RIVERTON TO OREPUKI GOLDFIELD
From The Story of the Otago Church and Settlement by Rev. Stuart C. Ross.
"Orepuki is a small goldfield lying fully twenty miles west of Riverton,
and, in the early days, accessible only on foot, and after a journey of
exceptionally heavy toil.
The usual route, taken to avoid a steep climb over a densely wooded hill
at the start, was to take a boat up the Puripurokino River for a distance
of three miles. The track was then struck, with the help of blazed trees,
which only a keen, practised eye could always follow - track, indeed, it
hardly was, for it resembled more than anything else a narrow, tortuous
morass. Water poured into it from heavy rains, but the sunshine never
fell on it, for it was always intercepted by the dense, umbrageous
foliage of the trees, and the cattle trod and churned it with their
hoofs, till in places it was little more than a series of quivering bogs,
intersected by slimy roots which offered passage that was perilous enough
to human feet. We shall never forget our early experience of that route
in carrying the Gospel to the regions beyond. Five miles of country like
that we traversed before coming out on Colac's Bay. At the extreme end of
the beach is situated the Oraka village, where some ten or twelve Maori
families lived... Pressing on from Oraka, another track led through the
bush on to the beach at Wakapatu; then we were constrained to hug the
scrub to escape the quagmires on the Pahees plain. There the hoary wreck
of an old Maori pa carried the thoughts back to the days of native feuds...
Orepuki lies in an open place, largely sheltered by native bush, and with
a cheerful outlook on the straits. It was then a struggling mining village
built round a small, compact nucleus of hotels and stores and police and
other offical buildings. The district has, in addition to its auriferous
wealth, valuable seams of coal and shale which, now that railway
communication with Invercagill is opened up, will attract population and
give impetus to trade. A number of farmers have already settled down on
the Pahees Flat, and sawmills are already tapping the splendidly timbered
country along the railway line..."
Transcribed by Corey Woodw@rd