Picturesque New Zealand/Chapter 5
The Thermal Wonderland—Rotorua—The Haka and the Poi—A Strange Outdoor Kitchen—Whakarewarewa's Geysers—Pantomime in a Maori Cooking Reserve—Wonderful Hamurana—Gloomy Tikitere—The Long Swim of Hinemoa—The Cold Lakes
In the South Island the traveler is fascinated by ice and snow. In the North Island he is awed by fire and steam.
In the north, from Ruapehu's snows to Ohaeawai's tepid springs, full three hundred miles away, is a violent, vaporous land. It is ulcerous with turbulent, nauseous mudholes, and scabby with the white sterility of silica. Earthquake tremors frequently shake it, and it throbs with the pulsations of subterranean boilers. It has steaming lakes, pools, and streams, healing baths and springs, acidulous basins of emerald, opal, and orange, and tinted terraces of sinter. From smoking crater come deadly gases, and on mountain-top is heated turmoil amidst snow and ice.
Here are thermal islands in the sea, and buried villages ashore. Here, in this warming-pan, this outdoor kitchen, are roaring steam vents, simmering shallows and sweating sulphur. In populous centres, in untenanted swamp and manuka waste are plutonic vapors, infuriate mud, and spouting water. In this realm of hidden fires are clear, cold lakes in the shades of lovely forests.
All these and much more I found in the Hot Lakes Wonderland. The Hot Lakes District has been hastily, extravagantly named. It is rather a region of cold lakes, although there is plenty of hot water in all its parts, and some of it is present in lakes, but more generally so in pools and ponds.
The cause of all this thermal activity, I naturally supposed, was volcanic agencies and probably the chemical action of sulphuric acid on water. Not so, a Maori legend informed me. These volcanic fires were caused by two women, sisters of a high priest named Ngatoroirangi, who acted in his ecclesiastical capacity in the Arawa canoe on its voyage from Hawaiki to New Zealand. Ngatoroirangi and a man named Ngauruhoe ascended Tongariro Mountain, and there the priest's companion froze to death. Calling to his sisters in Hawaiki, he asked them to bring him fire. On the back of a taniwha they came, and as they journeyed they produced geysers, the first one on White Island, an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty. The fire they brought saved their brother and converted New Zealand into a steam heater.
The centre of this wonderland is Rotorua, or "Rotterrua," as some careless people call it. It is one hundred and seventy-one miles by rail from Auckland, overlooking Lake Rotorua at an elevation of nine hundred and thirty-two feet above sea level, and is reached daily by express trains. Rotorua is more than the chief health and tourist resort of the Dominion. It is a Government town, controlled by the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts, and has been since 1907.
It was a welcome to the sulphurous heart of the Arawa country that greeted me. The Maoris at the station seemed glad to see me, but they were not half so glad or effusive as the mob of hotel and boarding-house keepers and bus drivers beside the railway gate. There were nearly enough of them to populate a town.
As I went toward my hotel an odor of sulphur was wafted to me. It came from the sanatorium grounds by the lake shore, and the steam columns I saw in the same area rose from the artificial Malfroy geysers in a concrete basin.
Before sight-seeing in Rotorua I wanted a bath. Nothing was easier to get. I could have had scores of different kinds of baths before bedtime had I desired them. Rotorua is one of the cleanest towns in the world, for everybody there bathes frequently. In the midst of its bathtubs and pools the professional tramp would feel woefully out of place. Every morning before breakfast I saw men and women with towels on arms or shoulders on their way to bathhouses. Verily, if cleanliness be next to godliness, Rotorua must be especially near and dear to the gods.As the baths of Rotorua are many and varied, so also are the places in which they are housed. They were offered to me in low, unpretentious buildings; in the Duchess, opened by King George V of England when he
MAIN BATH HOUSE, ROTORUA
was Duke of Cornwall and York; and in the one hundred and fifty thousand dollar bathhouse of European design. I was invited to swim in the mild Blue Bath; to disport in the stronger Priest; to test my endurance qualities in the powerful Postmaster; to feel the drawing power of the Sulphur Vapor Bath; and to spatter myself with mud. Altogether there were about forty different ways to bathe or be bathed, including douches, douche-massages, and electric applications. In Rotorua's baths one can be treated for rheumatism, sciatica, dyspepsia, gout, liver complaints, skin diseases, or other ills.
The sanatorium grounds form the loveliest spot in a valley not devoid of beautiful scenery. West and south rise low, brown, fern-covered hills that meet higher wooded hills, some of which attain the dignity of mountains. Chief of these in Rotorua's neighborhood is Ngongotaha, 2554 feet above the sea. At the base of these heights, near Rotorua, are plains clothed with bracken fern and tea-tree, brightened by a few green meadows. On the immediate west is Lake Rotorua, with brown-topped Mokoia, island of sweet romance, in its centre.
The sanatorium area is a weird place, despite its cultivated beauty. For a first lesson in thermology it is a capital school. There on a moderate scale I saw illustrated some of the greater wonders of the district. There were agitated waters covered with bubbles as large as hens' eggs; pools with contents boiling like syrup in a kettle; others colored, some with surfaces of ever-changing patterns of shifting oil; effervescing gas bubbles in the lake; and splashing and rumbling in steaming fissures.
Not the least interesting of my discoveries were the bits of pumice on the lake shore. They had the appearance of stone, but they were only the froth of stone, bits of lava scum that overran volcanoes ages ago. They were so light that they floated. In the North Island millions of tons of pumice have been discharged from volcanoes, and on the Kaingaroa Plains fully ten thousand square miles have been covered with it. Once believed to be valueless, pumice soil has been found suitable for agriculture, and the settlement of pumice wastes promises to become general in New Zealand.
Rotorua is the greatest picnic ground of a truly picnic land. Every day of the year it has picnics and excursions, "weather and other circumstances permitting," as Australasian steamship agents say. Rotorua is a place of early "calls" and early breakfasts; then away, in whirling clouds of dust, in horse and motor coaches, to Whakarewarewa's geysers, to the infernos of Tikitere, to buried Wairoa, to steaming Rotomohana and suffocated Waimangu; or away to sparkling Hamurana or the bosoms of trout-infested lakes. Every morning for a fortnight there is something different to see; then ho! for the geysers of distant Taupo and Wairakei or to restful Te Aroha and its wooded mountain.
Steam heat, boiling mud, and baths are not the only attractions Rotorua offers its visitors. At the time of my visit there it had in addition the Tuhourangi troupe of Maori entertainers, which, I was informed, had been patronized by Lord Kitchener and Madame Melba, in a recent tour of Australia. I went to the Assembly Hall to see "the Maori at home" and to be stirred by the defiant haka and charmed by the rhythmic, pacific poi.
The entertainment opened with a scene depicting Maoris in olden days, and the reception of distinguished visitors. The hosts were a chief of mighty bulk and a number of barefooted women wearing white waists, and red skirts beneath stringy flax petticoats that rattled with every move of their bodies. Several of them had tattooed chins; some wore ties with high stiff collars, and large greenstone tikis, that distorted image of the human form so popular among Maoris; and each had two poi balls, light spheres of bulrush with short flax strings attached.
Following felicitous exchanges between them and the visitors, a lanky chief and a company of girls, came an exhibition of the so-called poi dance, which is more nearly a motion song. The participants were a dozen women, and as is usual in most poi dances, the players stood while acting. Between their thumbs and forefingers they held the balls, one in each hand.
The dance began with a movement of the hips. As the movements became more rapid there was a close resemblance to the hula-hula of the Hawaiians and the otea of the Tahitians, but the contortions were not so violent. Sometimes knees were bent; at other times hand motions were prominent. In poi games, however,—they were so called on the programme,—there is great variety, and the shouts and stampings of one game may be superseded by singing or silence in another. Seldom, though, are the poi balls idle at any stage of the game. They are played from side to side on hands and wrists, around head and shoulders, and on other parts of the body, to an accordion or harmonica accompaniment and with rhythm in every move of ball and rattle of flax string. The whole is so bewildering and fascinating that usually the beholder is eager to see another performance "straight away," as they say in Australasia.The hakas this evening were given by a company of magnificent-looking men. They were bare from waist line to shoulders and from knees down. All wore light knee trousers, over which were flax kilts, and each carried a taiaha, a wooden sword something like a narrow-bladed paddle. They were men of sinewy limbs and strong lungs; they leaped as if they were on springs, and their cries, if delivered by an army of warriors, would be deafening. From their performance the spectators gained a good idea of the manner and pitch to which Maoris roused themselves before engaging in a battle. They leaped high into the air, their kilts spreading like parachutes as they rose and fell; they slapped their chests, arms, legs, and hands; yelled and hissed; knelt briefly on one knee; then rose to renew their ferocious poses, striking in front of themselves as if they intended to go bodily through a foe, and nearly all the while fiercely grimacing
and exhibiting that Maori symbol of defiance—an extended tongue.
Much more interesting than Rotorua, in some particulars, is the native village of Ohinemutu, adjoining the State town, just beyond the old fort-hill of Pukeroa. Despite its misfortune in losing a part of itself in an earthquake many years ago—a disaster impressed on its visitors by its leaning church tower—Ohinemutu is progressive; huts it has, but they are patterned after the pakeha's houses, and in keeping therewith many of them support a big galvanized iron or tin chimney on the outside. To me chimneys seemed out of place in this pa, until I was told that they are for use in cold weather, and for those families who have no convenient cooking-hole.
A cooking-hole! Ohinemutu has, of a truth, little need of chimneys since it is an outdoor kitchen. It prepares its meals in fireless cookers—in hot pools and steam holes. Enter its gates, and you shall see meat, fish, and vegetables nicely cooked without cost. In this village nobody growls about burnt food, and fuel bills are light.
Ohinemutu is no embattled pa surrounded by ditches and stout fences and defended by carnivorous warriors, as of old. It is true that on a few gables and other conspicuous elevations unfriendly eyes glared at me, tongues lolled a menace, and grinning teeth seemed eager to close on me; but they were lifeless carvings. Ohinemutu's gates, or rather the open spaces and passageways that take their places, are never closed.
Throughout Ohinemutu I encountered steam. It rose from pools where children swam—along the margin of the lake, along the paths that served as streets, and in front and back yards. Some of these children asked me to throw pennies into the pools, that they might dive for them. Diving for tourists' pennies is a daily pursuit of Maori boys and girls in the Rotorua district. Many pools are too hot for diving, and sometimes people accidentally fall into them, and are scalded to death. I read of one or two men who were fatally scalded in a bath in the manuka wastes back of Pukeroa Hill, and at Tokaanu I heard of a tourist who stumbled into a hotwater hole one night and was so severely burned before he scrambled out that he was in a hospital for months. In the same village when I was in New Zealand, a young Maori wife committed suicide by leaping into a boiling spring, and not a vestige of her body could be found by her husband.
How fortunate are the cooks of Ohinemutu. In that blissful retreat of steam the housewife has no kitchen fire to build, no cooking-stove to polish, and the small boy's play-hours are never disturbed by that world-familiar maternal command, "Bring in some wood." My first view of an Ohinemutu fireless cooker was beside a public path. It was a wooden box, inset in the ground, with a steaming gunny-sack over it, and it had an unpleasant smell. Close by were others like it; in other places I saw these fibrous stove-lids flat on the ground. In one a woman was placing two kettles, and she thrust them in quickly to avoid getting burnt fingers. To another steamer a woman was carrying a large piece of pork; by a hot pool another housewife was plucking feathers from a fowl; and in a yard beside the Tauranga road a white man secreted a pot of potatoes as a miser buries his gold. Ohinemutu was cooking its Sunday dinner.
A mile and a half from Rotorua is the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, or Whaka, as it is often called to save time and conserve the lungs. The main entrance to Whaka is a little bridge with red railings spanning Puarenga Stream, a cold creek between steaming banks. Approaching it, I saw the right side lined by men and women, all gazing below. What was the attraction?
"Penny, penny! Throw a penny!"
That was the answer, given in eager, childish voices. Boys and girls were diving in and into the creek for pennies. Frequently a boy or a girl came up to leap from the platform or railing. Each had a graduated scale of prices. From the platform they dived for a penny, but charges increased rapidly with altitude, and for a leap from the railing, less than five feet above, the rate was thrice the other.
"A haka for a penny."
That is another entertainment to be had for a copper at this same bridge. Whaka's youthful tamas and tamahines were industrious; all appeared to be actors or actresses, and divers. When they were not splashing in Puarenga or were not in school, they were dancing, grimacing, and contorting for a penny apiece. When I asked my guide to arrange a haka for me, it was late in the day and few performers were abroad. My "company" was composed of five small lads and a girl. They gave a sort of modernized haka. In true Maori fashion, they thrust out their tongues as far as possible, rolled their eyes, and stamped their bare feet. That I was prepared for, but I was amazed to hear them sing snatches of "Yankee Doodle," and "Every Ship has a Harbor." From these mites "Yankee Doodle" seemed as unnatural as did "John Brown" from the lips of some of my boy guides in the Cook Islands. These children had been listening to phonographs.
Whaka is another open-air kitchen. In its native reserve it cooks its food. Whaka is, in truth, one big steamer. There nearly a dozen geysers play, hot springs abound, and tossing mud and clay are seen throughout the vale.
One of the most interesting of Whaka's attractions is the soaping of geysers in the Government Reserve. With hundreds of others I went there one day to see Wairoa Geyser soaped for the benefit of moving-picture men. My guide was Georgiana, a Maori with tattooed lips and chin. She was bareheaded, but not barefooted; Georgiana wore a pair of high-heeled shoes.Soaping Wairoa is always an important event in Whaka, for not often does the Government permit it, because excessive soaping weakens geysers. Wairoa never plays until it is soaped, and sometimes it won't
THE DUCAL HAKA, ROTORUA
respond even then. At the hour set for the ceremony this day the terrace of Wairoa, the flat adjacent, and the shelter houses and the slopes below it were crowded with spectators. All the while the geyser Waikorihihi was sending forth clouds of steam and sprinkling with drifting spray the people between it and Wairoa, as if to say: "Watch me. I work nearly all the time, and I don't have to be coaxed with soap either."
There was a stir in the crowd. It was caused by Kathleen, smiling, small, and supple. She was brilliant in a flax mat completely covered with kaka, kiwi, and pigeon feathers. She tripped to the geyser's mouth; for this pleasant, popular Maori guide, was to coax Wairoa with soap and smiles.
The caretaker approached her with a big white bag in hand. It was half full of yellow soap cut into small cubes.
"Are you ready, Kathleen?" he asked.
"Yes," she promptly answered.
Taking out two or three handfuls of soap, the caretaker threw them into Wairoa's deep throat, and then handed the bag to Kathleen. Grasping the string handle at the bottom of the bag, she opened the mouth, and out poured a saponaceous stream.
"How long must we wait to see Wairoa play?" I inquired of Georgiana.
"Ten minutes, usually," she replied.
The minutes passed, but there was only a slight increase in the volume of steam at Wairoa's mouth, and there were no subterranean signs of an imminent eruption. Fifteen, twenty minutes passed, with very little change.
When thirty minutes had gone there was a rumble, then a splash of water. The people near the geyser backed away. Two or three more splashes followed, and each was higher than its predecessor. Then came a hoarse roar, a rush of steam, and up past a low, sulphur-dyed sinter wall flashed a column of water carrying clouds of steam. Soap, just common washing-soap, had conquered Wairoa and forced it from its lair. Up it continued to go—fifty, sixty, eighty, one hundred and twenty feet.
"Wairoa would have gone higher if it had n't been for the wind," the caretaker told me. "It has been known to go one hundred and eighty feet."
While Wairoa played it played magnificently. In its shaft it rumbled, it flung its hot breath upon the venturesome, and for more than one hundred feet around it shook the ground until the earth trembled. For ten minutes it rose and fell. Then down it went, like a thermometer on a frosty night, until it was a mere splasher.
Kathleen, Wairoa's tempter, wore shoes at the soaping ceremony; but where were they now, after the people had dispersed? She was barefooted as she and other guides wended their way to the village square.
"Where are your shoes, Kathleen? " asked Georgiana.
"Oh, I left them at the geyser," was the reply, in a tone that indicated its communicator would not have cared much if her shoes had been tossed into Wairoa and boiled to bits.
The Government Reserve at Whaka is one of the most active and absorbing spots of the thermal zone. On geyser-built sinter terraces I counted eight geysers and a boiling caldron. Near them were deep, silent pools of clear, scalding blue; deep and shallow pools of hot, soapy-looking water; basins of boiling mud, blue, gray, creamy, black; "porridge-pots" and "paint-pots"; hot springs that simmered and boiled; steaming earth-banks, siliceous walls and rubbish heaps. Excepting the geysers, all was hidden by the low manuka and the lower fern. In this wilderness of shrub the stranger never knows what he will see or hear next. He hears the turmoil of waters and sees jets and blankets of steam, but their sources are hidden, and to reach them the wise step warily.
The geysers of this inclosure lie close together, none being more than a few hundred feet from its farthest neighbor, and several being within a few yards of each other. The majority play frequently, but not with the regularity characterizing Wairakei's geysers. The most active of the strongest is Waikorihihi. Its best endurance test, according to official records, is two hundred and twenty-nine days without a day's stop. Its usual height is from twenty to forty feet. Of about the same strength is the Caldron, a deep basin of blue hot water. When this spouter plays, Pohutu, a few feet away, generally follows suit, and always does so when the Caldron throws water into its cavity. Tossing a column of water from fifty to sixty feet high, Pohutu plays from one to four times a week, and in some months oftener.
Close to Pohutu, but not dependent on it for activity, is the Prince of Wales Feathers. It throws two small sprays and always plays when Pohutu does, as well as at other times. The terrace from which these two geysers shoot simmers in one place like a frying-pan. At the lower end of the terrace, overlooking Puarenga Creek, is Kereru, "The Pigeon," so named because of the slaty color of its mineral discharges, which form a hard mineral coating in a short time. Kereru is usually most active in the afternoon, and after it has been quiescent three hours it plays from seventy-five to ninety feet high.
In the creek, just below Kereru, is the Torpedo, a phenomenon caused by hot mud coming into contact with cold water. When I saw the Torpedo eleven years ago it was very active, but on my last visit to New Zealand it seldom played. When at its best it lifted, to a height of from one to three feet, a circle of inky black water about ten feet in diameter, the circle rising with unbroken surface until it reached its maximum height, when it exploded with a subdued report. The Torpedo may become just as active again, for it is not more erratic than other phenomena of the district.
Waikite, the twin geyser, for instance, was inactive for a period of thirteen years and four months. It stopped playing when the railroad to Rotorua was opened. Possibly it did not like the innovation, nor the rivalry of a steam locomotive. Finally it seems to have become reconciled to the new order, for occasionally it ejects water to a height of fifty or sixty feet.
Some of the sights in New Zealand's thermal wonderland are scarcely more impressive than their names. Those most frequently heard are appellations commonly applied to nether worlds. For example, the Devil appears to have had a lot to do with the creation of the weird and the marvelous. His name is associated with mudhole and blowhole, fire and steam. An idle brain is not more "the Devil's workshop" than New Zealand appears to be. An example of this fondness for Satanic titles is furnished by the Devil's Reception, a basin of boiling mud about fifty yards in circumference. Dotted with mounds of mud from one to five feet high and with sloppy, oily pools, it constantly flings its blackness with cracking, explosive reports. So much like hopping frogs do its ejections seem to the spectator that it often is called the Frog Pond.
Of the fireless cookers I saw in this reserve the one of the most historical interest was the Brain Pot, a shallow silica basin beside the main footpath. Once it had steamed like a boiling kettle; now only slight activity was visible. The Brain Pot has a tragic history. In it were cooked the brains of Chief Te Tukutuku, whose tribe had killed more than three hundred members of another iwi, Georgiana told me. After this slaughter Tukutuku fled with a slave, and for three years the two hid themselves in two caves in the reserve. In front of these caves were, as there are to-day, two warm pools. In one the chief took his daily bath; in the other his food was cooked. One day the slave was seen by some of the affronted tribesmen when he was searching for fern root. He was followed, and the chief was captured. Tukutuku's head was cut off, and his brains were served as a delicacy to his enemies.
Maoris have always been communists, and to a large extent they still are. In Whaka they have a community kitchen. It is not used for cooking only, however. This roofless, fireless cookhouse produces a revenue from curious tourists, and this income, like the kitchen, is communal. Other kitchens in Whaka one may enter without payment of a fee, but not the one in its native reserve. If the visitor does not adhere strictly to the regulations posted before it, he is liable to prosecution. After detailing the sights therein, including a "boiling caldron in which a man lost his life," the notice informs the public that "visitors are strictly requested to pay one shilling each time."
When I started through the tea-tree pole alley leading to the reserve it was noon. I took no guide, believing there would be one in the "kitchen." The only person in sight was an old, bent man carrying a kit of food and a kettle. Apparently he was about to leave the premises, but on seeing me, he quickly deposited his burden in a convenient cooking-box, and with beckoning arms and grunts made for me and the shilling. He wore a white felt hat, a gray sweater, overalls, and white canvas shoes, and in his mouth was a pipe. He was bowed low under the weight of years, yet his step was springy. And why should n't it be? Was not he to get a fourth of that shilling?
So far as I was concerned, my impromptu guide might as well have been speechless. I could n't understand a word he said; in truth, there were very few words he did speak after he found I was n't a Maori scholar. Instead, he became little more than a dumb show, with arm touches as his signals, and grunted "ughs" as his explanations and exclamation points.
His first grunt referred to a hot blue pool inclosed with an iron fence. Into it a native had fallen years before, and had been boiled to death. In explanation of this tragedy, my guide made a wry face, flapped his arms and shrugged his shoulders, then led me to three cooking-boxes, covered with gunny-sacks. Each was thirty inches long and two feet wide, and was filled with food in pots and flax kits. In this same reserve were several other cooking-boxes for the villagers' use, and in either of them a meal could be well cooked in twenty-five minutes, I had been assured by Georgiana.
From one hot spring in the inclosure ran a number of small ditches, connecting with a shallow pool and a row of large open boxes. What were these? The guide tried his best to tell me, but though he flourished his arms and grunted more than before, I could not understand him. A windmill, which he somewhat resembled, would have been just as useful to me. Possibly the old man thought so, too, for with a final volley of grunts he threw out his arms and pointed to the exit, as if to say, "Clear out."
I did not want to "clear out," for I was still little wiser than when I entered the reserve. Fortunately I soon found a Maori able to speak English, and from him I learned that the open boxes were the remains of a bathhouse annex. The bathhouse had been built by Whaka's hotel for the use of its guests, and its water was taken from the ditch-drained hot spring a few yards above. On these baths the hotel paid a rental. In this the villagers as a whole were entitled to share; but months passed without the declaration of a dividend. At last a Maori committee called on the hotel keeper for an explanation. He told it he had been paying the money in good faith to two native men. This so angered the committee and the villagers generally that they threatened to demolish the bathhouse.
"You have no right to do so," the hotel proprietor told them.
"You wait and see," replied the exasperated Maoris.
"Then," said guide number two to me, "all the people come and tear down the house, and they say, 'We will no let the white man come in here again to wash.'"
As for the shallow pool shown me, it was the town washtub. Round this tepid basin, on Blue Monday or its equivalent in Whaka, washerwomen flock like crows in a cornfield.
Over all the "hot lakes" country are astonishing contrasts. There is beauty beside ugliness, purity close to contamination, heat and cold separated by narrow walls, and clear depths near opaque turbulent pits and shallows. Of these opposites none is more pronounced than the difference between Hamurana Spring and Tikitere. The first is a flood of cold, crystal water bursting forth in arborescent wilds several miles from Tikitere; the second, reached by coach through earthquake fissures, is an inferno of boiling black mud set in a sterile bed.
Hamurana is the most wonderful cold-water spring in New Zealand. It is, in fact, an underground stream, and its daily expulsion has been estimated to be from four to five million gallons of water, which it discharges into Lake Rotorua. Although Hamurana is not a tossing marvel, it seems strong enough to lift tons. Its strength other tourists and I illustrated in an amusing way. As we watched it from a rowboat we, following the example of thousands before us, threw pennies into it, to see them flung about and forced into the crevices of the wall. The coins were never able to sink more than a few feet. After we had gone Maoris went to the spring to collect the submerged coppers. As it was impossible for one man to get them unaided, the natives worked in pairs. One man remained above, holding a pole jammed into a crevice, while his comrade, keeping a firm grasp on the support to withstand the spring's buffetings, descended and gathered the coins.
In crossing Lake Rotorua to Hamurana one passes Mokoia Island, whither Hinemoa, '"the young lady in love," fled to the arms of Tutanekai, her lover. The romance of these two is the most celebrated of Maori love stories. Hinemoa, the beautiful daughter of Chief Umukaria, lived, say Arawas, in Owhata, a village on Rotorua's eastern shore. On Mokoia, a sacred isle of gods and graven images and industrious, prosperous worshipers, lived the chief Tutanekai, and "Lady Moa" loved him. Tutanekai loved the maiden also, and the two planned a meeting on the island, "and the signal of it was the playing every night of Tutanekai (on his flute) and his bosom friend Tiki's flute."
Hinemoa's relatives were opposed to her union with the young chief, and on learning of the lovers' plan, they dragged ashore all the boats. This misfortune did not dissuade the girl from her purpose, and one dark night she set out to swim to the island, two miles from her home. She reached Mokoia exhausted, and in a warm spring, where she stopped to rest, the musical Tutanekai found her. The two were married, and from them many of the Arawas trace their descent.Tikitere is an extraordinary attraction in a very ordinary place, ten miles from Rotorua. Its immediate approaches from Rotorua are low brown hills covered with tea-tree and common fern. Until within a few hundred yards of Tikitere nothing phenomenal is visible; nor, unless previously informed, would one look for any strange or uncommon works of nature in such a region. Yet it is one of the busiest corners of the whole
THE INFERNO, TIKITERE
thermal district. It is not nearly so conspicuous as some other calorific surfaces; it is like a big kitchen stove set in a hollow, a stove with many pots, and all those pots perpetually boiling.
The first evidence of underground heat that I saw here was at a turn of the coach road. From a yellow bank on a hillside columns of steam floated lazily away. On the side of one of these hills was a big white patch of silicated rock heaped into a ghostly mound; in it was a large steaming cavity. Next clouds of vapor rose near the road; they came from the pulsing heart of Tikitere.
Tikitere impressed me as the most dismal of all the thermal areas of the North Island; certainly I found none more nauseating. Its silica mounds and banks had a sepulchral appearance, and were thrown up like drifts of snow. In sunlight their whiteness was dazzling. Their surface was stained with sulphur, and from their mud-spattered basins poured suffocating masses of steam charged with sulphuretted hydrogen and sulphuric acid.
These obnoxious, odorous blankets were worst at Hell's Gate, the real entrance to Tikitere. There they enveloped me so thickly that I had to gasp for breath as I halted for a view, and I was soon glad to escape to a clearer atmosphere. Hell's Gate was a thick ledge of silica, overlooking to right and left a large boiling muddy pool. These pools were almost as large as ponds, and over all their surface there was terrific activity. Both were covered with countless bubbles, and in one I heard the water simmer; and no wonder, for Hell's Gate has a temperature of two hundred and thirty-two degrees.
Hell's Gate looked bad enough, but the Inferno was more ferocious still. To reach it I crossed Frying-Pan Creek, a tiny stream running for a short distance over a perforated, seething floor. The Inferno was one of the ugliest and most violent thermal products imaginable. It was a long, irregular basin of splashing mud and ill-smelling steam; its walls, varying in height from a few inches to six or seven feet, were stained with a mixture of mud and oil; its convulsions were so furious that I heard its splashings yards from its rim.
Almost as fearful in appearance, but smaller, was Satan's Glory. It was very noisy and busy, and strewn with large bubbles and broken by splashers. Near it the ground trembled. Close by was the Mouth of Hades, an opening in a silica ledge, below which was a dark, splashing basin of mud; and from the floor of the aperture alum oozed. Connected with Satan's Glory was the Porridge-Pot, containing a boiling mixture of oil and fuller's-earth. In the same reserve and in other parts of the Hot Lakes district are similar deposits of clay.
Tikitere is more than a weird spectacle. It is also a sombre sanatorium. In its springs and mud baths people are cured of rheumatism, lumbago, skin diseases, muscular ailments, paralysis, and other diseases. One of the strongest properties of its medicated waters is sulphuric acid.
In this district sulphur deposits are extensive, and a short distance from the main attractions is an old sulphur mine. Years ago sulphur blocks were to be seen stacked like wood, but at last the percentage of pure sulphur has become too low to insure a profit, and the workings have been abandoned. The principal sulphur mine in Tikitere's vicinity now is the steaming crater of Ruahine.
Sulphur is believed to be responsible for much of the thermal activity in New Zealand. Dr. A. S. Wohlmann, Government balneologist at Rotorua, informed me that he had little doubt that "the chemical action of sulphuric acid on water is one of the causes of heat in the acid waters."
It is refreshing, after being steamed in Whaka and Tikitere, to make a tour of the Cold Lakes. These lakes are pretty, but years ago, when forests completely surrounded them, they were more attractive still. Around neither are there high mountains, the most imposing heights being Matawhaura, an ancient cliff-spurred and wooded Maori burial-place, at the eastern end of Lake Rotoiti. On the south side of this lake is the suicide cliff of Motutawa, over which many Maoris hurled themselves long ago.
A noteworthy fact about Rotoiti is its phenomenal, unaccountable rise and fall. Its fall, sometimes amounting to two feet, Maori tradition attributes to a subterranean outlet, but none has been discovered.
Southeast of these lakes, almost midway between Gisborne and the curving shores of beautiful Napier, is Waikaremoana, "Sea of the Rippling Waters," the North Island's most beautiful lake. Eleven miles long and deeply set between precipitous walls and high wooded slopes at the base of the Huiarau Range, its surface is two thousand feet above the sea, and in its most profound parts its bottom is nearly eight hundred and fifty feet below its ripples.
Waikaremoana is famed for the gray walls of Panekiri, two thousand feet high; for the luxuriance and variety of the flora darkening its shores; for its bush-clad islands, waterfalls, white sandy beaches, and for solitudes broken by the bell tones of the tui. Here one sees ancient hillforts, and hears tales of war and cannibal feasts, of taniwhas and fairies, of gods, demons, and ghosts.