With the discovery of gold in 1861, the province of Otago, New Zealand was anxious to obtain a geologist who could carry out a survey of the province and discover just what mineral wealth there was in the area. Following his return to Britain from Canada, James Hector was recommended for the position. On his arrival Hector began a series of explorations.
In 1863 he crossed the pass at the head of the Matukituki River to a branch of the Arawata River in Westland province. Semi-starvation, floods, and untracked bush were only some of the hardships he endured. The Arawata runs into Jackson Bay on the west coast. It is still a rugged remote corner of New Zealand and Hector's route remains wilderness. A few miles north the mightiest highway in New Zealand crosses the same mountains. The long awaited link with Otago over Haast Pass was finally opened in 1965 after 30 years of road building. It follows an old Maori war trail across the Southern Alps and was first crossed by a gold prospector Charles Cameron the same year Hector made his historic expedition to the west coast.
A Call to Followers of New Zealand Historic Trails