Notes on New Zealand (1892)/Chapter 1
The Country, the Climate, and the
Natural Productions of New Zealand.
ADVANTAGES OF SITUATION.
In these days, when the prosperity of a country is so largely reckoned by the extent of its trade, the facilities afforded for commerce by its geographical situation and natural formation are of the utmost importance. To the unique advantages which she possesses in these respects the future greatness of New Zealand will be largely due. We rightly attribute a great deal of England's vast naval and mercantile superiority over all other nations to the fact that she is an island; and in proportion as the means of navigating the ocean become more and more extended, so will the power of island nations become more and more predominant.
New Zealand consists of two large, long islands, and a smaller one in the south, which lie almost entirely between latitudes 35° and 46°. Here at the outset she has the same advantages, from a mercantile point of view, over the colonies on the continent of Australia as the islands of Great Britain have over the other countries of Europe. She has an isolated and independent position, and the ocean, the high road of commerce, surrounds her on every side.
The two main islands of New Zealand are separated from one another by a narrow channel called Cook's Straits, which rivals the British Channel for the roughness and uncertainty of weather experienced by those who cross it.
If we take an imaginary voyage in one of the Union Company's steamers round the islands we can best form an idea of their coast line and harbour accommodation. We commence with the North Island and start from Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and the seat of government.
THE NORTH ISLAND.
Wellington Harbour is one of great size, beauty, and usefulness. The largest South Pacific mail steamer may be brought up alongside the wharves. This harbour contains several smaller bays and inlets, upon which are built settlements, which should in time develop into prosperous towns, and which at present add greatly to the beauty of the harbour. A better site might have been selected by the early settlers for the City of Wellington, which is now somewhat cramped by the encircling hills, and little space is left for its extension. On visiting Wellington recently, after four years' absence, I found that, in order to build another street, the sea in front had been filled up and a site had thus been provided at an immense expense. The harbour is naturally so constructed as to afford perfectly safe anchorage to craft of every description, and its entrance is strongly fortified. Leaving Wellington and steaming out of the harbour through The Heads, we take at first a S.E. direction until the Bay and Cape of Palliser are rounded, when we change to the N.N.E. and pass Cape Turnagain, Black Head, and Kidnapper Point, but come to no place of present importance till, after entering Hawke's Bay, we anchor outside Napier. Here we are obliged to go ashore in surf boats, as no wharves have as yet been completed, but a breakwater is in course of construction. The province of Hawke's Bay owes its name to Admiral Hawke, who founded the settlement. The town of Napier is of some importance, though not of great extent at present, and is situated in a very rich and fertile district. Until Messrs Nelson and Brothers opened their celebrated freezing factory in this town the demand for sheep was so small and the supply of these animals so plentiful that, it is said, the early settlers, in laying down their orchards, planted the carcass of a sheep under each tree for purposes of manure.
This district in common with the greater part of the North Island is largely inhabited by the Maori natives.
Leaving Napier we pass Terakako Peninsula, and are out of Hawke's Bay. We soon arrive at Poverty Bay, on which lies the town of Gisborne. Contrary to what we might be led to expect from the name, the country around Poverty Bay consists of exceedingly rich pasture land. The Bay itself is of great size and beautifully situated for affording accommodation to vessels. Gisborne is a small but pretty and well-to-do town. Near here, a very short time ago, the Maori Chief, Te-Kooti, and his tribe attempted a rising on account of supposed encroachments on their land, but the mounted police promptly sallied forth, and the Chief having been arrested, the insurrection was suppressed without bloodshed. We now proceed northward, and passing on our way several bays and capes of minor importance, we round East Cape and Cape Runaway and find ourselves in the Bay of Plenty. This bay contains Taranga Harbour, on which stands Taranga town, principally a Maori settlement. It was to this town that the inhabitants of the Terawera district had to flee on the occasion of the remarkable and fatal convulsion of nature that took place there on the 10th of June, 1886, and destroyed the famous pink and white terraces, thereby depriving the world of one of the most wonderful pieces of scenery ever discovered, and completely devastating the principal hot lake district of New Zealand. Taranga Harbour, in keeping with those already described, is admirably adapted for the commerce of the future.
From Taranga we go northwards past Mercury Bay, the settlement of Coromandel, and Cape Colville, through the Gulf of Hauraki, and past Wai-heki Island till we find ourselves in Auckland Harbour. This harbour is very large and contains the Government Docks; its scenery is famous, and it is a great resort for yachts. Aquatic sports are kept up the whole year round. The ferry from Auckland across the bay, some three miles distance, is extensively patronized on Sunday afternoons. I might mention in this connection that the Sunday three mile limit is the law in New Zealand; in some parts of Australia a fifty mile limit is the rule.
The city is beautifully situated at the foot of Mount Eden, from the summit of which a magnificent view can be obtained.
The warmth of this northern district is not conducive to great business activity. Pleasure seems to be predominant in the minds of the inhabitants, and a great amount of money is invested in sports of every description. Auckland is only some nineteen or twenty days' run by steamer from San Francisco; this is the shortest postal route between the mother country and her colonies. A letter can now be conveyed from Auckland to Liverpool in thirty-three days, and efforts are being made by the Honourable George M'Clean, the indefatigable chairman of the Union Steamship Company, to reduce this time still further.
Going north from Auckland we pass several fine bays and harbours, but these are of no commercial importance at present, for this is the "native" country, exclusively possessed by the Maoris, and to parts of which, it is said, no white man has ever penetrated; but the present Governor of New Zealand, Lord Onslow, has been invited by the native chiefs to pay a visit to their country, in a private and family capacity of course. We will not discuss the motives of the native chiefs in issuing this invitation, but the last white man who returned after a visit to the "King country," as it is called, was so loaded with honours and insignia by these potentates, that he possessed no available space on his body for the reception of any more, in fact they insisted upon tattooing him all over. By virtue of this circumstance he was enabled to escape through their borders, being mistaken for a Maori.
There have been fabulous reports circulated of the gold to be found in this district, which, indeed, are to some extent borne out by the wealth of the very few adventurers who have returned thence safely.
We now round the extreme north of the island, and, changing our course to a southerly direction, we commence our journey down the west coast. We pass Hokianga and Kaipara Harbours, both very extensive and possessed apparently of excellent accommodation for ships, but as they are also situated in the Maori country, they have not as yet been made use of for commercial purposes. If this peninsula is as rich as reports lead us to believe, it will probably become, when opened up to Europeans, on account of its favourable situation, one of the most important mining districts in the world.
We proceed further down the coast till we reach Manukau Harbour, another of the remarkable enclosed seas for which the coast of New Zealand is famous. We enter and arrive at the town of Onehunga. Here we are only seven miles by land from Auckland, on the opposite coast, although we have come some 240 miles by sea since leaving there. Indeed Onehunga is but a suburb of Auckland. The narrow belt of land separating the two towns will certainly in the near future be traversed by a canal, and the native country will thereby be artificially transformed into a separate island. Manukau Harbour, though large, does not afford good anchorage for craft on account of sandbanks. We sail further south, past the mouth of the Waikato River, which has its origin in Lake Taupo, referred to later on. This river, one of the largest in New Zealand, flows through a fairly fertile country, and is remarkable for its scenery. We pass Wangaroa and Kawai Harbours, both of considerable size, and continue our southerly course till we come to New Plymouth, the chief town in the Taranaki province. This town is situated at the foot of the cone-shaped, snow-capped, Egmont Mountain, 8,270 feet high, forming a most impressive spectacle from the sea. New Plymouth is a town of fair importance, but of no great population as yet. We round Cape Egmont and make for Wanganui, on the Wanganui River, up which we can steam as far as the town. This is a very prosperous district, famous for the breeding of useful horses. A tourist wishing for excitement, sport, and beautiful scenery cannot do better than obtain a boat or a large Maori canoe and proceed up this magnificent river as far as he can go, or as far as the natives will let him. Here he can visit the Maoris at home, and find infinite amusement by mingling in their sports. By the offer of some tobacco to the chief of a tribe and a blanket to his favourite wife, this monarch can be induced to proclaim fête or gala day throughout his dominions in honour of his visitor, and the festivities which then ensue are of a most interesting and diversified nature.
We come to no further place of importance, but, rounding Cape Terawiti and crossing Cook's Straits, we leave the Northern Island behind us and commence our voyage round the Southern.
THE SOUTH ISLAND.
We proceed down the east coast, in sight of Cape Campbell, and, further on, the Kaikoura Peninsula, on which is situated Kaikoura town, a small port for the district of the same name.
Next we arrive off the town of Kaipoi, on the Waimakariri River, which flows into Pegasus Bay. Here are the well-known Kaipoi woollen factories. The town lies rather low, and is subject to the occasional disadvantage of being flooded in the spring by the overflowing of the river above mentioned, due to the melting of the snow on the Southern Alps.
We next reach Lyttleton Harbour, which somewhat resembles Wellington. We pass in through The Heads, and, rounding a promontory on the right, are in full view of Lyttleton town, situated at the foot and on the side of a steep hill. In front are the breakwaters, and inside them the wharves, alongside which large ships can come. The harbour, however, is somewhat dangerous for small sailing craft, on account of the sudden squalls which come down from the encircling hills. The town is small, but is of considerable importance through being the port for Christchurch, from which it is a journey of twenty minutes by train, five minutes of which are spent in passing through the Lyttleton tunnel, cut through some of the hills which form the Bank's Peninsula.
Leaving Lyttleton, we steam round Bank's Peninsula, passing several minor bays, the great resorts of excursionists from Christchurch, and put into Akaroa Harbour, on the other side of the Peninsula. This harbour is very beautiful, and here the French commenced the first white settlement on the South Island. This is a great fruit growing district, and many ancient Maori relics and caves are to be found along the coast, which is a favourite resort in summer. The Peninsula is composed almost entirely of hills, ranging about 2,000 feet high. On these hills the cocksfoot grass is grown and harvested, as the seed commands a good price in local markets.
We now sail for Port Chalmers, calling at Oamaru on the way. Oamaru is famous for its beds of freestone, of which the town is entirely built, and from which it earns its name of the "White City." The stone is most excellent for architectural purposes, and is easily carved. Here are situated the flour mills belonging to Messrs. Meek, perhaps the largest in the Colony. The harbour, the outlet for one of the richest tracts of country, was not naturally good, but has been vastly improved by artificial means.
Further south we enter Otago Harbour, and, passing Port Chalmers on the right, we arrive at Dunedin. Port Chalmers was originally the port for the larger vessels, which now, however, are enabled to proceed up as far as Dunedin itself. Dunedin is a Scotch settlement, and still retains, in a marked manner, the national characteristics of its founders. The City, the capital of the Otago province, is of great importance, and is nicely situated at the inner extremity of the Harbour, which is formed by a long arm of the sea, and is not so remarkable for beauty of scenery as many others in New Zealand.
Rounding Cape Saunders and going south, we pass the mouth of the Molyneux River and the town of Newhaven, and enter the Foveaux Straits, between the main island and Stewart. We safely weather The Bluff, so-called from its summary manner of dealing with vessels which approach too near its rugged shores, and put into Invercargill Harbour. This is a fine harbour and well sheltered, and the town of Invercargill has the reputation of being the best laid out town in the Colony, but this is of small importance since there are no inhabitants. It should, however, in time, and with the arrival of population, become one of the principal ports.
We now sail westward, passing Riverton, a gold mining settlement, and Tewywy Bay, then veering round to the north, pass Preservation Inlet, Chalky Inlet, Dusky Bay, Breaksea Sound, Doubtful Inlet, George Sound, and Milford Sound, up all of which there is delightful and rugged scenery. On the last-named is Mitre Peak, famed for its peculiar beauty; at the head Sunderland Falls, 550 feet high. Of this coast Captain Cook says:— "A prospect more rude and craggy is rarely to be met with. Far inland appeared nothing but the summits of mountains of a stupendous height, and consisting of rocks that are totally barren and naked, except when they are covered with snow."
The part of the coast just passed is greatly indented, a remarkable fact to be observed in connection with the south-west coast of nearly every country.
We continue to steer N.N.E. till we reach Hokitika. The harbour is not so fine as those already described, but the town is the most important at present on the west coast. We are now lying off the famous Gold Coast of New Zealand, concerning which so many remarkable stories are related. The district is largely populated with Chinamen. On the beach, and even for some distance out to sea, gold is sought and found.
We next reach Greymouth, on the Grey River, famous for its coal, and, at one time, also for gold. Brunnerton, further up the river, is also important on account of its coal mines.
Continuing northward, we round Cape Foulwind and arrive off Westport, on the Duller River. This place is also famous for its coal, of which the engineers on the Ocean liners testify that for getting up steam it has no superior, though the heat which it creates is liable to burn through the fire boxes. All these towns do a large trade in minerals of various descriptions.
We sail northward until we round Cape Farewell, then changing our course to the south, we skirt the bay, known either as Golden or Massacre, and anchor off the City of Nelson. We are now in the large open bay of Tasman or Blind Bay. Nelson is regarded as one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand in more senses than one, as a curious circumstance in connection with its population is the reported proportion of thirteen women to each man. The beauty of the situation evidently induced numerous emigrants to settle there; the scarcity of work and business has since compelled the male population to leave it. The town is built on the summit of the magnificent cliffs surrounding the bay. It is a health resort and possesses a fine college for youths.
We steer north once more in order to leave the bay, round D'Urville Island and Admiralty Bay, and enter Queen Charlotte's Sound, up which we steam to Picton. This is a small town, owing its principal importance, at present, to its connection by rail with Blenheim, for which it is the port. Blenheim is the chief town in the Marlborough province, and lies in a rich agricultural district. Queen Charlotte's Sound is long, narrow, and irregular in shape, and contains some small islands. Leaving the Sound, we cross Cook's Straits again, and arrive once more at Wellington. Here our voyage ceases and we disembark, bearing in mind that we have not been following the regular routes of the Union Steamers, which would often have taken us out of sight of land, but that we have been following a course of our own, and the one best suited to the objects we had in view. We now turn our attention to some of the principal inland features of the country.
OF THE COUNTRY.
The greater part of the North Island is at a considerable elevation above the sea, and the country may be described as of an undulating character. These highlands are chiefly covered with heavy bush, or what would in England be called forest. The trees are, as a rule, of immense size, and their description varies with the character and elevation of the soil. Much of the timber would be of great value for a variety of purposes, but it is unfortunately scarcely utilized for anything except firewood and fencing by the bush settlers, who clear their lands by felling and burning the forests. A man well acquainted with the New Zealand bush can tell to a very great extent the nature and quality of the soil by the kind of trees which grow upon it; for instance, the Kauri pine (Demarara Australis), the timber of which is considered very valuable for ship and house building, and the average height of which is 120 feet, with a diameter of 10 feet, grows upon land of very little use for pasture or grain; and again, where the Manukau scrub grows the land is not of much value. The various classes of trees of which the bush is composed are generally confined to separate latitudes and altitudes. The Kauri above mentioned is not found south of latitude 38deg. The bush is in some parts as impassable on account of its heavy undergrowth as the forests described by Stanley in "Darkest Africa."
The following is a list of the principal trees indigenous to the country, with their average heights, etc.:—
The Rata, or iron wood; an extremely hard wood. The Rimu, or red pine (130 feet by six feet); the timber is both useful and ornamental.
The Monoa, or yellow pine (80 feet); timber light and durable.
The Matai, or black pine (80 feet by four feet); a heavy timber used for piles, etc.
The Miro, or bastard black pine (60 feet by two feet); not so useful as black pine.
The New Zealand Cypress; the timber is reddish and fine grained; excellent for planks and spars.
The Totara (120 feet by 10 feet); very durable; one of the most useful timbers known.
The Kakikatea, or white pine (150 feet by four feet); a white soft timber like deal.
The Puriri; a very hard wood; indestructible under water.
The Ake Ake; a hard, close grained wood.
The Rewa Rewa, or New Zealand Honeysuckle (100 feet); used for cabinet making.
The red and black birches.
The Cabbage Tree (20 feet); peculiar to New Zealand, something like a palm with the stalk of a cabbage. In addition to the foregoing list there are, of course, several trees of minor importance and value.
The hills upon which this bush grows average from 1,000 to 1,500 feet in height, and are intersected by deep and picturesque gorges, through some of which, near Wellington, the railway runs.
When the land has been cleared of bush, seed is sown and stock grazed, but the stumps of the trees cannot be got rid of for several years. Near the coast of Hawke's Bay, however, and in various other districts throughout the North Island, there is some splendid land free from bush. Bush land is generally good pasture land when cleared.
Many of the mountains in New Zealand are volcanoes; in fact, the North Island is a volcanic country, and subject to frequent though slight earthquakes. The highest mountain in the North Island, Raupehu (9,193 feet), is not a volcano. Tongariro (6,500 feet) is the principal volcano.
Tauranga, on the Bay of Plenty, is the neighbourhood most addicted to volcanic displays. Here were the lakes Rotorua and Terawera, destroyed by eruptions in 1886. Throughout this district hot springs abound, very beneficial to persons suffering from a variety of afflictions, though not greatly resorted to, as they lie in a district chiefly inhabited by natives and earthquakes.
The North Island is well watered, the snow-capped mountains keeping well supplied the numerous rivers which flow through the fertile districts to the coast. The centre of the island being chiefly at a higher elevation than the land lying near the sea, it forms one large watershed for all the surrounding country. A traveller might complain of want of inhabitants, but he could not complain of want of water. This is another all important advantage which the Islands of New Zealand owe to their situation and natural formation; they have not to fear the terrible devastating effects of the prolonged droughts so common on the neighbouring continent of Australia.
The largest lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo, in the centre of the North Island.
Turning to the South Island we find that some of the principal points in which it differs from the North Island are that it is more mountainous, though not given to earthquakes; minerals, as far as is known at present, are more abundant; the mountains are not generally covered with bush, though in some parts the sides are bushed to a certain height, above which the rocks show out; the mountains are less fertile, especially further south, on account of the colder climate; they are also higher; there are no volcanoes, though there are glaciers on some of the higher mountains, namely, Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.
The Southern Alps form a kind of gigantic backbone to the South Island. They run from Nelson Province in the north to Otago in the south, dividing Westland from Canterbury, and provide another huge watershed for this island.
The Province of Canterbury is chiefly composed of plains originally covered with native tussock grass, but now nearly all under cultivation. This is the only part of the island which is not well watered by nature; but the wants of nature have been supplied here, as elsewhere, by man, and water races have been taken all over the plains. A curious circumstance in connection with the rivers which are to be found in Canterbury deserves to be mentioned — they are all above the level of the plains.
The bush of the South Island, generally speaking, does not comprise such a variety of trees as that of the North Island, nor is the timber of such a valuable description. Black birch is the principal tree.
On the Hanmer plains of North Canterbury are to be found the hot springs, greatly resorted to by invalids, as they are more accessible than those of the North Island. Here a great earthquake took place in 1888, the most severe that has ever been felt in the South Island. Scientists could not account for this unusual phenomenon.The principal lakes are to be found in Otago, where there is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
NATIVE ANIMALS, BIRDS, REPTILES,
New Zealand may be said to have no native animals or reptiles with the sole and insignificant exceptions of the Maori rat, and a small, red-backed, venomous spider, which exists in the bush near the sea. The famous wild pig of New Zealand was originally introduced by Captain Cook, and affords exciting hunting. The goats which run wild near Hawke's Bay were also imported, and so were hares and the rabbits of which so much is heard. These, which I have mentioned, may be said to be the only wild animals in New Zealand, unless, perhaps, I include under this category the merino sheep. One man attempted to introduce the English fox, and let two of these sportive creatures loose in Auckland, but the inhabitants, becoming aware of this circumstance, sent out an expedition to destroy them, an object which the expedition successfully accomplished after considerable toil and trouble. Another man wanted to introduce snakes from Australia, but as the inhabitants on this occasion formed an expedition to destroy him, he left the country without executing his purpose. An Acclimatization Society, however, has been formed and legalized, and the right to import other than domestic animals is now confined to it alone. I may here remark in passing that there is no such thing as hydrophobia or rabies in dogs in New Zealand, and a person wishing to import a dog has to let it remain in quarantine for six months.
Native birds are, however, more numerous than animals, and there are several different species. Some of these are very beautiful and have melodious notes, the Bell bird, for example, and the Toi, the destruction of which is a punishable offence. The Weka, a bird of the ostrich species, only about the size of a fowl, is also preserved, as it kills young rabbits and devours slugs. English duck and teal are plentiful, also wild swans and geese. Pheasants are numerous in some parts, also jack snipe. Game of this kind is abundant. Sparrows were imported from England to destroy the caterpillars, slugs and other insects, which do so much damage to field and garden produce; but these birds have multiplied so extensively since their introduction that it is a question if the cure is not worse than the disease. The starling would have been a much more useful importation for the purposes required, and would have proved harmless to the grain crops. I have seen many crops simply threshed out while standing by sparrows.
English trout have been placed in the rivers, and grow to a size never seen in the country whence they came, but they have a less delicate flavour on this account. Salmon are not as yet found in the rivers, but the Acclimatization Society are cultivating the spawn in their ponds.
All animals, birds, and fishes seem to thrive in New Zealand, and generally grow to a larger size than in England.
Domestic animals, such as horses, sheep, dogs, etc., were all, of course, originally imported. Sheep were in some cases brought from England, and the different breeds have been kept up; but the merino sheep, which at present constitute the largest flocks, were originally the Spanish merino imported to Australia and thence to New Zealand. The same careful attention is not given to domestic animals and cattle of every description in New Zealand as in England; they are allowed to look after themselves to a greater extent, and are stronger and hardier.
The native inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maoris, are a fine race of men, intelligent and physically well developed; but unfortunately they are now deteriorating, having imbibed an undue proportion of the vices of civilization. The half-caste has a very poor constitution, though muscularly powerful.
A few words upon the climate of New Zealand—one of the principal causes of the health, strength, and fine development of all its animal and vegetable productions—remain to be said.
The climate throughout the whole length of New Zealand, from north to south, varies considerably, according to the latitude. Speaking generally, it is warm and genial; in summer the heat is not excessive, as in Australia, nor yet is the cold at all severe in winter. The seasons are evenly divided, as in England, into spring, summer, autumn, and winter, the New Zealand summer, of course, corresponding to the European winter, and vice versa. In Auckland, the northernmost province, the summer is rather hot, but the atmosphere is always tempered by the sea breezes. Owing to the long and narrow shape of the islands, neither heat nor cold can ever be excessive in any part. Thus in Otago, the southernmost province, the cold is not so great as might be expected from its latitude. The moderating effect of the surrounding ocean upon the climate is thus fully enjoyed by the inhabitants of New Zealand, an advantage which they possess over the Australian colonists, who have to endure the unmitigated harshness of their continental siroccos. There are not those "dry and rainy seasons" of which many people talk in connection with the colonies generally. Frosts, of course, come and go in winter time, but they only occur, as a rule, in the south of the South Island, and are almost unknown further north. Snow is seldom seen in the North Island, except on the higher mountains, and if it does happen to fall it never remains on the ground. In the South Island, however, snow does fall at times, but will never last throughout the day, except in the more southern provinces.
December and January are the hottest months, June and July the coldest. October corresponds with May in England.
The northerly winds are, of course, the warm winds of the Southern Hemisphere. The warm winds of New Zealand are from the north-west; they have their origin in Australia, and cross the ocean to New Zealand. These winds in the South Island blow with considerable violence at times, and their fury is an occasional cause of complaint against certain parts of the country, more especially the Canterbury Plains, where they come whirling out of the gorges of the Southern Alps, causing havoc among the grain crops, while buildings and trees are levelled before their blasts. At one place where I was staying in Canterbury the iron roof of an outbuilding was blown away, and on the same day a small wooden railway station was carried bodily down the line; but damage like this is seldom done, and these winds never continue more than a very few days. They occur mostly in November and February, and their duration is unfavourable to work of most descriptions, as they create thirst and languor. There are what are called "nor'-west days," when hardly any wind is perceptible, so named on account of the close, dry heat; this weather is of great service in ripening the crops.
The quarter from which most of the rain comes is the south-west, and the winds which blow thence are generally cold, and at times come in what is called a "sou'-west buster," that is to say, they come suddenly and with force, and pass over quickly—perhaps in half-an-hour. The east winds are not frequent, but are the really cold and keen winds, as in England, and are not accompanied by rain.
The atmosphere of New Zealand, generally speaking, is far purer and more invigorating than that of England, and such a thing as a foggy day is unknown. There is an occasional morning mist, but the sun and wind soon disperse it.
It is not all sunshine, of course, for in the south there are many cloudy days, but the exhilarating effect of the climate is evidently responsible for the increased activity and liveliness displayed by those who find their way from other countries to New Zealand.
New Zealand, moreover, is free from all those plagues which the possession of a vast, uninhabitable and desert interior entails upon the Australians, as it did upon the Egyptians of old and still does upon their successors of to-day. The dry, arid wastes of immense extent lying behind the colonies of Australia, form what I may call the Sahara of the Southern Hemisphere, and from these deserts all manner of evil things come forth. Clouds of locusts, covering the sky from one horizon to the other at certain seasons of the year, spread themselves over the doomed land, and dropping like rain in myriads upon the fields and pastures and cultivated tracts, utterly consume everything with which they come in contact. Tribes of grasshoppers, moreover, closely resembling locusts in many respects, commit similar devastation. The locust and grasshopper plagues in Australia, in fact, assume very serious proportions, and it is questionable whether they or the rabbits inflict the greater injury upon the farmers. It is true that in one or two districts of New Zealand also the rabbits have to be reckoned with, but in the latter country they are more manageable, and for various reasons their invasion has been much more successfully resisted.
In view of such remarkable commercial and climatic advantages as New Zealand has thus been shown to possess, the comparative smallness of her population at the present date may excite surprise. This circumstance, however, may be said to be due, partly to the fact that the islands were discovered at a later date than Australia, and partly to the fact that the islands were discovered at a later date than Australia, and partly to the fact that they were not, like the latter country, made the depôt for numbers of convicts from the Old World.
- Lord Onslow has since returned safely after a very successful visit.