Arthur Found The Best Way To West Coast – 17th March 1864

On 17 March 1864, young surveyor Arthur Dudley Dobson crossed the harsh terrain that would become Arthur’s Pass.

“Returning to Christchurch, I made a sketch of the country I had been over, and handed it with a report to the Chief Surveyor [Thomas Cass]. I did not name the pass, but when the gold-diggings commenced on the West Coast a committee of business men offered a prize of £200 for anyone who could find a better and more suitable pass, and at the same time my brother George was sent out to examine every available pass…and reported that Arthur’s pass was by far the most suitable for a direct road to the coast; hence the name by which it has been known ever since” – Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson 1930

Arthur first entered into history as a nine year old, aboard the ‘Cressy’ (the Canterbury Association’s 4th ship) with his father Edward and his older brother George. Both boys followed their father into engineering and surveying with Arthur being employed by the Canterbury Provincial Council to find the best passable way from the Canterbury Plains to the newly discovered gold fields of the West Coast.

Arthur, who spoke fluent Maori, explored a Ngai Tahu track he had learned about and, in the company of Maori trackers, it proved to be the easier route through the Southern Alps. On 23 March 1865, the first road was completed under the direction of Arthur’s proud father, Edward. On 20 March 1866, the first Cobb & Co traveled through carrying only one passenger – Canterbury’s Superintendent William Sefton Moorhouse.

For a more in depth look at Sir Arthur Dobson, please check out the following link:

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