SOUTH CANTERBURY has been spoken of as the paradise of Anglers by T. Cheyne Farnie, M.A.
The praise implied by this flattering- phrase is not unmerited. Its spacious, tree-dotted, crop- laden plains ; its numerous willow-fringed, shingly rivers ; its genial climate with an accompaniment of chequered skies, sultry summer suns, and roseate balmy evenings ; as well as the rare diversity of its trout-teeming waters, all contribute towards making it an ideal camping ground for whiling away a summer holiday with rod and line. Unlike the rivers of the North Island, or those further South, the typical South Canterbury river loves to meander irregularly over a wide shingle bed, sometimes in one main stream with rushing flow, sometimes in a score of channels silver threads amid the variegated, toi toi-plumed, tussock-crested, flax fringed islets or again, gliding imperceptibly in long reaches of stillness, bordered at either end by a thousand ripples, where the trout love to linger and bask in the noontide sun. Wild flowers are there in pleasing profusion along its embroidered banks. The frail forget me-not, with its blue-eyed, star petalled, fairy-like blooms, modestly rears its slender crest half-hidden amid the luscious greenery of the water-side. Trailing beds of sweetscented, golden-blossomed musk and candy- tufted water-cress, undulate in the pools and backwaters of the rippling river. Mauve-crowned mint in humbler fragrance, and aromatic, white- flowered manuka, are there, tangled with clumps of toi toi and the shining phormium with its serrated crimson blooms, where the bee and the bell-bird (now, alas, rare denizen) sip the ambrosial nectar ; while a thousand tiny flowerets, nameless and unhonoured save by the field-naturalist or the artist, blush almost unseen, wasting their sweetness on the desert air. Acres and acres of river bed are decked with the shuddering fires of gorse and broom ; and dotted all around lie farms and homesteads with their suggestions of prosperous, well-to-do comfort ; and away in the dreamy distance glimmer the hazy blueness of the Hunters' Hills, and in majestic mystery the snow-glistening peaks of the Southern Alps. A land to dream of, not to tell. For the number, as well as for the variety, of its trout rivers and streams, South Canterbury is rapidly becoming world-famous. Anglers from all parts of the world now annually visit its teeming waters, and testify to the excellence of the sport they obtain. A year or two ago the pretty little village of Winchester seemed to be the headquarters of the angling tourist. Situated on the Waihi Kiver, itself a famous trout stream, it found a convenient centre from which could be easily reached the principal rivers of the district. Nowadays, however, Temuka, some four miles distant, is ontstripping it as an angling resort. Here, the Temuka River, one of the finest fly rivers in the Colony, is within almost a stone's throw of any part of the town ; the Opihi is within easy walking distance ; while the Orari and the rushing' Rangitata, king- of rivers, can be comfortably reached after an easy drive. The Waihi, too, is not far away, while the Kakahu, the Hae-te-moana, and the Teng-awai are all within comfortable range.
The Rangitata is the great river of South Canterbury. Its proverbial coyness but adds zest to the interest with which the angler regards it. In the morning he may have received word that the river is in excellent fishing trim, but when he reaches it in the afternoon, the disconsolate fisherman may find that its waters present the spectacle of chocolate-coloured flood. He prays not then to the noble river that rolls by the walls of Rome. The melting snows of the distant Southern Alps control the river's ebb and flow, and a hot nor'-wester far away, or a couple of hours of noon- Jay sun, may bring down its waters in a turbid torrent. This uncertainty, however, is not without its charm ; for when the river is really in fishing' condition, it is prodigal of its bounties, and 'hilly repays the sportsman for previous disappointments. Not by any means an ideal river for day fishing-, except perhaps occasionally in the myriad ripples of its upper reaches, the Rangitata furnishes splendid sport for those who are inclined to disregard the discomforts of night fishing, and who have sufficient muscular activity to enjoy wielding a heavy fifteen foot rod and casting for hours with a three or four inch phantom or Devon- The favourite fishing ground is, of course, near the mouth where the belated tide meets the current of the river. Here, awaiting the whitebait and other small fry borne by the incoming tide, lie the huge leviathans it is the pride of the angler to strike and land. Trout up to twenty-five pounds in weight are no uncommon prizes for a night's fishing. Indeed, heavy baskets and large fish are of nightly occurrence. In the height of the season, too, the fish are in excellent condition, glistening like silver as they return to the river after their prolonged bath in the waters of the Pacific. Here the angler may spend a week or two in the most delightful manner. The weather is generally to be relied upon, and should the river prove unpropitious, a few miles away are other waters that will certainly show themselves more kindly. Quite a township of galleys and huts cluster along- the southern bank of the Rangitata near its mouth, in one of which the fisher will readily find accommodation at trifling- cost on application to the South Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, or to one of the private owners ; while necessary supplies may be obtained from Temuka as required. A boat, too, is available for anyone who wishes to try his luck from the northern bank; but the stranger is not recommended to make use of this convenience unless he is accompanied by some one who knows the river well.
But splendid as is the sport obtainable in the Rangitata, this fisher's resort must yield the palm to the Opihi and Temuka Rivers for the variety and consistent excellence of the sport afforded by them. Anglers from other parts have declared that no finer fishing can be obtained anywhere in the world than these rivers afford. The very largest fish may be looked for in the Opihi with the spinning bait, or even with the large so-called salmon flies. With its numerous ripples, too, it is one of the best of rivers for day fishing with the fly. But best of all streams the fly fisherman loves the waters of the Temuka and the Waihi. The angler, par excellence, has many of the characteristics of the naturalist and of the poet in thought, at least. He loves the rippling river for its own sake, as well as for the sport it affords. Every feature in the landscape is to him an added charm. The wild flowers on the brink, the trailing" watercress, the golden glories of gorse and broom, the grassy, scrub-patched higher banks beneath which the river foams and flows, the chequered cloud-land above, with its shifting shadows, or the roseate glow on the misty, indistinct, purple hills in the distance, are all things of beauty and joys for ever.
Nor is there anywhere in the world where these attributes can be more pleasingly enjoyed than along the banks of the Temuka and its tributaries the Waihi, the Hae-te-moana and the Kakahu. Here good fishing days are the rule and not the exception, and amidst the scenic beauty of the landscape the angler may put forth all his wiles, and use all his skill and knowledge in the course of a few days' fishing. For alter all it is the fly-fisherman who experiences the greatest enjoyment in the exercise of his art an enjoyment far keener, far more refined, and far more deeply in sympathy with the mysterious, aeolian throbbings of the bountiful mother, than that which rewards the labours of his brother of the spinning bait. The aspirant for large fish has to labour for hours for perhaps three or four, or at the most half a dozen fish. What boots it that these weigh from twelve to twenty pounds each or that after a phenomenal night his basket totals a hundred pounds or so? What can his enjoyment be, with all its weary intervals of waiting, in comparison with that of his brother of the fly, who on a bright, sunshiny morning with the permeating fragrance of the summer around him, tramps over miles of river-bed amidst exquisite scenery, taking fish at almost every ripple here from below an overhanging bank, there- beside a patch of musk or watercress, or, again, from the eddy formed by a tussock or flax-divided stream. The latter has a thousand lures and wiles unknown to the man who confines himself to the spinning bait. He has a keener understanding of the nature and habits of the fish he is seeking. He learns instinctively to know from the appearance of the water, from the sheen of the ripples, from the partial gloom of the willow-shrouded bank, from a thousand trifling semi-imperceptible circumstances whether the fish are lurking in any particular spot or not, or what flies they will be likely to fancy.
It is no uncommon occurrence for a sportsman to take from forty to fifty fish for a single morning's angling in the Temuka River, the fish ranging from three-quarters of a pound to two or three pounds in, weight. And a similar success may he chronicled on the evening of the same day. Comes back to memory one blissful Christmas day's visit to this halcyon river, when two rods netted one hundred and eighty fish of good average size for their day's sport. Another evening can be recalled when the happy angler, with a single claret hackle, landed fifteen fish (averaging something over a pound) in as many minutes, from a. willow-shrouded pool of the Waihi. Nor are these exceptional occurrences. At any time the angler can rely on an excellent basket from either river, at almost any portion of its course, unless the river happens to he in flood, which is a comparatively rare occurrence.
In South Canterbury, too, the vicinity of the rivers is pregnant with interest and beauty. Such places as the Kakahu Falls, the living walls of greenery framing the cataract at Peel Forest, the gorges of the Te Moana, the Waihi, and the Orari Rivers, will well repay a visit.
Otago Witness, 23 January 1890, Page 30
Mr W. Dale, of the Washdyke, caught what is believed to be a true salmon in the Opihi river on Wednesday night. The fish turned the scale at 121b, took 40 minutes to kill, and is in grand condition.
Otago Witness, 19 December 1900, Page 52
The Waitaki. The Timaru Herald of the 20th inst. says: Mr J. Cullmann, the well known tackle dealer of Timaru, had five very fine trout sent up to him on Saturday by Mr Smith, of Waimate. The fish had been caught in the Waitaki, were in the pink of condition, and excellent all round specimens. Just at present both the big rivers, the Waitaki and Rangitata, are in perfect order for fishing. Several Waimate and Oamaru anglers have enjoyed grand sport in the southern river ; and Messrs F. Brown and D. Robertson, of Timaru, brought home on Saturday a couple of heavy baskets from the northern rivers. Several fishermen who were at the Waitaki returned on Tuesday week with good baskets. Mr J. Mitchell had 21 fine fish, Mr Sinclair 15, and Mr G. Bruce 8.
Winchester, December 17. Good fly-fishing during the past week has been materially interfered with by a succession of strong easterly winds, anglers experiencing difficulty in keeping the fly on the water. Langdon's figures show a total take of 280 fish, weighing 162 lb, made up of moderate baskets taken by visitors and local men from the Waihi, Opihi, and Har te Moana. All water in good order. Mr G. Marshall, of your city, was here, and went down on Saturday to Langdon's Huts at the Rangitata Mouth to try for larger game; as the weather is now favourable he will probably have good sport.
Otago Witness, 16 January 1901, Page 55
On the Hae Hae Te Moana, on Tuesday day, Messrs Pye and Bethune got 58 fish, and Mr Twigg, jun., 27, the whole going about three to the pound.
Otago Witness, 15 October 1902, Page 54
The fishing season has opened well at Waihi, Hae hae te Moana, and Temuka Rivers. The Press takes the following record from Mr T. Langdon's Wolseley Hotel register:
Mr A. Mathews (Shag Point), 60 fish, weighing 361b;
Mr W. J. Moore (Winchester), 54 fish:
Con Haar, jun. (Winchester), 35 fish;
Mr E. E. Clarke (Victoria). 84 fish;
Mr Harold Wright (Kakahu), 14 fish.
Otago Witness, 4 November 1903, Page 58
If the fish in all the Canterbury rivers are as well conditioned as these, anglers may look forward to securing good baskets when the volume of water in the rivers lessens. The Waihi is in splendid order. As the result of four hours fishing the other day Mr Leslie Young (Winchester) landed 40 fine trout, weighing in all 281b. "Iron Blue" writes as follows is the Timaru Post of the 27th ult. : "The warm weather experienced during the past few days has greatly improved fishing prospects, and many nice baskets of fish have been taken in the Opihi and Pareora River. In the last named an angler secured a brace of good fish, going 6lb. The Rangitata was in high flood last Tuesday, but was in good fishing order on Friday. Only one rod that of Mr Turton, of Woodbury was on the river. His take consisted of 5 nice fish, the largest weighing 71b. The cucumber smelts were passing up stream in thousands, and the trout were feeding on them voraciously, and preferred the natural to the artificial bait. The river is very full of fish, and, with favourable weather, some heavy bags should be made this week. Owners of huts at the mouth of the Rangitata were unpleasantly surprised to find them tenanted by swarms of mice, which had apparently been in possession during the winter. Much damage has been done to mattresses, blankets, etc., and the smell was almost unendurable. A splendid basket of fish was secured in the Orari on Thursday by Mr Lyon, the late master of the Christchurch hounds. They were taken with a small whitebait minnow, and weighed 5 lb, 4 lb, 4 lb, 3 lb, 4 ½ lb, 2 lb respectively. The Orari was then coloured, but is now clear and in good order for fly fishing. A nice take of 34 fish was reported from the Hae- Hae te-Moana on Saturday, several of them weighing over l lb each. A fact worthy of note in connection with this take was that every fish over 1 lb contained one or more smaller trout about 3in long. They are evidently feeding on their own young, and at thus rate the Hae-Hae-te-Moana will not long remain in its present overstocked condition. A bag of 52 fish was made in Cooper's Creek on Saturday afternoon by two anglers from Geraldine. The best fish scaled 2½ lb the rest going about 3 to the pound. The flies most in favour just now are the Blue Upright, Red Quill, and Red Spinner. The Red Quill seems to hit everywhere, and at all times. While fishing in the Waitaki last season, I caught a two-pounder that had quite a large pebble inside it. This seemed such an unusual thing that I asked quite a number of fishermen for an explanation of it, "but they did not know. A fortnight or so later, while again fishing the same river, Mr Studholme, Waimate, showed several of us a bully that he picked up adhering to a good-sized pebble, and so firmly that unless we had been very careful we should have torn the bully to pieces in trying to remove it. It was attached by a kind of sucker extending along, as far as I remember, the whole of the under part of the body. This seemed to me to solve the problem of the stone inside the trout in swallowing the bully it also bolted the stone. The other anglers concurred with that solution.
Rainbow Trout. The Timaru Herald says : "Mr Bowman, while fishing at the mouth of the Opihi last week, landed a rainbow trout, scaling ½lb. Two seasons ago several anglers caught their first rainbow in the Opihi, but in accordance with the regulations then ruling had to return them to the water. Last season very few rainbow were caught in the Opihi but a good many were caught in the Pareora. Thousands have been turned out in the rivers named, but very few have been caught.
Otago Witness, 15 February 1905, Page 59
The Opihi and Rangitata. Messrs Ferris Bros., of Ashburton, recently had a very successful day's fishing on the Opihi Stream, landing 121 trout, averaging l½ lb. The fish, which were caught in the Opihi with the fly, are in splendid condition. Messrs Ferris Bros, report that they landed 91 of the fish in seven hours, which certainly constitutes a record. From a numerical point of view this is the largest catch reported since the opening of the season. There was on view at the Royal Hotel, Temuka. recently, an almost perfect specimen of a female trout, which was caught by Mr W. Grant, Temuka in the Opihi. The fish weighed 16Ύlb, and was fresh run from the sea. A fishing party that left Timaru recently for the Opihi met with rather hard luck, in that they had their tent and everything they had taken with them destroyed by fire. The contents included some rods, clothes, blankets, crockery, eatables, etc., the loss being a considerable one. The fire, it is said, was caused by a small boy setting fire to some tussocks close by the tent.
The Timaru Post of last Friday says . "Owing to the heavy rain in the back country on Tuesday the Opihi and Temuka Rivers were on Wednesday running high, the last-named rising 3ft in a very short time. Fishing, therefore, will fee spoilt for a day or two, owing to the waters being discoloured. On Tuesday night, now ever, before the fresh came down. Mr W. Grant caught a splendid trout in the Lower Opihi, which weighed 16½ lb. The bait used was a smelt. Last week Professor Carslow, of Sydney, who is staying at Winchester, and some local anglers, caught some fine fish in the Rangitata one weighing 8 lb. Mr W. N. Jones, of the Bridge Hotel, Arundel reports that he has been fairly successful lately amongst the speckled beauties. One day recently he got 19 trout from the Te Moana some 3 lb and 4 lb in weight. On Thursday he made his way to Cooper's Creek, and caught 37 fish in less than three hours, some of the fish scaling 2 lb in weight. A party of Christchurch fishers were fishing in the Rangitata last week, but as the river was dirty they only got 10, but two weighed 6 lb and 5 lb each respectively.
Mouth of the Opihi.
T. Cheyne Farnie:
Clara Mary Ure CALDER b. 28 July 1867, died in 1946, married Thomas Cheyne FARNIE. Thomas died at the age of 76 on 12 May 1930 and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. T.C. Farnie was a Dunedin schoolmaster and later head master of the school at Geraldine in 1892. He wrote the poem A Song of the Angler page 352, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, Volume IX, 1 October 1903
Farnie, Dot. Cheyne b: 2 Sep. 1890 in Temuka d: 1984 , m. Hen. Whiteoak Slater 30 Dec. 1929.
Farnie, Stuart Cheyne b: 28 Sep. 1892
Farnie, Violet Cheyne b: 30 Apr. 1887 in Dunedin
Farnie, Winifred Cheyne b: 3 Dec. 1894 in Geraldine, and died in Geraldine on 27 Feb. 1963. Never married.
Evening Post, 19 February 1908, Page 2. Timaru Girls' High School - Dorothy C. Farnie, Timaru .. 2842
Christchurch Press - Tuesday 15 April 1924
Wedding - FARNIE - STEVENSON -News just received from London announces the marriage of Miss Violet Cheyne Farnie (Geraldine) to Mr Rochester A. Stevenson. Took place in Scotland. He was also lighthouse keeper for the Dog Island Light. He is not listed as a lighthouse keeper.
Graduates of Otago University
Farnie, Thomas Cheyne B.A. 1882, M.A. 1883
Farnie, Violet Cheyne M.A. 1912, B.A. 1909
Farnie, Dorothy Cheyne B.A. 1914, M.A. 1915
Farnie, Winifred Cheyne B.A. 1916, M.A. 1917
Slater, Henry Whiteoak M.A. 1912, B.Sc 1921
Otago Witness 25 Jan 1862 page 5
Death. On the 29th January, on board the "Industry," at Port Chalmers, Elizabeth CHEYNE, wife of Mr William Farnie, age 28 years. He was described as a Master Mariner, Widower. He married Elanor Bayne at the house of Archibald Barr, London St, Dunedin 9 June 1863. In later directories William Farnie is described as a Janitor and he died 22 August 1905 aged 75 in Dunedin. He came to N.Z. in the "Storm Cloud", 1860. He is not listed in the passenger list.