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Acland's journey to Mt. Peel in 1859

'Those who roam across the seas change their sky not their hearts'.

John Acland arrived at Lyttelton on board the Clontarf at the age of thirty-six and started his diary the day he entered the harbour describing the problems he incurred landing, obtaining his luggage and the trip to his station, Mt. Peel. He also wrote about river crossings and gold digging. This was his second time out to Canterbury. He had previously came out four years earlier with his friend the Charles Tripp in the Royal Stuart in January 1855. Acland ended up marrying Emily Weddell Harper, the Bishop Harper's eldest daughter in 1860. Tripp married Ellen, the third daughter of the Bishop.

Acland Family Papers - A collaborative exhibition featuring the Acland family of South Canterbury, as seen through the archives of the Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury and Archives NZ’s Christchurch office. Clontarf accommodation plans and 8 pages -  January 1859 diary, images (opens in another window)
Also see a transcription starting at page 17,  January 2. Not word for word.

New Zealand Diary By J.B. Acland

No. 1. January 6 [1859]
I do not exactly remember how the "Log of the good ship Clontarf" ended but I suppose it was on the day she entered harbour, & I will now commence my Diary with my landing, after first saying, that we dropped anchor outside the heads on the evening of January 5 1859.

Jan. 6. Weighed anchor in the morning & were all day beating up harbour against a S. Wester. Some of the emigrants in tears at the country they had come to, & Chapman amongst others not over delighted. We anchored about 6 P.M. I went on shore, and found out my old friend Mrs. Twining, the widow of the Doctor of the Royal Stuart, she keeps a boarding house, & there I took up my quarters. I had received letters from Tripp, on board brought by the ship's agent.

7. Friday. S. Wester continuing.
Most of the Emigrants brought on shore. I went to see Banks Miles Kingston & Co's agent (of Bristol) to put my business in his hands, thence to Customs House for a baggage sufferance for personal effects & on board to pack up, & bring off some things.

8. Saturday - Fair-
Banks & the Customs House again, saw Mr Hamilton, head of Customs showed him my invoices & procured order to tranship goods to Timaru without being searched, a vessel about to start.
Met some old acquaintance stock owners.

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9. January. Sunday. Fair hot day.
At morning service according to custom here the clergyman in our names returned thanks for our safe voyage had a talk to Chapman who was settled in the emigration barracks which were nearly as bad as the ship, & in fact would be far worse were people allowed to remain.

10. Monday. Fair
Completed arrangements at Customs House about Transhipment of goods to Timaru after which went on board Clontarf but found I could do nothing there as none of the cargo except passengers luggage was brought up from the hold. I repacked some of my private boxes so as to send large chests of drawers direct to Timaru. In the afternoon the wind rose, & the sea became rough, that no boat could come off & I expected to be obliged to stay on board all night. However a life boat belonging to the Regina & another in harbour came alongside & our 2nd mate took me on shore in her. Chapman left the ship with me but Rawl was left on board.

11. Tuesday
Engaged with Banks (agent) till 12.0 after which the sea was too rough for boats to go off.

12. Wednesday
Up at 5.30 and down at pier by 6.0 but unable to get a boat till 7.0 then went on board & remained till 6.0p.m. Trying to get my things out of hold. Sainthill gave me every assistance & in fact sacrificed half a day but it was no avail all the cargo was so mixed that I could not get a boat load to send to the coaster for Timaru

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and as she was to start next day I had to give it up & have all my things landed at Lyttelton. One of our passengers who had been over to Ch:Ch: brought back my horse Horner for me.

13. Thursday
Went on board in the morning sent a lot of things on shore returned on shore myself & rode over to Ch:Ch: went to the Club, Wh [which] now number nearly 40 members. I was one of the original 12. found Leonard Harper the Bishop's son, the one who went to the West Coast had a long talk to him in the evening.

14. Friday. Rainy.
Called on the Bishop & other friends rode out into Lyttelton in the evening.

15. Saturday
Packed & arranged things sending blankets & other up country requisites by the Carrier! into Ch:Ch: rode in afternoon to Ch:Ch: went to the Bishop's in the evening.

16. $, [Sunday] Church in the morning heard the Bishop preach, went to see Chapmans, who were in the Ch:Ch: Emigration barracks, showed them, Mount Peel in the distance 80 miles arranged with Chapman, to start next day, Mrs Chapman stops at Ch:Ch: having 2 rooms, at 17/ per week.
Rawle & Chapman's 2nd son went by Corsair [brig, 134 tons, Gay] to Timaru.

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17. Monday fair.
Went to breakfast with the Bishop as did also a Mr Burnall one of our Clontarf passengers, whom I had asked to come up country with me. After breakfast returned to the Club, & met Chapman. We got our horses ready & started off riding Horner. Chapman a mare of Tripp's which he had sent up for me and Burnall a mare which he had just bought for £85.0.0! I had brought my two surviving dogs over to Ch:Ch: but was now obliged to leave one (Norna) behind as she had cut her foot. I took Don with me & rode up to Parlby's 28 miles.

18. Tuesday
started about 10 crossed the Rikaia [sic]  wh [which] was fairly low. We got a little wet in our feet, went on to Hayhurst on the Ashburton. Don was terribly knocked up, from having to run so far after his idle life on board ship.

19. Wednesday
Started about 10. taking the road towards the hills between the forks of the Ashburton & stopped to dinner at a station belonging to the Kennaways, and then went on to our station which I should have had some difficulty in finding as there was no track, & this station on the Ashburton had been started after I left for England. However we caught sight of the woolshed & on the way up to that met Tripp, we had before seen the shearers who directed us on our road, & told

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us that our shearing was just over & Tripp superintending the loading of the dray with 35 bales of wool, he had previously sent down 26 bales from Mt Peel. Tripp took us up to the house, & found myself at once plunged in medias res [Latin for "into the middle of things"] with regard to business. Tripp took me up to the Forest near the Station to see some men who were at work there, then across to another station on the same run to make some arrangements with a man who was going to leave us then down to the woolshed to see the men and drays who were to start next morning then Back to Burns' house the shepherd at whose hut Tripp was stopping which we did not reach till 9.0 p.m. This day I gained procession of my letters the October batch which had arrived here before me, and preceded me to Mt Peel, & very glad I was to get them. I may as well enumerate them here for the benefit of the writers when they see this journal.
Father - October 14
Agnes Sept. 10th to October 10
Mary Oct 1
A. Mills Oct. 11
Leo. Oct. 11
H. Jenkinson Oct 11
Mary, Joannie & Sarah Lucy Troyte Oct 15
besides a letter from Mr Wansey
I have mentioned these in a letter before to my father. It is quite a new thing having letters out so speedily & regularly, & also having them sent up the country. The post runs to Timaru once a fortnight returning to Ch:Ch: the alternate weeks. The post man receives £300 a year, Wh [whic] considering he has to cross the rivers every week is not too much. Indeed he (Mr Baines) does not intend to

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to renew the contact on the same terms.

Jan. 20 Thursday
This morning after some little discussion it was settled that Tripp & I should go over to Mt Peel instead of returning to Ch:Ch: direct & I therefore proposed to Chapman to leave him there till his wife came up promising to bring her myself. I do not think he much liked it but he made no objections. It will be rather amusing to some of my friends to hear that this morning 3 of the horses were missing only those that were tethered being safe. After some time hunting we found 2, but Horner was not to be seen at all, and I had to take Tripp's horse which Chapman had ridden up / as a matter of fact Horner appeared at Mt Peel about 4 days afterwards, he had been away from Mt Peel 6 months, & had never been at the Ashburton Run before, he was seen once on his way, & was going across some hills in a straight line, & when seen set off at full gallop, our neighbour Ruffel saw him. We rode over to Mt Peel, or rather the Rangitata which was far too high for us to think of fording, so we rode up from the crossing place, about ½ a mile or a mile, until we were in sight of the houses when we shouted waved handkerchiefs &c [etc]. till they saw us & we saw one going down to the river where we keep a punt, Tripp, Barwell & I left our horses tethered on the N side of the river, we all crossed in the punt having driven two other horses through the river & had to swim - I then went  up to Tripp's house & was introduced to Mrs Tripp, & her sister, Miss R. Harper who was staying with her to cheer her solitude while Tripp was away at the shearing at the Ashburton. I found my old friends the

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Smiths very glad to see me, but they are shortly about to leave us; the other hands about the station were new to me.
21. Friday
This morning having business to do though we were up early did not start till after 9.00 went down & crossed river in punt. There was another smaller stream to be crossed, & a man walking through to fetch the horses dropped Barnell's saddle, into the stream, & it was lost for about a fortnight, when it was found two miles down the river, not much improved but not much the worse, this delayed us some time as we had to go down to Moorhouse to borrow another saddle. We then started off for the Ashburton which we reached by 4.0. I had intended to push on to the Rikaia tonight, to reach Ch:Ch: if possible on Saturday but a violent thunderstorm came on & it rained so heavily till after 5.0 p.m. that I gave it up. Our drays arrived here from our Ashburton Station which is 25 miles above Hayhursts.

22. January
Sou'wester, raining hard.
Started with Barnell between 8 & 9& reached the Rikaia by 12.0. We shouted for the punt but they either could not, or would not hear us, & we returned 1 mile to Chapman's house drenched, we could hardly force our horses on to face the wind, in fact with "persuaders" in the shape of spears I believe it  w[ould] have been impossible. Mr Chapman was not at home but his people made us as comfortable

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as they could, though the room was cold if the window was open & smoked if it was shut. The man had been 14 months at the Nelson diggings. He had made £45 in one week, then worked on for a month & lost £30 of it & so on. He told us that on the whole he made good wages, but the work was so hard & the result so uncertain that he did not care to stop there and left. One cause of the great uncertainty is this, the gold is mainly found on the bed of mountain torrents the course of Wh[which] the diggers have to turn, as soon as they have finished there [sic] dams, perhaps down comes a fresh & destroys the work of weeks, before a speck of gold has been obtained. I do not think that a[t] present the diggings will injure Canterbury. We are. I believe going ahead faster than any province and all seems solid to the amount of £50,000 sold last year, & the sale keeps on at the same rate. I have heard that at Timaru, Mr Rhodes has sold land at £80 an acre which he bought 300, 4 years ago, for 10'/. I do not include these private sales in the about [sic - above] estimate which refers only to government sales.


Corsair Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, was named after a brigantine that wrecked there in 1861.


Ch:Ch: An abbreviation for Christchurch
Rikaia: Is Rakaia - 36 miles south from Christchurch
Hayhurst: John Hayhurst was sub-leasing the Ashburton run at that time and he charged 1/6d for a meal and 4 shillings if you stayed the night. This would have been before Turton's Accommodation House on the Ashburton River near the main street of Ashburton. From Ashburton they headed southwest towards the hills, I would say that the present Moranan Road would be roughly the direction they headed.
Parlby: George Henry Parleby built an accommodation house near the Selwyn River. He got an accommodation house licence late in 1857.

L.G. D. Acland wrote in The Early Canterbury Runs
Country: No word was oftener on the lips of the old squatters.
1. Farming land, as So-and so's country, good country, unoccupied country, etc.
2. As part of a proper name, Mackenzie Country
3. To describe locality, back country, front country, the hills adjoining the plains.
4. Up country, any place well out of town, the expression corresponds to the Australian 'bush'
5. Down country, used by people in the hills, to describe localities near town, or the plains; they speak of down country people or sheep.

John Barton Arundel Acland: 1823-1904

Barrister, sheep farmer, and politician. The first of the Acland family in New Zealand. Sixth son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th baronet of Killerton. Born in Killerton, studied law in London. Came to New Zealand with C. G. Tripp, on the Royal Stuart, arriving in Lyttelton in January 1855. Together they started their own sheep station at Mount Peel, and during the next 3-4 years increased their holding to about 250,000 acres, including Mount Peel, Mount Somers, Mount Possession and Orari Gorge. In 1862 they dissolved the partnership, and Acland took the Mount Peel property of 100,000 acres which he named Holnicote. In 1860 he married Emily Weddell Harper (eldest daughter of Bishop Harper). He was called to the Legislative Council in 1865, and resigned in June, 1899. He was chairman of the Mount Peel Road Board since its inception in 1870, and from 1873 to 1878 was a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College. Died 18 May 1904, aged 81.

Illustrated London News volume 039 XXXIX: Page 585
Mr. J. B. Acland (son of Sir T. D. Acland) and his wife sailed from Plymouth for Canterbury, New Zealand, on Wednesday week. Mrs. Acland is the eldest daughter of the Bishop of that colony, who went out in 1856. The ship in which they sailed is the Matoaka, of 2000 tons; she carries 196 emigrants and passengers.

Otago Witness, 3 January 1885, Page 21
The Lyttelton Times states that a lad of 15— Acland Wansey— a son of Mr Oliver Wansey, of New Brighton, bravely saved a little boy from drowning on Sunday. The boy, a little fellow of seven, had slipped into the river near the Cheater street Fire Brigade-station, and was floating down the stream towards Manchester street when young Wansey, who was on the New Brighton coach crossing the bridge at the time, caught sight of him drowning. He sprang from the coach, and was soon in the river swimming towards the boy, whom he fortunately reached in time. The rescue came none too soon, as when brought to the bank the boy was unconscious.

Diary 1858 - 1860
Jan. 1863
1865-1867 v.1  v.2  in Macmillan Library CT 2888.A184
1867-1869  in Library
Jan. 1870
Diary 1876 - 1878 July 1877
Diary 1878 - 1879
1880-1881 in Library
Diaries 1885-86
Diaries for 1889/1890
Diaries for 1893-98 Vol 1 Index a f g h

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