Many of these tracks were used by groups travelling from the east coast, or from the North Island, to collect pounamu (greenstone) on the West Coast. They normally ascended along one of the rivers that drained the Southern Alps, and then crossed a pass to another valley. Some routes down the coasts were also used for carrying trade items, especially foods that were exchanged with South Island tribes.
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Source: Barry Brailsford, Greenstone trails: the Maori and pounamu. 2nd ed. Hamilton: Stoneprint, 1996