Paparoa Range, the name meaning “long place”, extends for 29 miles south-south-west from the lower Buller Gorge, between the Grey and Inanga-hua Valleys and Tasman Sea and the coastal plains, and reaches 4,925 ft at Mount Uriah, with many other peaks exceeding 4,000 ft. Glacial action in the past has produced sharp ridges, steep cliffs, and cirques, and many of the deeply incised rivers and streams have glaciated forms. With an annual rainfall of 150–200 in., the range is clothed in thick podocarp forest up to about 3,500 ft, a thin narrow belt of subalpine scrub giving way to mountain grasses on the tops. On poor soils these grassed areas can be as low as 1,000 ft.
The range is part of a complex, faulted anti-clinorium from which the softer Tertiary and Mesozoic sediments have been mainly stripped, exposing a core of granite and pre-Cambrian greywacke, argillite, and gneiss. Mount Buckley (1,145 ft) is a continuation of the structure south of Grey River. The Papahaua Range north of the Buller Gorge is a geological continuation, the gorge being cut as these ranges were uplifted during the early Pleistocene.
Extensive coal seams in Greymouth Coalfield and the smaller, isolated Pyke River Coalfield are the most important economic deposits on the range. Gold has been worked on a small scale on the southern end and, more recently, uraniferous deposits have been investigated in the Buller River, Fox River, and Bullock Creek catchments.
by Frederick Ernest Bowen, B.Sc.(DURHAM), New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.