Fees For Crossing The Heathcote River ~ 1850

If it wasn’t enough already to have gathered up all your worldly belongings and trudge over the Bridle Path after an exhausting 100 or so days at sea, some actually added livestock to the proceedings.

If these Canterbury Association settlers were anything like Captain William B. Rhodes who brought the first ever hoof-stock to Banks Peninsula in 1838, the poor weakened creatures who weren’t designed to spend a single moment on the water, were then forced overboard to make their own way to shore. Quite a sight I’m sure.

So, it was not only our settlers who started the rest of their lives walking up the Bridle Path. Herds of cattle and sheep also made the hike up the hill, and then had a fast dust-filled trot down into Ferrymead.

‘Honest John’ Cordy (Homebush’s second manager) had the bright idea of opening a holding station beside the Bridle Path, making his start in Canterbury by baby-sitting the newly arrived herds while their owners settled business with the land office in Christchurch.

At that time, there was only one way to Christchurch and that was the ferry (or punt) across the Heathcote River. Like ‘Honest John’ Cordy, the first owners – and there were many over the first few years – of this ferry, provided an essential service and reaped the rewards.

So, here are the fees for the ferry in 1851:

People: sixpence each
A Cart: eighteen pence
Horses: one shilling each
Cattle: sixpence each
Bullocks: eighteen pence each
Sheep: group under 20: threepence each
Sheep: group under 80: twopence each

And if you wanted this service before sunrise and after sunset, the fare was doubled!

Of course, there were those who just lead their stock into the Heathcote, wading across with their herds, holding their luggage and things above their heads.

*image courtesy of http://www.coinfactswiki.com/ *

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