Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/427

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421
A ROUND-THE-WORLD BOTANICAL EXCURSION

varnish is made. It reaches a height of 200 feet and a diameter of eighteen feet; but this is exceptional, specimens eight feet in diameter being regarded as very large trees. The trunk is straight and symmetrical and often measures a hundred feet up to the first branches, with a diameter of five or six feet where the branching begins; and, consequently, the lumber is very clear, closely resembling a very high grade of white pine. The forest is not at all pure, for there are many other kinds of trees, some of them not very important as timber. The methods of lumbering are as wasteful as in our own country, the fallen timber being allowed to thunder down the mountain side, tearing up all the smaller trees in its path. Since the large kauris are thousands of years old, some estimates running as high as 5,000 years, a timber company could hardly be expected to make any serious attempt at reforesting. However, there are a few government preserves, so that the big tree will not become entirely extinct. New Zealand has advanced ideas on conservation, for its recreation, forest and scenic reserves already include about 3,000,000 acres.

To the average traveler, the thermal region about Eotorua is the most interesting place in New Zealand. An oasis in the desert, or a park in a city, is easily superior to its surroundings; but a health resort in the healthiest country in the world must have inherent advantages of the highest order. Eotorua is recognized as the Baden Baden of the South Seas, and probably no springs in the world surpass those of the Eotorua district, for some springs are boiling hot, some are warm and some are cold; some are clear as crystal, and some consist of boiling, spluttering mud. The mineral properties are no less varied than the appearance and the temperature. The government has erected an extensive series of baths where one may get a good bath for as little as three pence. 'Whether the baths have all the curative properties claimed for them may be a question, but they are certainly refreshing and invigorating.

The region is not only uncanny and spectacular, but it is profitable both to the government and to the native; for the government manages the baths and is interested in many of the hotels for tourists, and the native Maoris find easy, lucrative employment as guides (Fig. 3). Besides, for the Maori, the natural heat boils the potatoes, fries the eggs, and furnishes hot water for the washing.

No large geysers are playing in this immediate vicinity, but vigorous thermal activity is apparent, and in 1886 the eruption of Tarawera threatened to destroy the whole Eotorua district. Numerous little lakes, of various colors and temperatures, add to the variety and beauty of the landscape (Fig. 4).

The natives of New Zealand, the Maoris, have several villages in this neighborhood. Many of them are well-to-do, have adopted European