Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/364

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238
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

mountain climbing. Then appeared trees that spread to the snow-line; and above them were unfruitful cliffs.

Now the road became steep and tortuous. Far below it raced the small and noisy Otira River, lashing itself into foam against its rocky obstructions. High above it ran a beautiful mixed forest, blooming with the rata's crimson and sheltering fern and moss and rambling creeper. And for miles, ever at a precipitous pitch, the road ran beside bluffs mantled by flax, fern, and shrub, and past flowering canyon walls blazing with patches of living red.

At Otira the coach-road terminated, and here began the railroad that runs a devious course through Westland to Greymouth, the largest seaport on the South Island's west coast, and northerly to Reefton, a mining town twenty-one miles from the Buller River. In Westland I found civilization in the rough. In this rainy country the train passed through embryonic settlements and vanishing forests, and past the disorder and desertion of old lumber camps and sawmill yards. Here was the primitive,—plodding ox, logs laboriously rolled to saws by hand, roads that were wretched, and comforts and conveniences that were few.

At Reefton I saw an astonishing number of hotels. When I had walked up Broadway, its main street, I was quite satisfied to accept the statement made to me by a Totara Flat minister, that this, the first New Zealand town to be lighted by electricity, was "the greatest town for hotels in the country." This is chiefly so because