtained in one part at the expense of vagueness in another.” The next section of the report dealt with physical geography. “The most marked and striking feature in the configuration of the country under consideration is the great and sudden differences of elevation that diversify its surface; the elevations take the form of mountain ridges, and the depression that of gorges, valleys and deep rocky basins, the latter filled by lakes”. It seemed to McKerrow that these mountain ridges, many of them glacier clad, had great in uence on the Province’s climate, both in condensing into showers vapours that might have escaped, and in periodically ooding the rivers with snow waters. The lakes on the other hand tended to act as huge reservoirs in restraining the flow of flood waters. These lakes could be supposed to have once extended over the large
areas on which they had left traces before being mutated by an earthquake, and the depth of their clear waters, impenetrable to the eye, made it appear possible that precipices extended as are below the water as they did above.
“The recent development of inland navigation has directed attention to the fickle and uncertain winds that prevail on the lakes”, wrote McKerrow. This he attributed both to the principle of pneumatics (by which cold air shows a tendency to
enter into a warmer and more rarified atmosphere) and to the unequal radiating powers of land and water making for land and sea breezes.
A description of the character and course of the main rivers followed. Among those mentioned were the Waiau, the Mararao, the Monowai, the Dean, the Lillburn, the Wairaki, the Kawarau, the Shotover, the Arrow, the Clutha, the Dart, the Rees, the Greenstone, the Von, the Lochy, the Oreti and the Waikaia.
The section on pastures occupied a very prominent place in the report. It had been found that 778.5 square miles of pastoral country were drained by the Waiau and upper Oreti Rivers, 305 by the Wakaia and 552.3 by the Kawarau. There followed a precise delineation of the location of pastoral patches in the Waiau district with reference to such features as the quality and quantity of grass, the condition of stock, the amount of scrub clearance necessary, the extent to which natural boundaries fenced o runs and thereby lightened the duties of the shepherd, the facilities for wintering stock in sheltered paddocks the freedom from snow of elevated blocks of land, and the areas of forest in the district. In discussing the pastoral potentialities of the district drained by the Kawarau River, McKerrow described in turn the valleys from the head of Wakatipu to the foot; first on the
west side, then on the east. The twenty thousand acre block extending from Queenstown to the Crown Range was, in his opinion, equal to the best pastoral land in the province.
As regards agricultural farming, he considered that despite its low elevation, the Waiau Valley was not as suitable for this purpose as the areas around Mt. York, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, east of Frankton and in the Waikaia Valley.
The forests, he reported, were mostly around the Waiau River and its tributaries, and included red and black pines, red, black and white beeches, and totaras, but at times Tutu, Fuchsia and numerous shrubs were found to flourish, “and by the variety of their foliage and brilliance of blossom, contribute very considerably to the charms of the Lake scenery”. After considering the habitats of the various species, McKerrow went on the point out that the beech was in a numerical preponderance of five to one over the remainder, and grew up to 3400 feet. Few of the other species were found at above 1000 feet. He continued: “Seeing that so large a portion of the Province is covered with this tree, it is interesting to know, that so far as applied to economic purposes, it is found to answer well; the stock owners use the black birch extensively for fencing, stockyards, etc. As for the red birch, it has been found to answer well for building and for furniture, and for implement purposes. At Printz’ station the erection of a handsome mansion-house made of it was nearly completed while the survey was being conducted there. At Gillow’s station
all the buildings have been formed of it and what is of more importance in judging the qualities of this timber, a wool press was seen there in successful operation that was made entirely of red birch; there were no straps or bands of iron to withstand the strain, every detail being of the timber. The Messrs. Gillow have had considerable experience of it and they compare it to the elm of Britain”.
The report then entered into a description of the barren mountains. All country west of Te Anau and Manapouri and not forest clad was included in this category. McKerrow
anticipated that quantities of mineral and metallic ores would be found in fractures of the mountains, and mica, he pointed out, had already been found in streams although no auriferous deposits had yet been discovered. The country between Te Anau and Wakatipu had not been prospected previous to the Reconnaissance Survey, but McKerrow considered that even if gold were found there it was unlikely that it would be extracted as readily as from the narrower valleys of the Arrow or Shotover.
The question of communications occupied a place of importance in the report. In the open country of the Waiau district, pack horses and drays had recourse to any number of possible routes, and could readily open communications with other districts. In the Wakatipu district on the other hand, impassable barriers cut o one valley from the next, and all travel was of necessity carried out by water. The sole dray track
leaving the district was from Kingston at the south end of the Lake, but bridle tracks could be taken to the Te Anau downs, or over the Crown Range to the Cardrona Valley. Thus Kingston controlled supplies for the district, and the magnitude of
the trade made the consideration of communication with it one of importance. Southland, McKerrow indicated, held an advantage in that communications between Invercargill and Kingston could readily be established over the inter vening
plains, and unless the Otago Provincial Council was prepared to push a road through the precipitous Kawarau Gorge they could not hope to compete with their southern rivals. It seemed quite obvious to McKrrow that the eastern side of the province
would always contain the porte commanding the interior, since the height and abruptness of the ridges parallel to the West Coast would rule out the possibility of road construction other than through river valleys subject to frequent ooding. “I will conclude this report”, wrote McKerrow, “by stating my belief that the extent of the Pastoral and Agricultural portion of the Province has now been determined. The distance between the most westerly points of this sur vey and the coast line is only a few miles; the great altitude of these points – the altitudes by Captain Stockes near the coast line – the life of the country and its appearance as actually seen leave little doubt in my mind as to the utter barrenness of the region extending between the forests of the Wanaka, Wakatipu, Te Anau and Manapouri Lakes on one side, and the forests on the West Coast on the other.”
Along with the report went a summary of the various types of land surveyed, a list of the heights of all hills and peaks, a day-to-day record of the weather, and the new map. This latter was a great advance on anything issued previously. Formerly, the country West of Lake Wakitipu and Eyre and Takitima Mountains had been shown as blank, but in this map the general physical features of the lake district were clearly indicated. To Anau’s position had been marked only very approximately; In McKerrow’s map its broad outlines were laid down with certainty and its size established. The same could be said of the northern portion of Lake Wakatipu. “The map may be said to be complete as exhibiting information hitherto unobtained respecting the natural features of the country.”42
As the survey was completed in such quick time, its accurate detail was remarkable, and shows no major deviation from the standard maps of today. Numbers of minor errors were of course inevitable, but the only really major error discernible is the shape of Lake Mawioko which was seen at a distance, 43 from a single point and on a foggy day.
The value of the report and map to the public was considerable. Settlers had feared the presence of a hostile tribeof Maoris lurking in the unexplored west; McKerrow reported nothing more ominous than chipped trees and deserted huts.
They had been chary of coming to gripe with the gigantic mao; McKerrow told them that only once did he sight anything even resembling the Moa. It had bounded along in desultory
fashion in the dust of the evening, but on closer inspection proved to be neither a nor a kangaroo, but merely a lady’s crinoline. They had feared to venture into land unsurveyed44 and of unknown potentialities; they could now turn to an excellent map and a comprehensive report for guidance.
The remaining agricultural and pastoral lands were soon snapped up, and between 1860 and 1974 the number of horses in the province increased from 2541 to 30,840, the number of cattle from 28,999 to 136,921, the number of sheep from
378,180 to 4,326,938. 45
The credit for promoting these highly e cient and remarkably rapid surveys must be attributed to Mr.J.T.Thomson, but his system was dependent on the capabilities of his field workers. That McKerrow enjoyed the full confidence of his superior is amply borne out by the latter’s remarks in his 1863 report. “I may state that although I have not received the map of the Renaissance Survey from Mr. McKerrow yet, I have no doubt that it will be a full and complete survey and in every way well worthy of the expense to the Government”.46
The expense incurred was £914/5/6 or 1/6.d. per acre, apart from the £93 required for the boat accident on the Waiau, and the £42 for the hire of the boat at Lake Wakatipu.

Later historians have been generous in their estimates of McKerrow’s work. Mr. R. O. Carrick for example describes him as “Mr. James McKerrow, one of the earliest and most enterprising of our Southern explorers . . . whose early explorations and considering the state of the country in t hose days astonishingly correct observations did far more towards settling the country and developing its resources than those of any other man”.
The Royal Astronomical Society’s tribute, paid on McKerrow’s death in 1919, indicates that his worth was recognized by leading scientific bodies. “Years of arduous work . . . in the early days demonstrate to the full the loyalty, grit, and solid determination that he possessed and displayed in the carrying out of expert and scientific work at a time when means of communications were of the most primitive description, and when the surveying of the mountainous forest lands in
the south necessitated the finest qualities that man can possess. But, intent on doing his duty, he carried out his responsible work unappalled by dangers which rarely cross the path of a professional man”. 48
McKerrow’s intimate knowledge of the interior was fully utilized by those requiring information on the region. “Select Committee for Roads and their Construction” appointed by the Otago Provincial Council asked him his opinion about the
possibility of running a road through to Queenstown via the Kawarau Gorge. McKerrow pointed out the inherent di culties of making such a road, and the immense expenditure of time and money required. In response to a series of questions he
also gave his opinion on the most profitable and speedy way of getting supplies through immediately to the Wakatipu goldfield, and the measures he considered necessar y to compete with Invercargill for the trade. 49

In a more specialized field, that of geology, McKerrow’s observations were of particular significance. In a paper read before the Otage Institute on July 19, 1870, and later printed in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, he discussed
the “Physical Geography of the Lake Districts of Otago. After 50 referring brie y to the areas, dimensions, altitudes and positions of the lakes, he pointed out that they were long and thin, lay lengthwise in their valleys had precipitous sides, surfaces not differing greatly in altitude, and terminated at the point where the valleys broadened out into plains. On each side and at the southern ends there invariably lay vast areas of shingle and large blocks of rock. It appeared that some great natural cause had had a uniform action in producing these lakes. McKerrow contended that the glaciers lying on the side of the mountains were puny descendants of glaciers which had formerly filled valley and lake bed, and had slid slowly but irresistibly forward, carrying with them the spoil of the mountain, gradually working a bed deeper and deeper, and finally depositing their spoil as lateral and terminal moraines. Soundings taken of the depth of Lake Wakatipu supported certain corollaries of this theory, and McKerrow drew further support for his contentions by
explaining why New Zealand was at one time cold enough to contain such large glaciers. The present condition of lake and river, he maintained, must however have been in existence for a long time if the conclusions he drew from the slow silting up at the heads of the lakes were valid. He pointed out that the rivers were gradually eroding their courses to a lower level, with the result that several small lakes had been transformed into valleys. Rivers then ran through them and dashed over the moraine as rapids. From these observations and taking into consideration the great disintegrating power of frost, it could be readily understood to what an extent the mountains were denuded every year. “Speaking on the Lake Districts in a general manner”, he concluded “It may be observed that, considering the extent of agricultural, pastoral and forest land that abounds in them, their mineral products, their delightful climate, and extent of inland navigation, they have within their own borders all the man elements that render communities prosperous and ourishing.”

McKerrow’s paper was of great interest to geologists throughout New Zealand since by attributing the formation of Wakatipu to glacial erosion he rejected the theory of differential subsidence propounded in 1869 by no less an authority than Sir James Hector 51
In 18762, F.W. Hutton, in a paper read before the Wellington Philosophical Society said, “I need scarcely say that I agree with Mr. McKerrow . . . In his paper McKerrow points out, I believe for the first time, the very important fact that the
constrained exure of a solid body like ice, when passing from
one angle of inclination to another, would greatly increase the friction at this particular point”. 52
McKerrow’s theory in later years received support from such men as Sir Archibala Geikie, Professor Hein, Professor Penck and Tyndall the Physicist.
More recently the view has 53 been than these two theories both contain elements of truth.
It says much for McKerrow’s keen and analytical powers of observation and for his wide scientific knowledge that he, an amateur geologist, was able to contest points of geological theory with the geological authorities of the day. Such was the high regard in which McKerrow was held in geographical and geological circles that Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, the President of the Royal Geographical Society and a geologist of world wide reputation, saw fit to link the young surveyor’s name with those of Hector and Haast. These three men had all had papers read in 1864 before the Society, McKerrow’s being his report to Mr. Thomson on the lake district previously published in the Otago Provincial Gazette. In his address to the society at an anniversar y meeting on the 23rd May, 1864, the President said: “Three papers of great interest have been communicated to the Society, which throw additional light
upon the physical geography of the hitherto unsur veyed districts of the great middle island of New Zealand, and certain new facts illustrative of glacial action. I consider it, indeed, to be a fortunate circumstance for our science, that these regions should have been visited by such men as Dr. Hector, McKerrow and
Dr. Haast”. McKerrow’s subsequent election as an F.R.G.S. 54 can perhaps be attributed to Sir Roderick’s remarks. Practically and scientifically McKerrow’s journeys were of value to his fellow men, but they also a ected him personally n such a way that for the rest of his life he had a nostalgia for the wide open spaces, the lakes and the bush-clad hills. Professor James Park, an explorer of a later day describes some of the diffculties of such journeys, and then goes on “But the gains were great. The man has not yet been born who will ever
forget the blazing campfire and itting shadows that chase one another from tree to tree, the blue sky overhead, the vitalizing whiff of the mountain air, the scents of the forest, the murmur of the nearby stream, the boom of the bittern, the shrill cry
of the kakape, or the clear call of the kiwi. When to these we add the quest of adventure and the joy of discovery we have a combination of in uence that make a powerful appeal to the primitive instincts of man”.
“For the time being the party forms a little self-governing, self-contained community. For the common weal every man must exercise patience and self-restraint, and in none are these qualities more required than in the leader. It is his duty to allot each man his particular task, to call the time of starting and of camping. The daily round, the close association, and perhaps more than all, the community of ideals which brings together kindred souls for a common and tends to foster a spirit of comradeship that often ripens into lifelong friendship.” 55
James McKerrow was an ideal leader for such a small self- contained community. Daring without being foolhardy, never expecting more of his companions than of himself, quick to take a lead in apparently trivial matters such as changing wet
clothes promptly or drinking sparingly of cold water on a hot day, he contributed an impressive quality of leadership towards the success of the expedition. One incident typifies McKerrow the man. On one part of a return journey something went
wrong with the compass, and McKerrow was forced to take bearings from the stars. Goldie was not satisfied with the results, and declared they were heading in the wrong direction.
He refused to proceed further, and after signing a paper to the effcct that he was taking such a course of his own free will, he struck out by himself. Three days later he returned and to his astonishment found McKerrow still at the same place.
Goldie expressed his surprise. McKerrow replied “I know you would come back, John, so I waited.” No reference to Goldie’s obstinacy ever escaped McKerrow’s lips, but in John Goldie he had made a lifelong friend.

1. Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. Vi, 26th Nove, 1862, M.S.S. in hands of Mr. J.A.D. Ritchie
2. Unless otherwise stated the description of this journey is drawn from Goldie’s and McKerrow’s diaries
3. Baker, J.H., A Surveyor in New Zealand, P. 62
4. McKerrow’s diary: also O.D.T. 8th May 1863: also Roberts, W.H.S., Maori Nomenclature, P. 19. See Appendix C.
5. The present day spelling is Hauroko, See Appendix C.
6. No Double Bush Hill is marked on McKerrow’s map, but Goldie Hill marked on the map, appears to be the same hill. On P. 84 of H. Beattie’s “The Pioneers Explore Otago” a letter from McKerrow to Goldie written in 1907 gives an account of the search for Howloko. “You will . . . remember our ascent of a high bush clad hill, which I named Mount Goldie, on the South side of the Lillburn valley, and our
climbing the highest trees to have a good look westward for the lake which we thought must be at the base of the Princess Mountains. We saw a haze, which we thought must be over a lake, but we could not say that the lake was there or under it.”
7. The correct spelling is Mussel
8. The loss of the boat cost the Otago Provincial Council 95. V. & P. Otago Prov. Council, Departmental Reports, Session XVII 8163, P.14
9. Beattie, H., The Pioneers Explore Otago, P. 84, Letter from McKerrow to Goldie.
10. Lake Hauroko is actually drained by the Wairaurahiri River which flows into the sea less than ten miles west of Sandhill Point.
11. McKerrow J., Letter to Hocken, MSS
12. Goldie
13. McKerrow’s spelling was the earlier form Manipori
14. It may have been that McKerrow did not penetrate right to the end of each fiord, for from one of them a track was eventually pushed through to the West Coast.
15. O.D.T. 5th May, 1863 (McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, MSS, P.21)
16. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 21, MSS. In the hands of Mr. J.A.D. Ritchie, Wellington
17. McKerrow, J., Letter to Hocken, MSS Hocken Library, Dunedin
18. Park, J., Maori and Early European Explorations in Western Otago, P. 3, Pamphlet, Hocken Library
19. McKerrow, J., Diary, MSS, McKerrow, J, Letter to Hocken MSS
20. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 22, MSS
21. See Appendix D.
22. Deuteronomy 34:1.
23. McKerrow, J., Letter to Hocken, MSS
24. “We were the first to go up the Clinton River.” Goldie in letter to McKerrow. See P. 83, H. Beattie’s “The Pioneers Explore Otago”
25. Goldie’s diary records that the exploration of the north fiord preceded that of the upper end of the lake. I have followed McKerrow’s version.
26. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 23, MSS
27. McKerrow, J., Diary, MSS
28. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, P. 23, MSS
29. Ibid
30. The Awarua is a small stream owing into Awarua or Big Bay, but it is not like that it was used by the Maoris. The Haast River was known to some Maoris as the Awarua and it is probable that this was the river to which Brown was referring.
31. McClymont, op cit., P. 136.
32. Roberts, W.H.S., Maori Nomenclature, P. 62, Letter to author from McKerrow. No account of the meeting with Caples is found in either diary.
33. See Appendix B.
34. Roberts, Maori Nomenclature, P. 62, Letter from McKerrow
35. Also referred to as St. John’s.
36. Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. VI, 14th Oct. 1863, P. 390
37. McKerrow, Letter to Hocken, M.S.S.
38. See Appendix O.
39. Otago Prov. Gaz.Vol. VI, 14th October 1863, Pp.381-98
40. Since the peaks enclosing the fiords were inaccessible, it was impossible to refer bearings back to the true meridians, as none of the stations could be seen from the lake level. Thus true meridian could not be found, but, with the use of the compass, magnetic bearings could be observed.
41. All meridional lines within a circuit are held to be parallel to the meridian of the initial station of the circuit. This is done for the sake of convenience for it is not feasible to take a whole series of observations for true meridian. As the lines are not parallel, but converge due to the shape of the earth, discrepancies often arise at the place where adjoining circuits meet. This discrepancy is usually adjusted in reference to mountain ranges, lakes or unproductive land.
42. Otago Witness, 28th Feb. 1863
43. Compare Map in back pocket with a standard map.
44. McKerrow, Reminiscences, M.S.S. P. 18
45. Thomson, J.T., Exposition of Processes and Results, P9.
46. Report, V. & P. Otago Provincial Council, Session XVII, 1863. Departmental Report, P. 12
47. Ibid
48. Monthly notices of Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. LXXX, 13th February, 1920, No. 4. Pp. 348-49.
49. App. V. & P. Otago Prov. Council, Session XVIII, 1863. App. To Reports of select Committees, Pp. 2-3
50. Trans. N. Z. Inst. Vol. III, 1870, Pp. 254-63. The MSS copy is in the
hands of Mr. J.A.D. Ritchie, Wellington.
51. Park, J., Geological Survey No. 7, Queenstown, P. 15.
52. Trans. N.Z. Inst. Vol V, 1872, P. 394.
53. Park, J., Geological Survey, P. 7
54. Murchison, Sir Roderick. Journal of Royal Geographical Society, 1864, Pp. C/1-C/11.
55. Park, J. Maori and Early European Exploration in Western Otago. P 1. Pamphlet, Hocken Library.
56. Letter to author from Miss McKerrow of Hampdon. The incident is not mentioned in either diary or in any of the reports. Miss McKerrow heard it from John Goldie himself.