Emerald Hours In New Zealand (1906)
Author of "A Daughter of the Transvaal."
Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, N.Z.;
Melbourne and London:
WHITCOMBE AND TOMBS LIMITED.
And to Mr. David Ross, who wrote “Maoriland” specially, and has most generously allowed me to cull from other of his verses the lines heading the chapters, “Kia whiti tonu te Ra ki runga ki a koe”
Captain Cook, from an original sketch in the possession of Dr. Mackay Macdonald.
Last sunny outpost of the Pole, far-thrown
Among cathedral rocks, where Ocean plays
Freedom’s first hymn thro’ all her waterways,
In thee is Beauty crowned, in thee alone!
When old sea-heroes burst into thy zone
Of dreamy silence, thro’ a purple haze,
Twin hyacinths upon the foam, their gaze
Saw morning’s nuptials mingled with thine own.
Once when the Master on his Ocean-board
Spread Man’s great feast of Continent and Isle
Flow’rd with white streams, and mighty mountains massed
In snow-helmed legions over vale and fiord,
King-like, did He not say of thee, and smile,
“Children, behold! the best wine at the last!”
“With very great diffidence I supply some meanings of place-names, because for many, (indeed most) different meanings are given by different scholars—and even with the Maoris themselves the meanings they give are often mere guesses unless the original legend of the naming has been preserved by tradition.
Some I do not attempt. The name as written by white men according to their defective hearing is uncorrected, because there are sometimes no resident Maoris alive. In other cases I have corrected the spelling. You can rely on my spelling so far as the word is really known.”
- 1. Ao-tea-roa.—“The long white world.”
- 1A. Mana-pouri—very doubtful. Believed to be properly Manawa-pouri—“sorrowful heart.”
- 2. Should be Tena-koe—a salutation. “That's you!” as we say “Hillo! That you!”
- 3. Ana-winiwini.—“The cave of the Spider-god.”
- 4. Taumarunui—Named after an old chief of same name; “The alighting place of great Mara” (a god).
- 5. Te Aroha—“Love” (or Compassion or Mercy).
- 6. Poi—“A round ball,” also a dance wherein balls are used.
- 7. Haka—A song-dance; (the feet are not moved but body and hands only, usually)
- 8. Whare—“A house”; a native house.
- 9. Rangitoto—This has been generally translated “bloody sky,” but rangitoto is a general name for obsidian or volcanic glass.
- 10. Tapu—“Prohibited,” that is either because sacred or defiling.
- 11. Pa—“a fort.”
- 12. Kainga—a temporary abode. Literally “eating-place.”
- 13. Ohinemutu—(The place) “of the Dumb Girl.”
- 14. Rotorua, properly “Roto-o-Rua.” “Lake of Rua.” Rua was a giant chief who came with the Arawa canoe in the Great Migration hither, about the time of the Crusades in Europe.
- 15. Roto-iti—“The little lake.”
- 16. Whaka-rewarewa—“That which causes to float.”
- 17. Tangi—A song of mourning; a time or occasion of wailing for the dead.
- 18. Wai-o-tapu—“Water of prohibition” (or sacredness).
- 19. Wai-rakei—“Water of adornment,” probably some pool used as a mirror.
- 20. Wai-mangu—“Black-water.”
- 21. Tara-wera—“The hot mountain-peak.”
- 22. Taupo—A kind of Native mat said by Maoris to be called in full Taupo nui a Tia, “The great mat of Tia,” who was its discoverer.
- 23. Wai-roa—“Long River.”
- 24. Nga-uru-hoe.
- 25. Wai-o-ru—“River of the Earthquake God.”
- 26. Roto-mahana—“Hot Lake.”
- 27. Mokoia—
- 28. Aorangi—“Cloud in the sky.”
- 29. Taranaki—“Sloping mountain-peak.”
- 30. Kia whiti tonu te Ra ki runga ki a koe—(May the sun shine on you for ever).
|Table of Contents:|
“Maoriland,” by David Ross
Prologue.—The Story of the Winds
I.—In the Waitemata Harbour
V.—Wonders by the Way
VI.—The Road to Lake Taupo
VII.—Taupo and Wairakei
X.—The Wanganui River
XII.—Round the Taranaki Coast
XV.—Coaching in Westland
XVI.—The Buller Gorge
XVII.—Reefton and Greymouth
XVIII.—The Hokitika Races and Lake Mahinapua
XIX.—Lake Kanieri and Kumara
XX.—The Otira Gorge and Porter’s Pass
XXIII.—The Canterbury Plains
XXV.—Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu
XXVI.—To the Southern Lakes
XXVII.—The Clinton River
XXIX.—The Arthur Valley
XXX.—The Mitre Peak
XXXI.—The Milford Track Again
XXXII.—Farewell to Ao-tea-roa
List of Illustrations
Map of North Island.
Captain Cook (from an original drawing in the possession of Dr. Mackay MacDonald).
“Coming of the Maoris.”
N.Z.S.S. Coy’s “Ruapehu.”
“One day we actually saw an iceberg.”
“We had a long day at Hobart.”
Parliament Buildings, Cape Town.
“Delightful Summer Days at Teneriffe.”
A wharf at Auckland.
“On the big paddle-boat for the twenty minutes’ run across the harbour.”
“In an electric tram . . . . right through the city.”
“Immediately below us was the city.”
“The sea scarcely rippling in the many little bays, inlets, and curved arms of the harbour.”
Maori War Canoe.
“Dressed like Europeans and not even tattooed.”
“With fuzzy masses of bronzy hair.”
“The little Maori children . . . . grinning from ear to ear.”
“Maggie Papakura with some of her friends.”
“The Maori-English Church at Ohinemutu.”
“To see the people cooking in the natural hot pools.”
“Up shot the boiling water to a height of about one hundred feet.”
“The red and yellow crusty formation.”
“What War brick called ‘The Infernal Regions.’”
“Tangata Maori: An old Chief.”
“A Maori and his half-caste son.”
“Waimangu Crater is over an acre and a half in extent.”
“Used to discharge its appalling mass . . . . to heights varying from two hundred to a thousand feet.”
The Rotorua Coach.
“The famous pink and white terraces that were destroyed in the Eruption of Tarawera.”
A modern Maori mother, not tattooed.
“Cut out of the cliff, the river below”
“We came to a mud volcano.”
“They very seldom wear their own dress now.”
“In the middle of beautifully kept gardens at the base of the hill.”
“A haka, dance by Rotorua natives.”
“By the Aratiatia Falls.”
“A succession of boiling pools and geysers.”
“The Aratiatia Rapids.” “Atia Muri.”
“By the Okere Falls.”
A Maori village.
“High, densely-wooded cliffs on either side.”
“Tree fern growing to a tremendous height.”
“Spending one’s days in the forest or on the river.”
“The graceful tree fern . . . . always there to remind us that home and Kent were far away.”
A New Zealand Home.
Mount Egmont. “A certain indefinable air of being en deshabille that the country wears.”
“The famous recreation grounds.”
“It looked so pure against the gorgeous sky.”
“A wonderful wealth and variety of ferns, creepers, and mosses.”
St. Mary’s Church New Plymouth.
The Manawatu Gorge Railway bridge
Lambton Quay, the main street.
Approach to Queen’s Wharf.
“Built in a crescent round the bay.”
Map of South Island.
“An electic bachelor.”
“On the edge of the sea in among green hills.”
“All hills and dales.”
A wayside halt.
“Sombre hue of the pines.”
“Over creeks and rivers.”
“A dredge at work.”
“A hamlet built above a river.”
“On the edge of a sheer drop.”
“Cliffs massed with many-coloured ferns.”
“Bearing the legend ‘Stop.’”
“We crossed the river on a punt . . . guided by overhead wires.”
“To retrace the road we had travelled on Saturday.”’
Maori meeting house.
The South African War Monument at Hokitika.
“Boldly outlined against a vividly blue sky rose ‘Aorangi.’”
“A lovely creek, fringed with bush.”
“Rugged ratas flung their misshapen branches.”
“Through the loveliest bush of any we had yet seen.”
Maori Whares, with old woman on roof of rua (a storehouse).
“An entire hill had been sluiced away.”
“The last remaining sluicer was at work on the small remnant of hill standing.”
“The prettiest part is that called Jackson’s.”
“The great iron hose is turned on to a given point.”
“Very wild and rough.”
“The mile-wide shingly bed of the Waimakariri River.”
“Above the flinty Waimakariri.”
“Big dams which were lakes without a tree near them.”
The N.Z. International Exhibition. “The Cathedral that overshadows the City.”
“Its entrance is in a charming lime-avenued road.”
A Scene on Hagley Park, Christchurch.
“The Founder of Canterbury.”
“Sleek cows in the paddocks.”
The N.Z.S.S. Company’s ships at Lyttelton.
“The Octagon—with Burns’ Statue and Town Hall.”
“Something that recalls the older city.”
“So many beautiful Churches.”
“First Church is certainly the most interesting.”
“Sloping down to the very edge of the lake.”
“Shining in the sun in the midst of green acres.”
“The gorges are deep and very steep.”
“At the far end and head of the lake.”
“A visit to ‘Paradise’ was to have occupied Sunday.”
“Had gone off quite happily to climb Ben Lomond.”
“The Lennox Falls at Mount Earnslaw.”
“When the soft lights of the Southern twilight were on the hills.”
New Zealand Quail.
“Towering cold and white . . . behind emerald hills.”
“Close to the water’s edge blazed the rata.”
“Between its fern-clad, bush-shadowed banks.”
“Fac-similes of all the others on the track.”
“Glimpses of gigantic peaks.”
“Its towering sentinels.”
Spotted Shag and Chatham Island Shag.
“Had a splendid view of the Sutherland Falls.”
“Only a Shelter hut.”
“Very different from the sound of our imagination.”
“Leaps out into the air right away from the rocks.”
Tiki, a Maori charm.
“Under a diaphanous drapery of thin mist.”
Trout.Ngauruhoe, the active volcano.
THE STORY OF THE WINDS.
Once upon a time the Queen Consort of His Majesty the South Wind, a very lovely lady of variable moods but decided opinions, declared that she must have a domain of her own, wherein she might be absolute ruler. Of course the Queen Consorts of the other three brothers immediately followed her example, and to each of them was granted an island empire. Queen South Wind, being affectionate and loyal, as well as high-spirited and clever, chose the islands of the Southern Seas because they were in the vicinity of her husband’s dominions.
But Her Majesty was so hard to please in regard to a site for her residence that all her sisters-in-law were settled for ages before she had decided which of her islands suited her health and requirements. One was too small, another too big; one had no mountains, another no forests; one was too warm, another too cold.
She was growing very impatient, when one day, as she was sailing home from Fiji to her husband’s palace, she met his cousin, Prince Subterranean Wind.
Prince Subterranean was a very retiring man and a great student. He seldom left his own dominions, but he was always astonishing the world with some fresh phenomena, and the results of his scientific experiments were generally such as to strike awe into even the most learned savants. But in spite of his reclusive habits he was very susceptible to beauty, and the Queen was looking unusually well that day.
She told him how sadly disappointed she was in the group of islands belonging to her, for although very beautiful they were all far too equable in climate to please her, scarcely varying from one year’s end to the other, and far too constant to one description of scenery.
“What I should like,” she said dreamily, “would be a country of many climates. I should like to breakfast in the mild and beautifying atmosphere that gives to my sister of Erin so lovely a complexion; perform my matutinal duties in the brisk, invigorating chilliness of Siberia; prepare for the afternoon by a shower-bath of warm rain; and for the rest of the day enjoy the languorous temperature of the tropics, with its soft, balmy air, sweet scents, luscious fruits, gay flowers, and then be braced at night by the sharp air of Northern climes. If I wished to express myself angrily, a moment’s notice should provide a tempest; if I desired to forget my state for a time and be a tomboy once more, the lift of an eyebrow should evoke a gale. Life is nothing without variety—even a cabbage sometimes wears a paler or a darker shade of green.’’
“Dearest Cousin,” said the Prince, “why did you not think of me in your dilemma? I have long wished to show my appreciation of your extraordinarily unselfish choice of an empire, for in this quarter of the globe there is no spot really worthy the honour of being a Queen’s residence. But I had no means of ascertaining in what you were lacking, nor could I imagine anything, for it seemed to me that so lovely and so gifted a lady must naturally have the world at her disposal. And so I am more than glad to find that there is a way in which I can prove my devotion. You shall have a country literally made to order,—your wishes shall be obeyed and your vision materialised.”
“Oh, Cousin!” exclaimed the Queen, in amazed delight. “Can you—I mean, will you, really?”
“I will indeed!” cordially responded the Prince. “I have often thought the world a poorly-planned place,—too much specialisation about it altogether. Africa, for instance, all on the “g” note,—gigantic tracts of glabrous country, full of game, from gnats to gnus, producing gold and grain, gems and granite, offering many guerdons but more grievances, and cursed with a grim fatality that guillotines her few generous giants.
“Then there is America, all v’s,—vast, valuable, of vanished vernaculars and vernal volunteers, of valiant victors and verbious vassals, of versatile vixens and volatile virgins, of virile visages and voluble voices, of vigorous vocations and vulgar viands, of vain vauntings and venturesome velocity.
“And Asia, with festal, flaunting, fiery India, all fanatacism, fatalism, and fortitude,—and Europe, all cities, churches, and chateaux, civilisation, circumspection, and classification.
“But your country, sweet cousin, shall be unique in its omniformity; it shall be hot as India, yet cold as Canada, with a taste of sirocco from the deserts and a sample of the rains of the Lowlands. It shall have the culture of Europe, the wealth of Asia, the plains of Africa, the mountains of America. Without leaving your own estates you shall see the Alps of Switzerland, the rivers of France, the forests of Germany, the steppes of Russia, the fiords of Norway, the vales of Italy. You shall conceive from your boudoir windows an idea of the treasures of Ind, of the vast loneliness of Africa, of the commerce of America. And the minds and hearts of your people shall provide for you the art, the learning, the manners and customs of Europe. All this, fairest lady, shall you own in the islands I shall evoke for you from the vasty deep—and they shall be neither too spacious, nor unduly cramped, but exactly a fitting size for a lady’s occupation—a multum in parvo, and a natural museum.”
The Queen, who had listened, fascinated, enthralled, during this recital, gave a little gasping cry of delight as he paused.
“How clever you are, Cousin!” she exclaimed, with a little sigh of envy. “Only—only—doesn’t it sound rather as if it might turn out to be a sort of Army and Navy Stores kind of country?”
“No, dearest Cousin,” he replied emphatically. “That is just what we are going to avoid. That is what the rest of the world resembles. Europe,—the Department of Fine Arts. Asia, the Goldsmiths’ and Jewellery Department. Africa, the Department for Promoting the Achievement of Virtue by Trial. America, Commissariat Department. Australia, Educational Department for the transformation of Bad Boys into Muckle Men and prominent Politicians. Your country shall be above all that.
“In designing it I will bear in mind the words of a famous mortal to the effect that the elimination of the unnecessary is the perfection of art. I will remember that the rules which govern the creation of worlds for ordinary sovereigns are not applicable in your case. I will strive for universal utility combined with universal beauty, while taking care that there shall never be too much of a good thing, and entirely leaving out all the bad. And though every tree and shrub shall have its use there shall be no venomous reptiles, no poisonous insects, no marauding beasts, and no destructive birds.”
“It will be a new Eden!” rapturously sighed the Queen.
“Scarcely, alas!” returned the Prince. “For where men are the gates of Paradise must be kept locked, lest thy scatter the newspaper wrappers and empty tins of their vices where they will offend the eyes of the Peri. But nevertheless there shall be Paradise in your territory, Cousin, and though the angels with the flaming swords must be stationed without, you can award them frequent holiday. Only,—give no notice to your people as to the absence of the guardians of the garden. Let it be by their own unpremeditated goodness that they stumble upon the fragrant path that leads to the vale of joy and the mountains of peace, for thus alone can you ensure the abstention of the unworthy. And in the beginning the country shall be as virginal and as beautiful as an earthly Eden may be, so that, perhaps, it may retain an odour of Paradise to the end.”
“I will do all in my power to keep it perfect!” murmured the Queen, almost in tears, so overcome was she with gratitude.
“Unhappily you cannot keep men out!” observed the Prince regretfully. “But perhaps I shall be able to help you even there, by the exhibition of certain subterraneous effects which will serve to remind them that their tenure is uncertain. One thing, however, I cannot perfect. I cannot close the entrances that my engineers must make in order to pass to and fro during the process of construction, but they shall be as little obtrusive as possible. Will you pardon this drawback, dear Cousin?”
“On condition that you sometimes use them, dear Cousin, to visit me!” graciously replied the Queen.
And just then they noticed that the sun was setting and the time had come to say farewell.
From a painting in the Auckland Art Gallery by C.F. Goldie and L.J. Steele
The people of Turi’s canoe, after a voyage of great hardship, at last sight the shores of New Zealand.
IN THE WAITEMATA HARBOUR.
“And did He, from the cloud and wind, prepare
A resting place for thee, fair ocean dove,
And did He, thro’ the gates thrown wide above,
Shower thee with sunny benedictions, where
Thou liest in the ocean’s arms, like Love,
Blinding her Lover with her amorous hair?”
It was the early morning of a summer day, and our ship, the New Zealand S.S. Company’s “Ruapehu” was lying at ease off Auckland, having anchored in the dim hours of dawn.
A faint haze, like a bridal gossamer, lightly veiled the city and its environs, built round three sides of the harbour; the smaller hills, all extinct volcanoes, rose from among the clustering red and white houses like green jade bosses in a wondrous bowl of Indian jewelled pottery, and Rangitoto, the lonely sentinel, grim even though wearing the same gentle colour as his more gregarious fellows, stood apart from the land like an emerald in a setting of turquoise sea.
We had come to the end of our six weeks’ voyage, and I had felt delighted on rising that morning to find that we were not yet alongside the wharf, though I did not try to explain to myself the reason for my reluctance to land. But as we leaned over the side, gazing at the lovely picture before us, my friend, Colonel Deane, softly quoted the lines so evidently inspired by it, and suddenly I knew that saying good-bye to him would spoil all the pleasure of novelty to which I had been so gaily looking forward.
I regarded Colonel Deane as an instance of the Goddess Fortune’s rare justice, believing that She had sent him upon this voyage as a direct reward for my self-sacrifice in undertaking it. For I had not wanted to come.
When my guardian’s old friend, Captain Greendays, R.N., had told him that he was taking his wife out to New Zealand for a few months the idea at once occurred to him of sending me with them. He thought me fagged after the arduous anxieties of an exam., and hailed the opportunity as Heaven-sent. So, apparently, did the Greendays. But as Mrs Greendays was suffering from a serious condition of nerves that numerous rest-cures had failed to soothe I was decidedly dubious as to the joys of such a “pleasure-trip.” But my guardian was so evidently concerned about my health, which in truth was excellent, and the Greendays seemed so pleased with the suggestion, that it would have been positively churlish to refuse to go. And so I smothered my fears, and very soon the envious congratulations of my girl-friends made me feel quite as enthusiastic as if I had myself planned the journey.
“You will have three summers in succession!” sighed one.
“Lucky creature, after such a glorious summer as this has been to go straight off to another, without a single fog in between!” exclaimed another.
“And this season’s frocks will be quite the latest in New Zealand—in fact you will be ahead of them all out there!” cried a third, who had lived in the Colonies.
All the guide-books that we consulted spoke equally rapturously of the climate of New Zealand, and so, with visions of eternal blue, cloudless skies, and long sunny days, we added to our stock of dainty muslins and shady hats, gave away any winter clothes we had from last spring, and kept only one warm tailor-made each in case of occasional cold days on the voyage out.
We were going by the direct route, as the long voyage was the first and most important item in Mrs Greendays’s new “Cure,” and a few weeks after it had been advised we were embarking at Plymouth, while the perfect weather of a lingering summer made England so lovely that one could not possibly conceive a lovelier place. And my old feelings of reluctance returned in full force as we travelled through the beautiful counties on our way to the port of departure, but it was too late to turn back now.
On the second day out I made the acquaintance of Colonel Deane. I knew at once that he was a “Man of Comfort”; the least discerning of mortals must have recognised that, indeed, without any very close study of his kind eyes and splendid head. One could see, too, that he was not old, though his luxuriant hair was almost snow-white. It simply made him look more distinguished in contrast to his black moustache and eyebrows. He had true Irish eyes, and though he had spent a good many years in New Zealand he retained just sufficient trace of accent to make his nationality unmistakeable. But he regarded New Zealand as his adopted country, and one had only to listen to his descriptions of its scenery to know that he loved it.Our friendship sprang into instant being; I thankfully acknowledged the Goddess’s token of approval, and had everything else gone agley, felt that his presence would have made up for it. But everything else went well too, excepting that Mrs Greendays was rather trying at times. But when her nerves, poor dear, were in a parlous state that gave her husband and me cause to be sorrier for ourselves than for her, Colonel Deane was able to amuse and distract her as no one else could do. So, too, with children, he could keep them in better order than even their own nurses, and yet they loved him dearly. In fact “The Man of Comfort” was a title that fitted him to perfection.
The weather for the first four weeks was glorious; we spent delightful summer days at Teneriffe and Cape Town, one at each port, and lived a dolce far niente life on the boat deck, basking in the sun. Then as we travelled farther South it grew gradually colder, and often we longed for the warm clothes we had so recklessly thrown aside! Once we passed an iceberg: it looked like a mammoth opal, the sun had given it so many colours. But with lots of rugs
Parliament Buildings, Cape Town.
and overcoats we were still able to stay up on deck, as the weather fortunately continued to be bright and sunny in spite of a temperature of 30 degrees; and then we had a long day at Hobart, where it was almost too hot, just to revive us.
After Hobart we of course expected nothing but summer, but we were sadly disillusioned. For the next few days before we arrived in the Hauraki Gulf were not only bitterly cold but stormy, with a rougher sea than we had experienced since we started, and we were simply obliged to stay in the steam-heated music-room or dining saloon, for the decks were impossibly inclement. Mrs Greendays was angry with everyone, from the doctor who had recommended the voyage to the writers of the guide-books who had so basely refrained from hinting at anything but summer weather, and of course her husband and I came in for our share, for having allowed her to discard her winter garments under any consideration. Even Colonel Deane was snubbed for saying that she could get everything she wanted in New Zealand, for she unkindly reminded him that we had not arrived yet, and most probably never would, since it was more than probable pneumonia would seize her for its own long before we landed!
However that terrible contingency did not occur, and the exquisite perfection of this morning of our arrival banished all thought of the last few days.
Except to me. I regretted them heartily; I thought of a thousand things as yet undiscussed with my friend, and I wished with all my heart that this was Hobart instead of Auckland, that I might still have a few days before we parted. So I watched the haze gradually clearing from the land with a growing resentment against the other passengers, who were loudly lamenting the tardiness of the Port Doctor, without whose sanction we could not leave the ship. Then breakfast was announced, and we took our places at table to an accompaniment of murmurs both deep and shrill, greatly to the amusement of the ship's officers and all the Colonials on board.
“You are in a democratic, live-and-let-live country now!” they said. “Even the dock-lumpers do not commence work until eight o’clock, unless they are paid overtime wages, so that you can scarcely expect a Government official to hurry himself!”
Just then the Chief Steward announced his arrival to the Captain, and handed round letters that had come off with the doctor. There was one for Captain Greendays, which proved to be from some old friend of his in Auckland, and directly he said that he must go to see him Colonel Deane turned to me and asked if he might be my cicerone for that day.
How I blessed Captain Greendays’s unknown friend!
“Delightful summer days at Teneriffe.”
A Wharf at Auckland.
“Some in their robes of purple pass,
Some in their robes of green,
And some, in orange and blue and gray,
Skip over the clouds on a pale moon-ray,
In the train of the fairy-queen—
Skip in her train thro’ the long cloud-bars,
In the wake of her chariot drawn by stars.”
The first thing that struck me in Auckland was the dress of the women and girls. So smartly were they attired, though it was only ten o’clock when we landed, that I thought it must be a general holiday and that all these gay garments were worn for a gala occasion. But Colonel Deane laughed when I asked him if this was the case, and assured me that to see anyone shabbily dressed in New Zealand was quite a rare occurrence.
“They get very good wages, you see,” he explained, “and I am afraid that they are not very thrifty, nor very sensible, either. A large proportion of their earnings is spent on dress and cheap jewellery, and the working classes attach a great deal too much importance to appearance. But as everyone who is able to work can always obtain it if they like, perhaps there is no great harm done, and it certainly is a pleasanter sight than the drab shabbiness that prevails in London!”
I thought that a happy medium would have been more attractive, as well as more suitable, with a mental vision of the neatly-gowned and shod, hatless, but “bien-coiffe” women of the same class in France, but it was not my business to criticise, so I said nothing. We were on our way to the ferry, as we were to begin the day’s explorations by a visit to the North shore, and very soon we had installed ourselves on the big paddle-boat for the twenty minutes’ run across the harbour. We scurried fussily past two great cruisers, and numerous craft of all kinds from sailing-ships with towering masts to the red-funnelled steamers of the coastal service, into the open harbour where we set the yachts at anchor dancing as we churned the placid blue waters in our progress. On the other side we climbed on to the front seat of a waggonnette-cab, and after driving for about a quarter of an hour through pretty country roads, hawthorn-hedged and shaded by oaks and willows with occasional cabbage-palms or some other unfamiliar tree, and delightful gardens belonging to quaint wooden bungalows and cottages, we arrived at Lake Takapuna.
From the roof of the adjacent hotel we looked far out to sea, past the fields and gardens, beyond the beautiful harbour to the Great Barrier. Below us lay the lake, only a few hundred yards from the sea, in the midst of private gardens whose grounds run down to its shores. It seemed wonderful that this big sheet of fresh water, said to be unfathomable, should lie so close to the sea, but what was still more surprising is the fact that considering it is a favourite week-end resort of the public, well-to-do people should choose its shores for their residences. Imagine having strangers able to look into one’s gardens at will,—even the beauty of the lake in my grounds would not compensate me for that!
“Why, you are like a Boer!” laughed Colonel Deane when I said so. “I suppose you hate to see anyone else’s household smoke?”
“I should prefer their being too far off!” I acknowledged. “What a curious shape the lake has.”
“Yes, but I never can understand where the Maoris get the idea that Rangitoto came from Takapuna. They say, you know, that this lake filled up the space he left when transferred and promoted by an earthquake to the guardianship of the harbour,—they certainly did not come to that conclusion through the shape of the lake! And now we have just time to drive round Devonport and get over to Auckland again for luncheon.”
I thought Devonport a charming place. It has several extinct volcanoes, and two of them are utilised as forts overlooking the harbour, which they command. It is all green fields, gorgeously gay gardens, and shady roads, with the sea on three sides, and it is the headquarters of the numerous yachting clubs, so that on the shore there are yachts of every description and size, with others a little way out at anchor.After luncheon we went to Onehunga, Auckland’s Western port. It took us nearly half an hour in an electric tram to get there, and we travelled right through the city and its suburbs. What an introduction that was to this land of wonders. All the hills, and there are many, are extinct volcanoes, and all the way out to Onehunga we were passing through what must once have been a most terrible scene of desolation. The entire surface of the ground is scoria, the low walls that surround the gardens and fields are built of it, and here and there are tracts, partly overgrown with gorse and brambles, exactly as they must have been after the last eruption. And this in the midst of a city! But the volcanic hills are green now, and the valleys at their feet make a lovely land of beautiful gardens, pasture-lands, orchards, and corn-fields, although cinders and ashes lie thick on the earth, and one would think it impossible that any green things could grow on such a basis. And this scoria runs right out into the sea at Onehunga. As it was low tide when we got there we were able to see the extent of the lava-flow, and better able to imagine the fearful ravages that that red hot river of fire made on the country side.
There is a little tea-kiosk overlooking the water at Onehunga, and there we found the Greendays.
“What do you think of Auckland, my dear?” asked Captain Greendays as soon as we joined them. “I think it the cheapest place in the world, for they actually give you things here! I went into a barber’s for a shave, and asked the fellow if he kept Roger and Gallet’s Cosmetique Blanc. ‘Never heard of it,—what’s it for?’ he said,—they are rather off-hand out here, and one has to keep reminding oneself that it is not insolence, but merely the manners of a democratic country! I thought that he could not have caught the name, so I repeated it, and explained what it is for, you know. And then he said that he thought after all he had a tube, and went off to find it. When he returned with it he actually would not let me pay for it, my dear, refused to take a farthing, said it was of no use to him, for he didn’t stock it, but had got it for a customer who never came for it, and that I was welcome to it. It was really quite embarrassing,—but I’d like to see the barber at home who would refuse money,—ha-ha!”
Mrs Greendays had been cross-examining Colonel Deane as to our adventures, but now she turned to me and exclaimed:
“Oh, that is nothing, Mary,—the man had, as he said, no use for the stuff, what is far more wonderful is the absurd charge they make for food. My dear, you see the lavish array on the table,—now what do you think is the charge? You see, there are hot scones, bread and butter, and three,—four—oh! ever so many varieties of cake. Sixpence, child, sixpence each, whether you clear the board or decently refrain! There is a proof for you of the prosperous condition of the community,—they would be ruined in a day, these tea-room people, if they attempted such a thing in hungry London!”
“And another surprising institution is the Government Tourist Department!” said Captain Greendays. “My friend Jackson took me there, said they’d put me in the right way of things, and by gad, they did too. I came away loaded with maps and booklets and information enough to take us all round the country without ever troubling to ask a policeman the way, and there again it was free, all free, gratis, and for nothing. Cheap advice is not generally worth much, but here is a Government institution, if you please, especially established for the benefit of tourists, a sort of glorified Cook and Lund minus the percentage! The fellow in charge was most civil, and gave me a letter of introduction to their representative at Rotorua, that he says will ensure our getting the best guides, and so on. Ah! I like New Zealand!” he concluded, shaking his head knowingly. “No beggars to haunt you, and a paternal government that treats her visitors as honoured guests,—that’s the way to do things, by gad,—it’s top-hole!”
We all returned together, but on the way we left the car at the foot of Mount Eden and Colonel Deane took us to the house of a friend of his that we might see the view from the grounds. The house stood in the middle of a lovely old garden on the slope of the hill, and we climbed up behind it to a summer-house they had built on purpose to enjoy the prospect.
Immediately below us was the City, its towers and steeples like scattered spears pointing up to the sky. The afternoon was waning, but the Western gates were not yet open, though the approach of King Sol’s chariot was heralded by pennons of rose and orange in the pale blue sky. The sea, scarcely rippling in the many little bays, inlets, and curved arms of the harbour, was like a green opal, ever still, yet ever changing. The far-off hills were draped in a scarf that might have been made from the feathers of a dove’s breast, and the same tender translucent, pure blue-grey and violet tints were gradually floating ever nearer and nearer to the city, softening too abrupt corners, making shadowy the green hills, creating of Auckland and her gateways a delicate dream-vision.
I should have loved to stay and watch the progress of the sun’s vesper ceremonies. It seemed iniquitous to leave before they were over, and to my joy I heard our hostess entreating Mrs Greendays to waive ceremony and stay to dinner. But alas! Mrs Greendays would not hear of it: she would have considered that we were imposing on good-natured hospitality had we stayed, I knew. And I had forgotten, too, that we were to stay on the ship, as guests of the Captain, in order to save a move and all the bother of packing for just one night. So we had to hurry away to be on board in time for dinner.
But as soon as I could get away from table I flew up to the boat deck, and there spent the evening, ending the day as I had begun it, gazing out at the harbour, while Colonel Deane talked.
Photo by Martin, Auckland.
“The sea, scarcely rippling in the many little bays, inlets, and curved arms of the harbour”
Maori War Canoe.
“The gorse with its young gold was all aglow,
The willows drooped within their mirrored skies.”
The Thermal district was our first objective, and as the town of Rotorua was at once the centre and most important part we had arranged to make it our headquarters. The train left at ten in the morning, and Colonel Deane came to see us off, laden with illustrated papers, books of Maori legends and tales, and a beautifully fitted tea-basket.
“Of course there is a dining-car on the train,” he said apologetically, “but though the meals are excellent I think that you would enjoy your tea better if you made it yourselves. And you will find this useful on the lake and when you are driving through the country.”
“It is the very thing we have most regretted forgetting to bring!” exclaimed Mrs Greendays ecstatically. “Oh, Colonel Deane, how do you always think of the right thing? How we shall miss you! Can’t you possibly come with us?” And then she added with a little laughing glance at her husband, “Tom does not look after me nearly so well as you do!”
“Does not spoil you so much, you mean!” amended Captain Greendays. “But I wish you would come, old chap, if only to look after these responsibilities of mine while I go fishing,—by gad, it would make me your slave for life!”
“Mrs Greendays is more than kind,” returned Colonel Deane, with a smile. “But Rotorua is a most demoralising place, and I know I should forfeit good opinions in twenty-four hours, for I should want to go fishing too. But if you keep to your present programme and go down the Wanganui in about a fortnight, I will try to join you then, if you will allow me!”
This glorious news was a grand stirrup-cup to us all, for every one of us had been feeling dismal at the break-up of our partie-carree. And so joy reigned in our “bird-cage,” as they call the compartments in the corridor carriages out here, and we were able to look forward to our coming experience with almost unmixed pleasure again.
The first part of that journey recalls little to my mind but an impression of vivid green under a cloudless sky; we flew along through slightly hilly country threaded by a beautiful willow-bordered river, the Waikato, stopping at what seemed very short intervals, considering our train was called express, at funny little stations with unpronounceable Maori names. Occasionally we saw a few Maoris, but I could not realise that they belonged to that romantic race, for they were dressed like Europeans, and did not look in the least interesting, not even being tattooed.
Towards the afternoon we left the valley, and began to climb slowly up a rather steep gradient. And quite suddenly we were in a dense forest, whose undergrowth was simply astonishing in its luxuriance and variety. I could not sit tamely in the carriage, but had to go out on to the little platform between the cars so that I could see both sides at once.
The trees themselves were so many and so various, nearly all of them new to me, too, that one would have thought their roots would prevent any other plants living near them. But there was evidently no repressing the New Zealand vegetation. There were shrubs and ferns, creepers and mosses, in bewildering confusion under the trees, and not only under, but on them, for their trunks and branches were clothed in mosses, with, frequently, clumps of reedy-looking plants growing from the branches, as well as ferns and convolvulus twining round them.
The guard, seeing my interest in the forest, came out and told me the names of many of the trees, and explained their value and some of their characteristics, and I was so engrossed in his conversation that I did not pause to consider what Mrs. Greendays, who is terribly conventional, would have thought had she seen me thus engaged.The tree-fern was most wonderful, growing to hitherto undreamed heights, with a million lesser relations humbly living in attendance below. A delightful heathery shrub was called “manuka”; this, said the guard, grew into trees, and was to be found everywhere in New Zealand, and also in Australia, where it has the less euphonious name of ‘Ti-tree.’ And an extraordinary thing, part tree, part climber, the rata, is a sort of forest-vampire that twines itself round any tree that attracts its baleful attention, and slowly but surely crushes the life out of it, thereafter taking its place, upheld by the still-standing trunk of its victim. It has a very gorgeous scarlet flower in its season, which varies according to locality, and it then lends such beauty to the landscape that its ugly idiosyncracy is forgotten or forgiven.
Presently we came to a clearing in the forest, where there was a sawmill, in the centre of a little village of workmen’s cottages, with a school and tiny church. And soon after that we saw lying far below us, and looking exactly like a land-girt sea, the waters of Roto-rua.*
It was girded with blue hills, fringed with green bush, edged with silver sand. Gay little summer clouds had alighted here and there on its surface for a bath, and it lay shimmering in the afternoon sunshine like liquid sapphires at the bottom of a deep Sevres bowl.
We had just time for a glimpse of it before the train turned a corner and shut it in from view until we had run some miles down the hill to its level.
Then we stopped at a siding, and were immediately besieged by a crowd of Maori children offering little baskets of hand-woven flax for sale. Such funny mites they were, in all shades of brown and pale yellow. There were tiny brown piccaninnies with yellow hair that looked as if it had been dyed, and sherry-coloured eyes; yellow imps with dark brown hair and eyes of brown velvet; and creamy-tinted maidens with fuzzy masses of bronzy hair coquettishly tied at the neck, or hanging in a tangled but glistening mass on their shoulders. When the train started off again they were tumbling over one another in their eagerness to catch a possible customer, and we leaned out of the window to watch them.
But insidiously an odour of extreme nastiness was creeping upon us, and with one accord we drew in our heads and exchanged eloquent glances. Just then the guard came in to take our tickets and seeing our expression of disgust he laughed and said:
“Oh, you must not mind that, ladies,—it is only sulphur, and you will be quite accustomed to it before you leave Rotorua!”
*“Roto” signifies a lake.
“Embarked upon a sea of dreams
We sailed to an enchanted shore,
And silent, slowly-moving streams
Our phantom shallop gently bore.”
It was on a Friday evening that we arrived at Rotorua, and the history of the week we spent there is contained in the following entries from my journal.Saturday, November 3rd.—This morning we visited the Sanatorium and its beautifully kept gardens, where roses flourish as if sulphuretted hydrogen and the proximity of steam were the finest treatment for them. The Sanatorium is another Government institution, and, with the Baths, is under the control of a Government Official, Dr. Wohlmans, upon whom we had to call in order to obtain certificates of health that would permit us to sample all the various baths. These include sulphur springs of different strength, mud baths, and mineral water baths of different degrees of heat. After this formality we crossed the road to the Tourist Office, where Captain Greendays presented his letter of introduction from the Auckland branch, and by great good luck Warbrick, the well-known Maori guide, happened to be in the office, so that we were able to secure his services during our stay.
In the afternoon we drove out to Whakarewarewa, a native village about twenty minutes’ drive from Rotorua, where most of the active geysers are. Warbrick met us there, and took us first to see Maggie Papakura, another guide very well known to all visitors to Rotorua. She has a most captivating voice and manner, and is a great favourite, especially with the Australians, who feted her tremendously when she visited Sydney. She invited us into her whare, or hut, which to our surprise was furnished in European style as a bed-sitting-room, divided by a tall bookcase filled with all the modern works of fiction and travel, and a reed curtain. And here she entertained us for over an hour, showing us pictures and photographs, telling us tales of travellers she had met and happenings in her experience. And then her sister Bella came in, and played the accompaniment to Maggie’s singing of Lord Henry Somerset’s “Echo.” Her voice was so sweet that we asked her to sing again, but Warbrick suggested that it would be too late to see everything if we lingered any longer, and so we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at boiling mud-pools, geysers, and so on. But none of the orthodox marvels were half so astonishing and certainly not nearly so pleasing, as Maggie the guide. Who would have expected to find culture and accomplishments in a Maori village? But it seems that most of the Maoris are educated now, and Warbrick and Maggie are only half Maori, as each of them had a European parent.
Sunday, 4th.—We went to the early service in the Maori English church this morning, at Ohinemutu, and then walked round the quaint little village to see the people washing clothes and cooking in the natural hot pools. There is a bust of Queen Victoria there, opposite their guest or meeting house, and it looks so quaint stuck up on tall carved poles with a funny little roof over it. The little Maori children diving for pennies into the hot pools, and sitting there grinning from ear to ear, were delightful.
After this we went for a drive to the top of the mountain behind the town, expecting to see the seven lakes tradition declares are visible from there. But though we were only able to distinguish Rotorua and the sister-lake, Rotoiti, we did not grumble, for the drive was most enjoyable, and we had a splendid view over the surrounding country.
In the afternoon we again visited Whakarewarewa, chiefly to see the soaping of Wairoa geyser, which churlishly refuses to play unless so persuaded. It seemed so ridiculous to see a wooden lid taken off the mouth of the geyser and a little soap dropped in, but a few minutes later there was a warning swish and up shot the boiling water to a height of about one hundred feet. It was a very pretty sight, the sun turning the white stream into a rainbow-tinted shower, which fell and poured in a foam over the red and yellow crusty formation of the ground around its mouth.
All the geysers have names, and most of them play at more or less regular intervals, but Wairoa has not been active lately, and they keep it covered to prevent indiscriminate soaping. One is called the Torpedo, because when the boiling mud at its base comes into contact with the cold water just before it plays it makes a noise like the explosion of a submarine mine. Then there are the “Pohotu,” or Splasher, and the “Wai-korohihi,” or Hissing-Water. And the natives at Rotorua speak of them all as “our” Pohutu, “our” Wairoa, in the most affectionate and proprietary way!
As the Bath Pavilion was not open until to-night we had to be satisfied to-day with the “Rachel” Mrs Greendays and I take every night before going to bed. The Rachel water is quite the nicest, and has a most soothing effect, so that after spending the evening on the river we end up the day by engaging two of the private baths and indulging in what we call a “soporific.” It makes me sleep like a dormouse, and I do not believe even an earthquake, unless it happened to be a very severe one, would awaken me. The smell of the sulphur everywhere does not trouble any of us very much now; in fact it only seems to come in whiffs, when the wind blows in a certain direction I suppose.Monday, 5th.—Mrs Greendays and I drove to Tikitere to-day, with Warbrick as escort and guide, Captain Greendays having gone off fishing very early indeed. The drive was charming, past Whakarewarewa and the tree plantations being made by the State prisoners, and through the sweetest little stretch of road past an ancient mission-station with hawthorn hedges, oak and elm trees, acacias, and a hoary orchard, just like a tiny scrap of home. A little beyond this the road rose to a point whence we had a charming view of Roto-iti and the channel that connects it with Rotorua, and then we turned off to Tikitere, which is as hideous as it is terrible and uncanny. We spent quite a long time over what Warbrick called the Infernal Regions, and if boiling mud and sulphur, frightful whiffs of sulphuretted hydrogen, and alarming noises, are any indication of what we have to expect if we are black sheep in this world I shall certainly try to mend my ways! It was decidedly pleasant to know that the lovely lake and its peaceful clean, cold waters were so close at hand. We crossed it in an oil-launch, picked up Captain Greendays at the Okere Falls, where all the electric light and power used at Rotorua is generated, and came back via the channel and Rotorua.
The sun was declining when we reached a landing in Rotorua, where we left the boat in order to visit Hamurana Spring. The water from this spring is so buoyant that a man cannot go down into it unless he has heavy weights attached to his feet, and it is so transparently clear that one can see to the very bottom of the well, where there are some bits of blue china or pottery that look like shining turquoise. This spring is a perfect mine of wealth to the small Maori boys, for visitors, anxious to test the truth of the assertion about the buoyancy of the water, throw coins in, especially coppers of course, and there they lie a few feet from the surface in nooks and ledges all the way round, until some enterprising youngster weights himself and goes down to gather in the harvest.
We tried the Priest bath this morning, just for fun, for neither of us have ever had rheumatism, which it is supposed to cure. But we did not like it, and will not repeat the experience. The water felt gritty to the touch, and the sulphur underfoot was horribly slimy. Of course it is all right for rheumatic people, as they know that it is doing them good, but I felt that I had wasted a Rachel by spending the time in the Priest!
Tuesday, 6th.—We have had a glorious day in the forest,—such a treat after the mud pools and sulphur smells of the last few days. We started quite early this morning in a motor-car, en route for the hot springs at Okoroire, the road running right through the forest we traversed the other day in the train. A mile or two out of Rotorua we stopped to look at the trout in a hill-side spring; there were simply millions of them, big and small, and so tame that they came to the very edge of the pool to look at us! And then we passed the monument erected to the unfortunate Englishman, Bainbridge, who was killed in the Tarawera eruption, the only white person who perished that night, a tourist, and quite young, poor fellow.
The forest was lovelier than ever at close quarters, and I should have liked to spend the day there, but when, on leaving it, we plunged headlong down a pass winding through a maze of hills all clothed in a myriad shades of green, the perfect beauty of the scene made me forget every other while I looked upon it.
Flaming out from among the dark pines were masses of rata here and there; clematis draped the dark foliage of the honey-suckle trees as if in rivalry of its own sweet-scented blossoms, and convolvulus crept caressingly over the mossy trunks of the red pines. And everywhere there was manuka, the heathery, fragrant, white-flowered shrub that makes beautiful the desert places and supplies so many needs that I wonder New Zealand does not make it her symbolic flower. Far away behind the numberless hills before and below us lay Okoroire, and as we stopped now and then to examine ferns or flowers we did not arrive until just in time for luncheon, which we had at the hotel.
We went down to look at the hot springs, but though we felt sorely tempted to try the water we thought it wiser not to risk chills, since we had the long drive back to do. Captain Greendays naturally wanted to stay and fish, but as we had brought no luggage this could not be allowed, and we started on the return journey almost immediately after luncheon.
It was about four o’clock when we found ourselves close to a saw-mill in the forest, so we stopped, set the chauffeur preparing tea by the aid of Colonel Deane’s invaluable basket, and went in to see the operations inside. But it made me feel depressed, though it was intensely interesting and very wonderful to see the great saw cut, shrieking, through the tree-trunks. We watched each process, though, saw first the rough giant trunk sawn in two, then the heart of another tree cut still finer, and others finally planed smooth. And I vowed that never again would I regard irreverently a wooden house after seeing the tortures that the tree is subjected to before it can be turned into a “centre of the universe” for some all unrecking man.
Instead of going on the lake to-night Mrs Greendays and I left Captain Greendays to fish alone while we revived ourselves after the long day’s motoring by an “electric massage” with Rachel water.
Wednesday, 7th.—More mud-pools and sulphur. The whole morning we spent in Ohinemutu and the Government Reserve, under Warbrick’s guidance as usual, for it is not safe to venture by oneself among the hot springs; new ones are constantly appearing, and one might very easily take a false step unawares. The ground underfoot is like a hot crust, and by poking a stick into it one can make steam rise anywhere.
This afternoon we visited the curio shops and bought a lot of photographs and Maori curios and greenstone. And to-night we saw a “Poi” dance in the Sanatorium grounds. It is a very graceful dance and rather pretty; it was danced on a platform by a number of young Maori girls to a strange and mournful air very slowly played.
Thursday, 8th.—A lake picnic, and a very hot but heavenly day. We started early, in a motor-launch, and in crossing Rotorua called at Mokoia Island, the scene of so many romances. It was the desire to take Mokoia and, literally, “eat up” the tribe that lived on it that made Hongi, the Maori warrior chief, perform the greatest of all his wondrous feats. Hongi was a very Napoleon among the Maoris, and the history of his devastating progress through the country is every bit as thrilling as that of his European counterpart on the Continent. But this particular story of how he sprang a surprise on the Rotorua natives by making his slaves drag a fleet of immense war-canoes capable of carrying between sixty and seventy men each, and very heavy, for thirty miles inland through the bush from the coast, is the finest incident of all.And then there is the vastly different tale of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, that inspired the poet-Premier and many another poet before and since. Everyone who visits Rotorua should try to hear that story from the lips of a Maori. It was Maggie who told us, and in her sweet musical voice the romantic tale of the Princess who swam some three and a half miles across the lake under cover of the darkness, gained if possible additional charm.
So we landed on Mokoia, and went to see the hot pool wherein Hinemoa revived her cramped and wearied body after her cold swim. I wanted to go on and see some of the old fortifications, and the pas, as they call their fortified villages. But we had not procured the necessary permission, and could not explore the island without it, so we continued our voyage across the lake, passing ever so many islands, some of them “tapu” or sacred, because they are the burial places of chiefs.
We went through the channel to Rotoiti, crossed to its far side, and landed there for luncheon on a pretty strip of open with dense and lovely fern-adorned bush behind it. As everyone immediately became very busy over the preparations for luncheon I thought my presence quite unnecessary and went off to explore and take photographs of cabbage-palms, giant tree-ferns, and a tiny old Maori kainga, or village, with its mission-school and church.
While we were preparing tea that afternoon in a tiny cove where we had landed for the sake of the trees, for it was very hot on the lake, Captain Greendays suddenly disappeared for about half an hour.
His wife was greatly put out, and though the only Maoris we had seen since we left Rotorua had been an old woman canoeing on the lake (who was hugely disgusted when I tried to snap-shot her), and an old man in the little kainga close to where we had lunched, she affected to be nervous. And I was really apprehensive of an attack of those dreadful nerves that had been decently quiescent for some time now, when to my great relief we heard the launch returning.
Mrs Greendays’s “Where have you been Tom?” greeted him long before he sprang ashore.
“Why, you don’t mean to say that I am late?” he returned concernedly. “Well, dear, I thought I would have a swim before tea, and then Roberts told me of a hot sulphur spring just round the corner that he declared was not four feet from the lake. I could not credit it, so I went to see, and when I found that he was quite correct I thought I’d try it, as I never have time to try those at the Pavilion, and have my swim afterwards. And that is where I have been, my dear, only just round the corner, and well within hail. Did you think the ghosts of some of the chiefs would attack you? Poor chaps, I understand that they are not permitted to rest in peace for very long, but are brought out to have the flesh scraped off their bones before they are finally laid to rest!”
Mrs Greendays shivered, and glanced nervously behind her. “What a tale to tell us here! she exclaimed. “I think you were extremely silly to go into the lake out of this heat, Tom, and you had better have some tea at once, to counteract any chill.”
That is the way Mrs Greendays generally nips any exciting story in the bud!
Friday, 9th.—We had planned another fishing excursion for to-day, but I allowed the Greendays to go without me, for a more entertaining occupation made me change my mind and stay behind. I was at the Maori village adjoining Rotorua, Ohinemutu, taking photographs until it was time to start when, by some inadvertence, I was taken by a little Maori girl of whom I had asked some question into the meeting house. Thinking that she was going to show me the carvings I followed readily, but to my horror found, when we got inside, that a tangi, the same sort of function as an Irish wake, was in the earliest stage of proceeding. It seemed that an old chief had died suddenly while in the hot pool taking his morning bath a few hours earlier, and now here he was, stretched on a sleeping mat on the floor. All round him crouched his feminine relatives, discussing his virtues in a low crooning voice, the tears running down their cheeks while they fanned him to keep the flies from his uncovered face.
It was a shock to be suddenly ushered into this place of mourning, although the poor fellow looked very happy and peaceful, his hands crossed on his breast. And I went out intending to hurry away to the wharf and get as far as possible from the scene of the tragedy. But on the way I met a local man, who told me the story of what had happened, and added that word had gone forth to all the surrounding villages, and that if I wished to see a characteristic sight I ought to stay and see the Maoris arrive.
It was too good a chance to be missed, so I hid myself in a corner whence I could see everybody who came to Ohinemutu without being too much in evidence myself, and very soon they began to arrive. Some of them almost came up to my preconceived ideas of what a Maori proper should be like, ideas so sadly disabused since I had met them. But only a very few came anywhere near my hopeful expectations. I had imagined soldierly-looking men and graceful, houri-eyed women, whereas most of them proved to be unwieldily fat, and the women pretty only while they were quite young. And the European dress, adopted almost universally by both men and women, emphasized the peculiarity of their figures, the very long backs and short legs, which would probably not be noticeable in their native attire. But this they only don nowadays on special occasions and when they want to be photographed, when they put it on over the European clothes!To-day they came straggling along the roads in ones and twos and little family parties. The women rode astride unkempt nags, sometimes two on one pony, their pipes in their mouths, their coarse and uncared-for hair in long untidy locks falling round their necks from under home-made Panama-shaped hats worn at the back of their heads and decorated with green leaves in token of their errand. Some came in carts, with enough bedding and paraphernalia to suggest a month’s stay, and I learned afterwards that these tangis often do last for a long while, their duration depending upon the amount of money the relations of the deceased are able to spend on food and drink for the feasting of the mourners.
They would jog along the road smoking and chatting very unconcernedly until they spied an acquaintance. Then the pipes would be waved in the air, and they would call out with a smile their word of greeting, “Tenakoa!”
I watched the desultory procession until midday, and then growing tired, thought that Mrs Greendays’s absence was an excellent occasion for me to try a mud bath, as she had decided not to have one. I wished to try all and sundry, though, just to see what they were like. So as I had the rest of the day to myself I went off to the Pavilion and had first a mud bath, followed by a Rachel, then went to the hotel for luncheon, wrote a few letters, returned to the Pavilion and had the “Aix Massage.” After that, when the ensuing siesta was over, I strolled leisurely back to the hotel and there awaited my friends, somewhat exhausted, but happy in the consciousness that several new experiences had been added to my store.
And to-morrow we say au revoir to Rotorua.
WONDERS BY THE WAY.
“Come, let us laugh at poor deluded Death
And his plumed pageantry, that hides with tears
The mortal ’neath the consecrated sod!
He is the slave no more of pulse or breath,
Or Time that gives itself in rusting years,
But one who shares Eternity with God.”
We left Rotorua early on Saturday morning to drive to the buried village of Wairoa,—buried under the rain of mud and stones that fell during the eruption of Tarawera in 1886. All the way there are evidences of that terrible night,—a wilderness of pumice and cinders where there once was verdure, a great cleft in the earth like a jagged wound about forty feet deep, for miles along the side of the road, and ugly scars on the hillside where the land had slipped, leaving it bare.But suddenly we turned a corner into shady woodland as serenely lovely as if earthquakes and eruptions were unknown. Great trees spread their branches over the road, tree-fern and its myriad satellites, from dainty maidenhair and
Govt. Tourist Dept. Photo.
“Used to discharge its appalling mass . . . to heights varying from
two hundred to a thousand feet.”
Then the road climbed a saddle of the hill and we turned for a last look. And then a sudden exclamation from Captain Greendays, who was sitting in front with the driver, made us look ahead again, and there, wonder of wonders, at the foot of the other side of the saddle was another lake, but green this time, green as the first was blue. The distance between them was insignificant, only the shoulder of the hill separated them, yet on one side was the forget-me-not, on the other its leaves.
We drove for some minutes on the shores of the second lake before crossing a stream on the edge of the village of Wairoa.
The village! All that is left of it are a few poor remnants of wooden houses and some scraps of machinery and farming implements. Only the cherry and acacia trees which have planted themselves from the seeds, or grown from the old roots, distinguish the site of the village from any other part of the bush left unscathed by that fiendish eruption. Beyond that little oasis there is desolation in every direction,—the hills and valleys all grey and ghastly, one vast charnel-house of plants and earth as well as humanity, and the cherry and acacia trees are like the requiem of the departed souls.
The existence on the ground of a peddling photographer’s tent and some refreshment houses seemed sacrilegious, but nevertheless we made an early luncheon there before going down to Lake Tarawera to the motor-launch in readiness to convey us across.
The beach of the lake is a mere cinder-heap, and the hills encircling it so covered with these same cinders that they look like the sides of an ash-pit.
At the other side of the lake we left the launch and ploughed our way up a hill of lava and more cinders which lay between us and Lake Rotomahana. The descent of this hill was even worse than the climb up, for the loose pumice and cinders gave no solid footing. I grew tired of sinking to my shins at every step, and ran, but even then the rubbly stuff was so light that I sank to the ankles at every footfall, and was greatly in danger of falling headlong. It was fortunate that we were wearing stout tan shoes, for the worst ordeal was still to come.
The bottom of Lake Rotomahana was blown bodily out on the night of the eruption, and the rain of mud and stones that smothered Wairoa is supposed to have come from it. When it refilled it was found to be considerably larger and the water hotter. The water is in some places boiling, indeed, from the hot springs below and on the shore, and the entire cliff at one end is steaming, with small geysers jutting out everywhere.
Some other tourists were crossing at the same time as ourselves, and the half-caste guide in charge of the launches, a man with a maddeningly shrill voice and strong nasal twang, insisted on chattering like a monkey all the way, and interlarding his uncalled-for information with idiotic jokes and puns, with scarcely a breath between the sentences.
“Tirty-tree Maoris was killed on de night of de eruption on dat island over dere, dat geyser Lady Ranfurly soap, an’ it ’as play ever since, de wild ducks on dis lake lay hard-boiled eggs,—you not believe me, hey? you catch one and try——”
“Oh, we believe you!” interrupted an American lady scathingly. “All we ask is that you should catch us a roast duckling with green peas and new potatoes tucked under its wings,—the vurry thought has made me hungry again!”
When we landed, after passing through a cloud of steam over boiling water that bubbled under the boat as if it had been the lid of a huge saucepan, we were met by an English guide named Inglis, the caretaker of Waimangu. And then came the test for shoe-leather. He led us across wet, and in some places sinking sands, up steep paths, along cindery ways under the blazing sun, in a tortuous perambulation of about two and a half miles, that seemed like twelve.
It was not Inglis’ fault that the way seemed long. He did his best to divert our attention from the discomforts to the discoveries of the way, by an unceasing flow of information,—just as if we had been a class and he a professor of seismology. He understood the whole theory of eruptions, knew exactly what caused earthquakes, and was perfectly at home in the evolution of geysers; he explained the colouring of rainbows, was eloquent on the formation of strata, and described convincingly the process that converts common men into Government guides,—and if not wholly instructive his lecture was at least amusing to everyone but himself.
Before we reached the Government Accommodation House that was the end and temporarily the object of this journey we had to cross a flat valley on a level with the bottom of the Waimangu Geyser crater, called the Frying-pan. The name exactly describes it if the words “in use” are added. The flat is apparently perforated, and the water bubbles and hisses from below just as hot oil does in a pan when anything is dropped into it. All around it there are boiling mud-holes, small geysers, and other evidences of underground activity, and as Mr Inglis had been trying experiments in the hope of reviving Waimangu, which has not played for about two years, damming up some springs and opening others, we all felt extremely glad to climb out of the weird valley to the hill above, whereon stands the Accommodation House.The view from this place is indescribably direful. One looks down and round on to a gruesome company of conical hillocks closely clustered, all whitey-grey with ashes, and absolutely devoid of vegetation save for some starved tufts of a kind of pampas-grass; immediately below the house is the Frying-pan, with its bubbles dancing in the sun, surrounded by the steam from the geysers and the horrible blow-hole that roars continuously, like a wild beast, while a little beyond is the great black cavernous crater of Waimangu, and away in the distance there are more spectral hills, and not a green thing in sight.
Waimangu must have been a terrible sight in the days of its activity. The crater is over an acre and a half in extent, and when the geyser was alive it used to discharge its appalling mass of boiling water, mud, and stones to heights varying from two hundred to a thousand feet. An awful accident took place on one of these occasions. A number of tourists, who had come to view the geyser, included a mother and two daughters, guided by a brother of the guide Warbrick. They all took shelter in the hut put up for that purpose, out of reach of the shot, excepting Warbrick and the two girls, who were so foolish as to stay behind to take a photograph, thinking they could get away in time. But the wind must have changed without anyone noticing, the geyser shot to a tremendous height, the shower of boiling stuff fell in an unexpected direction, and the unhappy mother saw her two children engulfed and carried away with the guide in the hideous stream that flowed away after the shot.
Yet in spite of this dreadful occurrence Warbrick, who has a reputation for being brave to fool-hardiness, a few months after his brother’s tragic death in that very spot, rowed in a boat over the basin of the geyser, for a bet, a few minutes before it was due to play!
The tourists who had crossed the lake with us went back to Rotorua from Waimangu, so that we were left in undisturbed possession of the Accommodation House, and in sole enjoyment of Mr and Mrs Inglis’ hospitable attentions. We could not resist drawing Inglis out: he talked just as if he had been the Engineer-in-Chief of the Thermal District.
“I had a splendid little geyser blowing here a short time ago.” he told us. “And then the rain came, and destroyed all my arrangements, so that instead of one good geyser I have nothing now but a lot of small bubblers!”
We exchanged glances in severely grave silence, but when he had left the room Captain Greendays observed,
“I shall expect to-morrow morning to hear him calling down a tube: ‘Two hot spouts and one sulphur bath, please!’ and the answer: ‘Spouts is horf. Sir!’”
In spite of our doubts as to the safety of the place after the experiments this modern wizard had been making we passed a very good night at the Accommodation House, probably thanks to our exhausting pilgrimage. Inglis and his wife proved to be excellent caterers, and the house was comfortable, with good-sized, well-furnished rooms.
THE ROAD TO LAKE TAUPO.
“And here a grim volcano rose,
Its quaking summit wrapped in flame;
And there the searing lava-flows
Burst on the pure primeval snows
Of glaciers yet without a name.”
A buggy had been sent from Rotorua to meet us at Waimangu, and in it we set off early on Sunday morning for Taupo, via Wai-o-tapu.
This route took us past the Rainbow Mountain, so called from the vari-coloured chalks and clays that form part of its composition, and give it a strangely unreal appearance. The district is rather a desolate one, very barren save for the flax-beds or swamps which in the distance lead one to expect a flourishing homestead, so like green fields of waving corn are they. And the road, owing to the light soil and the utter absence of metal or gravel, is frightfully dusty, but fortunately we had dust-cloaks and motor veils which saved us considerably.Not far beyond the Rainbow Mountain we passed within a few hundred yards of the prison for long-sentence misdemeanants. These convicts have a quite idyllic lot; they are well-housed, in cottages that look out over the surrounding country and are not even enclosed within high walls, their “hard labour” is the planting of trees, and they are allowed almost every privilege but liberty. We saw one of them out fishing with a warder; both were smoking as they leaned with their rods over the parapet of a bridge, and both looked very happy and free from care.
“I suppose a good many of these fellows escape?” asked Captain Greendays of the driver, and then, noticing that a gun was propped against the bridge he added, “I should not think that shooting would be much use,—a chap could get off and out of range before his absence was even noticed if all the warders are as careless as that one seems to be!”
“Escape!” exclaimed the driver. “Bless you, they carn’t escape, Sir! You see every soul around here is well-known, and no stranger would have a charnce of getting through unnoticed. And the gun is not for the prisoner,—they are both having a day’s sport, it’s Sunday, and they are out having a day’s fishing and shooting like independent gentlemen! They are a dashed deal better off nor most honest chaps, Sir!”
Later on we heard that our driver’s version was quite true, both as to the difficulty of escape and the good times allowed to the prisoners. At the time we passed there was quite a select company in the gaol,—a doctor, a solicitor, a secretary, a bank-clerk, and a some-time editor, among others, and when the weather was not as fine as they liked they calmly refused to go out to work!
Soon after passing this prison we came to a mud-volcano, and as it was the first we had seen we stopped and got down for a closer inspection. It was the strangest thing, about twenty feet high, like a tall ant-hill hollowed out in the middle. And someone had thoughtfully placed a ladder against it, so that we were able to look right down into the well, but as the boiling mud bubbling up splashed our clothes we were not at all pleased with the result of our curiosity.
A few minutes later we arrived at Wai-o-tapu, which is only a wayside hotel near the “Sights,” as they call the little hot-spring valley close by.
The “Wai-o-tapu,” or Sacred Water, sights still belong to the Maoris, who charge half-a-crown to every visitor who goes over them. After lunching at the prettily-situated hotel we were shown over by a young Maori, and thought them well worth a visit, for they are quite different to the sights at Rotorua, and a great deal prettier, as sulphur takes the place of the Rotorua black mud. Each item is named, some very amusingly. There were the milk, the cream, and the mustard pools, the blue, green, and light-green lakes, the Paddle-pool, the Champagne-pool, which is set fizzing by throwing in a handful of sand, the Primrose Falls, the Sulphur Cave, and so on, quite a big programme for half-a-crown! Most of the springs are hot, but the cold ones are removed from the hot by only a foot or so, and sometimes only by inches. In the hot ones the boiling clay often splashes and spouts out a great deal farther than one expects, as if a live imp had its habitation there and wished to maliciously surprise the intruder. And perhaps the most astonishing thing of all is the growth of ferns and manuka, which flourish luxuriantly on the very edge of these hot springs, apparently delighting in the steam and the sulphur fumes.
The hotel people told us of a great many more interesting things to be seen in the neighbourhood, and made us wish that our time was not so limited, but really it would take months to do this wonderful district justice; we did not see nearly all there was to see at Rotorua, although our diligence in sight-seeing during our week there was truly praiseworthy, and most of all I should have liked to see the rest of the lakes in the magic chain, for the road beyond Rotoiti traverses the scene of Hongi’s wonderful march through the bush.
And as we left Rotorua only half-explored, so, too, we had to leave Wai-o-tapu and push on towards Taupo. It was just upon six, the official dinner-hour in New Zealand (whether you are hungry or not) when we reached the next stage, Wairakei, so long had we delayed at Wai-o-tapu, and the hostess of the hotel told us very significantly to hurry if we wanted any dinner, for the Rotorua and Taupo coaches had both arrived full of passengers.
But after dinner we lingered, dawdling about the pretty gardens until the moon rose, for we did not want to lose any of the scenery of our last stage that day. The country had been more interesting between Wai-o-tapu and Wairakei, and report said that the best bit of all was that between Wairakei and Taupo.
And for once report did not lie. We drove along a road cut out of the cliff with the beautiful Waikato like a path of silver at the bottom of the precipitous drop on our left, and saw the Huka Falls for the first time in the radiance of the moon,—a sight that no photograph could do justice to. After leaving them behind we drove through more open country, fragrant with manuka and the blue-gums at Taupo, until we were close upon the lake. It looked simply lovely in the moonlight, a vast sheet of burnished steel with a slight ripple in it. The mountains behind its farthest shores were covered with snow, although the summer was well towards its zenith, and between the tallest peaks, Ruapehu and Tongariro, we could see quite distinctly, so clear and still was the night, the smoke from the active volcano,The proprietor of the Terraces Hotel was expecting us, so we left the village behind and drove straight on along the road on the edge of the lake and up through an irregular avenue of lilac and acacia, elderberry, plane, poplar, oak, and pine trees, their mingled perfume greeting us like a welcome that was only a foreshadowing of the hearty one extended by the kindly Irishman, our host Mr McKinley. He and his nieces and nephew, who do all the work of the hotel, could not do too much for us that night, and made us feel like travellers . returning home instead of provoking tourists who had kept everyone up late for sentimental reasons relating to the moon!
Before we went to bed Mrs Greendays and I had an entirely novel experience. We went down into the garden, guided by one of Mr McKinley's nieces, and about a quarter of a mile from the house came to a natural mineral water hot spring, running into an enclosed bath-house. It was a little uncanny at first, out there in that weird region of boiling springs at night, and inside the bath-house, only dimly lighted by the lantern we had brought down with us, it was worse than in the moonlight. But Mrs Greendays had so far recovered her ordinary good health that she was actually less nervous than I, and so we soon forgot our temerity and thoroughly enjoyed our piping hot swim.
TAUPO AND WAIRAKEI.
“Where the summer skies were blue,
Where the mosses curled and crept,
Dyed with every glorious hue
Stol’n from rainbows while they slept.”
The mosses were certainly gorgeous enough in the Geyser Valleys of Taupo and Wairakei, but they were nothing to the multi-coloured clays. And we found them not only in the boiling pools, but making mosaic of the beds of the streams and frescoes of the cliffs under their clinging ferns and moss.
We spent three days at Taupo, and were sorry indeed when the time came to move on. Each day was a picnic, and so invigorating was that pure, glorious air that in spite of the well-filled basket we took out with us we always did ample justice to the clever cookery of Miss McCarthy at dinner, in the evening.On the morning after our arrival we walked down to the village through the Terraces’ avenue and along the side of the lake, called at the Post-office, and went on through a shady avenue of pines and blue-gums to the Spa, where we left the road and threaded our way through a wilderness of golden gorse and broom taller than ourselves to the banks of a river that flows gently and silently through a mysterious valley, whose woodland hides a witches’ kitchen where uncanny brews of many colours are cooked. Not two feet from the river there is an erection of petrified sticks in the shape of a crow’s nest, and every two or three hours, with marvellous punctuality, a geyser blows high into the air from its depths,—an accommodating geyser that plays three times in succession as an encouragement to the amateur photographers who wait patiently for the performance.
We made the sandy, shelving cove that held it our dining-room, and after luncheon walked along the river bank on a narrow, sloping path that required careful attention lest we slipped into the river below, especially as at every few yards we had to jump over a boiling pool or hurry across a slippery plank to avoid a geyser just on the verge of venting its energy, regardless as to direction, which was regulated by the fickle wind.
After this stimulating constitutional we visited the coloured pools in the witches’ kitchen, and then went on up the cliff again through the scented broom to the Spa Hotel, where we had tea in a carved Maori whare, in the midst of a rose-garden. Then in the cool afternoon came the two-mile walk back to the Terraces, there to dress, dine, persuade Mr. McKinley to tell us some stories of his early life out here before towns were thought about, and finish up the day by a swim in the hot ferruginous spring before turning in.
The next day we spent in a launch on the lake, whose beauties cannot be imagined from the shores. There are said to be forty-two rivers and creeks running into Taupo, but the Waikato is its only outlet, and that runs into the sea about twenty miles to the south of Onehunga.
On Wednesday we drove to Wairakei and explored the geyser valley there. It is more a gorge than a valley, and is simply a succession of boiling pools and geysers on either bank of the river, almost hidden in some places by the wealth of fern and manuka, trees and undergrowth of all kinds.
One geyser that, like Wairoa, will not play without persuasion, required twenty-five minutes to get up steam after the plug that acts as its key had been taken out of the stream that supplies it; it was close to a shallow basin called the Paddle-geyser, and both were in a natural arbour where a seat had been placed. So we lunched there, while waiting for the “Prince of Wales’ Feathers” to grow, and every few minutes the Paddle treated us to an exhibition. There would be a dull rumble, followed by the sound of rushing water, then the unseen paddle-wheels seemed to revolve furiously, the water in the basin was churned up, and away spouted the fountains, one shot after another in quick succession,—then repose again while it prepared for a repetition.
These were only two out of dozens, each with some characteristic specially its own; we spent the whole day in the valley and did not have a dull moment, ending up with the drive back past the glorious Huka Falls.
On Thursday we said good-bye to Taupo and our kindly hosts, starting early in order to do some sight-seeing on the way. We visited the Wai-ora Valley, which is parallel with the Geyser Valley, but has only lakes and pools of different colours instead of geysers, and seems to be full of small extinct volcanoes. From there we went to the gigantic fumarole called “Karapiti,” which means Screeching. It is a most appalling phenomenon, this aperture of Prince Subterranean Wind’s. The outlet is about 20 by 14 inches in diameter, but the pressure is 16Olbs to the square inch, and the temperature of the steam is 225 degrees. Our driver threw a paraffin tin on to the hole and it was instantly whirled up into the air as if it had been a feather, and so were sticks and stones, while a penny flew up and spun in the air like a top. It was more uncanny than the one at Waimangu, though the screeching of that was quite bad enough.
In the afternoon we drove to the Aratiatia Rapids, which are very fine indeed, a mass of blue waters rushing down to tumble in foamy cascades over the rocks, a fall of 175 feet, with 300,000 h.p. The banks of the river are densely clad with native bush and flowering manuka, and the beauty of the copse with the sun finding its way in among the trees is by no means the least part of the attraction of Aratiatia.
The swimming-bath at Wairakei is the prettiest and by far the jolliest of all. It is merely a part of the hot stream fenced in, with five-foot boards, and both banks have been left in their original state, willows and brambles, ferns, briar-roses, jessamine, and honeysuckle all growing together in fragrant beauty. On one side of the stream there is a primitive dressing-shed, with a sort of platform and steps down into the water which is at that point about five feet deep. And inside the enclosure there is a cold-water bath always flowing from a watercourse, so that those who like it can have both hot and cold plunges at once.Friday morning at eight o’clock found us breakfasting under some trees on the way back to Rotorua, but we were returning by a different route, via a place called Orakei-korako. Up till now we had been blessed with brilliantly fine weather, but there was a chill in the air that morning, and the sky looked rather ominous as we sat in our little retreat a few yards from the road. The buggy was without a hood, and Captain Greendays, afraid of our getting wet should the weather change, suggested our returning to Wairakei and postponing our journey till next day. But Mrs Greendays laughed at his fears, quoting some of her friends and the, of course, perfect guide-books that scorned even, the suggestion of bad weather in New Zealand. And so we continued our drive.
ORAKEI-KORAKO AND ATIA-MURI.
“The conquering clouds are round the moon
In dark assailing hosts that press
Near and more near; . . . . .”
Of course we were caught in the rain. It came down in torrents only a little while after we started, came with a rush and a swish; and a cold cutting wind that was like a cynical smile at misfortune came with it. And as we had neither mackintoshes nor overcoats, and only sunshades of tussore silk lined with green to take the place of umbrellas, we would all have fared badly but for some rugs the driver had with him. He foraged these out and we wrapped ourselves in them, bent our heads to the “cauld blast” and prayed for the sun.
But it rained steadily until we arrived at Orakei-korako, where there is no sort of shelter unless one braves reputed armies of the wicked flea in the huts of the Maoris. Orakei-korako is still in their possession, though the Government are negotiating for the place and its “Sights”, and the only habitations there are a few very decrepit whares. When we got there our driver asked if we would not prefer to go straight through to the hotel at Atia-muri, about two hours’ journey farther on, but we were far too cold and hungry to entertain such an idea. So we asked the old Maori who had appeared on the scene to find a fairly dry spot, as close to a hot spring as possible, and we had scarcely arranged the buggy-cushions on the ground when it stopped raining as suddenly as it had begun, and the sun came out,—a tearful and somewhat depressed sun, truly, but Himself, nevertheless.
And the old Maori, whose name was Ramaka, brought us some hot, newly-cooked native potatoes, called “kumaras,” rather like the Cape sweet potatoes, which we voted excellent, grateful, and comforting, and a splendid addition to our sandwiches. Colonel Deane’s basket, long since christened “Phyllis” by Mrs Greendays because it was, she declared, her “only joy,” was a source of great interest and admiration to Ramaka, especially the spirit-stove!
We felt very much happier after this novel luncheon, and set off to see the “Sights” in great spirits. They were all on the other side of the river, though, and the crossing of the Waikato was quite a perilous proceeding. The current was so strong that Ramaka was hard put to it to prevent our being swept away down the rapids, but he manoeuvred the boat very well, and we landed in safety on the opposite shore. The first wonder we were introduced to was a geyser that departed from the usual way of geysers and spouted horizontally out of a cave. Its water petrifies everything it flows over, and we picked up pockets-full of petrified manuka berries, small branches and twigs, out of the path it made for itself.
Then we crossed the terraces which are the nearest approach New Zealand has now to her famous pink and white ones, that were destroyed in the eruption of Tarawera. These are only in process of forming, but one gets a very good idea of what the old ones must have been like, though of course the colours are as yet indefinite. On the cliffs above there are boiling pools galore, and it is presumably the coloured clay from these, mingling in the water that flows over the cliff from the geysers, that gives the tint to the terraces.
The old Maori led us up a winding path beyond the level of the hot pools until we came to a high wooden palisade. Here he unlocked a gate and discovered a fernery—great tree-fern fronds forming the roof, and below them the loveliest ferns and creepers, in a dim green light with an atmosphere as warm and humid as if the place had been heated in the orthodox way with steam pipes, while the sound of trickling water completed the illusion.
We stood looking in in amazed delight, but Ramaka was waiting, inviting us to enter, and as we crossed the threshold we found ourselves at the top of some very steep and slippery steps cut in the earth and leading down into the depths of the fernery. We had to descend backwards, and it was only when we reached the lowest step that we were able to see into what manner of place we had come.
It was like the entrance to Aladdin’s palace,—the conservatory but the porch to a wonderful cave of alum. In front of us lay great rocks and boulders and piles of powdered alum and coloured chalks, in green, red, yellow, white, brown, slanting downwards to where a faint mist hid the mouth of the cave, while above it rose a rainbow cliff, like solidified Virginian creeper, in all the lovely autumnal tints.
We clambered over the boulders to go down to the mouth of the cave, and there found that right at the bottom there is a hot spring, or lake, which gives to the place its warm and humid atmosphere. It is a beautiful as well as a wonderful place. Standing at the side of the lake we looked up on our right to the fernery, only a small patch of sky showing between the green roof of tree-fern which met the overarching cliff above us, and below was the half-hidden steaming lake, with all around us the debris of multi-coloured chalks and alum lying just as they had fallen from the.
But what had caused this catastrophe in Aladdin’s palace? It seemed that though so many miles away the disturbances of the Tarawera eruption had shaken the cave so violently that a large portion of the cliff was brought down, and a stranger result was that the water in the lake suddenly became so hot that it was no longer possible to get into it. Once upon a time this cave was a favourite Chambre de bain for visitors to Orakei-korako, who used to walk over the hills to it from Wai-o-tapu. but now they cannot plunge into the refreshing waters any longer.
We were so enchanted with the cave that we lingered there for a long while, coaxing Ramaka to tell us in his halting English stories of the eruption and the legends connected with it. And before we left the sun had granted a finishing touch of blue sky above the fern roof, to add the finishing touch to the loveliness of the place.
The rain was falling again when we started, and continued all the way to Atia-muri. But with our rugs closely wrapped round us we did not mind it very much, and it at least laid the dust so that we were able to do without muffling veils. The road was ever so much more interesting than the other via Wai-o-tapu; it wound in and out among the hills, between and under high cliffs, at the side of the beautiful Waikato, over bridges and through creeks, every yard of it containing new views and unexpected changes. And the driver, who knew the country thoroughly, beguiled the way with tales of the Maoris and of the rabbiters and road-makers, who were the only souls we met. These rabbiters seem to be an odd society, drawn from all classes. Many of them are broken-down gentlemen, poor fellows,—imagine a University man tramping through this desolate country setting poison for rabbits, living in a tiny tent, seeing and speaking to no one but Maoris and rough labourers, from one year’s end to another!
When we arrived at Atia-muri and saw the “hotel” I felt very anxious as to the manner in which Mrs Greendays would take the too-obvious change from the comforts of the Terraces Hotel. She was very tired, cold, and wet, how would her nerves stand the discomforts of this poky hole when she most needed luxury?
I was agreeably surprised. Mr. George Parsons, mine host of the inn, was an old acquaintance of Colonel Deane’s sporting expeditions, and had by him been advised of our coming. He came out to meet us when the sound of our wheels advertised our approach, and so sincere were his apologies for not being able to offer better fare and lodging that the threatening cloud on Mrs Greendays’s brow vanished, and she in turn began to apologise for our late arrival.
So all was well. She accepted with a laugh the odd little room with all its lack of comfort, sympathised with Mrs Parsons on her loneliness and the difficulty of educating the children, and quite won the old sportsman’s heart by her admiration of his antlers and skins, trophies proudly displayed on the walls of the dining-room. We certainly had no cause to complain of the fare. Mr. Parsons had been out shooting and fishing in our honour, as the groaning table testified, and we tasted several new kinds of game and fish that night, all beautifully cooked, the only thing we did not like being the very fat and rather coarse meat of the “mutton-bird.” It looked like mutton, and it tasted. I thought, like goat! (I have never to my knowledge tasted goat, but I can quite imagine what it is like, especially after trying that mutton-bird!)
After dinner Mr. Parsons brought out all sorts of curiosities to show us, and kept us entertained to a late hour with his adventures and hair-breadth escapes, which were amusing and thrilling if not true. And the next morning he insisted on driving us back along the road we had come by to see the Anawinewine Falls, and then took us to what he called his “opal reef” to try and find some specimens of matrix opal, (in which search needless to say we were unsuccessful!) so that it was nearly noon before we set off for Rotorua.
The rain had cleared the air, made the roads free from dust, if a little heavy, and freshened up the countryside, so that we thoroughly enjoyed the drive, especially as it was all among and in and out of the hills again. We passed a flax-mill and two or three farms, chiefly for sheep, and in spite of several halts for photographing and refreshment per Phyllis, we got into Rotorua at about five.
And after a very sober, stay-at-home Sunday, with church in the morning, writing letters all the afternoon, and a farewell visit to dear “Rachel the Witch” at night, we caught the Auckland Express on Monday at nine-thirty, for Te Aroha.
“Then they thought it sad to be held apart
(These fairies they could not fly,
And often it made them sad at heart
To be wingless, as you and I!)
So they puzzled their brains o’er a meeting plan,
This fairy maid and this fairy man.”
We left the Express at Frankton Junction and changed into a local for Te Aroha,—a local loiterer that spent ages at every little station and siding. But it was still fairly early in the afternoon when we arrived at Te Aroha, and immediately fell in love with the prettiest place our travels in New Zealand had so far revealed.
The little township lies at the foot of a steep hill covered with trees, and is girdled by a winding, willow-fringed river. The Government has built a very handsome Bath Pavilion, greatly superior to anything at Rotorua, which stands in the middle of extensive and beautifully kept gardens at the base of the hill, with tennis and croquet lawns, a bowling green, and all sorts of happy devices for the amusement of visitors. And in the Pavilion Buildings is the town circulating library, so that a languid convalescent after taking the baths can read the papers, look through the magazines, or stroll in the gardens, watching the players, without having to go out of the grounds.
We spent Tuesday morning on the hill,—it took us nearly three hours to get to the top, and longer coming down because we kept stopping to examine the ferns, and photograph bits of the exquisite bush and tree-fern. The view from the summit extends for a very great distance over the surrounding plains, and we could see the hills of the gold-mining district of Thames, or imagined we could, and wished that we had time to visit the rich mines at Waihi, only a few miles farther along the same line.
The afternoon we spent in the grounds of the Pavilion, trying the mineral drinking waters, (most of them very nasty), and talking to the Doctor in charge, the most charming Irishman, with a fund of stories and anecdotes. But his funniest stories did not entirely make me forget that Colonel Deane was to meet and join us next day, and I was only able to give a very divided attention to everything but the time, which for once lagged abominably.
But Wednesday and my dear “Man of Comfort” came at last. He met us at Frankton Junction, where we all had to change trains again, but though the new local, from Frankton to Tamaranui, was really slower even than the one between Frankton and Te Aroha, none of us noticed it until we compared the table of distances afterwards. We had been a companionable trio, but now we were once again a quartette of companions, and there is a very great difference between the two!
THE WANGANUI RIVER.
“The clouds were like white incense, blown
From golden altars reared on high;
A silence Earth had never known
Seemed falling, falling, from the sky.”
“Anything,” cried Mrs Greendays in an agonised voice, “anything would be better than to be cooped up in this—this fowl-house any longer!”
“My dear!” expostulated her husband.
“I can’t help it!” she retorted, almost in tears. “I did not have ten minutes’ sleep last night, and my head aches with the stuffiness of that hole they put us into! What a country! Fancy being able to get no better accommodation than this in a town,—the terminus of a railway,—and a town where they say that it is always raining! I would never have left home had I known that I should have to put up with such discomfort!”
“My dear!” exclaimed Captain Greendays once more. “Do consider, Hilda! We have been travelling for nearly three weeks in almost perfect weather, finding comfortable hotels everywhere, and the very first time things go wrong———”
“The first time! What about Atia-muri?” interrupted Mrs Greendays tragically.
“Well, nearly the first time,” amended her husband patiently. “I really don’t think we can complain when we have an occasional reminder that this country is new, very new, and———”
His voice died away as he followed his wife on her way to the landing stage, and Colonel Deane and I laughed involuntarily as our eyes met. It was about six o’clock in the morning; we had arrived at dusk the evening before to find it raining pitilessly and the only place in the shape of an inn a very wretched, third-rate boarding-house with not an apartment in the house bigger than a ship’s cabin, excepting a bare and dreary dining-room. But all the rooms were arranged for two, and though we had wired for ours days before I should have had to share mine with some stranger if Mrs Greendays had not taken me in with her, while her husband and Colonel Deane, to avoid unknown room-mates, had shared another. When we asked for baths we were curtly told to go to the river if we wanted such luxuries, and in every way the proprietors seemed bent on proving their independence by being as offensive as possible. In the night the rain came down in torrents, it became very cold, and this morning the weather was worse instead of better than it had been, greatly to our dismay. So in spite of the uncomfortable lodging Captain Greendays had suggested waiting two days for the next boat in the hope of its improving, but Mrs Greendays had very promptly pooh-poohed the idea.
And therefore we were now picking our way through the muddy track and over a swampy strip of meadowland, to the launch.
“The old chap is quite right,” said Colonel Deane. “And especially in this case, as it is only a few months since the railway was opened as far as this. People who wanted to avoid the sea-trip to Auckland from Wellington used to come up the river only as far as Pipiriki, then drive from there to Rotorua via Taupo, and then of course there was no need for hotels in this out-of-the-way place.”
“It does not take very many months to build an hotel!” I retorted.
“And one will be open in a few weeks!” he returned. “You must not be unreasonable. I think that considering the rush that woman had last night,—half the people had never given her notice of their coming—she did it uncommonly well. We each had a bed and a good meal, and what more can travellers in the wilds expect? And Taumarunui has been very much in the wilds until just lately.”
“One is surely justified in expecting ordinary civility,” I said. “But don’t let us talk about the wretched place any more. Is it really always raining here?”
“Pretty often, I think. It is so surrounded by hill and forest, you see. But I have an idea that it is going to clear up before long.”This was comforting intelligence, for at the moment the rain was coming down as if it never meant to stop, and the hills were quite hidden by a thick veil of mist. Mrs Greendays and I were pinned up in travelling rugs, for we had no macintoshes of our own and had firmly declined taking Colonel Deane’s and Captain Greendays’s, and in the walk to the river from the boarding-house our rubber-less shoes were soaked through and through. But we were not much better off on the launch than on the way to it. It was a tiny boat, very dirty, and with no covering or awning of any sort. The badly-painted seats were leaving great splotches of red paint on the clothes of those who had inadvertently sat on them, and even these seats were all occupied by earlier passengers when we arrived.
Luckily Captain Greendays espied an empty and unpainted bench on the upper deck, and seized upon it. There was just room for us all, and there we sat, in a row, cowering under our umbrellas, and huddled close perforce.
It continued to rain for an hour or so, but the mist cleared away from the hills soon after we started, and it was so fascinating to watch the kaleidoscopic changes as the windings of the river constantly altered the arrangements of their thousand peaks that I forgot all about the weather. I had even grown accustomed to the cold stream that was steadily trickling down my neck from Mrs Greendays’s umbrella, when Captain Greendays broke the spell by hailing a passing boatman.
“You might find something to put under these ladies’ feet!” he begged. “Can’t you spare that coil of rope?”
The man shook his head. The rope might be needed in shooting the rapids a little way farther down the stream.
“Then see if you can find a—sack—or a board—anything!”
The man went away, and presently returned with some narrow bits of wood from a broken candle-box, which he solemnly proceeded to place beneath our feet. We severally thanked him fervently for his well-meant effort and did not even smile until he had disappeared with a muttered word of acknowledgement for the tip slipped into his hand. Then Mrs Greendays broke into an irresistible laugh, and said:
“Well, Tom, if that was not a fowl-house we slept in last night,—and I still contend that it was fit for nothing else,—you can’t deny that we resemble a lot of roosters now, perched up on this bench with one foot screwed round the ankle of the other, and only just a toe on the deck to balance by!”
“And very ruffled feathers!” assented her husband, with a rueful smile.
Soon after this we had some exciting moments as we shot the rapids. Then we had to pull into the bank to wait for the bigger launch. By this time the rain had ceased, and as we watched the other boat come labouring up the stream with a vast amount of puffing and immense volumes of black smoke issuing from her funnel. Colonel Deane jumped ashore and returned in two minutes laden with wild cherries and mint and some rata blossom, all dripping but delightful.
We hoped to find the larger boat more comfortable, but were sadly disappointed. It was a steam instead of a motor launch, five feet longer and fifty per cent. dirtier than the other, for the smoke from the funnel rained soot all over us and completed the damage begun by the red paint of the other. And there was no way of escape unless one descended into the tiny stuffy cabin that the boatmen used as dining-room, smoking-room, and all too probably sleeping-room!
However the scenery made up for all these annoyances. We could no longer see the hills, for we were in a deep gorge, with high densely wooded cliffs on either side of the river, which was continually winding round corners. The foliage was really lovely. The sombreness of the many pines was brightened by the lighter greens of birch and willow, with occasional dashes of rata-bloom. The tree-fern, growing to a tremendous height, had fronds six and eight feet long, and some of the other ferns were wine-red, bronze, and yellow. Many of the trees had smaller ones growing from their branches, and there were mosses in all the shades of green and yellow, with quantities of stag-moss growing like a carpet, so thick it was and long. And there were masses of feathery pampas grass, or toi, as the Maoris call it, and velvety reeds, bushes festooned with snowy clematis, with all the sage, olive, and emerald tints of green as a background, and grey rocks jutting out, stained with patches of yellow, red, and silver moss and lichen.
It was so silent and so solemnly beautiful, like the centre aisle of a vast cathedral, that when the skipper blew a hideous blast from the steam whistle to warn the house-boat of our approach I wished that I had the power to instantly order his decapitation for contempt of sacred things.
But the others regarded this act of vandalism merely as a signal that the luncheon hour had arrived; there were sighs of relief and a stir among the passengers crouched in the bow of the boat among the luggage, and a few minutes later we swept round a corner into view of the houseboat that is moored halfway between Tamaranui and Pipiriki as an inn for travellers on the river.
We managed to settle ourselves all together and a little more comfortably after luncheon, but it was impossible not to be cramped on that miserable vessel that was a positive insult to the river. We put in to the bank once or twice to take Maoris on board,—one was a stout lady in a neat brown skirt, blue print blouse, cherry red scarf, and silk-fringed black shawl, her hair in two shining plaits hanging below her shoulders, and her lips tattooed, a sign that she was married.The Maori whares here and there were the only human habitations we saw, and I asked Colonel Deane why the guide books speak of the river as the “New Zealand Rhine,” leading one to expect castles and battlements, with deliciously sleepy villages now and then?
“The guide-books are too fond of drawing contrasts in that way,” he answered. “New Zealand has a beauty all her own, and comparisons are never more odious than when thus implied. The only castles on the Wanganui are Nature’s own, the stately rocks that stand out from among the trees and in the stream, but to-morrow you will see some villages which though not so “delicious” as those of the Rhine are, I am sure, a great deal more sleepy!”
We reached Pipiriki about five and were overjoyed to see quite a big hotel there,—which hotel, with a store, a cottage or two, and a few Maori whares comprised the entire place. It was a perfect evening, and but for those few bad hours in the early morning we had had very fair weather after all. And we had come ninety miles down a forest river, passing quite a thousand waterfalls, not counting the small cascades, but we had not heard the tui, New Zealand’s King of Song,—His Majesty had probably and very properly resented our invasion of his highway and retreated into the innermost recesses of the bush, for we neither saw nor heard him, though no better audience-hall than the river could have been found.
After dinner,—such a contrast to the muddled meal of the night before!—we roamed about the hills behind the house, and voted Pipiriki an ideal place for a holiday. With all the comforts of civilisation one could be absolutely out of the world there, spending one’s days in the forest or on the river, and returning to the hotel only at night. The only drawback, the inadequacy of the boats, would be removed, they told us, almost at once, as the new launches were ready even then. And as we proved next day, the service between Pipiriki and Wanganui the town, which is on the railway, is infinitely better than that of the higher launches, with bigger and more comfortable boats. Besides, this retreat can be reached by road both from Wanganui and Taupo.
The launch did not start until after we had breakfasted leisurely at a reasonable hour next morning, and we got into Wanganui town quite early in the afternoon.
This last stage was vastly different to the first. We had left the gorge and the dense bush behind us, and the river was now running through more open country, passing a good many Maori villages and some big farms and private residences. The Maori villages were very interesting. Nearly every one of them had a pretty little church, mostly Roman Catholic we were told, and at one of them there is a big R.C. orphanage for children of all nations, established by a sisterhood. The villages were all quaintly named after cities,—Athens, Rome, London, and Jerusalem, for instance, though besides the little church and smaller school each had only a handful of whares, and we saw no grown-up people though there were myriads of children, and dogs galore. Below each village there were canoes lying moored in the river, some of elaborate make and finish but generally long dug-outs.
Wanganui is a sleepy town with a great many churches, schools, and colleges, and an excellent little museum; the hotels are good, and the shops up-to-date. We had ample time during the long afternoon to see all there was to be seen, and as we had the whole of the next morning, our train not leaving until nearly noon, we spent a long time in the Museum examining Maori curios and New Zealand stones and minerals.
“Southward the knightly Egmont’s silver spear
Bannered with rosy dawn makes far salute.”
The railway ran along the coast all the way to New Plymouth, whither we were bound with the desire to see stately Mount Egmont and to spend a quiet Sunday. And had anything more than the series of sea-and-land-scapes from the carriage windows been needed to shorten the journey Colonel Deane’s fund of stories about the war between the English and the Maoris, with all the thrilling incidents that happened on this coast, most generously supplied it.
Unfortunately Mount Egmont had retired behind a veil of cloud and we could only see a snowy peak against the sky and above the grey blanket that enveloped the rest of the mountain. But there was so much to look at that we scarcely noticed the absence of what would otherwise have been the most engrossing feature of the journey.
The neat hedges, sometimes of gorse and sometimes of hawthorn, looked quaintly incongruous when the farms stood in the middle of a tract of “cleared” bush, the stumps of the dead, generally burnt, trees giving a very pioneerish look to the country. Everything was deliciously green, and everywhere that bush had been left there were tree-ferns and cabbage-palms, and sometimes they adorned the gardens when every other foreign element had been carefully taken away.
Occasionally, on the sea-side of the line, there were views that reminded us of the coast near Dover, pasture-lands, with beautiful Jersey cattle, or flocks of snowy, newly shorn sheep, but the iron-roofed little houses, and the curious buildings of the milk-factories and creameries, the bustling, one-streeted towns and barn-like railway-stations, and especially a certain indefinable air of being en deshabille that the country wears, were all so far removed from everything English that any comparison was ridiculous. The people who crowded to the stations, as though the arrival of the Wellington mail-train was the signal for a gathering of the whole community, were all so well-dressed and prosperous-looking that there seemed to be only one class in the country, and that certainly not a labouring nor hard-working one!
At New Plymouth so great was the crowd assembled to see the train arrive that we had quite a difficulty in making our way through it. This train goes on from the town to the wharf with the mail for Auckland and the passengers going up by the boat that leaves for Onehunga at nine p.m., and between the Saturday night idlers and the friends of the people going northwards it was as bad as a bank-holiday crush. Luckily we had had the little baggage that was with us checked, and so did not have to wrestle with the populace round the baggage-van in the manner customary to the majority of travellers in this country, for very few people are even aware that it is possible to check one’s luggage; those who are seldom take the trouble, and the station people never advise or suggest it, so that the scene of confusion on the arrival of a train at a terminus is nearly as maddening as the waste of time and the impossibility of securing a porter until one’s patience is at the last ebb.
Our first experience of this sort at Rotorua had been quite enough, and we had speedily found out the existence of a Samaritan firm, the N.Z. Express Company, who had thereafter relieved us of all trouble excepting the few small things that never left our own custody. We had given them our itinerary and their vans now called for our baggage when we were leaving any place, and we saw it no more until we arrived at the next.On Sunday morning we attended service in a dear little church of grey stone, covered with ivy, too, like a church at home, and like a military chapel inside, for there were hatchments hung round the walls, the colours of all the regiments that took part in the Maori war, with memorial brasses to those who fell in the Taranaki fights. The sexton who showed us round after service told
Photo by Collis, New Plymouth.
Mount Egmont. “A certain indefinable air of being en deshabile that the country wears.”
As we were so near the famous recreation grounds we went on to see them before luncheon. But once there we forgot all about the time, and forgot, too, that the mid-day meal on Sundays is dinner and not luncheon in New Zealand hotels, so beautiful were the ferns and mosses, the native woods, the little creeks full of fish, and the ponds with swans, black as well as white, sailing on them. When at last the inward monitor proclaimed the hour it was too late to hope for hospitality at the hotel, so Colonel Deane and Captain Greendays went off in search of a Chinaman’s fruit shop, and we lunched frugally and ideally in a natural arbour of “kowhai’s flowering yellow gold.” Then the townspeople began to invade our Paradise, so we surrendered it and returned to town for a carriage to drive a few miles out and see some of the old forts.
An hour or so later we had pulled up close to a rustic bridge that I wanted to include in a photograph of Mount Egmont when a motor car went buzzing by, to stop suddenly in the middle of the bridge a moment after it had passed our carriage. And a voice called out,
“Hullo! old chap! When did you get back?”
It was the driver of the car addressing Colonel Deane, and then two very pretty girls sprang out of the car as Colonel Deane turned, and seized his hands as if they were immensely delighted at his unexpected appearance. Then introductions took place, and Colonel Deane’s old friends insisted on his new ones and he going in a body to their home.
It was not very far from where we were, and looked as if it stood at the very base of the mountain. It was a charming old place that they had tried to make as English as possible in memory of the home the parents of the two girls had left behind in Devonshire thirty years ago. In front of the verandahed wooden house embowered in climbing roses were lawns bounded by a winding willow-bordered stream; at the back, orchards, where pears, plums, apples, cherries, oranges, and tangerines flourished in surprising harmony. The place was nearly surrounded with beautiful native bush, with tree-fern and cabbage-palms; flax and toi-grass grew in the creek; the turquoise sea rippled and sparkled in front, and the great white cone of the mountain towered above the undulating pasture-lands and forest stretching away behind.
We could not have contrived a happier accident than this meeting. They were ideal English colonists, refined yet practical, accomplished as well as domesticated, not vulgarly rich but comfortably prosperous, and as hospitable as the Irish.
The two girls and I were speedily very great friends, and after tea we left Captain and Mrs Greendays chatting on the lawn with the old people while we strolled about the place with their brothers and Colonel Deane. They wanted me to stay, or at least to promise a visit later on. Of course I could not, as our time in New Zealand was mapped out almost to a day, but I wanted to more than I had wanted to do any special thing since I arrived. They were such delightful girls, and I was immensely interested in their work, too, and thought it absolutely miraculous that they could do all they told me about and yet have time for reading and music, golf and dances. They made the butter, did all the cooking, including bread-baking, and jam-making, managed all the housework between them with only very rare outside help, such as a woman to assist on washing-days, made most of their own clothes and mended for the family and household, and groomed their own horses. The brothers farmed the land, milked the cows, sheared the sheep, and had very little more outside assistance than their sisters. They said that servants were more difficult to get and harder to satisfy and keep when engaged than flying fish or shooting stars!
“Even people living in town cannot get the wretches!” said the elder girl. “They all go to factories, shops, or offices, where they have only eight hours a day to work and six working days a week. And I am sure I don’t blame them, though personally I’d rather live a retired life and have a comfortable home with nice people than be in a situation where every Jack, Tom, and Harry has a right to order one about, and one has to live in a lodging-house, most probably sharing a poky room with some other “young lady!” Of course you have found out by now that they are all “young ladies” out here?“
“Oh, so they are, or at least call themselves, at home!” I laughingly replied.
I had learned quite a lot about the Government of the country when at last we had to say good-bye to our fascinating new acquaintances. They wanted to send into town for our luggage and persuade us to indefinitely postpone our onward way, promising, among other inducements, a picnic on the summit of Mount Egmont and a visit to a big Maori Pa. But alas! all our arrangements had been made, and it was too late to break them.
We had some glorious views of the mountain during the day, but the memory of them paled into insignificance when compared to the sight it presented in the sunset. It looked so pure against the gorgeous sky, and yet it glowed as though a flame burned underneath the snow.
“The gold-domed city, with its diamond spire,” murmured Colonel Deane, but it seemed to me too much alive to be compared to a hard, cold diamond,—it was just a great cone of white, soft, snow, concealing a steady fire,—far more like an emblem of pure love than a heartless, glittering, marketable stone.
At sunrise next morning, when we went down to the sea for a closer inspection of the historic “Sugar-loaves” we bade formal adieu to the mysterious, snow-clad sleeping volcano that dominated Taranaki. Just as we reached the summit of the biggest of the group of curious rocks Egmont had
“Caught the chaste morning’s altar fire
That flamed in gold from Orient lands,”
ROUND THE TARANAKI COAST.
“Have you heard the breakers moaning on the bar?
When the sun had passed its setting
And the winds had ceased their fretting,
And the night gave up the glimmer of a star?
When with dead arms strangely rocking
You might hear the dead men mocking
At the ships that bear the sailors o’er the bar.”
The journey from New Plymouth to Wellington occupied a long day of twelve hours in the train, and I do not think that there was one whole hour of them all during which we could not see the sea.
A fellow-passenger was so enthusiastic about the Rimutaka route that Captain Greendays suggested our changing at Palmerston, the junction, to go by it. But Colonel Deane dissuaded him.
“We would have to spend two hours in Palmerston, where there is absolutely nothing to do,” he said, “and then go on by a wretched local as far as Masterton, where the hotels are not very good, stop there for the night, make a very early start, and not arrive in Wellington until after mid-day to-morrow. The line runs through very pretty country, I admit, but I doubt if you would find the interest that attaches to the Rimutaka Pass sufficient to make up for so much loss of time, especially as you have only a day and a half to spare for Wellington as it is.”
“But do you mean to say that the train does not go right through to Wellington?” asked Captain Greendays in astonishment.
“There is no railway travelling out here after ten at night,” replied Colonel Deane. “The Minister for Railways thinks that that is quite late enough for engine-drivers and guards to be out! But you ought to cross the Rimutaka some day, only it is better to do so coming from Wellington, as you then see the prettiest part of the scenery, the Wairarapa, and the Manawatu Gorge, by daylight. It used to be amusing in the old days when five or six coaches met in the gorge and the roads were in parts dangerous enough to add a spice of excitement to the journey, but nowadays,—well, I think I’d rather have the extra half day in Wellington than spend a night and half a day more in getting there for the sake of seeing three engines help a train over a mountain pass!”
And agreeing with him we kept to our “birdcage” in the express. The scenery was varied; we ran through rather broken country, a study in yellow, white, and green, with masses of yellow gorse, luxuriantly flowering manuka, and bush or fern where corn-fields were not, skirting the coast all the time.
The sun was near its setting when Colonel Deane drew our attention to an island a few miles out, very precipitous, rugged, and rocky.
“That is Kapiti,” he said. “It is reserved for native birds now, but for twenty years it was the stronghold of a Maori chief named Rauparaha, who shared with Hongi the reputation of being the fiercest and most cunning of all the famous Maori warriors, and yet had a son who became a missionary among the tribes his father used to harry.”
And the tale of Rauparaha’s raids, by which he made himself the scourge of the coasts of both islands and the terror of all the tribes within his reach, occupied the rest of the run into the Empire City, Wellington.
“And hope can bring thee near to me,
Nor absence make less dear to me.”
When we saw the city and its bay next morning we were delighted with the place. It is built in a crescent round the bay, which is really, though in quite a different way, as pretty as Auckland.
Port Nicholson is like a lake surrounded by blue hills, dented with bays and dotted with islands, and the entrance to the sea cannot be seen from the city. But the Waitemata Harbour is long and narrow, and runs straight out to the Hauraki Gulf and the open sea.A great deal of reclaiming has been done at Wellington in order to extend the water frontage. Lambton Quay, the main street, which runs from end to end of the city under different names, was at one time on the water’s edge, but now there are streets below and between it and the extensive wharves. The town is beautifully clean and well-kept, especially the wharves; the streets are wide, the buildings a credit to the enterprise of the citizens, who have to take possible and probable earthquakes into consideration, and there is a splendid service of electric cars.
And the hills behind the houses are deliciously green where they are not aflame with gorse; in the Botanical gardens, the private gardens, and the big rambling cemetery, there are clumps of native bush, tree-fern, and cabbage-palm that makes the terraces above Lambton Quay look quite countrified; and in five minutes either by electric tram or the cable cars Wellingtonians can be “far from the madding crowd” and out in the country.
Unhappily we had to say good-bye to Colonel Deane at Wellington, for he could not go on with us to the South Island. But we made the most of his last day, though he would not let Mrs Greendays and me do all the sight-seeing we wanted to because of a dance we were all going to at Government House in the evening.
Captain Greendays and he had been out long before we met them at breakfast, and the sight of the shops had evidently reminded them of the fact that we had no mackintoshes, for they refused to go anywhere or make any plans for the day until we had each invested in one. In vain we protested that they would be useless now and merely encumbrances, for we seemed to have left the region of mist and rain at Tamaranui. But they insisted, for our next journey was to be down the West coast, and Colonel Deane said that it was never safe to travel there, nor indeed anywhere in New Zealand, without a wet weather equipment. So we had to submit, and went shopping, extremely sceptical as to the prices and quality and style we were likely to find. And to our surprise we found the shops very up-to-date, and the prices remarkably moderate considering the high duties levied on all imported goods, and especially on ready-made clothing of all descriptions, including gloves, hosiery, and foot-gear.
We bought our mackintoshes and various other things that became absolutely necessary directly we saw them, at a big shop known as the “D.I.C.,” a drapery establishment which has branches in Dunedin and Christchurch, and so would permit our changing anything that did not suit when we arrived at those towns. We were greatly surprised at the size and description of the place. It is very up-to-date, actually furnished with lifts, which are still somewhat a novelty in New Zealand, and the choice of goods was decidedly a revelation.
When we had finished our shopping we went to a tea-room on an upper floor, but more to see the people than to “do as the Romans do” and drink tea at 11 a.m. The place was nearly as full at that hour as a London tea-room would have been at 4 p.m., for one institution is as popular as the other out here. The great majority of the colonials begin the day with an early cup of tea, have it again for breakfast, again at eleven, again at luncheon (which is generally dinner), again at 4 p.m., again at dinner, (which is generally “high” tea), and very often end up with a last cup just before going to bed!
When we got to this floor the lift door opened into a sort of miniature Shoolbred furniture department, and of course we had to look at it. It was as good in its way as the drapery department, but, though the things were all nice, we were surprised to find that scarcely any of it was made out here, nor of New Zealand woods, though these have such a pretty grain and such splendid wearing qualities. But the manager explained that labour is too costly out here for manufacturers to compete against imported goods.
From here we went over to the Tourist Department, just across the road, to see Mr. Donne, the Superintendent. He took great interest in our plans, and when he heard that we contemplated walking to Milford Sound after driving through Westland, he gave us many useful hints, and promised to so arrange things for us on the “track” that the walk would be made as easy and as pleasant as possible.
Captain Greendays went into raptures over the antlers and heads arranged on the walls of the office, and we could scarcely get him away from the place. But as Colonel Deane wanted to show us some of the shipping we could not afford to spend half the day in the Tourist Department, though the photographs and pictures of New Zealand scenery were as enthralling to us as the sporting trophies to Captain Greendays.
From there we walked down to the Union Company’s Offices, where Colonel Deane introduced us to the General Manager, who took us down to the wharves and showed us over several of the ships that happened to be in port. There was a big turbine, “Maheno,” 5282 g.r., of 6000 h.p., trading between New Zealand, Australia, the South Sea Islands, and Vancouver, fitted entirely for the passenger trade and as luxuriously as the great Pacific liners, though the prices are decidedly less. The “Waikare,” that makes an annual excursion every January to the Southern Sounds, was there too, and when we had seen her, and heard of the programme of entertainment provided for her passengers during the fortnight or three weeks occupied by the trip, Mrs Greendays tried to persuade her husband to forego our proposed visit to Australia on the way home in order that we might stay out here long enough to visit Milford in the “Waikare” instead of walking overland at once.
“Can’t see where the advantage comes in!” said Captain Greendays. “I am sure we will be hearing that you are deadly tired of the sea long before we get home, so why wish to go to a place by sea that you can get to by land?”
“Ah, but you only see one of the Sounds by going overland!” explained Mr Dash. “Milford is the only one that can be reached except by sea at present, and the scenery all the way is far and away the best in the country.”“And then there is all the fun on board too!” Mrs Greendays chimed in. “Fancy the dances and concerts,—and travelling in such a jolly boat too,—oh, Tom! how can you prefer walking! And you would get such good fishing and shooting, too,—Mr Dash says that they spend a day in each place to allow the passengers a chance of having some sport!”
“And miss McKinnon’s Pass and a fine chance of getting some decent exercise after being cramped for weeks in railway carriages and coaches! No, thank you, my dear! But you and Mary can go in the “Waikare” if you like,—I’ll meet you at Milford Sound. Only if you do that we must leave Australia out of the programme and go straight from Auckland by the shortest possible route, for I must get home, you know.”
“But Mrs Greendays would not agree to that, and as I, too, was looking forward to the walk over the famous Pass that we had heard so much about from Colonel Deane and from every traveller we had met out here who had done it, I was openly delighted and told Mrs Greendays in a whisper that she was beginning to put on weight,—a suggestion that always made her ready to walk any distance!
Though it had been a perfectly still and beautiful morning when we set out there was quite a gale blowing when we left the shelter of the ships’ decks. The sky was cloudless and the sun shining brightly as possible, yet were we almost taken off our feet by the wind that whistled round the corners as we stood on the wharf. And when we remarked not too kindly upon it Mr Dash laughed, and said,
“Did no one tell you that this is called ‘Windy’ Wellington? Look in the window of the first stationer you come to, and you will see local postcards depicting the inhabitants clinging to their hats or chasing them along the road,—we get more wind here than anywhere else I think, and New Zealand is the home of Boreas, but we look upon it as a blessing rather than an evil, for it blows all the ills away!”
He invited us to lunch with him on the “Mokoia,” another big boat, which had just arrived from the South en route for Sydney, and afterwards, to show us the contrast between twenty-five years ago and now, he took us over the “Takapuna.” She is a small boat of only 1036 g.r., though she has 2000 h.p., but her decorations were almost as lavish as those of her big sisters, and we were greatly amused by her captain’s immense pride in her and her achievements.
New Zealand has certainly every reason to be proud of her coastal service. The Union Company have a fleet of fifty-five vessels, mostly passenger boats, all vieing with one another as to speed, comfort, and decoration, and the service is second to none in the world for punctuality, speed, and moderate charges, while the Company prides itself on its generous treatment of its employees.
We did very little in the afternoon except stroll through the Museum, which is very well off in Maori carvings and pictures of Maoris and subjects relating to New Zealand in general, mostly by local artists.
That night we went to the ball at Government House; and there for the first time we saw a representative gathering of Colonial society in New Zealand, and then we banished for ever all our lurking unbelief in the vaunted wit and beauty we had hitherto met only in such isolated cases that it was scarcely wonderful we could not entirely credit it. There were one or two really beautiful women at the ball, and nearly all the girls were pretty, with lovely complexions and very daintily dressed. Mrs Greendays was happy as a fairy, for she loves dancing, and her husband seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself too, though he always affects scorn of such frivolity.
For me neither the good floor nor the pretty women constituted the charm that made that scene my happiest memory of Wellington. The thought of the fast-approaching farewell to the dear Man of Comfort had been growing more and more unbearable all day, for this time there appeared to be no possible chance of ever seeing him again unless we met at home in the dim future. The thought of all our happy days together, and of the dull ones without him that were to come, conspiring with a thousand things I wanted to say before it was too late, made a wall in my throat that speech could not leap.
My partners must have thought me very dull and stupid during the first part of the evening until after a set of Lancers that I sat out with Colonel Deane. It was a lovely moonlight night, the sea as calm as a sheet of ornamental water, with a few little clouds sailing in the sky, and as we looked at it I was thinking that to-morrow night we would both be sailing on that cruel, dividing ocean but in opposite directions, he to Onehunga from New Plymouth, we to Nelson.
He must have been thinking of it too, for he said,
“How strange it will be to travel over the same road alone to-morrow that we travelled together so happily yesterday! I shall be thinking as my friend David the Dreamer thought, when he wrote,
“And now as by the sea I ride
To watch awhile the wand’ring ships,
Some boastful billow on the tide
That has blown spray upon thy lips,
With flying hair and weeds entwined
Goes by, and laughs, deriding me
With a loud shout that wakes the blind
And moaning Monarch, Memory.”
I could not speak for a moment, and then I asked him to tell me the name of the poet he was always quoting. I had asked him often before, but he never would say who it was. But now his reply, though it was barely a promise, made me forget all about the ugly adieux so fast approaching.“At Milford Sound I will tell you,” he said.
“. . . underneath the sounding wave
Where drowned Atlantis hides her head.”
We crossed to Nelson in the “Pateena,” and it was like a cruise in a very fine steam yacht.
We left Wellington at about two o’clock on a glorious afternoon and sat on deck watching the harbour unfold itself and the hills and islands change as we neared them from blue to green. When we had left the Heads some way behind we went down to afternoon tea, and on our return the “Pateena” was just entering the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.
We spent an hour or so at Picton, a delightful little Arcadia tucked away on the edge of the sea in among green hills, and then steamed slowly away through the silent waters of the main arm of the Sound to the open sea again.
After dinner, which was a great deal better than any of the hotel dinners and infinitely better served, we had coffee on deck with the Captain, who told us the story of the wonderful fish that lives in Pelorus Sound.
This fish, it seems, is a white whale about fifteen feet long and nobody knows how old. He is an eclectic bachelor who disdains the company of his fellows but has hankerings after humanity which have induced him to become the voluntary pilot of the ships that visit his dominions. But even in this he is conservative. He takes no notice of sailing vessels, even aristocratic yachts, nor of oil-launches; only steamers interest “Pelorus Jack,” and he has his favourites among these.
He goes out to meet them, and speeds them on their departure, capering in front of the bows, diving, turning somersaults, and performing a piscatorial entertainment for the benefit of the passengers to the best of his ability. It was almost unbelievable, and Captain Greendays shouted with laughter at the idea of our being, as he called it, “so easily gulled.”
“Wait and see!” advised the “Pateena’s” commander. “If you stay up till about ten to-night you will see him yourself. He likes the ‘Pateena,’ and always comes a long way out to meet us.”
“Oh, come!” protested Captain Greendays. “That’s a little too much! Why it’s equal to saying the fish can distinguish one boat from another!”
The Captain knocked the ashes out of his pipe and carefully filled it again before replying. “I know it sounds a bit high-flown, but it is a fact nevertheless. The fish really does know one boat from another. An attempt was made some time ago to harpoon him from one of them, and he has carefully avoided her ever since, never goes near her, but he never by any chance misses the ‘Wainui,’ she is by a long way his favourite!”
After this of course we remained up on deck, and we were amply rewarded. The night was nearly as bright as day, and just after we had sighted the lights on Stephen’s Island “Pelorus Jack” made his appearance. The phosphorescence flashing round him as he swam alongside made him look even more than his reputed fifteen feet,—a luminous silver creature electric in his sudden darts and dives into the dark, calm depths of the water.
And Captain Greendays had to own himself converted, but he declared that if he told the tale at home everyone would say it was the “tallest” fish story they had ever heard, even from New Zealand!
The “Pateena” was alongside the wharf at Nelson when we got up next morning, and we went ashore directly after breakfast. We spent a long and delightful hot summer’s day roaming about in the valleys and on the riverbanks. Nelson is the prettiest of towns; it is all hills and dales, and greener even than the rest of this greenest of countries,—if places, like people, have each their own special superlative, greenest is certainly New Zealand’s, and to properly describe it a new list of adjectives expressive of verdancy would have to be coined!Nelson has some very handsome buildings, especially the boys’ college, but we were so enchanted with the view from the hills, and with the Matai valley, that we had very little time to spend in the town itself. We had only allowed one day for Nelson, so that there was no chance of taking any of the coach-drives, and we did not even visit Cable Bay to see the cable station.
Our train left early on the following morning for Motupiko, where we were to join the coach, and ran through a new Kent, past hop-gardens, orchards, country lanes hawthorn-hedged, and neat homesteads with their haystacks, ploughed fields, and dairy cows. There were occasional glimpses of the sea, too, but the snow-capped hills and the graceful tree-fern and arrogant cabbage-palm were always there to remind us that home and Kent were very far away!
COACHING IN WESTLAND.
“And in from the ocean’s rounded rim
There floated a fairy cloud,
That held, in its fleecy vapour train,
The crystal drops of the fairy rain.”
When we started from Nelson that morning the sun was shining brilliantly, the grace of summer lay on the land, and it was hot,—so hot at eight o’clock that we expected to find noon almost unbearable. Mrs Greendays was wearing tussore; all the travelling dresses she brought out with her are made of that most useful, dust-resisting material. But mine are of serge, made like hers with a fairly short walking skirt and Russian blouse-coat, and in the train she asked me if I would like to change into one of her tussore suits when we got to the terminus, as the heat was so intense. To do so would have been to own that she had made the better choice of materials, and I had always contended that she had not; I liked my serges and believed in their general all-round usefulness, keeping out the sun when he was too searching, and very comfortable when he took one of his frequent sulky fits into his head. So I declined to change, though I slipped off my little coat and wore only a thin muslin blouse under my dust-coat.
The coach was ready, waiting for us, when we arrived at Motupiko, with five almost, if not quite thoroughbred horses to the team. We had engaged the three box seats, and mine was the one next to the driver who was also the proprietor of the coach, Mr. Harry Newman. I could not resist remarking on the horses, and then he told me that they were of his own breeding, from his farm near Nelson. He aims at perfection of stock, and judging by those we saw during our three days on his coaches, he has every excuse for being proud of his equine army.
We began the journey by crossing a very ricketty wooden bridge over a wide but shallow river, shallow then, but according to Mr Newman, a very formidable volume of water when the snows are melting on the hills in spring-time. And then for a few miles we tooled merrily along a good road bordered by hawthorn hedges twelve to fifteen feet high, until we came to a little hostelry where we stopped for luncheon. But as we had not yet grown an appetite for irregular meals, and did not feel inclined either for cold chicken and ham or hot mutton with green peas and potatoes, and the inevitable tea, at 11.30 a.m., we ordered some sandwiches for consumption later on, in order that the landlady’s feelings would not be hurt, and walked about for exercise instead of going in.
Only half an hour was allowed for luncheon, so that we were soon off again, and presently the road began to climb. So far we had passed very few homesteads; we seemed to have left the region of villages and neighbouring farms behind us, with the railway.
The hills were like chains, interlaced one behind the other, and all were covered with bush, but alas, grey clouds hid the higher ones, besides shutting out the view that Newman declared to be “the finest in New Zealand on a clear day.” We could quite believe it, too, from the fleeting glimpses we had had, and felt really injured at losing it. And quite suddenly we found ourselves literally in the clouds, hills, road, and coach all wrapped in a Scotch mist, while the heat of the early morning was like a dream that is past.
Newman pulled up, and asked the men on the coach If they would mind walking to save the horses, as we had come to a very steep hill, and Captain Greendays seized the opportunity to haul our hold-all out of the coach and find mackintoshes and rugs. Off came our dust-coats, Mrs Greendays lamenting the thinness of her tussore, as she had a little earlier derided my serge; I hurried my little Russian coat on again, she an extra overcoat of her husband’s, under our new mackintoshes, and with rugs well-tucked in round us, over our knees, we followed on the coach the men’s slow progress up the steep road.
It seemed a long while before we reached the highest point; it was impossible to distinguish the pedestrians in the thick mist that hemmed us in, and perhaps it was just as well we did not know what the road we were travelling was like. For when we had been toiling along for about half an hour, damp and shivering in spite of the rugs, Newman suddenly brought the horses to a dead stop, and handing me the reins, jumped down and went to the pole.
He was so extremely cautious in his movements that uneasiness took possession of me and I leaned forward and anxiously scrutinised the horses to see what was wrong. Just then the fog lifted a little, enough to show us that the road took a sharp curve immediately ahead, and that we were on the edge of a precipice that seemed to be bottomless, while the hill rose like a wall above us on the other side. We were on a steep incline, one of the traces had broken, and to get at it Newman must somehow get under and between those high-spirited, nervous creatures without startling them, for one plunge would send coach and all flying over the edge into space! There was not a man in sight, and he was speaking so gently while he soothed and patted them that he evidently thought it was not safe to call out. I asked him if I should get down and go to their heads, but he said that that would probably only make them more restive, and that all we could do was to keep perfectly still and be careful not to make a sound if they moved forward.
For ten long, long minutes we sat there, perched high up above those five beauties on whose movements our lives depended. The tension was pretty bad while it lasted, and when Newman with infinite patience and a great many foiled attempts had at last picked up the dropped trace and cleverly contrived to attach it again, Mrs Greendays could no longer restrain a little sign of it. She gave a choky, hysterical little laugh, and said brokenly,
“Oh Mary, which do you think would have been worst,—to have tumbled headlong over the cliff, horses and coach and all together, or been thrown off the coach as we would have been if they had taken it into their pretty heads to dash forward round that corner, or to have gone backwards downhill, when the horses I suppose, would have been on top of us long before we got to the bottom?”
“I don’t think we would have known anything at all about it if any one of the three had happened!” I answered soberly.After we had picked up the men we went at a rattling pace down the hill and were very soon in the lowlands again, but the rain had set in, and though it was not so bitterly cold once we were off the heights, a steady drizzle, and sometimes more than that, went on all day. The bush we travelled through was lovely, with a wonderful wealth and variety of ferns, creepers, and mosses. There were very few flowers, excepting the friendly manuka and a little white convolvulus here and there, but the fern-fronds varied in colour from bronze to a deep claret-red, with a thousand shades of green, yellow, and coppery colour in between, and the tree-fern, and foliage of the shrubs and vines included every verdant tint from lily-white to the deep, sombre hue of the pines. There was strangely little sign of life, though, and we did not meet a single person or vehicle all day. The silence was almost oppressive; no birds sang, the only sound was the drip-drip of the rain on our umbrellas and the occasional trickling of some stream; and though Newman said that he often saw deer in this bush we saw nothing but a weka (a wingless native bird) or two, and sometimes a rabbit scuttling across the road.
At about half-past four we stopped to change horses, and the stable-man’s wife gave us all tea in her lonely cottage. Never had hot tea been more welcome, nor our shillings so gladly paid. Our feet, in spite of the precious rubbers purchased so much against our will in Wellington, were wet and like ice, quite numbed with cold, and oh! how we longed for sensible woollen stockings instead of the comfortless thin silk ones we were wearing! The nice little hostess invited us into her kitchen after we had partaken of her scones and tea, and there we took off the wet shoes and tried to dry and warm our feet, but it was not of much use seeing that we had to cross a stretch of soaking grass to get to the coach standing in the middle of a very muddy road!
Another two hours’ driving through the same beautiful woodland brought us to another coach-stables with an hotel attached, called Longford. It was the oddest little “hotel” that ever bore the title; clean, but very primitive, baths undreamed-of luxuries, and very few rooms. But they were very nice about giving us plenty of hot water, and the food, though plain, was excellent. It was at Longford that we first realised the full value of the advice Colonel Deane had given us, to make a stringent rule of always writing to engage rooms in advance, and as much in advance as possible,—for while the other passengers were crowded two into a tiny apartment scarcely big enough for one we were allotted the best the house afforded.
THE BULLER GORGE AND WESTPORT.
“Long rivers, glistening water-snakes,
Crept from their gorges to the plains:
The skies were mirrored in the lakes,
And in the bush a thousand brakes
Were dewy with God’s nightly rains.”
Our second day’s coaching had more varied interest than the first, and though we again had a good deal of fine rain it was not so misty nor so terribly cold.
We left Longford soon after six, and for the first few hours drove through exactly the same sort of wild bush as on Friday. But presently we began to see signs of the gold industry that has done so much to open up this part of the country. The first sign was a miner’s camp, a very dreary, unkempt affair, two or three ragged tents and a tumble-down whare. Newman turned to me and asked,
“Do you know what the first owner of that camp’s wife answered when he wrote home to her and asked her to join him out here?”His way of putting it sounded so comical that I glanced involuntarily at Mrs Greendays to see if she had appreciated it before I replied. I did not know what reply the lady had given to her lord’s request; I thought that it would depend very much on her age and nationality.
“Well, she was Scotch,” answered Newman, “and as he was an old fellow who had been fossiking about out here for some time before he was able to afford even a tent, I suppose that she was not very young either. And her reply was: “Do ye think I’m going to travel a matter o’ fifteen thousand miles across the water to live in a cloot-haese?”
Next we passed a hill-side torn open and mutilated; a little later a tract of barren, fire-destroyed country where ugliness and desolation had taken the place of the lovely woodland; then a wrecked dredge in the river, beyond it a water-race that Newman said represented years of patient toil, expended often on the mere chance of profitable workings, and a little farther on a dredge at work,—every few miles something that pointed to recent occupation if not to present, but there is very little gold-working going on outside the mining towns now.
We passed the town of Murchison in the distance, and went right through Lyell, a hamlet built above a river on the steep sides of a hill, its single street cut out of the hill itself. Like every other village in New Zealand it swarmed with children, though, like Murchison, it is solely a gold-mining camp where one would scarcely have expected to find many women. But Lyell, insignificant as it appeared to us, has a newspaper of its own.
We crossed dozens of bridges during the day, over creeks and rivers,—wooden bridges on wooden piles, most of them looking far too fragile for the weight of a heavily laden coach. And besides these we forded a number of streams, each one affording me a little thrill of anticipation, for as we approached, a Colonial lady sitting on the seat above and behind us. invariably leaned forward to look, and exclaimed nervously:
“That's the part I don't like!”
Scenting a tale of adventure I was anxious to ask her why she so disliked crossing these small and apparently innocent streamlets, but Mrs Greendays, wrapped up in conventionality and an ingrained horror of speaking to fellow-travellers, frowned on the suggestion. And so a probably enthralling tale of wild adventure was lost to the world.
We were allowed time for luncheon at the Inangahua Junction Hotel, just above the meeting of the Buller and Inangahua Rivers, a house whose sole claim to respect lies in the number of syllables in its name. Two other coaches, one from Reefton, the other from Westport, had arrived before us, and their passengers, like a cloud of locusts, had left little behind them. And those few remnants were cold. Our hopes revived at the sight of a tray of hot scones, but alas! they were “sad” and the butter was bad,—a thing so rare in New Zealand that it seemed wholly iniquitous. Fortunately we had a small supply of chocolate and some apples with us, so that the ravenous appetites born of long hours in the fresh, sweet air did not go entirely unappeased.
Very soon after we left this place the new driver, a son of Mr. Newman, told us that we were in the Buller Gorge. The river running through it is very wide and deep, with a tremendous current, and the road on its bank, with the cliffs rising precipitously above it, in many cases overhanging it, was nearly all the way on the edge of a sheer drop of some hundred feet to the water below, and not nearly wide enough for two vehicles abreast. It is widened here and there for the coaches to pass, but as the road winds with the river one cannot see far ahead, and we conjured up a vision of uncomfortable moments when we might have to back our frisky thoroughbreds for perhaps a quarter of a mile to let another coach, or a lumbering transport waggon, go by. Happily we did not realise that vision.
The cliffs were massed with many-coloured ferns, creepers, shrubs and mosses, with water everywhere, trickling over red granite, and in cascades and small waterfalls innumerable. Most of the tree-trunks on the river edge were so enveloped in moss as to be several times their natural thickness, with ferns and vines growing on and out of them. On the other side of the river there are forest-clad hills, the trees growing to a great height, mostly pine and birch, with now and then a great rata resplendent in its vivid scarlet.
But unhappily the mist that hung about the hills prevented our seeing the full beauty of the Buller Gorge. A good deal of the time it rained so hard that we were obliged to have umbrellas up, when the prospect reminded me of a disgusted tourist who, coaching under similar conditions in Ireland, remarked acidly that she “had come a long way across the ocean to see such beautiful Irish scenery!”
At last we crossed the river on a punt propelled by the strong current and guided by overhead wires. Leaving it behind we climbed the opposite bank and drove for seven or eight miles through perfectly flat and most of it dreary half-cleared country whereon was nothing but stubble or bracken,—a fitting prelude to our arrival at the hideous town of Westport.
Then was it only by the flicker of an eyelid that Captain Greendays and I averted an attack of those tyrannous nerves, whose long abstention from aggression had made us almost forget their existence. As the coach drew up at the door Mrs Greendays looked at the dismally ugly surroundings of the miserably cheerless barn-like building that called itself the “Grand Hotel,” and an expression that we knew only too well grew in her face, poor dear lady, while in freezing accents she demanded,
“Is this where we are to spend two whole nights and a day, Tom?”
Captain Greendays was engaged in unwrapping the rugs, and his reply was somewhat incoherent.
“’Frisco mail to write—doesn’t much matter where one is when one is busy,—good thing there is nothing to tempt one out of doors!”Such was the burden of his hurried defence of a situation he was not in any way personally to blame for bringing about. But his wife had long since invented a system of discipline that laid the onus of all misfortunes and untoward happenings on his shoulders.
“Women do not take nearly enough notice of the third promise made to them in the marriage service!” she had explained to me. “Men are such weather-cocks that it is ridiculous to rely on their keeping the first; they can’t help keeping the second if we so choose; but the third, on which really hinges both the all-important first and fourth, most wives overlook. But I decided, when I first read that very one-sided contract, that I would rule my future by the third. Insist on being cherished, my dear girl,—man is a poor creature, you will find, very much influenced by his habits. And so, if you train him to strictly carry out the promise that coincides with ours to obey, he will unconsciously form a custom that will be at least a good working model of love and will obviate every mental reserve he may have made, and every arising difficulty, with regard to the bestowal of his worldly goods!”
It followed, necessarily, that if Her Ladyship was not comfortable the husband, and the husband alone, no matter how innocent he might be of the cause, was the scapegoat; and if unpleasant for him it was at all events a simple plan that saved its author a great deal of trouble less ingenious persons put themselves to in searching out the guilty.
On this occasion he owed his escape from the vials of her wrath to a handbill pasted on the wall of the hotel, just opposite to us as we alighted. It gave me an inspiration.
“Oh, how glorious!” I exclaimed with much fervour, and so struck with amazement was Mrs Greendays at such an expression in such a place that she forgot her grievances to find out what had drawn it forth. “Look at this!” I continued. “That Maori singer Colonel Deane told us about, Princess Te Rangi Pai, is giving a concert here to-night. Isn’t it luck? We could not have timed our arrival more opportunely. If we had had to make another early start I don’t think that even the finest of singers would have seemed so attractive as sleep, and you would certainly have had to go to bed at once! But we can be as late as we like to-morrow, so that staying up to-night will not hurt us.”
Captain Greendays gave me an expressive little nod as he hurried into the hotel with our rugs and umbrellas. He knew that the danger was over once her thoughts were directed into another channel, for her disposition was not in the least sulky, and she was far more likely to discover the amusing side of things than to growl about them on second consideration.
And that was what happened after the concert, when the singer’s beautiful voice had charmed our invalid once again into her natural frame of mind, wherein she looked upon the world as a play, taking disappointments and discomforts as part of the programme. But nevertheless her husband and I had to proceed warily on that dull Sunday. The two long days perched up on the coach, cold and wet most of the time, with an utter absence of comfort when one at last arrived hoping for a refreshing rest, had been enough to upset a stronger woman, and the dingy dreariness of Westport was depressing in the extreme. Service in a cold and very ugly church occupied the morning; after it we walked down the one long and seemingly interminable street to a sandy marsh where the river flows into the sea. The harbour and wharf were not worth looking at, and the whole place seemed hopelessly sordid and horrible, full of wretched little inns and bars, a most unattractive contrast to the peacefully charming scenery of the past few days. Fortunately we were left in undisturbed possession of the shabby sitting-room at the hotel all the afternoon, so that we were able to write our home letters as comfortably as might be.
REEFTON AND GREYMOUTH.
“The tyrant ratas, grim and bold,
Rose crimson from their deathly kiss,
While kowhais flowering yellow gold
That graced man’s paradise of old,
Were starred with snowy clematis.”
Westport was still mournfully bewailing his ugliness when we left on Monday morning at half-past seven, but to our unbounded joy the mist rolled away soon after we had re-entered the Buller Gorge. It was rather fun to retrace the road we had travelled on Saturday and see it from the opposite direction, and as the sun was shining now we appreciated its beauties more.
Captain Greendays had taken measures to prevent a repetition of our shabby reception at the Inangahua Junction Hotel; consequently we walked down to the river directly the coach arrived there, and had a picnic luncheon on the bank.
Then we changed into another coach, for another man serves the road between Inangahua and Reefton. For the first hour or two the road ran through more of the same pretty woodland that clothes the country between Motupiko and Inangahua Junction; then there were tracts, gradually increasing in size, where the “bush” had been “cleared,” and this sort of country, until the farms have made good headway and there are lots of them, is very melancholy. The last few miles were very monotonous, especially as the road had been newly metalled and not rolled, so that journeying over it in a very jolty vehicle almost shook us to pieces.
Reefton is prettily situated at the foot of densely wooded hills, but being only a little mining town, planned strictly for use and not ornament, it has nothing but its background to recommend it to an artistic eye. And when we arrived there at four o’clock we drove straight through to the railway station, where we caught a Greymouth train.
This took us through more bush, with only occasional tracts of cleared country, and over an uncountable number of rivers and streams. We were just three hours doing the forty-six miles that divide the little port from the little mining town, and Greymouth was wrapped in the mystery of a dark and rainy evening when we arrived.
The landlord of the dimly-lit, shabby hotel did not seem at all pleased to see us, though he gruffly admitted that he had had Captain Greendays’s letter advising him of our coming, and he looked still less pleased when we intimated that we were in need of dinner.
“Dinner? Dinner’s at six o’clock!” he growled, glowering at us with his bulging, bloodshot eyes.
Mrs Greendays and I followed a nondescript person midway between a porter and a clerk, up a narrow, ricketty stair to our rooms, and left Captain Greendays to parley with the landlord. He succeeded so well that in ten minutes we were summoned downstairs again, and ushered into a dismal room, full of red rep hangings and weird Biblical pictures, by a quaint being in sombre garb who wore uncompromising horn-framed spectacles.
Here an extraordinary meal was served that did not tend to raise our spirits; we were, indeed, so hungry that it was nothing less than a tragedy to find such abominable food set before us. There were some skinny and meagre burnt chops, one each, with some very dry and ancient cold toast, followed by some poisonous tea with condensed milk, sawdusty bread, rank butter, and honey.
Noticing that we seemed somewhat depressed and silent the lady in spectacles decided to act the good Samaritan and cheer us up. So without any warning she suddenly fired off a valuable piece of information.
“I was born in New South Wales!” she said, apropos of nothing, though perhaps the arid nature of our chops and toast had recalled her birthplace to her mind. And then after a pause which we had all been too much taken by surprise to break, she added, “And reared here!”
There was another pregnant pause; convulsions threatened us, and we dared not venture upon speech.And then, gazing fixedly, at us through her spectacles, she repeated, solemnly, as if the fact conferred upon her a dignity not to be lightly mentioned, “Yes, reared here!” By this time Captain Greendays had his risible muscles well under control, and he had finished his chop, though we were still struggling with ours. So he met her gaze manfully and said with an appearance of the deepest interest,
“Indeed? That is very interesting. Would you kindly hand me a clean plate?”
The Abigail took away the plate with its lonely little bone, and Mrs Greendays said, with a carefully restrained ripple of laughter,
“How absurd you are, Tom!”
But her reproof seemed to act upon him as a stimulus, for,
“Thank you so much!” he said to our waitress as she put a fresh plate before him, and added, “I wonder if you can enlighten me, Madam, on a mystery that I have pondered over often and long. Why is it that men who make a failure of every other calling under the sun invariably take to hotel-keeping? It is a profession that needs the most delicate tact, the widest knowledge of human nature, an almost divine combination of generosity and economy, vast patience, Napoleonic powers of insight and strategy, and above all, incomparable manners. But how many of these qualities, all of which, I assure you, Madam, are indispensable to the making of a fair specimen of the genus host, do the gentlemen aspiring to such positions in New Zealand possess?”
But the lady, whose spectacles had gradually risen to her high brow during this harangue, of which she had naturally understood not more than three words, had of course no reply, and undoubtedly regarded Captain Greendays as the lunatic his wife in a stage aside pronounced him.
THE HOKITIKA RACES AND LAKE MAHINAPUA.
“Where summer bees sang of their happy lot,
And o’er dark ranges one great mountain looming,
God’s white forget-me-not.”
The sun appeared on Tuesday morning for just long enough to show us that Greymouth is not at all a bad little place, though it inspired us with no desire to pitch our tents there. Being hilly it escapes the flat ugliness of Westport, but like Westport it is simply a miner’s town and port, both coal and gold being worked in the district, and has therefore neither handsome houses with well-kept grounds nor a population that can afford to spend money on public gardens and an esplanade.Our train left at 10.15, and was so unaccountably crowded that Captain Greendays asked the station-master what attraction was drawing all Greymouth to Hokitika, and found that it was a race-meeting. The prospect seemed but doubtfully cheerful, as by this time it was raining again, but the people did not seem to be at all doleful over it even when we arrived, after about an hour’s run along the coast, in a steady downpour.
Lake scenery was of course out of the question in such weather, and we were quite seriously discussing the relative merits of the Lunatic Asylum and the gaol, not as permanent residences but as places of interest to visit, as we had been told that both were worthy the notice of visitors to Hokitika, when the landlord of the hotel suggested the races as an alternative. And as he seemed confident that the weather would not affect our enjoyment of the sport, which certainly offered more enlivening prospects than the other way of spending a wet afternoon, and pressed ladies’ tickets and race-cards upon us, we, too, lunched early and went off in a shandrydan to the course.
It proved to be the finest entertainment we had yet enjoyed. At first, when only uninteresting men in steaming overcoats, smelling of rank tobacco, appeared on the stand, which was leaky and very draughty, we were inclined to think that even the stuffy sitting-room of the hotel would have been preferable. But suddenly the rain stopped, the sun shone out, the sky rapidly cleared, and the land smiled after its shower-bath. Then the “Hokitika Citizens’ Band” opened proceedings with a drum-solo that shook the stand and made us think we were at last to experience an earthquake, and very soon the fair of the district began to put in an appearance. Then a fat man came panting up to a row of seats next to us and put half-sheets of note-paper with “reserved” scrawled over them on to about a dozen chairs, and immediately a party of local celebrities arrived and took possession. After that we had not a dull moment.
First the band struck up in immense enthusiasm but somewhat erratic time, the classic composition, “Come, Come, Caroline,” and at the same moment the riders in a race new to us, called “Dash Handicap Trots,” rode round from the weighing room and walked their horses up and down in front of the stand. One of them wore a washed-out blue silk too short everywhere, so that it more nearly resembled a bolero than a jacket, with blue serge trousers tied round the ankles with twine over stout walking boots. Another, a man with a flaming red beard, rode in shirt-sleeves and moleskin breeches; and a third had blue linen trousers and top boots with an antique tail-coat of rusty black cloth. Golfcaps were the favourite headgear, but some wore none at all. and in the race that followed most of those who had any lost it.
It would take too long to write a full and true account of all the comedies, costumes, and customs we witnessed that afternoon. The local paper of the next morning devoted a whole column to the affair, though its opening paragraph really said all that was necessary, for it described the grand stand as “a sight unsurpassed in the annals of Hokitika. with is beautifully dressed lovely ladies . . . !” We gambled recklessly in half-crown bets at totalisator odds, and found that when we took the advice of the bookie we patronised, we won, and not otherwise! We risked our lives in drinking a hot concoction erroneously called tea and eating strange confections in the dining-room under the tottery stand. Mrs Greendays made sketches on her programme of some of the wonderful and truly ingenious raiment, while I snapshotted some of the heads, for even more marvellous than the clothes were the coiffures and the hats perched above them; and we laughed so much that for antidote Captain Greendays insisted on taking us to see a melodrama performed by a travelling Australian company in the evening. And, as might have been predicted, there was so much melo about the drama that the performance very nearly proved the finishing stroke for us all, so that we returned to the hotel in a state of collapse, praying that nothing funny would happen for at least a week.
When we consulted the landlord of our hotel about the excursions he told us that the special beauties of Lake Mahinapua, its power of reflection, depended very much upon the wind, whereas it made very little difference to Lake Kanieri, as long as it was fine, so we decided to make no plans but be guided entirely by the weather conditions. And next morning he sent us a message that the day was perfect for Mahinapua, and that the oil launch would leave at nine o’clock in order to catch the tide.
As we came out of the hotel a wonderful vista arrested us. Boldly outlined against a vividly blue sky rose Aorangi, the “Cloud in the Heavens,” (called by the Goths who presumed to improve on the Maori names, Mount Cook!). Its snowy peaks were dazzling in the sunshine; its base was hidden by slate-blue hills; and between the hills and the wide expanse of water that lay at the end of the street in which we stood there was dark green forest, massed in sombre irregularity against an azure background.
It was the nearest view we were to have of the lordly mountain, and Mrs Greendays would not go down to the boat until she had made one of her “snapshot sketches,” in case the sky again clouded over before she had another chance.
Once in the launch we had first to cross a tricky bit of “River-mouth,” full of sand-banks and snags, the channels not always easy to find, and past a bridge across the Hokitika river,—an immensely long bridge of wood with steel girders on “iron-bark” piles brought from the Clarence River, Queensland, at a cost of £12 apiece.*After successfully negotiating the channels we went up the creek leading to the lake, a lovely creek, fringed with bush, and with flax, tree-fern, and clumps of pampas grass growing in and on the edge of the water. Rugged ratas flung their misshapen branches out against the sky to be reflected in the water as in a mirror, and their scarlet flowers made grateful dashes of colour in the gloomy setting of the forest picture. The reflections were absolutely marvellous; not only was the smallest detail of fern-frond or flax-flower faithfully reproduced, but trees a long way back that one would have imagined quite beyond reflection were as distinctly shown in the water as those on the very edge and overhanging.
But on the lake itself we saw Aorangi again,—not as we had seen it from the main street of Hokitika, perpendicular, a well-hung picture on a sky-blue wall,—but lying on the water, an exquisite engraving, framed in the green of the forest encircling the lake.
It is only when the atmosphere is perfectly calm and clear that this phenomenon is visible; happily for us yesterday’s rains had so purified the air that the lake was like a mirror and the image perfect; too, as everyone was at the races again, there were no other launches or boats to disturb it.
We spent a long, lazy day on the water, Mrs Greendays reading or sketching while her husband fished and I photographed or wrote, and we only returned to Hokitika in time to get through the channels before the evening low tide, which would have left us stranded on the sand-banks.
A storehouse for kumara (rua).
woman and her pigs on the earth-covered roof of the rua
“An entire hill-side had been sluiced away.”
LAKE KANIERI AND KUMARA.
“Away into a strange glad world I pass—
A world of dreams—
Where tender blooms perfume the waving grass,
And all the streams
Make music as they flow to meet the sea—
A music passing sweet, and all of thee.”
Wednesday dawned another perfect day, and directly after breakfast we set off in a dog-cart with a fat cob driven by an old identity, one of the hundreds who congregate in and around that once busy, bustling town. The drive to Lake Kanieri was through the loveliest bush of any we had yet seen, the tree-fern seemed taller and bigger, the other kinds more plentiful and in greater variety. There were tall banks, twenty to thirty feet high, one mass of fern in all the greens conceivable, mingled with the reds and yellows of the young shoots. And deep in the bush there were real glades among the birches, but the thick mosses and entwining creepers would probably have made walking in them a difficult matter.A great deal of gold-working used to go on here at one time, but there seems to be very little of it now. We passed a ghostly valley where the trees were all standing, grim and gaunt, just as they had died when the water needed for the gold-sluicing had been drained away from their roots, leaving them to perish of thirst. In another place an entire hill-side had been sluiced away, leaving
“The last remaining sluicer was at work on the small remnant of hill standing.”
Most of the pebbles and rocks were covered with a red fungus that made them look as if the sky had rained red paint, and our old Jehu said that in the spring, just after the rain has fallen, the odour of it is so strong that the whole neighbourhood is scented, and people scrape the fungus off and put it with water into bottles, to use as a perfume.
To our disappointment we were told by the Government boatman at Kanieri that the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, and that it was unsafe to go on the lake. So we were obliged to abandon all hope of boating for that day, as well as a walk of great beauty to the “Dorothy Falls” on the other side of the lake, and console ourselves as well as we could by inspecting the Government trout hatchery. Meanwhile the luncheon we had brought was set out in an exquisitely clean kitchen by the boatman’s mother, an old, old Irish dame who, when we were discussing our cakes and ale later, grew very eloquent in her comparisons between the girls of her youth and those of young New Zealand. But when I declared that in all ages since St. Patrick drove the serpents out of Ireland there were never any girls to compare with the Irish, she laughed, and said,
“Shure, lassie, it’s the good and the bad ye’ll be findin’ in ivery nation!”
As we were going on to Kumara we could not linger too long in the pleasant woodland, though there were so many subjects for my camera and Mrs Greendays’s sketch-book that we could have spent the whole afternoon there. The little huts were so quaint with their odd chimneys built out at the back, all of wood,—in one a pasty of children, dressed evidently for some occasion, were gathering nosegays in a charming old garden, and the tiny hut was almost covered with crimson ramblers and banksia roses.
The train to Kumara landed us at the station of that tiny township at about five o’clock, and we then had to drive in a ramshackle old omnibus some distance into the town. Kumara will live in the history of New Zealand as the cradle of the late Mr. Seddon’s political life, but it will soon be a town of the past, for there is nothing except the gold-working to keep a population in it, very little agriculture is carried on in the neighbourhood, the trees in the surrounding bush are small, so that even the sawmills now at work will soon have exhausted their supply, and since the railway has been opened to Otira very few passengers prefer the longer coach-drive to that place. But we preferred coaching to railway travelling; too, we wanted to see the gold-fields.
They are only a short walk from the town, but a straggling village of half-a-dozen cottages, two or three provision shops, and several bars, exists on the edge of the old workings, although these are practically abandoned now, for nearly all the gold has been worked out.
Just as at Kanieri, an entire hill has been sluiced away for gold, the necessary water having been brought to the spot in a manufactured race, from the hills many miles away, and at great cost, in order to get the power for the sluicing pipes. It is an extraordinary sight. The wooded valley that used to lie round the now non-existent hill was buried, wood and all, under the tailings, but a few stray trees taller than their fellows managed to hold their heads above their graves to remind the world of the beauty it had lost for a few grains of gold. And at the edge of the lost valley runs a river in a wide pebbly bed, a river fed by the glaciers in the snow-capped mountains, whose waters are of a beautiful celestial blue, clear as crystal, cold as ice.
The sole remaining sluicer was at work on the small remnant of hill still standing, and we made a painful pilgrimage among the pebbles both big and small to see how it was managed. The great iron hose is turned on to a given point in the hill-side, the water rushes out with tremendous force, tearing away the grass, washing out the sand and gravel, stones and clay that form it, and it all runs away in a muddy stream down a self-made channel into one prepared with a floor of planks a foot deep. These planks catch the gold, the lighter sand and gravel run away in the water, forming tailings, and the larger, rounder, smooth pebbles are left behind quite free of soil, to lie, in great heaps of large and small parti-coloured stones in place of the verdant hill-side. Only gold-dust and very tiny particles are found in this district, no nuggets, and of the dust there is very little left now.
THE OTIRA GORGE AND PORTER’S PASS.
“And forth there stretched a silent land—
For distance robbed mine ear of sound—
League after league from the near strand
To giant peaks that, band by band,
Marched past the vision’s outmost bound.”
We had the coach all to ourselves from Kumara to Otira. It left the hotel a little after nine on a glorious morning, and very soon we congratulated ourselves upon our choice of routes, for the drive was extremely pretty. There were a great many of the “feather” ferns in the bush along this road, and of the oddly flat “umbrella” kind too, as well as the universal tree-fern and the autumn-tinted every-day ones with their companion mosses. And the blackberry and sweet-briar brambles, so cordially hated by the farmers that they include them in the black list of “noxious weeds,” but so charming in appearance, grew everywhere, with a pretty shrub called fuchsia. The road winds a good deal, sometimes leaving the bush for the cliff on the edge of the river, but the prettiest part of it is that called Jackson’s, (where there is an hotel and a small store), for the trees are bigger there, and the bush more open.
We had to cross the railway now and then, and the horses, as yet strange to the innovation, did not like the rails at all. There are no gates to the crossings out here; instead there is always a board erected on either side of the line, bearing the legend “Stop. Look out for the engine.” And at the level crossings between Jackson’s and Otira they had endeavoured to emphasize the warning by adding an exclamation point after the word Stop!, a precaution as naive as it was comical.
We lunched at a wayside cottage-inn about an hour before we arrived at Otira, and this cottage and Jackson’s were the only houses to be seen between Kumara and the present terminus of the railway between the West Coast and Canterbury. Otira is a very small settlement as yet,—three or four houses, a school, and two hotels, with the railway station. Another coach was waiting there, and a buggy, with a tribe of people who had come by train to this point. Our driver was the head-coachman of this line of coaches, and until we arrived the driver of the other coach, which belonged to the same stable, was not able to arrange any seats.
So our coming was the signal for the oddest exhibition of character. There were a good many more passengers than our driver had on his list; the list was full, and piles of luggage stood in the road waiting to be stowed away too. The people who had engaged seats were of course sure of them, but some felt anxious and began to insist on their rights before the others could claim a seat at all, others walked carelessly away, but not so far that they could not see what was happening and be at hand in case their seats were seized. And those who had not engaged any, when they saw how the land lay, became truculent, talked about bad management in a loud and angry voice, and threatened to write to the Premier unless they were given the very best seats on the coach! But the driver, a somewhat surly, silent fellow, went on packing away the baggage with the aid of his two lieutenants, and when it was all on, and not before, he spoke.
“Them as ain’t engaged seats can take what they can get or stay behind!” he said. “When I’ve fitted in them as has engaged their seats for this partic’ler drive I’ll see what I can do for the others, but it’s no good talking nor threatening me with no Premiers, for I does the best I can for everybody and there ain’t no call for the Premier nor nobody to interfere with that!”
And not another word could they get from him. The way he fitted them all in was wonderful, but we felt more than ever glad that our seats had been secured before ever we started from Auckland.
Soon after leaving the station we began to climb, and before long we were in the gorge. It is wild and rough, but not particularly impressive, for the hills are not big enough for grandeur. The road was narrow and steep, and we all walked excepting one or two ladies and the drivers. Sometimes we had to jump fairly wide streams, or cross them on stepping-stones, and the way was very dusty and stony, so that it was hard walking even with stout shoes. We had left the wealth of foliage and ferns now and there was no variety in this bush, nothing but birch, with sometimes a few willows by a stream, but we found some lovely mountain lilies of a kind we had never seen before.
Once out of the gorge the ascent of Arthur’s Pass began, the road doubling backwards and forwards, now a flat bit, then an almost precipitous stretch, until we reached the summit, when we all climbed to our seats in coaches or buggy again. And then came the descent with a run through a few miles of bush before we got to the mile-wide shingly bed of the Waimakariri River.Since leaving Otira we had not passed any signs of human life excepting some road-menders, and one or two tiny cottages or huts occupied by the surveyors and navvies working on the extension of the line. Just before we crossed the Waimakariri we passed one of these little camps and the whole community came out to receive the bread and meat we had brought for them from Kumara and exchange news with the driver. One old fellow, an Irishman with a delicious brogue, handed up a scrap of paper to our driver,—a list of groceries which ran thus:
- 1 tea.
- 3 sugar.
- 6 flower.
- 3 milk. T.M.”
“Hullo!” said the driver, when he had read it. “What are you going to do with flowers, Tom? Found a lady-love?”
“Flowers?” repeated Tim in a puzzled tone.
“Yes,—you’ve got six pounds of flowers written here!”
“Why,—flour, for bread, you know!” explained Tim, innocently.
“Oh, flour!” repeated the driver, a man about thirty years of age. “If it’s that you want it was always spelled F L O U R when I was at school!”
Tim looked up, his blue eyes full of fun, and said gravely,
“Is that so? Ah, well, I’m thinkin’ it’s a great while since you were at school!”
On the opposite side of the river is the “Bealey,”—a few cottages, a school, and “The Glacier Hotel.” Two down coaches from Springfield had arrived, and with our two and the buggy landed about seventy people at the hotel, which contains, with an annex, some twenty to thirty bedrooms. I don’t know how they managed to stow everybody away,—the sitting-room was turned into a sort of dormitory for men, who slept on chairs and tables, and even on the floor,—but we, who were luckier than most of our fellow-passengers, had very poky and comfortless rooms.
The hostess was at the door when we arrived, a big Amazonian woman, and as her guests came up the steps she pointed imperiously down the passage and said haughtily,
“Miss Blank will be there to show you your rooms directly.”
We were watching this performance with no little amusement from the coach, having, as usual, waited until everybody else had alighted.
Who is that woman?” asked Mrs Greendays of her husband. “Surely she is not the landlady!”
The driver turned round, pausing in his occupation of unfastening the cords that bound the baggage on to the roof. “That’s just what she is milady!” he announced. “The arrogance of the woman beats anything ever I see, and her husband was nothing but a policeman for all they’ve made their fortunes now out of the very people she treats like the dirt she is herself! They think they can do what they like because it’s the only hotel there is this side of Springfield, and it’s bad luck indeed for the travelling public that they’ve got the place at the Otira and will move there directly this is closed when the railway goes through!”
“Dear me!” remarked Mrs Greendays. She did not approve of the driver’s uninvited information, and less so of his intrusion into our conversation, but a look from Captain Greendays reminded her that we had nearly another day of his company before us and, she wisely refrained from any severer snub than the tone of her voice as she uttered those two words had conveyed. But I sincerely hoped that no collision would take place between the dame and either of us, and happily we saw very little of that lady after dinner, when she presided and dealt out the food like an austere, argus-eyed mistress of a charity school.
Breakfast next morning was at six, and though we were of course unable to take anything but a cup of tea at that hour we were charged half-a-crown each for it. We really grudged the 7/6 each that our night’s lodging had cost us. We had been in many places during the last fortnight where baths were not and hot water difficult to procure, the food wretched and the beds uncomfortable, but none of them were worse than “The Glacier Hotel,” and all had a redeeming feature of some kind, if only civility on the part of the inmates. But this place we had to class with the house that had so excited our ire at Tamaranui.
For a good many miles after leaving the Bealey we journeyed along a road cut out of rocky granite hills above the flinty bed of the Waimakariri, and then we suddenly seemed to be out in South Africa again,—travelling by road from Rosmead Junction to Naauwpoort, or from Maseru to Ladybrand. Only the road was better and less dusty, the kopjes were big enough to be called hills, and some of the more distant ones were snow-capped, while the two big dams, which were lakes without a tree near them, had clear blue water instead of muddy yellow! It was real veldt, though, brown, tussocky, stony, dusty veldt, with its occasional thorn-bushes in clumps and a few little flowers here and there,—I even saw two lizards, the first I had seen out here, and some small white butterflies, a locust, several horse-flies, and lots of mosquitoes. But there were no buck, no birds, no niggers, no dead oxen nor bleaching bones by the roadside,—instead a sweet whiff of briar-rose or clover now and then, such as the veldt very rarely affords.
We stopped once for the driver to exchange greetings with a roadman setting out from his cottage to begin his day’s work, and twice to pick up and deliver mails in post-boxes belonging to some station or sheep-run, but we saw no other habitation than the roadman’s until we came to a welcome belt of trees close to a tiny lake, above the bed of a river and under a hill. It was Craigenburn, the coaching stables, and we all went in to the groom’s cottage, and made a very good breakfast of tea and scones, cakes, bread, butter and jam, dispensed by the groom’s pleasant wife at a uniform charge of 1/- each.After climbing the incline above the Craigenburn the country was more like Africa than ever, with real kopjes, lacking only the limitless expanse that is perhaps the greatest charm of the veldt. It was Porter’s Pass, and was like the road to Rosmead continued for thirty miles, and climbing gradually ever higher and higher. A few minutes after we reached the highest point we came upon a really fine view. Miles below lay the valley, with clustering hills piled one upon the other like a heap of mammoth russet apples, and between them glints and gleams of silver where the sun shone on the water flowing through them to the gorge below.
We paused only for five minutes while the horses recovered their wind after their long, though slow and gradual climb; then at a rattling pace and with both brakes hard on we were off down the descent, the road winding round and round, in and out, with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet on one side and a wall of rocky hill on the other.
It was rather a breathless journey, though exhilarating. At the bottom we crossed a stream, climbed a slight incline, and came out on the Springfield plains, twelve miles from the town,—and still in African country, though with a difference. For now we might have been driving from Bloemfontein to Thaba ’N’Chu; we were on the veldt with the kopjes around us, with here and there a small farm, and in the distance the flat, tin-roofed town with its few evergreens to make it an oasis in the desert.
And after luncheon at the hotel, we caught the Christchurch train. Our coaching in Westland was over; we had thoroughly enjoyed it, and had certainly greatly benefited by it in health, in spite of our drenchings, but a week of “roughing it” makes one realise and truly appreciate the blessings of civilization and a good hotel, and we looked forward to many joys at the other end of the three hours’ train-journey.
“Over the tops of the purple hills
Where the para shakes each frond,
Over the gullies and gliding creeks,
O’er the highest spire of the far, dim peaks,
And past all the blue beyond—
Is a land of dreams, near a land of sleep,
Where fairies, we know, all their jewels keep.”
Christchurch people say that their cathedral city is like England, which of course made us more anxious to see it, and more disposed to criticise. And as we ran along the flat country from Springfield we saw from the train windows that the land was neatly parcelled out and divided up with gorse hedges, hawthorn hedges, fences; some of the little farm-houses had red roofs that distinctly resembled tiles, with willows, Normandy poplars, and lime-trees to set them off, and even young oaks and elms now and then; there were fat white sheep and sleek dairy cattle in the pasture-lands, and an air of prosperity about it all. The tidy mind of the British yeoman was certainly evident there.
We wished that they had extended their efforts at Anglicising the place to adopting the methods of the Great Western Railway; it was awful to be kept on the thorns of suspense while this train dawdled about at stations where there never seemed to be anybody getting either on or off. It took us only fifteen minutes to get from Springfield to Sheffield, and I suppose we ought to have been rather amazed to find that we were able to get from Sheffield to Aylesbury in an hour, but this Sheffield was only seventeen miles from this Aylesbury, and we were so heartily tired of the lagging train and its noisy, draughty, American omnibus compartments, (there were no “bird-cages” on this line!) that we simply felt irritated at the lack of originality in the person who had given these places such names.
But the appointed three hours came to an end with the forty-fourth mile from Springfield. We were in the City of the Plains at last.
Twelve hours’ hard travelling had made both Mrs Greendays and me feel only fit for bed, but we had only three days to spare for Christchurch and the wonderful Exhibition, and so we added toilet vinegar and ammonia liberally to our nearly boiling baths, were very late for dinner, and then, almost energetic again through the stimulus afforded by the combined delights of our budgets of home letters and the comforts of an up-to-date hotel, set off immediately afterwards for the huge building on the banks of the Avon.
The brilliancy of the electric lamps that outlined the central dome and twin towers seemed to light up the whole town,—and what an extraordinary sight it showed us. Saturday night, and all the shops open and gaily lit up as if it had been Christmas Eve at about five o’clock in Regent Street! Every soul in the city must, surely, have been abroad; the streets were packed with people, Cathedral Square looked as if a mass meeting was about to be held, and the electric cars had to travel with great caution, their warning bells going incessantly. There were old people as well as young ones, but simply swarms of children and perambulators, and everyone walked leisurely, not at all as if they were on business bent; quite evidently this was a Saturday night outing for pleasure and the Exhibition was by no means the sole attraction that had wooed them from their homes.
We got on to a car already crowded after waiting for some time in the hope of catching one that was less full, and in about five minutes had arrived at the gates of the Exhibition and were crossing one of the bridges over the river. Inside, it was like a swarming bee-hive, but the building is so huge that a vast number can be in it without being uncomfortably crowded.
We had scarcely entered when we met some of our fellow-passengers on the “Ruapehu,” people who belonged to Christchurch. They were very much surprised to hear that we had come via the West Coast, instead of by sea direct to the port, Lyttelton, which is only half-an-hour’s run by train from the city, and seemed quite unable to understand how we could prefer a week’s coaching in beautiful scenery to a week at the Exhibition.
“And you crossed to Nelson and came all that way round, when one night by boat direct from Wellington would have landed you here!” they exclaimed.
“But then we would not have seen all that part of the country!” Mrs Greendays pleaded.
“Oh, the country! Well, I suppose it all seems very wonderful to you but to us, you see, who are used to it . . . ! Personally I never could be bothered going to Rotorua and through the gorges and all that rubbish,—when I have any spare time I like to go to Sydney or the South Sea Islands, or right away home!”
“And then you systematically go to Madame Tussaud’s and the Tower and National Gallery that Londoners leave alone for the edification of tourists!” laughed Captain Greendays. “I suppose we are all very much alike after all, quite unable to appreciate the things that belong to us.”
And then as we wended our way towards the Canadian Court, which they had chosen as the most important to show us, we asked the meaning of the crowded streets.
“Oh, that is the ordinary Saturday night crowd in all New Zealand towns,” they told us. “Most of the shops close on Thursdays or Wednesdays out here, you know, instead of on Saturdays, and the whole population turns out on Saturday nights,—it is a sort of shop-parade.”
We spent a very orthodox Sunday,—late breakfast, service in the cathedral that over-shadows the city by its height and size that are so enormous in proportion to all the buildings in the vicinity, an afternoon of letter-writing and reading, and service in the evening in St. Michael’s Church, the first church built in Canterbury.
On Monday we again went to the Exhibition, as of course we had not seen very much of it on Saturday night, and nothing at all outside the main building. We now had the Maori Pa to visit, where we witnessed a haka danced by Rotorua natives, and when we saw the children diving in real hot mud pools for pennies we felt transported back again to that land of sulphur and steam. The Agricultural Department’s most interesting court occupied us for a long time. They have an apiary in full working order, sheep-shearing by machinery, fruit and vegetable drying machines, incubators with their foster-mothers and broods, &c., &c., a most instructive show for the farmers and also for others than farmers who are at all interested in country life. Upstairs the technical schools have their exhibits, and these show results that are very flattering indeed to the enterprise of the Department of Education.
To Christchurch the chief attraction at the Exhibition is “Wonderland,” a sort of Earl’s Court, where there are water-chutes and all the rest of the whirligig shows. But we liked the picture, or art, gallery best, and grieved that we had so little time to spend in it.
“Ah ! strange he should be silent now,
Whose life ran like a foaming flood.”
We had to spend our last day at Christchurch in and about the city itself, if only to discover wherein lay its claim to being “so very English.” Then, too, we had some shopping to do, partly to sample the shops and partly to invest in some garments necessary for our walking expedition to Milford Sound.
So first we made a round of the shops and then, having finally made our purchases at Ballantyne’s—(chiefly because it reminded us of dear old far-off “Debenham’s”, but also, I must own, because their things seemed to be of rather better quality than the others!) we visited the Museum, which is considered the best in the colony. It undoubtedly has the most delightful position, for it looks out on to the Avon, and its entrance is a charming lime-avenued road that goes past the Exhibition.
The Museum was to blame for our being very late for luncheon; it is really a very fascinating place. The smoked Maori heads and the cruel-looking weapons and instruments of greenstone that they used in warfare and for tattoing, the great cases of mighty Moa skeletons, the stones, quartzes, minerals and fossils, the Maori canoes and carvings, besides the foreign exhibits from the South Sea Islands, Japan, China, &c., &c., there were enough of all these to occupy days, but it was the cases containing relics of the early pioneers and “Canterbury pilgrims” the letters from emigrants to their friends at home, with the quaintest advice in them, the stilted official letters, funny sketches of the landings and first settlements, early newspapers, and so on,—that engrossed me, and I should have liked to pore over them for hours had time been more elastic.
After luncheon we went to Lyttelton to see the port, and there we discovered that New Zealand is even better supplied in her coastal service than we had thought. For in addition to the Union Company’s fine fleet there is another which aids and supplements it, the Huddart Parker Company’s boats, about twenty of them, voyaging between all the Australasian ports. They are very fine ships too, and specially built for the comfort of passengers, beautifully fitted and equipped with all the latest improvements.
Lyttelton is a charmingly pretty little harbour, with a range of snow-topped mountains behind its encircling hills. The town lies on the slopes of the hills behind the wharves, and on the opposite hill-sides there are numerous farms and private residences, belonging to sheep-station holders.
We regretted that time did not allow of our visiting Akaroa, which is said to be the prettiest harbour of all, and which has more exciting historical associations than all the others, for it was at Akaroa that the French landed and very nearly changed the current of affairs for the new-born Colony.
But it would have taken us a day and a half to get there and back, so we had to content ourselves with hurrying back to the city for a motor-car which took us all round the suburbs and showed us larger Christchurch at its best. And we came to the conclusion that if Christchurch does not so forcibly strike the English visitor as a familiar and home-like place as her inhabitants expect it is not the fault of her founders.
It was intended to be exclusively a Church of England settlement, and in laying out the town the streets were named after Anglican Bishoprics,—Durham, St. Asaph, Cashel, Armagh, Tuam, Worcester, Peterborough, Manchester, Kilmore, &c., &c., and the two other squares in addition to the central, Cathedral Square, were named after Latimer and Cranmer. They planted a belt of trees round the town, which was divided in rectangular form, two miles by a mile and a quarter; reserved and planted with pines, birch, and elms, about four hundred acres of land on the banks of the river which they named the Avon, and which is now the chief beauty of the city, and built churches, colleges, and public buildings of stone. Some of the first settlers in Christchurch put high walls or fences round their dwellings; nearly all of them planted trees and made gardens, which are to-day the glory of the aristocratic quarters.The evening we spent in a boat on the river, with a well-informed boatman who pointed out the colleges, hospital, Botanical gardens, and so on, as we slowly passed them in the moonlight, and as we were agreed that we could not carry away a prettier memory of Mr. John Godley’s modernised Utopia than that, we did not visit the Exhibition again but went straight back to the hotel.
THE CANTERBURY PLAINS.
“Wide downs, wide sky, a faint harmonious hum
Of wings invisible that beat upon
The ether; blue hills that kneel in orison
Above the founts from which long rivers come.
Peace that might presage the millenium,
O’er all a sun that never brighter shone
Since first Creation’s Noon flowered from the Dawn
And Earth forgot her long years dark and dumb.”
The Dunedin express left Christchurch at 11.50, arriving at the Southern city at 9.15 p.m. The country as far as Timaru was very flat, bounded by the Southern Alps far away on the right and by the sea on the left of the line. Such splendid fields of grain there were, hedged with gorse or hawthorn, mile after mile of them, with plantations of pinus insignis like dark green islands in a sea of verdure, and surrounding some of the houses near the railway were sycamores, limes, poplars, elms, and oaks. And numerous rivers, numberless streams,—no wonder that the isles of New Zealand are emerald with such abundance of water everywhere and such a temperate climate.
Timaru is a charming little watering place with a great future before it. It has a long sandy beach on one side of the breakwater and wharves and a long shingle beach on the other, and already the Powers that Be have shadowed forth coming events with a band stand, seats, and bathing-machines. A meat-freezing company has erected works at Timaru which have given a big stimulus to the trade of the place and occasion for the home-boats to call there for cargo, and we recognised a sister to the “Ruapehu” lying there as we went by.
A few miles farther down the line came Oamaru, a very jauntily situated little town, built on a hill, and after this we found that we had quite left the plains behind us and were in hilly Otago. With every mile the views seemed prettier; there were chains of hills, all green in waving corn, with pretty country houses nestling among them, sleek cows in the paddocks, flocks of fat white sheep dotting the fields, and water everywhere, either rivers, streams, or lakelets, with the wide blue sea stretching out beyond it all.
At Seacliff a carriage, with a pair of very fine horses and a coachman in livery, was waiting for the train.
“Oh, how delightfully homey that looks!” exclaimed Mrs Greendays, rubbing the window-pane spattered a little earlier by a sudden shower.
Captain Greendays opened the window, and as he did so a sweet clover’y, cow’y, hay’y, and wholly delicious fragrance floated in.
“Oh!” sighed Mrs Greendays rapturously. “Oh, isn’t that lovely, Mary? This really is a breath of England, and that coachman is surely a materialised ghost!”
“And that,” I said as the plaintive howl from the fog-horn used instead of a whistle on New Zealand railways announced that we were about to start again, “that must be the ghost’s summons or perhaps a reproach to him for coming! What business has he here, unless he can bring with him something more than a fleeting dream-vision of a “stately home” or at least a narrow-streeted, red-brick village with a green and duck-pond.”
“Or some real old oaks and copper beeches and smock-frocked labourers and ancient barns and hoary apple-trees!” continued Mrs Greendays breathlessly. “Oh, Mary, how dare you make me think of it, when you know how home-sick I am?”
“I expect you are hungry!” said her husband sternly. “Come along you two sentimental babies, if we don’t hurry up the dining-car will be crammed!”
“A wild sea-rover, lined and grey,
To me long since a story told
Of meadows far and far away
That blossom into flowers of gold;
Of streams that were long lullabies
For ever flowing thro’ the vales,
Kissed by a low and loving wind
To music like the nightingale’s.
And I who listened felt the spell
Take hold of manhood on its throne,
And, careless then of Heaven or Hell,
Took ship unto the vast Unknown.”
The capital of Otago is about the same age as Christchurch, and just as Mr Godley’s Association desired to keep their colony purely Church of England so the Scottish Company that founded Dunedin meant to keep it entirely Presbyterian, but both of these plans proved impossible. The inrush of miners from other parts of New Zealand, Australia, and America in 1861, that followed the discovery of gold in Otago, while it greatly advanced the development of the country entirely did away with its distinctive nationality. And Australian squatters, driven from their own country by several bad seasons in succession, did the same thing in Canterbury.
We liked Dunedin better than any of the other cities. It is so beautifully situated, and if an Edinburgh by the sea can be imagined it is this far Southern home of the Scottish pioneers. Its many as yet unspoiled hills are more clustering, smaller, and dressed in a brighter livery than those of Scotland,—the gay green and yellow of virgin grass, gorse, briar and broom, instead of the heathery purple and green that in Scotland is subdued by greyer skies and distance into a soft, indefinable shade. But down in the town, in “Prince’s” or “High” Streets, when the view of the harbour is shut out by buildings, one constantly comes upon something that recalls the older city, and is reminded that this one was built by Scottish folk who tried to lessen the “Heimweh” by following as faithfully as might be in a new and desolate land the plan of their capital at home.
Edinburgh was the mother, they the sponsors of the infant city, and they trained it in all respects where possible to grow upon the lines of its parent, naming all the streets and open spaces and recreation grounds after those in the “Modern Athens.” The public buildings of Dunedin are collectively finer than those of any other town in New Zealand, particularly the University and Boys’ High School. There are so many beautiful churches that it is difficult to particularise, but “First Church” is at least the most interesting, perhaps, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral the most imposing. Its climate is sharper in winter and not so warm and dry in summer as other parts of the Colony, but to counter-balance this it has the reputation of being the most hospitable, the most intellectual, the most artistic centre of all!
If the shops of a town are any criterion of the tastes of its inhabitants the people of Dunedin must be very bookish, for though New Zealand is better provided with book-sellers than any other colony none of the towns are so well supplied as this. In Auckland the majority of the shops are huge miscellaneous drapery establishments, jewellery-shops, and fruit-mongers. In Wellington the trades are pretty evenly divided, but there are more specialists and fewer heterogeneous “emporiums.” In Christchurch the drapers and jewellers again hold sway, though of a better class than those of Auckland. But in Dunedin the drapery houses and jewellers are in the minority compared to the booksellers, music-shops, picture and photograph shops. And the books are not merely light literature, as is the case in most of the other towns.We were only able to spend one day there, as the steamer-acquaintances we met in Christchurch had persuaded us to make a detour and visit Lake Wakatipu instead of spending more time in Dunedin and on Lake Manapouri, going on to Manapouri from Wakatipu instead of direct from Dunedin. So we spent the morning in the town and the afternoon driving to some of the principal places of interest outside, among them the “Waters of Leith,” which we would not have missed for worlds after hearing the name!
QUEENSTOWN AND LAKE WAKATIPU.
“A halcyon sunset held the wine
Of mellow autumn to its lips,”
The train that was to take us to Kingston, on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, left Dunedin early in the morning, and as our host at the hotel told us that no dining-car travelled with it and warned us not to trust to the railway buffets, we allowed him to provide a luncheon basket in addition to the beloved “Phyllis.”
For the first three hours the journey was interesting but after that it became monotonous, merely rather flat country, with not even a glimpse of the sea for a change, and with very few homesteads. And after we left Lumsden, at about three o’clock, we seemed to be getting to the back of beyond. The hills were coming nearer and nearer,—for they came to us, we did not go to them,—until at last we were passing through a natural gateway looming big and brown above the train, and on the other side of it we found ourselves in a huge basin of barren, tussocky hillocks. It was intensely hot, and the train dragged wearily, stopping continually at tiny stations or sidings, though we could discover no excuse for these delays.
And then quite suddenly there was a glint of blue water ahead; a few minutes later we had run into Kingston, which is nothing but a slender collection of cottages clustered round a station, and soon we were on the launch, about to cross the lake to Queenstown.
That crossing took two hours and a half, though it is only twenty-five miles, and by the time we arrived we were very tired of it, for the sun, so hot and fierce all day, was beginning to decline when we left the train at five o’clock, and as the mountains kept it from the lake the voyage over was both cold and somewhat dreary. The tall bronze walls that hold the Kingston end of Wakatipu looked a dull, unburnished copper that afternoon; its sides were devoid of trees and even of scrub, just bare, rocky heights of varying shapes frowning down on the little lonely boat.
“Are these the Remarkables?” asked Mrs Greendays with infinite scorn in her voice. “For what are they remarkable? Their lack of distinction, I suppose!”
But we had not yet arrived in sight of that great chain, and it was not until the following morning that we recognised it.
It seemed a very long while before we rounded the curve that gave us the first glimpse of Queenstown, and that was disappointing for it seemed such a tiny hamlet, not a bit like the photographs. And Mrs Greendays, fast getting into a state of “nerves,” was loud in her denunciations of the deceptions practised by the guide-books, that “always exaggerated the wonder and beauty of everything so that one was continually disappointed.”
But almost before she had exhausted her caustic comments they were thrust back upon her, contradicted triumphantly by the evidence of her own eyes. The launch had rapidly gained upon the shore until Queenstown lay immediately in front of us, sloping down to the very edge of the lake and away up in the curve of the hills that encircled it like the interlaced arms of a mighty chair, and no photographs or pictures that we had seen did justice to the reality. The sun was not shut out from Queenstown; the hills were not gaunt and grim and grey, but green and smiling, the houses white, the waters of the lake a lovely blue, and behind it all, reaching to the sky, there were dark, frowning peaks that accentuated the gracious scene they so jealously guarded.And though it was nearly nine before we had “arranged ourselves” and had some badly-needed food, the sun still lingered somewhere in the West, bestowing upon us a lovely evening for walking about in the park on the lake-side, where a band was playing and all Queenstown strolling about.
But next morning when a visit to the head of the lake was suggested Mrs Greendays said that she had had enough of the water for the present and preferred driving out to see the Shotover gold claims. The landlady told us that the road was frightfully dusty, but so full of interest and excitement that we would not even notice it!
“You’ll go through the ‘Gates of Hell’” she said, “but you can get back again, and that’s more than the many poor fellows could do as lost their lives or their fortunes or both owing to them gold-claims. When I tell you that there used to be fifteen hotels between this and the bridge you’ll cross the river on, most of them making fortunes out of the drink they sold to the miners, you’ll understand.”
So we set off directly after breakfast enveloped in our dust-cloaks and motor veils. The road began to ascend immediately, and after passing several charming farms, rich in orchards and flower-gardens, we crossed the Shotover River. The driver pointed out where some of the old workings used to be, and said that in the old days the miners had to ford the river as best they could, often having bad accidents, but we crossed on a fine wooden bridge built on stone supports. Of the fifteen hotels nothing now remains but two stone chimneys, looking like forlorn sentry-boxes.
We were soon going uphill again after crossing the river. Down below lay a valley called “Miller’s Plain.” It once belonged to one man; it is now cut up into small farms, all comically alike, each with its fields of wheat and barley enclosed by gorse hedges, its hayricks, belt of Normandy poplars and neat homestead. Beyond this valley we could see away in the distance a small lake called “The Diamond” from its shape. It looked like a sapphire that morning, shining in the sun in the midst of green acres.
Next began the tortuous passage of the “Skipper’s Road.” It is cut out of the sides of a chain of rugged, barren hills composed of schist so full of mica that it glistens like silver wherever the surface has been cut. The making of this road must have been most arduous, for though the rock is so soft that it is easy to work, the gorges are deep and very steep. In several places the cutting has been done from above and the road built up from below. Far down, winding like a snake, the river Shotover flows; the miners have been dredging it for gold for years, and it is almost all worked out now.
Our driver had lived all his life in the district and was able to tell us the history of every turn and curve. Soon after passing through the rocks that some optimistic being has christened “Hell’s Gates” we came to a funny little inn called the “Welcome Home,” the only house on the road, which continues for several miles beyond it. And on our way back we lunched there, while the horses were resting. We did not get back to Queenstown until five, when we were able to thoroughly endorse the landlady’s opinion of the dust. Poor Captain Greendays said that he wished he, too, could wear a dust-cloak and veil! A Queensland visitor thus described the road, in the visitors’ book at the “Welcome Home.”
“Before my thoughts my muse must quail,
With dust my hair and clothes are pale,
But this to say my tongue is itching,
To fly this roads the birds need britching.”
A visit to “Paradise” at the far end and head of the lake was to have appropriately occupied Sunday, our second day. But alas, it dawned in rain and storm, an utterly impossible morning for a lake-picnic. The lake rough and grey, the mountains shrouded in mist, we shivered at the sight and sorrowfully resigned all hope of Paradise, for this was our last day.
The much-abused “Trots” are really greatly to be pitied. They arrive in a country on a visit, and are immediately presented with a list of places and tours quite disproportionate to the time at their disposal. They attempt to choose the best, but are invariably told as they proceed, and as their time relentlessly shortens, that those left out are by far the most important. And eventually, so anxious are they not to miss the chef d’oeuvre after coming so far, they try to see everything and end fagged out by rushing about, having had no real enjoyment of any one excursion, and carrying away only blurred and hazy recollections instead of one or two perfect pictures. It was not so bad as that with us, but even in our comparatively leisurely progress we felt continually that we did not give nearly enough time to the different places.
And now this wet day made us feel guilty of wasting the time owing to Lake Manapouri, for it prevented our giving a fair due to Wakatipu since it would now be impossible to visit what more fortunate visitors and photographs pronounced the prettiest part of the lake, and since we could not do that it had been better not to come at all.
Yet we could not wholly regret our change of plans, for even that first fair view of Queenstown was well worth the journey, and our drive to “Skipper’s” had been quite a novel and very entertaining experience.
We breakfasted in moods none too amiable. What was to be done with the day? How amuse our invalid?
Oddly enough we had all forgotten that it was Sunday, and when a lady opposite me passed an elaborately embroidered handkerchief across the table to my neighbour with the remark,
“She gets just a few things out by each mail so that she has always the newest designs,” a solution of the puzzle came to me in a flash. And then my neighbour returned,
“Oh, I must go and see them. The Irish Linen House, you say? Dear me, it sounds like Regent’s Street!”It did, and a most enticing sound it was on a wet day in a resourceless hotel. I promptly suggested shopping to Mrs Greendays,—photographs, curios,—and behold a transformation! If the fact that it was Sunday occurred to Captain Greendays he did not mention it, and it was not until he, undeterred by weather, had gone off quite happily to climb Ben Lomond, that we remembered. By that time it was too late to do anything but laugh over our forgetfulness and make up for it by going to church.
And before service was over the sun was shining all the more brilliantly for its temporary eclipse. So we finished the morning with a walk in the park, and in the afternoon went for a little cruise in a small launch that took us round the coves and bays close to the town. In one of them we discovered, a strawberry-garden-tea-house, where we feasted right royally on the freshly-picked fruit, our eyes feasting too on the lovely view of lake and mountains, and took a basketful home all for a few shillings.
So though we had to depend on photographs for Paradise we consoled ourselves with the thought that many do not get nearly so near to any Heaven as we were to it on that perfect afternoon.
TO THE SOUTHERN LAKES.
“Then the sun came out, and a rainbow cast
On the fairy rain as it fell,
And they said, “We will meet each other at last,”
Aye, this is the tale that I tell—”
It began when we left the boat and joined the train at Kingston on Monday morning. The launch left Queenstown at 8.20; we remained on deck for about an hour, and then, when the best part of the scenery was behind us, we went down to the saloon and breakfasted in comfort and at leisure we could not have commanded at the hotel. The deck of the launch was crowded, but we had the saloon all to ourselves and saw as much of the lake as we wanted to from the windows.
When we got to Kingston at 10.45 the heat was stifling, and sitting stiffly in a crowded compartment with the blinds down to shut out the blazing sun, so that reading was impossible and what view there was hidden, was not a good preparation for the trial of patience that awaited us.
For Lumsden, where we had to put in time from mid-day until the next morning, is an awful place to be in. It consists of the railway station, a few houses, and a couple of hotels. It does not even boast a bank, and shops worthy of the name are equally unknown. It is situated in the midst of a flat, featureless plain, and apparently exists solely for the purpose of despatching visitors to Manapouri by coach and the farmers of the neighbourhood to Dunedin and Invercargill by rail.
Disconsolately enough, therefore, we contemplated the eight or nine hours that must elapse before we could excusably go to bed. An attempt to write in the small and solitary “parlour” was frustrated by the incessant chattering of sundry other occupants; the sun was beating down on to the shadeless verandah,—it was impossible to sit there; and our rooms were so tiny, and the noise of the bar and from other parts of the house were so distinct, that they were no refuge at all. At last we took our sunshades and went for an aimless walk, but by four o’clock the ugliness of the place had driven us back, and Mrs Greendays’s nerves were so palpably on the brink of mishap that I felt almost hysterical myself with apprehension.
And then surely—even at a distance I could not be mistaken in the tall, broad-shouldered figure standing on the doorstep? He saw us, came towards us, and in accents of delight Captain Greendays voiced my feelings as he exclaimed,
“Deane, by all that’s lucky! My dear chap, what on earth has brought you to this hole?”
“What but yourselves?” answered Colonel Deane with his infectious little chuckle. “I have always wanted to pay another visit to Milford...”
A joyous shriek from Mrs Greendays interrupted him. “You are coming with us, Colonel Deane? Oh, how lovely! We have been bored to tears with each other all to-day, and I believe it has been coming on ever since you left us! We have all missed you horribly!”
He looked at her whimsically and Captain Greendays said,
“Don’t be embarrassed, old chap,—the compliment is really to us, for my wife only says nasty things to the people she likes!”
Colonel Deane certainly brought an invigorating atmosphere with him, for the rest of that day passed like a flash. He insisted on our making a “kit” inspection for the march to Milford.
“Much better to settle your kits here,” he said, “when you get to Glade House, where the walking begins, the sandflies will bother you so much that you won’t care to have your veils up a moment longer than is necessary, and the rooms are so small that you will feel very thankful that you have not much with you, and nothing to do but think of the walk.”
When he found that we had brought no knapsacks he and Captain Greendays went off and harried the storekeepers in the little Lumsden stores until they disgorged some coarse sailcloth, and then the soldier and the sailor set to work making them up, while we with great care, now that we knew what was expected of us on the walk, sorted out our things and discarded a great many that we thought absolutely necessary before we knew we had to carry our own “swags.”
Silk being the lightest material, as well as fairly uncrushable, Mrs Greendays and I confined our choice of garments chiefly to those made of it, and though we did not in the end unduly stint ourselves its thinness and lightness kept our knapsacks down to a very respectable bulk and weight. We were both going to walk in serge suits; as we were very much the same build Mrs Greendays had borrowed one of mine in place of her beloved Tussores. And we took with us each a washing silk skirt to change into in the evenings, a ditto underskirt, some white silk shirts with turn-down collars, silk nighties and underwear, with some very fine woollen underwear and stockings we had bought in Christchurch, toilet articles, and some thin indoor shoes.
Our guide was to carry a supplementary “swag” containing things for us both, mackintoshes, extra boots, sheets, pillow-cases, and fine towels, (as these linen luxuries are not supplied in the huts en route), some milk-chocolate, a flask of brandy, and, in case of accidents, some liniment and bandages.We started from Lumsden at 10.30 on Tuesday morning, and got to Manapouri at about six that afternoon. It was a dreary drive as regards scenery,—endless brown undulations with a few kopjes, here and there a clump of trees, now and then a lonely cottage; a few sheep, a host of black bunnies, and some “Paradise” ducks, creatures that pretended to be lame and limped badly directly they caught sight of us, were the only living things we saw. We were driving in a buggy, with a heavily-laden coach behind us, and we managed to get considerable amusement out of the attempts of the coach-driver to get ahead of us. We had a sort of afternoon-tea-luncheon at one of the coach-stables, provided by the groom’s wife, but as the breakfast at Lurnsden had been far from delectable we were frightfully hungry long before we got to the Accommodation House on the lake.
The ugliness of the drive lasted until we got within measurable distance of the snow-capped mountains that had been part of the horizon all day. We had been gradually ascending for the last few miles when suddenly we looked down upon a range of lovely, cloudy-blue hills, some cone-shaped, some with rounded tops, some bunchy, and as we slowly lessened the distance they changed their colour from blue to a vivid green, and we saw that they were covered with bush, like those above the Buller Gorge.
We could not see the lake until we were almost upon it, and as the sky, in spite of the heat, was cloudy, its waters were grey instead of blue. Nevertheless was it beautiful, surrounded by the multiform green hills, and with many green islands lying on its shimmering silvery bosom.
It looked perfectly exquisite from the grounds of the Accommodation House a little later in the afternoon, when the soft blue and violet lights of the Southern twilight were on the hills, and we braved the sandflies and went down to the beach directly after our “high-tea,” a meal that Colonel Deane said we had better try to get accustomed to, for dinners in this part of the world were always at the sane but uninspiring hour of noon!
We set off very early next morning in a launch, and had a perfect day, cruising among the mazy ways of Manapouri. One island on the lake is a hill with quite a good-sized lake on its summit. There are hundreds of islands, all wooded, and the rata was all out and very brilliantly scarlet, the only touch of colour, besides the sky and water, among all that green.
Warbrick was down there, and on our return we went to see what progress he was making in opening up the channel between the two lakes, Manapouri and Te Anau. But the channel was not yet navigable, and so we had to drive to Te Anau.
The coach left Manapouri at five in the afternoon, with a rather angry sky overhead, and packed with gloom in the shape of five ladies who were unable to obtain box seats. The three next the driver were occupied by an English Major and his wife and daughter, and we had thankfully accepted the very much higher ones at the back of the coach. It was evident that they were all going to Milford, and we viewed them, therefore, with much interest. The five inside were all of one party, an elderly chaperone, her two daughters, and two other youngish ladies. Only one man—and seven ladies,—for we did not include our own party as we meant to avoid the others most scrupulously. And we wondered what the solitary specimen of the stronger sex would do if the entire seven chose to faint at a crucial moment on the top of the pass?
The drive was a very pleasant one, the hills taking unto themselves even more curious shapes in the half-light than they did by day. We had heard some of the tourists at Manapouri talking about this road, and one had called it “positively dangerous,” which made us all anxious to see something so novel as a dangerously bad road in New Zealand. But our expectations were doomed to disappointment. It was certainly rather rutty, and there were one or two little stony creeks to cross, but the driver was the most abominably cautious whip I had ever seen, and we travelled as though the coach contained fragile mummies that were being reverently carried to their last resting place. He put on the brake long before the top of a rise was reached; he negotiated any small inequalities with almost painful tenderness; and he came to almost a full stop at the creeks. If Fate decrees that the gentleman has ever to drive in South Africa he will undoubtedly turn grey at the first donga, and rave aloud before the first spruit in flood!
In due time we reached Te Anau, and a frantic rush was made by the ladies inside, who were of course able to get out long before we could from our higher altitude, to catch the hostess’s ear lest we should be more favoured than they in regard to rooms. But Mrs Fraser, who is appointed by the Government to look after the comforts of its patrons contrived to please everybody, and before very long all grievances were forgotten in the discussion of a very welcome and appetising “tea.”
THE CLINTON RIVER.
“Once again the rata burns
Flame-like on the mountain side.”
We went to bed that night at Te Anau anticipating another day of summer on another lake,—we woke next morning to the dreary dirge of the wind and rain! How it rained! and how uninviting the lake looked on that cold wet morning at seven o’clock! But the launch only crossed to the head of the lake twice a week, and we had to go.
Yesterday’s coach-load was there too, all looking very unhappy and cold, and breakfast was a very silent meal. But the rain had stopped when we went down to the launch, though a mantle of fog hid the mountains from view and it was very cold, and thankful for so much mercy our hopes rose. We put on our mackintoshes and wrapped in rugs, sat under umbrellas on the deck of the little steamer anxiously awaiting the moment when the far-famed glories of Te Anau should burst upon our enraptured gaze.
But meanwhile the fog was again melting into a downpour, the waves were becoming higher and higher, and at last they began to break over the all-too-low bulwarks. And at last the strongest-minded among us was forced to yield and go downstairs.
The tiny cabin was not the pleasantest place in the world, but there we were penned up for about three hours, cold, cramped, and comfortless, while the little windows showed only weeping hills through a veil of rain and mist. But about an hour before we reached the head of the lake the rain ceased and the face of nature changed as suddenly and completely as it had that day at Hokitika, and joyfully we went on deck again, our quartette to the fore-part of the deck, where we sat silent, spell-bound by the beauty of the scene.
Towering cold and white against the blue sky were the great mountains in the distance, behind emerald hills whose trees stood out individually in the clear atmosphere, and close to the water’s edge blazed the rata, flaunting its crimson boldly among the surrounding graces of the tree-ferns and palms. Every moment disclosed new pictures, fresh groupings of foliage and flower, different curves and crevices in the hills, with waterfalls leaping down in their hurry to reach the lake.
And then, just as Colonel Deane pointed out the outlet of the Clinton River, we ran alongside the wharf at the head of the lake.
We were met by one of the Government Inspectors, who was in charge of the track, and had had a letter from Mr Donne informing him of our coming. He said that he had reserved a guide for us, but would, if we liked, go with us himself instead, at which of course we were very pleased and recognised that he was paying us a great compliment, as he was certainly not likely to travel burdened with even a moderate bundle, for choice, unless he wished to do great honour to his guests.
Mr. Inspector then led the way through a lovely glade to the Government Accommodation House called after it, where he advised us to stay for that night and commence our walk next day. A crowd of people were on the lawn, carefully swathed in veils, both men and women, with a cloud of sandflies buzzing about their heads. They were on their way back from Milford. Mrs Greendays and I surveyed them with much interest and were gratified to see that they looked none the worse for their journey. Some of them were very smart indeed; one lady had on a hat that might have come from well,—the Parisian Hat Company; another whispered of silk attire as she moved, a third wore French heels, but none of them indicated the hard fare and troublous pilgrimage we had been told to expect. It was not until they had gone that we found they had shed their mountaineering garb and changed into ordinary clothes when they arrived at Glade House!
While we were at luncheon we learned that all the people who had come over with us on the launch were going on at once, so we promptly decided to take Mr. Inspector’s advice, and stay overnight at Glade House.We very soon had the place to ourselves after we had watched the departure of the others, the one man among seven ladies, five of whom were spinsters. They had one and all disdained the idea of guides, even the elderly chaperone, and they set off most valiantly, some carrying big “swags,” some carrying small “swags,” and some carrying no “swags,” (and seemingly not even a pocket-parcel) at all. As we stood on the verandah watching them go Mr. Inspector turned to me with a retrospective smile on his face.
“They start off so gaily, looking so smart!” he said. “They are always the same. But you should see them coming back!”
We could not help laughing, though it was distinctly alarming to hear this warning note so early. But the eight were a most sportsmanlike party. The ladies, six of them at least, wore skirts that in two or three instances struck us as almost too sensible as to length; the chaperone wore black cashmere, with the train pinned up. And the Major, not in the least embarrassed by his queue of strange feminines, was evidently equal to any strain and ready to face any task that luck might set him! The weather was fine when they left, but an hour later the rain began again, and we wondered if their avowed intention of going on as far as the Mintaro huts, fourteen miles distant, would hold out beyond Mid-camp, only seven miles away.
The people at Glade House built a log-fire for us in the dining-room, gave us afternoon tea with delicious home-made cake, and quite a recherche little dinner later on. We sat round the fire all the evening, Mr. Inspector telling us stories of the track, and as the sandflies left us alone, and happy in our loneliness, after the daylight died, we went to bed very much pleased at the propitious commencement to our pilgrimage. For we had all agreed to consider our landing the commencement, as indeed it actually was, of the walk!
Next morning we breakfasted comfortably at about eight o’clock, and set off at ten on a perfect day. For six and a half miles after crossing the river we walked through very pretty woodland on its banks, stopping every mile or so to rest and watch the trout in the clear water. Captain Greendays was pining to fish, for some of the trout were huge fellows, but Mr. Inspector said that they would not rise to bait, and that it was quite useless to try to make them.
It was midday when we got to the group of huts that form the Mid-camp, and the cook in charge told us that the Eight had only gone on that morning, an item of news that made us feel a little uneasy lest they should think seven miles a day hard work enough and be still at Mintaro when we arrived. But we thought of the Major and his wife and daughter,—they would certainly want to do more than that, and the other five would follow the Major, that was certain, so we dismissed our fears and with much interest examined the huts, fac-similes of all the others on the track.
Each one was about 14 by 12, built of wood, with a square corrugated iron chimney-place jutting out of the same wall that the door was in. Bunks are built round two of the walls, eight in all, and two deep, like the berths on a ship. These bunks are most ingeniously fitted with spring mattresses of wire netting nailed to the frames, with a good “kapok” mattress on each, two pillows, and blankets galore. To protect the occupants from draught the two walls behind the bunks are lined with linoleum. There is a strip of cocoa, matting on the floor, and each hut contains a big table, two large white enamelled basins, jugs, soap-dishes, and a mirror.
We lunched at Mid-camp, off pea-soup, tinned tongue, fresh potatoes and green peas, the nicest bread, made by the cook, and delicious butter, apricots, cheese, marmalade and biscuits. And though every ounce of flour and butter, every tin of meat and jam, &c., has to be brought by rail from Dunedin, by coach from Lumsden, across the lake in the steamer, and finally carried on men’s backs to the camps, where a cook has to be permanently in attendance, the uniform charge per meal per person all the way along the track is only 2/-.
We dawdled about till two o’clock, taking photographs, getting some extra nails put into our boots, and watching the Maori hens, or wekas, wingless birds that are the most impudent birds in creation, with the magpie’s horrid habit of stealing and hiding anything bright. And we arrived at Mintaro, just comfortably tired, at four o’clock, and were greatly pleased to find that the Eight really had gone on. They had lunched there, or rather, since it was quite early, had had a dejeuner a la fourchette, and intended to sleep at the Sutherland Falls hut that night.
Dinner was ready by six,—hare soup, salmon, corned beef, potatoes and peas, apricots and rice, bread, biscuits, and butter, jam, cheese, and coffee.
It was a glorious star-lit night with a touch of frost in the air. The river looked very beautiful, flowing so silently between its fern-clad, bush-shadowed banks, and a far-off tui made music that roused the carping jealousy of the Maori hens, who screeched in envy. I walked about with Colonel Deane and Captain Greendays, up and down the track, while Mrs Greendays had a hot tub in our hut, prepared for her by the obliging old cook. And later on, when I had had mine and we were both snugly tucked up in our kapok nests, with the firelight dancing on the brown boards and the great logs hissing and crackling a pleasant lullaby, we vowed that we had never been so comfortable and cosy since we landed in New Zealand.
It is not often that one has an opportunity of resting in a silence so profound that it can almost be felt; even in the country there are noises, the sounds of the farm-yard, the twittering of birds, or at least that indefinable something which intrudes wherever there are human habitations. But we fell asleep that night at Mintaro in an absolute stillness, unbroken even by the rustling of leaves or the soft swish of a summer breeze; the river ran too deep to be heard, birds and beasts there were none save the wekas and a few wild-duck on the river, in that quiet, solitary valley under the everlasting hills, and but for the caretakers at Mid-camp and Glade House no other human beings were on this side of the lofty pass between us and the sea at Milford.I was awakened suddenly by a far-off crash. Startled, I sat up in bed and listened. Its reverberations among the mountains rumbled threateningly, sullenly, for some moments, a weka complained peevishly, disturbed, probably, as I had been by the noise of the avalanche, but other sounds there were none, and the echoes were dying away. The log fire was burning low, flaming high now and then as a stray stick caught fire; I jumped up and piled the scattered logs together on the hearth, then, opening the door softly, I peeped out. The moon was riding high and hurrying clouds, black and ominous, scudded across the sky, and a faint movement among the birches whispered of approaching agitation. My heart sank as I read the signs of a rainy morrow, and with a shiver I shut out the cold night again and nestled down, very glad that there were several hours yet for sleep and dreams.
“Stress of black storms, lashed by the lightning’s fire.”
The rain falling on the iron roof awoke us at seven o’clock. I opened the door, and behold, another grey and misty morning, the mountains completely hidden, the track sodden, the birches dripping cheerlessly.
“Oh!” exclaimed Mrs Greendays in a disgusted voice. “Well, of course we must stay here until the weather clears, so I shall go to sleep again.”
But just then the cook came with hot water, saying that breakfast would be ready in half-an-hour, so we dressed and went into the common-hut to argue the point over porridge and grilled ham.
By ten we were on the track. It had been decided that the chances of the weather clearing were too hopelessly uncertain to risk remaining on at Mintaro while it was possible to push on. Mr. Inspector assured us that by midday it might be perfectly fine, or it might be snowing,—“you never could tell in this place what it was going to do!” and as a snowstorm would make the pass well-nigh impossible and would probably delay us so long that we could not go all the way to Milford, we unanimously voted for progress, intending to go only as far as the next huts, close to the Sutherland Falls, and put up there for the night.
It was still raining, though it had dwindled to a drizzle, when we started, and the track was very wet underfoot, while the bush dripped so that it was like a needle-bath. But we soon left the valley and the tall bush behind us, and commenced the ascent of the pass, the track winding to and fro along the side of the steep mountain. It was so narrow that we had to walk in single file; Mr. Inspector led, I followed, then came Colonel Deane, Mrs Greendays, and Captain Greendays bringing up the rear. It was bitterly cold, with a biting wind that penetrated through our mackintoshes and buttoned-up serges, and as we climbed higher the snow on the track became deeper and deeper so that we sank into it almost up to our knees. And when we turned the corner of the hill on to the saddle we found that we had walked straight into the snowstorm, the snow was falling thick and fast, a perfect gale of wind was blowing, and we were almost taken off our feet.
We dared not, indeed could not, pause, even for a moment, but struggled on, keeping close behind each other, for the whole country was enveloped in mist, we could not see a single peak of the mountains and the cutting snow made it difficult to see anything at all. The worst bit of all was the flat on the summit, for the wind was so strong that it was really hard to keep from being blown over, and it howled like fury. Speech had long been impossible; even if we could have made ourselves heard breath was far too precious to waste in talking.
But happily it was soon over; a few hundred yards and we were over the Saddle. Here the snow had melted as it fell, or been thawed immediately by the myriad streams from the peaks, and so much water was pouring down the precipitous downward track that the descent was simply a tortuous waterway. It went careering madly over the side of the narrow track, or coyly paused in little pools, or followed its nose just as it listed, and unfortunately for us we were obliged to stumble along in its wake, even to going over the side occasionally, for in many places it had washed away the slight pathway altogether. Every few yards there were pools to go through, and the stones were very slippery, so that on that ribbon of steeply slanting track, winding and very rough now that the rain had tossed boulders big and small down from the mountain above it, we were in momentary peril of being pitched headlong down the stony cliffs into the valley thousands of feet below. That descent was more adventurous than elegant, more rapid than was compatible with strict decorum, and the only scrap of comfort we had we were not able to stop and enjoy. The wind was blowing the clouds away, the snow had ceased, and every now and then we had glimpses of gigantic peaks and mountain masses, glimpses that were like draughts of water to the thirsty for they assured us that the eternal hills were there behind the concealing clouds, and they spoke of glad to-morrows when the broken promises of the to-days should be fulfilled.
We halted, breathless and wet to the skin from head to heel, in the little hut at the foot of the hill, where Mr. Inspector insisted on a pause while he boiled a “billy,” though we were only two miles from the huts where we meant to stay. I was afraid that the halt would make us cold and stiff and wanted to go straight on, but the others seemed to think it best to stay. And no sooner had Mrs Greendays recovered her breath than she politely but convincingly delivered her opinion of our judgment in even proposing such an expedition. Was it surprising that she was furious? That she, the sedate, comfort-loving, highly-organised, carefully tended Englishwoman should be brought to such a place by her own husband, to be hustled and dragged, blown about and buffeted, in danger of her life at every step; and now that she had providentially escaped being dashed to atoms the cold that pierced her to the bone would undoubtedly cause her to perish slowly of consumption if she did not die that night of pneumonia.
This storm was far more paralysing than the other, but while we all sat silent under it Mr. Inspector suddenly rushed into the breach when there was a momentary pause.
“Consumption? Pneumonia? Oh, never, my dear lady! This is the most extraordinary climate for the lungs. I’ve known people wet for days and nights on end and no harm come of it. No one ever takes cold at Milford, and if they come with one they get rid of it in no time.”
And then he sprang a delightful surprise upon us, for he filled the cups with a white, foaming, delicately fragrant liquid.
How could it be milk in this desert?
It’s a New Zealand Speciality,” he explained. “Dried milk, the real thing simply made into a powder, and all we have to do is to mix it with boiling water. I always find it picks one up better than tea, and we keep a tin in every hut in case of need.”
Mrs Greendays was actually speechless with surprise and pleasure, and we seized the moment to make our peace. Colonel Deane handed her some biscuits from another of Mr. Inspector’s store of tins. I took off her soaking cloth gaiters and after wringing them out put them to the fire to dry, and Captain Greendays gently drew out the pins from her Panama and shook the water out of it. And the dear angry little lady looked round at us all as we waited upon her, and laughed.“You deserved it all, didn’t you?” she said, “and I feel ever so much better now that I have had a good grumble, so forget all about it. Only I must say this, Tom, I do think you might have done as I begged you and put off this Milford Sound trip till we could do it decently in the “Waikare.” What are we to say to the Admiral if Mary gets knocked up?”
“There is not the remotest chance of that!” I exclaimed. “Do you know what I have been thinking, Mrs Greendays? That New Zealand weather is like the lady in the old song,
“Oh the sadness of her sadness when she’s sad!
Oh the badness of her badness when she’s bad!
But the sadness of her sadness
And the badness of her badness
Are nothing to her gladness when she’s glad!”
“It is certainly the most womanly of countries!” assented Captain Greendays with a laugh. “Very beautiful, very varied in its charm, and very changeable in mood, eh Hilda?”
“Excellent qualities,” retorted Mrs Greendays, “when you understand that you may expect them. But my chief grievance is that we were not warned about the changeability of the weather! To come out expecting to find a land of constant sunshine where invalids will be as well able as hardy sportsmen to travel in perfect comfort, and then meet with such weather and such conditions as we had on the Wanganui, in Westland, and again here, is enough to send one home utterly disgusted with the place. But if the idiotic guide-book had only been more candid and not shown only one side of the picture, so that one would come prepared for all sorts and conditions one would think nothing of it!”
“Quite right!” Colonel Deane joined in. “Clothes, said the Cynic of Chelsea, are nothing, the man’s the thing. But had he been a woman minus a mackintosh in the rain on the Wanganui, or without furs when coaching in Westland, or wearing patent leather American shoes in crossing McKinnon’s Pass, I think that he would have expressed different opinions. But now we ought to be getting on, for these swags are pretty damp too, I’m afraid, and the things will have to be dried before you can change.”
We jumped up quickly and when we got outside the hut, behold, in the interval the sun had appeared! The valley with its towering sentinels was a fine sight though the topmost peaks were still hidden in clouds. It looked like an immense arena in which a mighty battle with stone missiles had taken place, and which, deserted now and grey with the dust of deadly strife, awaited in loneliness the coming of one who would clear away the remnants of the avalanches, straighten the twisted streams, and restore order where chaos now reigned supreme.
We looked, walked on, looked again,—turned a corner, and were in a new world! We had left the grey battlefield for a peaceful green hamlet through which ran a highway, a torrent hurrying over a boulder-bed with splash and dash, as the couriers might who hurried to tell the tale of the fight. The “hamlet” was beautiful,—forest trees with their climbing vines, tree-fern and their million minor relations, clumps of fragrant, exquisite, starry-blossomed syringa, emerald, bronze, golden, and silver mosses, and everywhere running-water, in trickling rivulets, musical mountain rills, or murmuring, foamy cascades. Two miles of it,—and then we crossed the plank bridge over the “highway,” and were at the Sutherland Falls Huts.
With what thankfulness we regarded them, for oh! we were weary! Rest at last, and change into dry clothes, and the welcome warmth of a big log fire, hot water to bathe our cold and aching limbs in,—all these we anticipated joyfully.
And with what a crash our chateau d’espagne fell to the ground!
THE ARTHUR VALLEY.
“Rill after rill trailed down a-murmuring
From piny heights where lover winds did croon.”
The Major was standing in front of the huts, looking as exquisitely neat and well-groomed as if about to attend a meet of the County Hunt. But though of course we rejoiced in his immaculate appearance as befitting a worthy representative of Home and the Army, a simultaneous groan burst from us as we realised the tragedy of his presence. Where he was there also would the women be,—seven of them, and but one ladies’ hut! Dissolved like a beautiful prismatic soap-bubble were our prospects of comfort and rest.
Mrs Greendays turned a look of high resolve upon me. “I would rather sleep in a tree, Mary, than share the hut with those people!”
“So would I, darling!” I hastily replied. “Do you think you can manage any more walking?”
“I can manage anything but to sleep in a crowd!” she firmly declared.
Colonel Deane, Captain Greendays, and Mr. Inspector were by this time talking to the Major, so we went up to the women’s hut and knocked at the door. Someone called out “Come in!” and I opened it. What an atmosphere! The little room seemed to be full of women, the beds were all topsy-turvy, evidently untouched since they had risen that morning, and on a bench before a blazing log fire sat several of them. They were all looking at the door, and at the sight of us one, the chaperone, said, “Oh! You must be rather wet! But before you take off your hats I had better tell you that these beds are all engaged,—Mrs Binks and her daughters have gone to see the Falls, but we are all sleeping here to-night!”
“So we concluded!” returned Mrs Greendays icily. “Come, Mary,” and we straightway retired, closing the door behind us. Mr. Inspector met us as we walked towards the dining hut.
“Of course you have the prior claim to the beds,” he began, “as they were here last night and could have gone on, you can oblige them to turn in together, or turn out if they prefer it!”
“Not for the world!” said Mrs Greendays. “I suppose it is possible to get as far as the next huts?”
“Nineteen miles, Hilda!” said her husband who had joined us with Colonel Deane. “I am afraid you could not manage that, my dear!”
“At least we are game to try,” she answered with a rather watery smile.
“But let us at least have some food, Tom,—we can discuss it while we are eating.”
“We are just a week or so too early,” said Mr. Inspector, who had been trying to persuade us not to go on, as we sat down to the table. “My men are building more huts now, but at the present there is nothing between this and Sutherland’s at Milford. The only comfort is that we can save a bit of the way by crossing Lake Ada instead of walking round it, but it is a dangerous lake, and if you decide to come on we must start at once, for we must cross the lake in daylight.”
So after a hurried meal we set off again, just as we were in our wet clothes. Happily the worst fury of the rain had been spent, and save for gentle but frequent showers the afternoon was fine.
Soon after leaving the huts we had a splendid view of the Sutherland Falls. They are 1,904 feet high, and they fall in three tiers from over a wooded cliff, the waters joining the highway torrent whose proper name is the Arthur River.
Captain Greendays and I were a little ahead of the others when, in turning for another look at the Falls without looking where I was walking, suddenly I found myself on my back in a stream across the track. I had slipped on a wet plank laid over the stream, and must have twisted an ankle, for when I stood up the pain was excrutiating and for a few minutes I was obliged to lean helplessly and speechlessly against the bank. All day long I had been climbing about, often leaving the track to make short cuts in impossible looking places, stepping on to loose stones and boulders, through snow and rain, and nothing had happened. And now, here on the flat, with an eighteen mile tramp before us, this!But it was useless to growl, and I was very glad that no one but Captain Greendays was there until I had pulled myself together again. I don’t know how I managed to hobble along that afternoon. The absolute necessity and the dread of delaying the others doubtless helped a good deal, but the beauty of the valley certainly had a share in the matter. The waterfalls were as many as they were marvellous; it was well worth the wet walk to see the valley under such conditions. They poured from the crest of every hill, some in a straight narrow ribbon, some turning to right or left and then impatiently leaping over whatever stood in their way, some commencing in a single stream and diverging halfway down into twin falls, but all in a very frenzy of haste to reach the river, and all snow-white and foaming. It was as though the God of the mountains had upset mammoth milk-pails in a rage, while the roar of the multiplied waters as they rushed over the boulders in the river seemed the guttural growling in which he expressed it.
And the foliage and flowers were so lovely. There was starry syringa everywhere, with ferns of every sort and shade, and trees so covered with moss that they might have been made of velvet, and around it all the great hills, decked like brides in glistening white streamers. It was enthralling enough to make even pain a minor matter, but the few minutes’ interval of rest while we crossed the river in the suspended chair turned the nagging ache into throbbing agony. I could take no interest in the Bell Rock, and the section between it and Lake Ada Hut seemed really interminable.
This hut is only a shelter, like the one at the foot of the pass, and is furnished with nothing but a rough table and the inevitable fireplace, and by the time we arrived the others, who had gone ahead, already had a fire going. Mr. Inspector had unpacked his swag, too, to get out the liniment, and they improvised a seat for me with a spade which was put across an angle of the hut resting on the rough foundations. Here I sat with the hurt foot on a swag, after Mrs Greendays had rubbed liniment in and bandaged it up, while we had tea. But it was not a good plan, for when I rose to go down to the boat I was so stiff from knees to ankles that at first I could not even stand, and,
“Ah!” said Mr Inspector, “it’s always better to go right on if you must walk, after a hurt like that, until you get right home!”
“It is all through those indolent wretches!” exclaimed Mrs Greendays viciously. “If she had had a good rest before starting off again after that tiring journey over the Pass this would never have happened.”
We had a perilous passage over the lake. A forest once made cloisters for the tuis where the paradise ducks and black swans now have their home, but an earthquake caused a landslip, which blocked the channel of the river, and the submerged trees now stand or lie in the lake, a lasting menace to the passing boats. It was hard to distinguish the “snags,” (as Mr. Inspector called the projecting roots and branches), in the fast falling twilight, especially as it was now raining again, and the drops blurred the surface of the water. Captain Greendays and Colonel Deane rowed and steered by turns in company with Mr. Inspector, while Mrs Greendays and I also took turns at an oar to keep ourselves warm.
It was quite dark when at last we landed on the opposite shore, and we had partly to guess and partly to feel with sticks for the track. The first few hundred yards were uphill and very stony, but directly we got on to a level, and then on to a downward grade, we were wading, ankle-deep in water at every few yards. The rain had evidently fallen very heavily here too, and the close vegetation on either side, that helped to make the way so dark, added to the wetness.
But in spite of the darkness I went along at a sort of trot, using a stick as staff, for my ankle hurt so much that it seemed easier to “tripple” along like the Boer ponies in South Africa do than to go slowly and so be longer with my weight on it. And as we were all cold the others followed suit. So that it was not really very long before we arrived at Sandfly Point, where there is a hut for the boatmen and guides, and a telephone across the Sound to Sutherland’s. We waited there while Mr. Inspector tried to ring up Sutherland, the old man who lives at Milford and keeps the Accommodation House there. But Mr. Inspector rang in vain, and at last said that Sutherland evidently did not intend to turn out in his launch that night, and that we must trust ourselves to a rowing boat.
Now we had of course heard a great deal about the Sound at various times and from various sources. We knew that the “Waikare” went right in, quite near to Sutherland’s house; we had heard someone talking about “crossing the open sea at Milford Sound in a storm.” So it was not very extraordinary that Mrs Greendays and I had visions of the entrance to the Sound with surf and big waves breaking on a rocky shore. Equally of course those familiar with the place could not imagine the terrifying spectacle we had conjured up. And while the men were all busily engaged in preparing the boat and improvising lanterns Mrs Greendays and I, alone in the fire-lit hut, were acting a little curtain-raiser to ourselves.
She put her arm round my shoulder and pressed me to her, saying, almost tearfully,
“My dear child how shall I forgive myself if anything happens to you? If I have brought you all this way only to leave you, drowned, in this desolate place! Oh Mary——!”
I turned and kissed her, laughing rather hysterically. “Why darling, nothing is going to happen! We have four men to look after us even supposing the boat does capsize, but it won’t, Dame Fortune is too artistic to let all the misfortunes come to us!”
“What do you mean, child?” she asked.
“Why, of course those sweetly unselfish creatures behind us are not going to have all the fun! I don’t know how big a place Sutherland has, but there are four of us, and judging by the accommodation along the road I expect there will not be many more bedrooms than that. If when they come to-morrow they find that we are in possession and ready to say “these beds are all engaged”——? I have noticed that things are generally pretty even in the end. Rich people are ugly and cross, pretty people are poor but charming, nice women get horrible husbands, good husbands get——”
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Oh Mary! is that what you call me?” and then seeing how aghast I looked at the conclusion she had suggested for my thoughtless words she laughed involuntarily and said,
“Never mind dear, I am sure you never meant that! It is my evil conscience!”
At which I laughed too, and Colonel Deane coming in at that moment to take us down to the boat little thought how nearly he had surprised us in tears instead of laughter.
The crossing took us an hour and a half, and we made a bad start by running into the telephone wires! Then Mrs Greendays clutched at my arm and whispered fearfully, as the noise of the waterfalls made our visions of surf painfully realistic.
“Do you think we are very near the open sea now, Mary?”
But my only answer was to press her hand in return.
It was certainly not a happy time for any of us, for both Mr. Inspector and the boatman were so unmistakeably nervous, and so uncertain, too, of the direction they were rowing in, for it was pitch dark, the lanterns having proved worse than useless, that they infected everyone. But when we had become thoroughly accustomed to the gloom we were able to see and steer by the white waters of the Bowen Fall, and then by what looked at first like a glow-worm and proved to be a light at Sutherland’s. And finally we were able to make out the white outline of his launch, then the sheds, and at last drew up the boat alongside the stone wharf. Next came an endless stumbling along a stony track to the house, and just as we entered the gates a lantern came bobbing towards us and a voice cried,
“Is that you, Mr. Inspector? Now, didn’t I tell Sutherland it would be you, and do ye want to drown somebody? Why are ye risking the lives of all these people crossing the water at this time of the night? Don’t ye know it’s dangerous and the water that full of snags?”
Poor Mr. Inspector! On his devoted head fell all the blame though he deserved only praise and grateful thanks for his most kind and careful piloting of wilful people!
Mrs Sutherland calmed down when we were once inside her hospitable doors and did all she could for our comfort. It was nearly midnight, but she prepared hot tea and gave us plenty of hot water, rubbed my throbbing ankle, carried off our wet clothes to be washed and dried, and saw us snugly into bed before she left us.
The bedrooms were such delightful little white nests in the candle-light, with comfortable wooden bedsteads and kapok mattresses invitingly soft and cosy. And it was not many minutes before I was contentedly recalling the experiences of a very long day with the deepest thankfulness that it was safely over.
But everyone was not so well off, for I finally fell asleep with the strident tones of a foreign voice in my ears. Somewhere in a room near by an ardent supporter of Mr Sutherland and the independent spirit which had made him refuse to answer the telephone though he must have guessed what was wanted and simply did not choose to turn out even though he might endanger lives by not doing so, was haranguing our patient M.C. on the iniquities of Government procedure. And marvelling at the courtesy of Mr. Inspector when anyone else would have told the officious visitor to mind his own business, I dreamed that I was voyaging down the Wanganui in the U.S.S. Company’s “Takapuna!”
THE MITRE PEAK.
“That day was a long litany
That ended with prophetic notes
Of melancholy majesty,
Breathed from a hundred ocean throats.”
Mrs Greendays and I were very late for breakfast next morning and found the table deserted, but Captain Greendays and Colonel Deane came in before we had finished, to make plans for the day.
“We are not going anywhere at all!” announced Mrs Greendays decisively. “I am aching from head to foot, and if Mary is not she ought to be, and I am not going to allow her to walk a step to-day.”
Colonel Deane nodded approval. “A day of rest!” he said meditatively. “And, by the way, do you know that it is Sunday, good people?”
“By Gad!” exclaimed Captain Greendays. “So it is! How the weeks fly! Then to-morrow will be Christmas Eve,—and we sail from the Bluff on the 31st!”
“Only one more week!” I cried regretfully. “How many days can we stay here?”
“We must have Christmas Day, at all costs!” said Mrs Greendays.
Colonel Deane, who had been making rapid calculations with the aid of a “Tourist Itinerary” lying on a side-table, said that if we would hurry back we could allow ourselves Christmas Day at Milford and still have a day and a half to spend on the track, and this momentous question settled we went out to see what the Sound looked like by daylight.
It was very different to the Sound of our imagination. There was no sign of any “open sea”; the waters appeared to be completely land-locked, and were calm and peaceful as a lake,—calmer, in fact, than Kanieri had been on the day we were disappointed of our boating. And its loveliness and grandeur were far beyond anything we could have conceived. Mountains all round us, some heavily wooded, others black, bare, rocky, but all of them so tall that they seemed to touch the sky. Mitre Peak looked from Sutherland’s as if it stood quite apart and separate from its sister-peaks, and Pembroke Peak, with its cloud of snow gleaming white in the sunshine against the blue sky, seemed to be part of the hill that rose close behind the landing stage where Sutherland’s launch looked a tiny boat against the stone platform. We could not see the Bowen Falls from where we stood, but the booming of the water as it fell 300 feet in a single plunge from a basin in the cliff to the Sound below was like the bass notes of a mighty organ reverberating among the mountains and tall cliffs.
“You can’t possibly stay in on such a lovely day!” protested Captain Greendays. “Come for a walk,—it isn’t at all a good plan to keep too still after getting so tired, you will feel more stiff than ever to-morrow!”
“Shall we go out in Sutherland’s launch?” suggested Colonel Deane. “That won’t be an infraction on your day of rest, Mrs Greendays, and as those people will probably turn up this afternoon we may not have the Sound all to ourselves again!”
“And a host of chattering people would quite spoil it!” I urged.
“Well, if you will promise not to go outside,” Mrs Greendays yielded. “I am so tired that I could not endure even a rocking in the cradle of the deep!”So we spent the morning lazily drifting about in and out of the inlets and channels, under those mighty hills. We went close under the Bowen Falls, but did not experience the wonderful miracle that the Rev. W. S. Green relates as happening to him. “The steamer,” he says, “was allowed to drift up in the eddy caused by the fall, and being caught by the stream in the midst of clouds of spray, she was spun round as if she were a mere floating twig!!!” But we looked, and looked, and looked, fascinated at the beautiful foaming iridescent torrent that touched nothing in its descent until it met the waters below, when it sent up showers of spray that rained to quite a distance from it. At last Mrs Greendays declared that she should scream if she listened to that roar another moment without moving, so we all climbed out of the launch and walked over to the lonely and pathetic little graveyard lying at the foot of the falls. One or two of the graves have head-stones or wooden crosses, but most of them are nameless and there are only about half a dozen in all. And then we voyaged back again to the house for dinner.
We had just had tea that afternoon when a telephone message from Sandfly Point showed that Colonel Deane had been right in his expectation that the others would arrive that day. And as I felt quite rested and wanted to give my ankle some exercise, Captain Greendays, Colonel Deane and I climbed to the top of the hill near the house to watch old Sutherland cross the Sound and bring his passengers back. The hill was a labyrinth of fairy groves, with a fernery here and an arbour of delicate creeping plants there, and a marvellous tangle of woodland everywhere. From the top Sutherland’s house looked like a white butterfly that had fallen on the edge of a tiny lake among giant hills, and his little launch was just a toy boat sailing under the shadow of mighty cliffs.
When we got back the Eight had just arrived and greatly to my disgust I found that the other bed in my room had been allotted to Miss Binks. However it might have been one of the terrible five, even, perhaps, the chaperone, so I blessed Mrs Sutherland for her choice while I wondered at the strange lack of desire for privacy that makes it possible for inn-keepers in New Zealand to put perfect strangers into one bedroom. It must be the same germ that flourishes in shipbuilders and owners! But surely in these days of marvellous invention so simple a thing as a design that would give each person his own particular corner, however limited the space, might be created!
But it proved that the Eight were setting off on the return journey next morning, so we readily forgave them for being. When I went into the sitting-room, where Mrs Greendays and Colonel Deane were finding great entertainment in an old ledger used as a visitors’ book, to tell them the good tidings, Mrs Greendays exclaimed,
“To-morrow! Why, what did they come for? But it is the same case as that verse I showed you just now Colonel Deane,—look, Mary.”
“Smiling Tarawera sees her sons depart,
To view the scenes of Milford sounds ‘so smart’!
Glorious is his object, noble his aim,—
He come here—and write his name!”
“The poor bard was not very grammatical, but—doesn’t it seem to describe these people exactly?”
“That was written in the days when the “Tarawera” came here in place of the “Waikare” I expect,” said Colonel Deane. “In those days there was really some excuse for a lack of energy on the tourist’s part,—at all events if he came via McKinnon’s Pass! A kindly Government had not then taken the overland excursion under its wing, and there was no Tourist Department to build huts and make tracks. People were very frugally fed if they came overland, and had really a good deal of hardship, and when they arrived here there was no such thing as a telephone from Sandfly to warn old Sutherland to fetch them, nor iron ropes to help them up the rocks to the top of the Bowen Falls. In those days there was some spice of adventure attaching to an expedition over McKinnon’s Pass to Milford, but now they are fast making such a feather-bed thing of it that there will soon be no more novelty in the walk than there is to a Londoner in walking from the Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner.”
We watched their departure next morning, and then, rejoicing in being alone again, spent nearly all the rest of the day in the launch. But we ventured farther out, even to the “open sea” that had been so great a bugbear to Mrs Greendays and me when we thought that we had to cross it in a rowing boat in the dark, and visited a little bay in which Sutherland declared he had found gold and precious stones as well as greenstone.
Christmas Day dawned fair and serene, without a cloud in the sky, and the air so still and clear that every twig and tendril in the bush seemed to be distinct. We climbed up through the tangle of bush and ferns and trees on the cliffs to the Bowen Falls, first to the top fall, and then down to the basin it falls into only to leap out into the air right away from the rocks and tumble headlong into the Sound. It was the finest sight and the grandest, finer far than the Sutherland Falls, grander even than the Huka. For the great mass of water comes rushing down the first cliff in a foaming torrent, irresistible, and awful in its power, and while an immense white body of seething froth is whirling in the rocky basin another, sea-blue and transparent, in one gigantic curving fountain shoots into the air, and falls, leaving between it and the rocks a wide space that shows a picture of the vegetation on the further cliff.
In the woodland up on those cliffs there are dozens of green and brown parrots, though we had not seen a single one all the way along the track. The climbing is by no means easy, and it is very wet under foot, for the vegetation is so dense that the ground never gets a chance of drying. And so the mosses and ferns are simply lovely.
Mrs Greendays said after luncheon that she must rest in preparation for the walk back, so she went out in the fishing boat with her husband, who had been fishing since early daylight. But Colonel Deane and I wanted neither to fish nor to rest, so we went off for a walk through the wood at the back of Sutherland’s into the Cleddan Valley, under the Pembroke Peak.
And as we walked he told me many things, but none that interested me more than the story of his poet, David the Dreamer as he called him. But it is too long a story to be included in this. And when we got back to Sutherland’s I showed him the little book in which I had written all the fragments he had quoted, and he said,
“You must appreciate their beauty, then, little friend! But those are only scraps, Mary; as soon as they are published you shall have the whole, and then you will be able to see how exquisitely my Dreamer dreams and paints in words the country of his birth.”
The Moa, with Kiwis.
THE MILFORD TRACK AGAIN.
“Last laden bees on droning wings are flying
Home to the hive of perfumed honey sweet,
Thro’ high still airs a sea-bird shoreward hieing
Seeks the bold bluff where cloud and headland meet.”
Pluvius seemed to be dogging our footsteps, for it was raining again next morning, but we could not afford to take any risks and we were crossing to Sandfly Point by six o’clock, and carried away a farewell view of the Mitre Peak under a diaphanous drapery of thin mist. The walk from Sandfly to Lake Ada was very wet, but we did not mind that now that we could see the lovely foliage, the great hills so clearly outlined against the stormy sky, and with the music of the river as it hastened along its boulder-strewn bed to “mark time” for our steps.
Had it only been fine we would have walked round the lake, for there is a very fine waterfall that one misses by crossing it in a boat. But the weather, though Colonel Deane declared that it was going to clear, looked so threatening that Captain Greendays hurried us, afraid of another contretemps if we lingered.
So we crossed the lake again, and once more the snags were dangerously hidden through the blurring of the water by the rain. But again we navigated it safely, and had many an enchanting view of towering peaks and foaming waterfalls, with ever-changing vistas of the lake and river, where the paradise ducks and black swans were sailing about in search of breakfast.
When we landed at the other side we found, to our surprise, that two more huts had been added. True they were small and rather rougher than the sleeping huts along the track, but Mr. Inspector said he had been taught a lesson by our adventure the other night, and had then and there determined that nothing of the sort should happen again.
“Even if people started in plenty of time from the Sutherland Falls there is no guaranteeing that they won't meet with an accident or something to delay them,—there’s that river to cross, for instance, and the ropes might get out of order. So I sent word to these chaps that they’d get overtime pay if they rushed these through and they worked from daybreak yesterday morning to do it. Directly we can get the bedding down these will be ready for emergencies, now.”
We had some sandwiches and hot tea there, for we had not been able to do justice to Mrs Sutherland’s early breakfast, and then, like giants refreshed, began the long walk to the Falls. But during our short sojourn in the hut another of those weather miracles took place, the rain ceased, the clouds vanished, the sun shone, all in the twinkling of an eye. And under these conditions the walk did not seem at all long. The valley was roofed with an azure dome that seemed to double the height of the hills, and in the sunshine the trees and ferns and moss looked more emerald green than ever. And it intensified the fragrance of the syringa, and made the clematis gleam like ivory; and as it sparkled on the water the creeks and gullies seemed to be instinct with life and bubbling with joy. How the water rushed and foamed over the giant granite rocks in Roaring Creek, too, and how it glittered and purled in the broad river-bed under the suspended chair!
We arrived at the scene of our defeated hopes soon after midday, and walked up to see the Falls while dinner was being prepared. And as it was so gloriously fine we decided not to stay there after all, but to take advantage of the good weather to cross over the Pass lest our luck failed us by the morrow.
But we had a good spell at the huts, inspected the new ones which will afford double accommodation in the future, and started on the third stage of that day’s journey at about three o’clock.
The “Hamlet” looked very lovely, but it was all up-hill, and certainly seemed very long, perhaps because there is little or no variation in the view. We seemed to be eternally turning corners into exactly the same spot that we had just left, but the last turn paid for them all, for we did not realise that it was the last until we unexpectedly came upon the “Battlefield!”
It still looked like a battle-field, too, that wonderful valley, even more so, perhaps, under the sunny peaceful sky than when the storm-clouds were darkening and half concealing the gigantic peaks and enormous masses of snow and ice. Now the sun shone down on the battered grey warriors fallen from their lofty eyries, and glistened on the streaming sides of the cruelly-torn and rent declivities, whence great masses of rock and soil had been dislodged in the fury of the elements. It glittered coldly on the gleaming, dazzling Jervois Glacier that filled the sky-high saddle between its guardian peaks and it flashed from the mica-covered stones in the cliffs under the dripping snow-water that ran from the heights. The scene was, if possible, even more desolate in the sunshine than it had been under the rain, and its wild, gruesome, devastated aspect reminded one of the merciless and relentless grey wastes of a stormy sea.
But from the higher grades of the ascent a more peaceful landscape was to be seen. The Battle-field lay below in all its chaotic abandonment, but above it, in a curved plateau half-hidden by the hills, was a green plain, so peaceful, so perfectly sheltered, in such vivid contrast to the grey hills around it, like an emerald in a setting of dull old silver, that one might have been forgiven for daring the snow-drifts and avalanches and landslips which, said Mr. Inspector, would menace it nearly all the year round, to make a home there. For close to it ran a sparkling stream from some mountain spring, just below was the quiet fern-hamlet, and all around the still grey hills, like sentinels to guard it from untoward winds and inclement weather. Who could believe that those very sheltering hills constituted the emerald plain’s gravest danger?
From the top of McKinnon’s Pass we looked down on our left into the fair and narrow Clinton Valley, with its silver ribbon glancing between lovely moss-green herbage, the valley winding gently between overhanging grey hill-tops to an opening where the sun had crimsoned the fleecy clouds in promise of a good morrow; on our right far below, lay the broad, bleak valley we had just traversed, wide as the Clinton was narrow, grey as the Clinton was green, but with a grand sublime beauty that awed where the other merely pleased. The majesty of its kingly mountains crowned with snow and ice created a hushed reverence in the very atmosphere, as though a noble life, ended, lay there in state, compelling all to silence by the stern dignity of its solemn grandeur.
And on the top of the Pass, where only four days ago we had painfully made our way through the snow, buffeted by a fierce wind, all was calm and smiling. Beautiful Alpine lilies invited our attention, sparkling stones all yellow with some mineral called out to be picked up and examined at least, if not carried away, and where we had seen nothing but a white bewildering field of snow was an innocent and hopeful grassy table-land.
A few miles more, easy down-hill miles, and we were once again on the banks of the Clinton. But the huts had been moved from Mintaro to a place called Pompolona, a few miles farther on, so that we were well satisfied with our day’s walk when at last we arrived there, having done thirty miles including the climb up the Pass.
We again made an early start next morning, a bright and sparkling morning fresh as early spring, and walked right through to Glade House but very leisurely, for this was the last we were to see of ferns and foliage for a long while to come.
And at three o’clock that afternoon when we were on the Te Anau steamer again, taking a farewell look at the snow-capped peaks and the wooded mountainsides with their silver streams and scarlet rata brightening the somewhat sombre leafage, Mrs Greendays exclaimed,
“I would not have missed it for the world, Tom!”“And what luck we have had!” he returned, beaming at her approval. “Most glorious weather on the whole, and that one stormy day was really a fine experience, you know, and what waterfalls it gave us! I really do call the scenery of this country top-hole, Deane, top-hole, no less! It has been a series of beautiful pictures all the way through, and by gad, old chap, we have a lot to thank you for, planning such a grand tour! The tourist department chaps looked quite flabbergasted when I went to them with your list of places the day we arrived in Auckland,—said it would be almost impossible to do it in the time, especially with two ladies,—ha—ha!”
“They didn’t know the ladies!” said Colonel Deane.
FAREWELL TO AO-TEA-ROA.
“ . . . . . . . with a sweet freight
Of memories on our souls, that cannot die.”
When we found that we could, at the cost of a little extra fatigue, spend another two days in Dunedin instead of Invercargill we unanimously chose Dunedin. And this meant leaving Te Anau at four-thirty in the morning and arriving at Dunedin at seven in the evening, so that the last day of our eleven together was the longest of all.
And when Colonel Deane’s many friends in the Scottish city heard of our arrival with him they showered invitations upon us to such an extent that if we had had two weeks instead of two days we could not have accepted them all.
So we spent Saturday in quite a whirl, but Sunday we kept for just ourselves, as it was our last day with Colonel Deane. And then, after we had all said good-bye a dozen times on Sunday evening, because our train left so early in the morning, the Man of Comfort calmly got into our birdcage on Monday morning and announced that he was coming to the Bluff to “see the last of us!”
Mrs Greendays and I were being paid out now for our ungrateful and ungallant homesickness! It was really a wrench to say good-bye to this lovely land of the April face, and vainly, alas! we wished for one more month,—one more week,—one more day! But the train rushed relentlessly on, it did not even dawdle at the little stations as all the other expresses had done, and we felt sadder and sadder as each emerald field and hill and vale, each sparkling stream and peaceful lake that we passed took us nearer and nearer to the boat that was waiting to carry us out of sight of it all.
“It is a pity that you could not have spent at least six months out here!” said Colonel Deane. “As it is you have only an impressionist idea of New Zealand to carry away with you. The best of the cities lies in their surroundings, which of course there has not been time to see, and then the places you have had to miss altogether! The Bay of Islands is a dream of loveliness, and the kauri forests up there are something entirely different to anything of the kind in the world. And Napier too,—I wish you could have seen Napier. It is such a pretty little town, and the district is one of the finest we have, with most undoubtedly the very best climate in the country. I don’t consider that anyone has seen New Zealand until they have been on a station at shearing time, inspected a milk-factory when the farmers were bringing their milk in, seen the gum-digging, and watched the kauri logs come down the great rivers.”
Mrs Greendays laughed, and said,
“You would not give us a certificate like those they are selling to visitors at the Exhibition, then,—‘This is to certify that —————— has visited New Zealand.’”
“Oh, visited!” he answered, laughing too. “But seriously, it is nearly as,—as inadequate, to say you have been to Kimberley and seen neither the diamonds nor the mines as to come out here and see none of the industries that make the country. The woollen mills, where they make the rugs and clothing and blankets, the flax-mills, the frozen meat works, the timber, gum, gold, butter, wool,—all these are as much New Zealand as the scenery, and to go away without seeing them is as unsatisfactory as it would be to see the Exhibition for instance, from the opposite side of the river, without ever entering the building.”
“Well, I am quite content to take the internal machinery of the country for granted!” said Captain Greendays. “But I do regret coming away without a single shot at the deer! It would have been worth something to carry away a few good pairs of antlers, instead of a story no one will believe about a chap called Pelorus Jack!”
He said it so seriously and sadly that we all laughed, and so, comparing notes and recalling incidents of our stay, we passed the last of our emerald hours.
We had only a few minutes before we sailed after we went on board, and of course we said all the inane things people generally say when every moment is precious and there are a thousand things unspeakable in their hearts. But just as the last bell rang, while Mrs Greendays was examining with immense satisfaction the lovely New Zealand rug Colonel Deane had given her as a parting gift, and I was leaning over the rail with him, taking a photograph of the Bluff, lie said, touching my arm to make me look at him,
“If, when I get home at the end of this next year, I ask you to pay another visit to Maoriland, with me, will you come?
Printed by Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, Christchurch.—73398
NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS.
Picturesque New Zealand CHEAP FARES to Hot Lakes, Cold Lakes and Hot Springs
TOURIST EXCURSION TICKETS
Are issued daily (Sundays excepted) throughout the year, as under:—
- (a) Available over Lines of Both Islands for Six Weeks from date of issue £7
- (b) Available over North Island Lines for Four Weeks from date of issue £4
- (e) Available over Middle Island Lines for Four Weeks from date of issue £5
These tickets are available over Government lines only, and are obtainable as follows: (a) and (b) at Auckland, Onehunga, Rotorua, Thames, Napier, Hastings, Woodville, Masterton, Palmerston North, Wanganui, New Plymouth, Wellington, and Te Aro; (a) and (c) at Nelson, Greymouth, Lyttelton, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Palmerston, Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Mosgiel, Omakau, Milton, Lawrence, Clinton, Invercargill, and Bluff Railway Stations; (a) and (c) series are available for travel over Lake Wakatipu.
Tourist Excursion Tickets may be extended for any period not exceeding four weeks, on payment of an extension fee of £1 10s. per week, or portion of a week, on application to the Station Master at any of the above-mentioned stations, before the expiration of original tickets.
The COLD LAKES and the GLACIAL DISTRICT of Otago
Wakatipu, Wanaka, Hawea, Manapouri, Te Anau, Sutherland Falls; etc.
RETURN EXCURSION TICKETS, available for Three Months, will be issued between 1st NOVEMBER and 31st MARCH, as under:—
To KINGSTON, LAKE WAKATIPU
(Including saloon steamer passage Kingston to Queenstown and back).
|First Class||Second Class|
|Christchurch (via Waimea Line only)|| ... ... ||£3||13||6||||£2||0||0|
|Christchurch (round trip via Waimea Line or Invercargill)|| ... ... ||4||0||0||2||4||6|
|Dunedin (via Waimea Line only)|| ... ... ||1||15||0||1||0||6|
|Dunedin (round trip via Waimea Line or Invercargill)|| ... ... ||2||2||6||1||5||0|
|Invercargill (via Kingston Line only)|| ... ... ||1||0||0||0||14||0|
|Invercargill (via either Kingston or Gore and Waimea Line)|| ... ... ||1||5||0||0||15||6|
To PEMBROKE, LAKE WANAKA
(Including saloon steamer passage, Kingston to Queenstown and back, and coach, Queenstown to Pembroke and back).
- From Dunedin (via Waimea Line only) ... ... 60s. (first class)
The journey may be broken at any station at which the train is timed to stop, after travelling 25 miles from the original starting station, provided the specified time for which the tickets are available is not exceeded.
THERMAL SPRINGS of the NORTH ISLAND.
Rotorua Hot Lakes, Waitomo Caves, Te Aroha and Okoroire Hot Springs.
Round Trip Excursion Tickets are issued throughout the year, as under:—
- 1. From Auckland to Thames by rail, Thames to Auckland by steamer, or vice versa.
ROUND TRIP: First Class, 21s.; Second Class, 15s.
- 2. From Auckland to Rotorua, thence to Thames by rail, Thames to Auckland by steamer, or vice versa.
ROUND TRIP: First Class, 32s. 6d.; Second Class, 21s.
- 3. From Auckland to Hangatiki, Hangatiki to Rotorua, and Rotorua to Thames by rail, Thames to Auckland by steamer, or vice versa.
ROUND TRIP: First Class, 39s.; Second Class, 24s.
These tickets are available for three months from date of issue.
Nature’s Grandest Pleasure=Ground and Sanatorium.
MAGNIFICENT SCENERY. MILD AND EQUABLE CLIMATE.
No extremes of Heat or Cold.No Droughts.No Blizzards.
HOT LAKES. WONDERFUL GEYSERS.
Abundant Hot Mineral Springs possessing marvellous curative powers. Resident Government Medical Officers at the various Spas.
Delightful routes of travel everywhere by rail, steamer and coach.
No finer land for the Wool-grower, the Dairy-farmer, the Stock-raiser, and the Agriculturist. State Experts for instruction of Farmers; Government Experimental Farms.
Angling and Deerstalking for the Sportsman.
For the HOME-Seeker,
- The HEALTH-Seeker,
- The WEALTH-Seeker,
- The PLEASURE-Seeker,
- And the SPORT-Seeker,
- THERE IS NO BETTER COUNTRY THAN NEW ZEALAND.
New Zealand is reached in 27 days from London via the United States, 30 days via Canada, and about six weeks by direct liner, or via Suez and Australia.
LITERATURE AND ALL INFORMATION
regarding Tourist Routes, Scenery, Sport, Land for Settlement, Passage Concessions to Intending Settlers, FREE, from
- The High Commissioner for New Zealand,
- Westminster Chambers, 13 Victoria Street, London, S.W.
New Zealand Government Department of Tourist and Health Resorts,
- WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND.
- T. E. DONNE, General Manager.
This Hotel has the patronage of His Excellency the Governor and Suite, Sir John Gorst (British Commissioner N.Z.I.E.), Ministers of the N.Z. Cabinet, and most of the leading Commissioners in connection with the Exhibition.
Is centrally situated, most luxuriously furnished, and has conveniences all that science can suggest.
It is in close proximity to all places of Amusement, and all Trams stop at the main entrance.
TARIFF-12/6 AND 1O/6 PER DAY.
Auckland Central Hotel. Victoria and High Streets.
Home of English and American Tourists.
This Hotel, as its name implies, is unsurpassed for its central and commanding position. In close proximity to the Banks, the principal Warehouses, Museum, Albert Park, the Theatres and the Public Library, and without the disadvantage and noise from tram traffic, it is specially attractive to the general travelling public.
Hydraulic Passenger-Elevator always available to upper floors.
The Reading, Writing and Smoking Rooms are replete with every convenience. The greatest care is taken to maintain a reputation for home comfort.
Porter and Luggage-van attend all trains, etc.
PREMIER HOTEL OF AUCKLAND.
C. KALMAN, MANAGER.
— N.Z. —
CHAS. F. EAGAR,
THE LEADING AND MOST FASHIONABLE HOTEL IN WELLINGTON.
White Hart Hotel
The Private ..
Cr. Lambton Quay & Stout Sts., WELLINGTON.
TARIFF: 81/- Day ₤2/10/. Week.
VISITORS will find the accommodation to be unsurpassed in the Colony.
Correspondence: Mrs. CHAS. COOK, Warwick House,
JOSEPH A. AINGE,
PATRONISED BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR AND SUITE.
The Grand Hotel, besides being the only absolutely Fireproof Hotel in New Zealand, is the only one in Dunedin with an Ottis Elevator for the use of Patrons. The hotel is most conveniently situated, within five minutes’ walk of the Railway Station, and two of the Post and Telegraph Offices. It contains magnificent dining-room, ladies’ drawing-room, private billiard-room, etc. All applications for further particulars to be made to the Proprietor, or at the Government Tourist Agencies. Having secured a further lease, the Proprietor has pleasure in announcing that the hotel has been thoroughly renovated, and the sanitary arrangements put in up-to-date condition.
Selling the BEST
for the LEAST.
J. BALLANTYNE & Co.
KLITO No. 1 Camera. Quarter-plate.
Price - - 22/6, at Sharland’s.
Write for our 1907 Large Illustrated Catalogue. Gratis and Post Free.
We have the largest stock of Cameras and Photographic Supplies in New Zealand.
WE MAKE A SPECIALTY OF DEVELOPING AND PRINTING TOURISTS’ NEGATIVES.
Sharland’s Photo Depot,
53 Lambton Quay, Wellington, N.Z.
Miss E. Morley,
CASHEL STREET West, CHRISTCHURCH.
Liberty Hangings, Draperies and Fancy Goods.
Art Potteries and Pewter.
Quaint Goods of all descriptions.
HOURS—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bartlett’s Silver Point Pictures.
These Pictures are undoubtedly the finest of their kind yet shown in Australasia, and are a happy combination of lens and pencil.
W. H. BARTLETT, Photographer,
QUEEN STREET, AUCKLAND,
NODINE & Co.,
The oldest and best firm for Ladies' Tailoring in Australasia.
Eton Gowns, Coats & Skirts, Habits, &c.
Address: 30, WELLINGTON TERRACE.
Travellers and Tourists
There is nothing that will Add
to your personal comfort like a
It’s made of the finest N.Z. grown Merino and Half-bred Wool, and is “‘A,’ ‘AE,’ ‘OO.’” It’s woven at the far-famed “Mosgiel” Mills, and the workmanship cannot be surpassed. The warm downy fleeciness of the natural wool is retained unimpaired. After being soaked in rain, it dries soft and dainty as ever. The “Mosgiel” Rugs are used by the Royalty of Great Britain. In competition with the World’s Woollen Manufacturers at St. Louis Exhibition, “Mosgiel” received the Grand Prix. The leading Drapers and Outfitters will show you the “Mosgiel”—look for the name on EVERY rug,
“The best of their kind on earth!”
MOSGIEL CO. LTD., Dunedin, New Zealand.
Oceanic Steamship Company
(A and A Line).
The SHORTEST LINK between
Great Britain and Australasia
is the A and A Line Route, via AMERICA and CANADA.
The Through Trip from London to New Zealand and Australia may be accomplished in 27 and 31 days respectively:
|London to New York|| ... ||3325 knots—7 days|
|New York to San Francisco|| ... ||3270 ” 4 ”|
|San Francisco to Auckland|| ... ||5930 ” 16 ”|
|Auckland to Sydney|| ... ||1280 ” 4 ”|
|13,805 knots—31 days.|
And the longest time at sea is under 7 days between ports.
Choice of Eight Routes across the American Continent.
Specimen of the A & A Line Round World Trip.
- London to New Zealand and Australia, via America or Canada.
- Returning to London by any Suez or Cape Line, or vice versa.
- Special low rates quoted. Tickets good for two years.
Round Pacific Tours, embracing
- The South Sea Islands, China, Japan, Honolulu and Australasia, available over A and A Line Services at low rates.
Itineraries for all Round World Tours made up on application to the following Agents:
- LONDON—B. K. Denbigh, European Traffic Agent, 22 Cockspur Street, S.W.
- SAN FRANCISCO—L. F. Cockroft, General Passage Agent, 653 Market Street.
- AUCKLAND (N.Z.)—V. A. Sproul, Branch Manager for New Zealand, Customs and Queen Streets.
- SYDNEY—Thos. S. Jones, General Manager in Australasia, Pitt and Bridge Streets.
Union Steam Ship Co. of N.Z. Ltd.
THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDS.
“Summer Isles of Eden lying
In dark purple spheres of sea.”
No more delightful excursions can be conceived than those to the South Sea Islands at any time from April to November. Here in “Edens floated out to sea” the traveller, unvexed by the tumults and worries of the outer world, finds delightful rest and change amid scenes of native life and tropical beauty unparalleled in all the world for interest and picturesqueness. No one who has visited the Islands ever forgets the “blue changeless ocean, the crooning of the coral reef, the feathery palms, the spreading forest trees.”
TONGA, SAMOA, FIJI, Etc.
By the magnificent new Steamers "ATUA," 3,500 tons "NAVUA," 3.000 tons, built specially for the Island Service, and equipped with every Up-to-date convenience—Electric Lights and Fans, Refrigerators, etc.—every 28 days from Auckland or Sydney.
Saloon Cabins, Dining, Drawing, and Smoking Rooms, ALL ON DECK.
Shorter Trips to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga, or Tahiti by the above Steamers or the popular “Manapouri,” “Haupoto,” or “Taviuni,” every 28 days. Illustrated pamphlets and detailed information at any of our offices.
THE WEST COAST SOUNDS OF NEW ZEALAND.
Unsurpassed for Grandeur of Scenery.
A SUMMER CRUISE is arranged in January of each year.
- The Sutherland Falls (1904 feet), and other famous attractions in the vicinity, may be conveniently visited—Boating, Fishing, Exploring, &c.
For Particulars, apply to any Office of the Company.
Under the British Flag.
Via FIJI, HONOLULU and VICTORIA (B.C.) to VANCOUVER,
IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE
Choice of all ATLANTIC Mail Lines from Montreal, Halifax, Boston, New York, etc., etc.
ROUND THE WORLD TOURS
Via SUEZ, SOUTH AFRICA, CHINA, JAPAN, Etc.
Passengers from New Zealand may join Mail Steamers at Sydney or at Suva, Fiji.
For Maps, Guide Books, and all information, apply
Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand, Ltd.
MANAGING AGENTS IN AUSTRALASIA.
Grandest Scenery in the World
- Kapok—Vegetable wool.
- Mitre Peak, 5,560 ft.; Mount Pembroke, 6,710 ft.