Reefton to Westport

Day six

I woke early to the sound of the Inangahua flowing ripple over rock behind me, but was in no rush to get up.

Last night we stood there exhausted and silent after setting up camp. Horse turned to me and said “drink?” I nodded in agreement and so off we wandered, following the echo of a poorly played Shadows cover (Apache) towards the closest watering hole to pour a libation to a deity that would forgive our sins. Needless to say we spent quite a long time at the alter that night.

As I remained in the yellow haze of a whiskey scented tent I wondered about my old great great grand-pappy who lay cold in the ground only a kilometre from where I was.

Great great grand-pappy

I don’t know much about Philip Hodnott Salmon. He was born in 1838 in Allihies, County Cork in Ireland. He (likely) fled as a revenue man, buying passage to Otago via Victoria Australia, arriving with newly married wife and child (my lineage) sometime prior to 1870.

From all accounts Philip was a bit of a scoundrel.

He started out in New Zealand as somewhat of a hotelier, supplying the legal (and not so legal) desires and machinations of the prospectors at Macrae’s flat before running off with a young bar girl called Elsie, who later became his second wife.

They and their expanding brood lived in shanty’s up and down the West Coast, from Italian gully, Inangahua Landing and finally Reefton. According to the Auckland Herald, he drowned in the Inangahua under somewhat suspicious circumstances in 1903. He died a pauper and also Jewish.


There was a rustle, Horse was stirring, so was I. We saddled up and had a look about the old gold town before taking seat at the Broadway tearooms and bakery for breakfast. Horse had pie, I settled for a large slice of sponge roll and a cup of tea.


As we rode out of town we stopped at the pioneer cemetery removed our helmets and paid our respects to Philip and family before moving on towards the Buller.

Pushing hard along the plains to avoid the predicted headwind. We arrived at Inangahua Junction about 11am and joined the Buller river for the run to the sea.

img_1431We heard it before we saw it. An old beaten and black Toyota 4WD screaming past us and hand painted on the back in big bold white letters were the words ‘Fuck 1080’. I turned my head and looked at Horse, he sniggered. It was clear we had arrived on the West Coast.

The road rambled on, following the rapids down the gorge, under Hawks Crag and we soon made the coast.

I stopped at the bridge crossing the mighty Buller and looked beyond. On the other side, away on the other side, was Westport. I took a moment, raised my right hand and made salute to a town of past demons, then turned my wheel south and satisfied. We headed for Cape Foulwind. Done for the day.

Today’s top track – The Stone roses, fools gold

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