Local Ambles during Winter

Visiting Haulashore Island  

It’s an island now but it seems that in the early days of the 1840’s, it was an island only at high tide. It is the southern most bit of the Boulder Bank protecting Nelson harbour and to make an entrance for sailing ships to the Nelson Port  safer, a channel through the Boulder Bank was cut and it opened in 1906. The Cut, as this channel is called, has been widened and deepened to accommodate logging and other ships coming and going to the port today. 

Setting sail through The Cut.

At the old shipping entrance to the harbour is the Fifeshire Rock (and reef) and before The Cut was opened, a number of sailing ships came to grief on the rock, one being the immigrant ship Fifeshire on 27th February 1842. I had read somewhere that this was the ship’s maiden voyage but fortunately  the ship was on its way out after unloading its passengers when it ran aground on the rock. I guess the captain thought otherwise though. The practice of early captains in hauling their boats up for cleaning and then floating them off again on the tide gave a good reason for naming the island as “Haulashore”.

Fifeshire Rock with snow capped Ben Nevis on the skyline.

We caught the ferry across to Haulashore Island, landed, had lunch and then walked around it. It didn’t take too long but there are some interesting things to see. One is a memory plaque to Alexander  Moncrieff, the son of Captain Moncrieff and his wife Perrine. They donated part of Haulashore Island to the people of Nelson in their son’s memory, as unspoiled as a place where Nelson children could play’.  Perrine Moncrieff was an interesting person. She had a real interest in nature and observing native birds and in 1923 she was one of the founding members of the NZ Native Bird Protection Society which later became the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society NZ of today. 

From the island looking towards Mt Arthur.

Perrine was pretty special to me as in my early days, around 1944 to 1950 odd, there weren’t any books on New Zealand birdlife. Except for one!  New Zealand Birds & How to Identify Them  by Perrine Moncrieff of which the first edition came out in 1925. My dad bought an early edition and over the years, I just about wore it out. My own children used it and it ended up with loose pages falling out so I bought another. This one is the fifth edition of 1957 but revised in 1961. The only bird books available during those early years were from Britain and although useful for our introduced birdlife, of no use for identifying our native birds. It was the same for native plants too. The war years (WW2) took a toll with many things including printing books so it wasn’t until the mid 1960’s or so that printing books got back to something like normal. Today there are many books about New Zealand’s plants and birdlife and one is almost spoilt for choice. 

Besides writing the bird book, Perrine and her husband presented a large patch of native bush at Okiwi Bay to the Crown.  Later Pérrine was instrumental in setting up the Abel Tasman National Park in 1942.  I would have liked to have met her. 

Some of the newish buildings along the water front in Nelson.

As we returned back to the mainland and looking at the apartment blocks spreading along the foreshore, I wondered what Perrine would think of them and the so-called other ‘developments’ of today.  

A Visit to a Nelson Cemetery

The old Nelson province  (now Tasman District and Nelson City) had a number of enterprising people from the Newman Brother’s transport, Samuel Kirkpatrick the canning industrialist, Griffen Biscuits, Goodman Fielder the bakers to John Gully the painter, Thomas Brunner the explorer to George Moonlight. 

A section of the Wakapuaka cemetery.

George was born in Scotland in 1832, deserted a ship in America to join the goldrush to California then to Australia and then to the Otago goldrush in 1861, Moonlight Creek down there is named after him.  He later moved North up our way, prospecting in the Buller, Mangles, Grey rivers and nearby. Another Moonlight Creek was named. After more adventures he married, bought the Commercial Hotel in Murchison but a flood caused serious damage to it. Later his wife died and his business failed so he went gold seeking again. He died out Glenhope way sometime during 1884 looking for gold. He dressed like an American digger, spoke with an American accent and when exploring around the Maruia district gave American names to some streams, such as Shenandoah and the Rappahannock. But for George it seems it was the thrill of finding gold and wandering in the wild places rather than  the riches it could bring. 
We visited Nelson’s Wakapuaka Cemetery with a walking group and found a number of these early graves. 

We found the monument erected in recognition of George Moonlight’s contribution to the goldmining industry and the opening up of the back country. We found where John Gully lies too. 

Nearby George’s  monument is another. More sinister but still to do with gold though.  It is a memorial to the the victims of the Burgess gang, who were murdered on the Maungatapu Track in 1866. The five murdered men were travelling to Nelson on the track which is a more direct route than the highway of today. They were held up at gun point, strangled,  stabbed or shot and of course, robbed of their possessions. Even their horse was shot. Three of the gang were hanged in Nelson while the other served time in prison after turning ‘Queen’s evidence’. 

The citizens of Nelson paid for this five-sided monument that stands over the shared grave of the five murdered men. 

The serenity of the Miyazu Gardens.

After the wandering through the cemetery we crossed the road and had morning tea in the Miyazu Gardens. A good spot to wander quietly over the bridges and their reflecting pools.  

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