Page:Canterbury Papers.djvu/18

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10
CAPABILITIES OF NEW ZEALAND

The purity of the atmosphere, resulting from the continual wind, imparts to the climate a vigour which gives elasticity to the physical powers and to the mind. Heat never debilitates; not even so much as a hot summer's day in England; and near the coast, especially, there is always a cooling and refreshing breeze. The colonist who occupies himself with agriculture can work all day; and the mechanic will not feel any lassitude, whether he works in or out of doors.

From all this, I draw the conclusion that, as regards climate, no country is better suited for a colony of the Anglo-Saxon race than New Zealand: and were this its only recommendation, it would still deserve our utmost attention as the future seat of European civilization and institutions in the Southern Hemisphere.

Invalids rapidly recover in this climate, and there is no doubt that the presence of numerous thermal waters in the island, and the attractive scenery, will make New Zealand the resort of those who have been debilitated in India, and are in search of health.—Ibld., p. 183.

"We had proved, during our excursion (on the south shore of Cook's Strait), that all the statements we had heard as to the salubrity of the climate were true. Ten nights' bivouacking in the open air, although exposed to heavy dew, and in the end of winter, had no bad effect on any of our party; and, with the exception of the period during which the gale of wind lasted, all the days were genial and exhilarating, and some much warmer than English summer weather.—Mr. E. Jerningham Wakefield's Adventures in New Zealand, from 1839 to 1844. Vol. i., p. 66.

The climate, although in the middle of winter, was delightful (at Wanganui, on the north shore of Cook's Strait). Dr. Peter Wilson, one of the settlers, who had long resided at Xeres and Seville, did not hesitate to compare it with the south of Spain. He only qualified this opinion by asserting that so full-bodied a wine could not be grown here; but that he would answer for one like the light wines of Germany or eastern France.—Ibid., vol. ii., p. 18.

Whole days of cloudless calm, and light breezes, prevail in summer as well as winter, and violent gales are of rare occurrence. The difference in temperature is but little between winter and summer; there is, perhaps, more rain in the winter months: but in all the country near Cook's Strait, the climate may be called showery, rather than rainy. Rain is often heavy for a time, but rarely obtains dominion over the weather for more than two or three days; and everything dries quickly in the fine weather intervals; so that, though it is rare to be a fortnight without rain all through the year, there is no complaint of excess of wet, and you never hear the question asked which so often meets you in England, 'When shall we have some fine weather?'—Ibid.

The climate (of New Zealand generally) is better adapted to an English constitution than that of almost any other of our colonies, although without a distinct winter, or frost, or fogs, or raw easterly winds, to check vegetation or make you house your cattle. The amazing productiveness of the soil, or rather of the air—for almost all land, if sufficiently turned over and exposed for a time, gives abundant crops—must tend to make agriculture the most pleasant of occupations.—Ibid., p. 351.

It is rather a colony for persons of contented mind to enjoy life better with the same means, than for fortune-hunters to acquire a great and rapid increase of means, wherewith to go back and enjoy life in the old country. But in the enjoyment of life in the Colony, I include the constant pleasure of seeing scenery through a clear atmosphere, of breathing pure and invigorating air, of sleeping nine months in the year with your bedroom window open, and yet never feeling it too warm for fire when rain or a gale of wind keeps you in doors. For, otherwise, you are always out of doors, watching the robust growth of your plants, or the brilliant rising and setting of the sun, the surprising condition of the cattle without any great care, or the constantly varying but constantly beautiful appearances of the landscape, be it ever so meagre, which is open to your view.—Ibid., p. 352.

It has been commonly supposed in England that the winter must be severe in the more southern parts of New Zealand. This is not the opinion of persons who have resided there; as I cannot give any information from my own ex-