In the South
The first bridge across the Waiau River was the Clifden suspension bridge which was opened on April 5, 1899. It was last used by traffic in 1978.
The bridge replaced a punt which first crossed the river in 1862, effectively crossing a provincial border as the land west of the Waiau and east of the Mataura was Otago. At this time sheep runs were being established on the western shore and there was gold prospecting and timber extraction. The bridge re-opened to pedestrians in 2013. The photo shows both bridge and punt on opening day.
Southland's southernmost town is Oban on Stewart Island.
There had been smaller settlements further south on Stewart Island and a town, Hardwicke, on Auckland Island.
The Hardwicke colonists arrived in 1849 with Charles Enderby, the leader of the settlement, styling himself Lieutenant- Governor of his little colony. He wore an appropriate uniform.
Enderby had imagined there would be a similar climate here to the equivalent latitude in Britain, namely Lincoln, with green pastures, azure sky and a pleasant summer breeze. In January 1852, with the settlement failing and no prospects of whales or seals, Enderby resigned his high office and Hardwicke was evacuated.
The settlement had been a fool's errand, destroyed by poor research and an inflated ego.
Southland's and New Zealand's most widespread plants are catsear and sheep's sorrel, which are abundant throughout New Zealand in a variety of habitats. They are weeds from Europe and the first seeds possibly arrived on the muddy boots of the first explorers.
As common pasture plants they are enjoyed by browsing animals. The most widespread native plant is manuka.
Southland's unluckiest fire station burned down in Invercargill on January 13, 1900.
Fireworks were being manufactured in the building and the hand-pumps proved ineffective when a pan of strontium nitrate being warmed over a fire took light.
The fire spread to the gunpowder and the fireworks-makers evacuated hastily followed by a volley of rockets.
The site is now occupied by the Civic Theatre.
Southland's rarest edible fish is possibly the snapper, common in the north but rare enough in Southland waters to be newsworthy, such as the two caught at Pahia in 1909. Are there any recent records?
About The South
15 Mahuri Rd,
Otatara, RD 9,
Phone-fax (03) 213 0404
- © Fairfax NZ News