The Diary of Harold Wooster

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit










 -1901 to 1902-


 Harold's Gallery          Tree


A brief account of a camping tour through the North Island from Wellington to Auckland via Wanganui River and Hot Lake District; also sporting ramble.


Ever since I have been in the Colony it has been my great desire to see as much as possible of the land in which I live.  I have been on scores of trips by land and sea but was always anxious to see the thermal wonders that make New Zealand such a famous tourist land.  The difficulty was to find a companion to undertake such a tremendous journey.  The difficulty was soon overcome when Ted arrived here.  I suggested that we should visit Hot Springs and he was just as anxious as I was to go.  We took up the idea with enthusiasm.  On inquiring at the Tourist Department we were staggered at tremendous high charges which make it impossible for a working man to undertake a trip of this kind any other way than by camping, so we decided to start about Christmas time.


At first our idea was to take a kodak so as to obtain some photographs of principle sights.  After considering the risk of the photos turning out failures or getting damaged by wet, we decided to take guns to provide some sport.  We at once purchased a rifle each and a thousand cartridges so as to get a few months shooting practice.  As the time got near we were busy making preparations for the journey.  Got tent, tinware, rugs and waterproofs, besides many other things required for our scenery hunting expedition.


When fully equipped we went for a trial trip.  On Labour Demonstration Day we went for a day’s rabbit shooting, leaving Wellington at three in the morning and passing through Karori and Makara before daylight.  After climbing numerous mountain ranges thick with fallen bush, we found ourselves on West Coast where we made good use of our guns.  When returning we got about ten miles out of our way, having not seen a road or anybody for several hours.  We arrived back in the city completely knocked up at 7.00 PM.


A fortnight before Christmas we both left our work, packed up our belongings at our lodgings and insured them.  On the 18th of December 1901, for the first time in my life I rolled up a swag, which weighed about forty pounds.  At 6.30 AM after saying goodbye, Merry Christmas and Kiaora to our landlady and others, we shouldered our swags and started for the station, only to be stopped by various chums we met wishing us a successful and pleasant trip.  Many said, “I wish I was coming” others said “What a grand holiday”.  One even said, “If I was a boy I would come with you”.  But as it was she was one of the girls we left behind us.  I felt rather shy among the crowds at the railway station with swag on my back, gun in hand, a great broad brim hat and boots heavier than usual.  We looked like deserters from the ranks of Buffalo Bill’s cowboys or a couple of goldminers off to the diggings.  Anyhow we took tickets for Palmerston North on the Manawatu Railway.  Having only been a few stations up this line, I was soon enwrapped with new sights and fresh scenery.  The Manawatu Gorge is famous for its grand scenery and my love of seeing great and beautiful sights is very great indeed.  Therefore, while passing through strange country I had my eyes well open to see as much as possible as we glided by hills and valleys, rivers and glens, in a train that was nearly as swift and smooth as a steamroller.  While the passengers were complaining of the heat of a real summer’s day, I was reading in that morning’s paper about heavy snowstorms and severe weather in Great Britain.


On arrival at Porirua an old Maori wahine, bare footed and red handkerchief for headgear, was parading the platform yelling “Tenakoe Pakeha kapai te kai”.  Her trouble was she had strawberries for sale.


Some parts of the journey are along the coast with fern covered slopes on the starboard side and beam end on to the rolling Pacific Ocean and the portside.  We had fair wind with clouds of dust at stern (end of the train) but never made any knots per hour.  Presently the line leaves the coast and of course the train does likewise.  Here we see fields of mutton.  The hills for miles and miles are scattered with sheep and its quite common for a squatter to own a hundred thousand sheep besides herds of cattle in this country.  Next change we are passing through bush country; great forests of standing bush, besides a tremendous quantity of fallen timber.  Then there is the fired bush.  For miles can be seen the charred trunks of large trees standing while the small undergrowth have been completely swept away by the disastrous bush fires.  The bush districts are dotted with small settlements and Maori Pahs.


On arrival at Otaki the platform was crowded with tribes of Maoris.  Every seat in the train was taxed to the utmost as this large party of Maoris were going to a tangi (a native wake).  A tangi generally lasts a week or longer if the tucker and waipiro permits.  When a Native dies all the tribes for twenty or thirty miles around come to the tangi.  I knew one Maori named Tepuni who spent six hundred pound on a tangi.  When all the tribes are assembled together they howl and moan and groan and get drunk.  They only have one meal a day, which commences in the morning and lasts till evening.  Some of them can eat as much as ten ordinary men, but they all eat till it hurts.  Whiskey is known as waipiro among the Maoris, meaning stinking water, and it is all too freely indulged in, as several casks are required at a tangi.  The native grape is green.


They all wear fern leaves and green stuff for mourning.  A whare in which a Maori dies is tapued and often burned down.  As no native will enter a tapu whare, sometimes a dying native is carried outside to die, to save the house from being tapu.


Its difficult to understand what they say when they are all talking at once.  One is apt to get confused amid such a babble of tongues.  Although we take an interest in the natives, we as well as many others were glad when they arrived at their destination for all the wahines (women) smoke pipes and every one had a piccaninny on their back.  As this tribe of Maoris go out of the train there were other natives to meet them with an old time welcome.  Instead of kissing they rub their noses together, making a humming noise as they do so.


At 11.30 after an interesting train ride through the Manawatu Gorge we arrived in Palmerston North which is one of New Zealand’s progressive inland towns.  A few hours is sufficient for us to inspect this country town.  After getting supplies we set out for Fielding.  When we had done four hours heel and toe, rain began to come on as we passed through Bunnythorpe where a halt was made for rest and tucker.  When our appetite was satisfied we shouldered our swags and began to make tracks towards Taonui.  When in Taonui we were overtaken by a man going farther on to Aorangi.  He talked to us freely along, giving us advise for our journey, also telling us he owned five acres of potatoes and a four roomed house.  He kindly offered to give as a shakedown as it was rather a wet night to pitch a tent.  Luckily for us we accepted the offer of a roof for it rained all night tremendously heavy with severe gales.  At half past six next morning we were heading towards Fielding, which place could all be seen with one eye.  So we passed on till we reached Makakino, a dairying district, the principal item of the settlement is a butter factory.  When rested we set out for Halcombe.  Did some shooting on the route, rabbits and pigeons being the principal objects of sport.  Long before Halcombe was insight we had found out by practical experience that swaggering is not the game its cracked up to be.  We had to travel at reduced speed on account of the blisters on our feet.  The first performance on reaching Halcombe was to visit butcher, grocer and baker, light fire, boil billy and we enjoyed a much-needed picnic.


Going in direction of Marton we passed through much flat country, arriving at night at Kakareke where we camped near the great Rangitiki River.  The mosquitoes invaded our canvas house by thousands, making sleep impossible.  I was badly bitten about the face and hands, my friend they didn’t bite.  The bites came up like boils for over a week.  Our tent being close to the bush we could hear night birds making their different noises all night.  The Bellbird with the ringing notes, the Tui with its continuous squeaking then the New Zealand owl the Morepork kept on morepork, morepork all night.  Says I to my chum “I wish those birds were Jews, then they would stop yelling for morepork”!   We rose at daylight, went for a cruise down the valley in search of something to shoot.  Saw a few rabbits but without a dog, failed to secure rabbit for breakfast.


The Rangitiki River no doubt one time was a mighty river.  For about two miles apart are walls from sixty to one hundred feet high worn by water.  The upright banks of gravel follow the river for many miles along its banks.  Which go to show that this Island has risen higher out of the sea that it was when the great banks embraced water.  The valley was thick with flax, reeds, tall grass, manuka ti-tree and broom besides other native growths.  We were unable to see but a short distance before us as the scrub was about then feet high.  Had it not been for the valuable use of our pocket compass we would have had great difficulty to find our way out.  Once more we were back to camp and enjoyed a good breakfast.  We struck tent after studying plans of the route we intended travelling and maps of the Island.  We decided to trek in the direction of Marton.  Only just started when down came heavy gale, which blew with hurricane force.  Gales of this kind are known as southerly busters and well we knew it for we were in the back blocks far from the shelter, thousands of feet above the sea and not met a soul.  When we reached Kakareke it had stopped raining but we were as wet as if we had swam a river without first casting off our garments.  Here we lit a great fire and dried everything, a few hours delay made us feel more comfortable.  When about a mile on the way we were overtaken by a Maori driving a sulky.  As is the custom he greeted us with “Tekakoe”.  We asked him the way to Marton and being a smart fellow he seized the opportunity to take a rise out of us by saying, “You chaps come the wrong way”.  We looked at each other, with swags on our backs and guns under our arms, wondering how far we would have to go back to find the right track.  When we asked which way we ought to go, the native with a cunning smile upon his brown face said, “Why you chaps ought to go to South Africa and fight the Boars that’s the way you should go”!  He being one of the right sort of Maoris kindly said “Jump up and ride, I will drive you to Marton”.  Well the change was welcome for we were tired and much appreciated a lift.  His conversation was amusing, interesting and good.  He drove us right to the centre of the town of Marton, which is a quiet small town.  Here we remained a few hours looking about.  After a late diner we went by train from Pukepara.  When we arrived at Turakina to our sorrow we were told the train did not go any further.  Had to wait three hours for another train for Wanganui.  Two weary hours in a railway carriage landed us in Wanganui.  We gave camping a spell and took board and residence during our stay in this pretty and flourishing town on the most famous river of the Colony.  Next morning being Saturday we decided to stay a few days to see as much as possible of Wanganui.  While there we ascended flagstaff hill so as to obtain a Birdseye view of the town and was well rewarded of the climb.  I considered Wanganui the prettiest and best laid out town I ever saw.  With its beautiful river, small steamers and handsome bridge, grand buildings in town, cornfields round about and bush country in the background with the rolling Pacific Ocean in the distance made our view for the hilltop a perfect picture.  The Wanganui-ites are nice people – especially those with long hair.  We went for a drive in a horse and gig which we enjoyed kapai.  On Sunday the ringing of the fire bell was responsible for making great crowds rise earlier than they usually do upon the day of rest.  The fire was so fierce it broke about a dozen plate glass windows on the opposite side of the street.  The Baptist Church was visited in the morning and the Wesleyen Church in the evening.


On Monday we went for a picnic to Castlecliff at Wanganui Heads at the mouth of river.  We got permission to go through the slaughter yards and freezing and boiling down works where cattle and sheep are slaughtered by the thousands.  After seeing a few hundred sheep transformed into mutton and placed into a freezing chamber we went into Boiling-down department and watched with interest this Colonial industry in all its branches.  Also visited engine house and we had the opportunity of a free sea trip in a small steamer which was taking frozen meat from works out to a big home-going vessel at anchor a few miles out in bay.  We didn’t go because it would take several hours to unload the meat and would be dark before returning to land.  But we went to cliff head to watch the steamer cross the bar.  The sea was very rough and the SS Thistle made a zigzag course and tossed tremendously and stuck fast upon the bar in mouth of river.  The waves now and then hid the gallant little craft from our view.  We watched for an hour or two expecting her to go to pieces but the incoming tide floated her safely off upon the inward side.  They were game enough to try and cross in another park of the bar but could not and had to return up river and wait the high water.


The country along the West Coast from Wanganui to Taranaki is all ironsand.  The sea washes large quantities of pumice stone upon the beach, of course this is brought down by the rivers from volcanic district.  Our picnic being over we returned to Wanganui and got a stock of provisions for next day’s trip.


Tuesday, our stay in Wanganui now being over we boarded the paddle steamer Waiwere at 7.30 AM being passengers for Pipiriki.  The sun was beautiful and warm, the river as calm as a mirror as we left Wanganui for one of the most beautiful inland water rides obtainable in the Southern Hemisphere.  The first event was a passenger wanted to embark at the suburb as we passed.  The bow was turned hard to port bank and in a few minutes the bow was run right in the mud of the sloping banks.  An Indian Hawker waded knee deep in the mud to get aboard.  We were soon skimming along the calm waters again.  Duck shags and other water birds seem to be plentiful, the banks are covered with a great variety of ferns and palms.  Every turn brings to our gaze fresh scenery, which is beautiful beyond description.


Now we reach a ferry where a wire rope is stretched across the river about thirty feet high from one pole to another.  An iron cage hangs on the wire and anyone wishing to cross gets into the cage and pulls themselves over.  A huge raft is used to take horse and carts over.  They walk onto the raft, which is pulled across by wires, then they walk off.  We saw a lady with horse and trap floating across the river upon the raft.


There are Maori Pahs along the banks and the Natives all wave to us as we pass.  There are numerous canoes seen moored to the riverbank at every Pah.  These canoes vary from thirty to sixty feet in length and are usually narrow.  Many of these canoes have an interesting history attached to them.  Some of them were used as war canoes in the tribal wars in days gone by.  The smallest of these canoes have often answered for tucker troughs or vegetable dishes at Tangis and other Native gatherings.  All the food (kai) is put into a canoe, which generally consists of shark, shellfish, kumeras, sowthistle, pigs, sheep, and potatoes besides many other articles of food too sickly to mention.  They use neither knives, forks, spoons nor plate.  As many as can get side by side around the great wooden dish, the piccaninnies (young uns) often get inside the canoe where they have a good feed and a grease battle in the bargain.  They often feed with both hands with grease running down their arms.  They only have one meal a day.  It generally starts about ten o’clock because they are too lazy to start sooner and lasts till dark at night.  If they stop sooner it is because it hurts then they roll and groan till they feel a bit easy.  They then go and have another good tuck in, drinking waipiro (beer) till helpless.


I noticed amongst the passengers several Wellingtonians who I knew well.  They were just going to Pipiriki and back next day.  I spent most of the time talking to a member of the crew, a Maori named Happy Chase, a splendid fellow.  He gave us advice for our ramble, also information we required about things, places and people we passed during our river journey.  As the steamer swings around the bend in the river the dalles rattle and send waves dashing against the opposite bank.  Every town brings new scenery and wonderful sights, glorious to look upon.  Passed a Maori Pah Parekino, the Natives are a poor lot and dirty – no pretty Kohines as at most other places.  Cherries were abundant but not quite ripe.  As the craft rounded another sharp bend we are told this locality is a far as the tide is felt.  The banks and hills are all covered with forest except a patch here and there were cleared for cultivation.  The natives paddling about in canoes make the lovely scenery look more beautiful.  Our next stopping place Atine (Athens) the river near this place abounds with ducks shags and other water birds.  The hills around Athens are high and are sandstone formation.  The great bare mountains contrast greatly with the surrounding country.


Bush of Nikau Palms, Ferns Trees, Cabbage Trees, Manuka Scrub, Fuschia, Rata, Blue Gums, Totaras, Rimus, Mati, Raupo, Flax, Reeds And Supplejacks, besides a great variety of ferns.  There is no tropical forest, which excels those of New Zealand beauty.  There are magnificent timbers with a jungle of undergrowth, Supplejacks and Ratas hang from the branches of trees like ropes, they curve and interlace the trees around.


As we passed a settlement the vessel slowed down to deliver mails, which consisted of newspapers.  At another Pah two letters were put on board with a long prop.  After a mile or so of straight banks lined with Dropping Willows the branches hanging into the water on both sides, the water was as calm as a mirror.  The sun was right overhead with a temperature about 112 degrees.  The reflection in the water was as perfect was the two green walls of Willows, which hung perpendicular on both banks for about a mile.  The beautiful reflection showed the sky in the river as clearly as it was above – it reminds one of an entrance into fairyland.  Sure enough the very next curve of the river brings to our gaze beautiful scenery beyond description.  Banks on either side rise from five hundred to one thousand feed clothed with Maori land’s best vegetation which is not only a feast for the eyes but inspiring to the soul of them that love the handiwork of God nature.


Called at another Pah, the bows of the boat is run into the sandbank, some Maori passengers came aboard.  Two letters were thrown on the bank; no whares (houses) could be seen, not a soul about.  No doubt the letters will lay there till the owner finds them.  Next stopping place was Corinth.  Various kinds of birds were plentiful about here, pigeons especially, which were flying from the great high cliffs on one side to the bush upon the other.  At various places the banks are upright for a tremendous height with overhanging bush top which almost shuts out the sunlight.  Between the trees the rays of the sun are like searchlights upon the water having a very pretty effect.


There are several rapids to be overcome on the journey up the river.  As the craft comes to these rapids they considerable slacken her speed with the paddles going at tremendous speed the boat is almost at a standstill.  With difficulty she managers to get over the small ones but the large rapids she has to haul herself up with wire ropes – some of them are half a mile long.  A wire rope is laid in bed of river and fastened at the upper end.  When the steamer arrives at the lower end of rapids some of the crew get pole with a hook fastened on it and drag about in the river till they find the wire rope.  When found it is put on the windlass, the engines wind it up, the paddles going also.  The river is shallow at these rapids and the steamers are built especially for crossing them, their draught being from only twelve to eighteen inches.  The rapids cause a lot of foaming waves and noise, which is a change from the mirror-like waters we passed.  Waterfalls were gushing over the cliffs with a direct dash into the river.  The surroundings are beautiful in the extreme – an ideal paradise for a cameraman or kodakite; a college for a poet.


Now we come to a place where the river opens out to a great width, the waters are divided by a long island which is in the centre of the river.  This island has an interesting ancient history attached to it of tribal wars caused by the stealing of wives.  The next Pah Terakinaki is a fairly large settlement and like many others, not a white man is seen.  All Maoris and many of them very sparingly dressed having only dog skins or flax mats hanging around them.  Some of the chiefs have very valuable mats made of flax dyed with sap of trees, woven by hand with huia and kiwi feathers worked in, which have taken several years to make.  Since the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales the huia feathers cannot be brought for under five shillings each because the Duchess put a feather in her hair like the Maoris wear them.  The huia birds are very rare, almost extinct.


Well at this Pah a group of natives came aboard; and aged Chief and his great wahine (women) also four beautiful Maori Maidens and scores of picaninnies who were not a bit shy and could use their tongues, Kapai Pakehu Tanekoe Tenekotou.  Crossed several small rapids and other large ones up which our craft hauled herself.  The noise of yelping and barking dogs tells us another Pah is close which is Tapanui.  The whole tribe are out on the banks to see the steamer and to say Kio Ora (good bye) to a few of their members who are coming aboard to go to a tangi at Raetihi.  One of them, an old tattooed Maori would insist on shaking hands with everybody on the steamer and rubbing noses with all the Maoris.  It was amusement to most of us but some of the pakeha wahines (white ladies) were afraid of him.  There were about two hundred passangers so he was busy with his handshaking for sometime and appeared anxious not to miss any for he came around the second time shaking some of us twice.  He chummed up to us because we had a korero (a talk) in maori.  I said,”homai tau ringaringa (give me your hand)” he did too for the third time.  We answered a few of his questions, it is impossible to answer half the questions one gets from a maori.  Everytime they speak they want to know something.  He came scores of times during the afternoon with the constant Homai te mat (give me a match).  All maoris are heavy smokers and too fond of the waipiro (beer).  Waipiro means stinking water, that’s what the maori called beer and spirits when the first got them.


The next Pah we reached like all the others had swarms of dogs, all sorts, sizes and colours.  This was a small odd-looking place with thatched whares and tents close to the water’s edge.  Here cargo was discharged – flour, sugar and candles.  The name of the Pah (village) is Ranana or London.  After the Maoris had finished their nose-rubbing (equal to kissing) and hand shaking which they are terrors at, we made a start on our voyage again, passing several islands in middle of river.  Also many kaingas (villages), the inhabitants of which consists of dogs, wild pigs, rabbits and Maoris.  The scenery continues to be just as grand and beautiful as any we have seen.


As we approach the next settlement my chief of staff and fellow travelers would insist on singing the “Holy City” and well enough they might for it was Jerusalem we had now reached.  Called by the maoris Hiruharama, this is a very picturesque Kainga about sixty miles from Wanganui and is celebrated for its beauty and rich in the loveliest scenery.  I think the kohines (girls) are the prettiest we have seen yet.  I like the idea of naming the settlements after well-known and historical cities such as we have passed; Athens, Corinth, Galatea, London and Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the finest settlement up the river.  The houses are well built and some have even been painted.  It has a Roman Catholic Church and a mission station.  It is surrounded by a magnificent landscape, the reflection of the houses and church and the whole settlement can be seen perfectly in the mirror like waters of the river – farewell Jerusalem.


After another short cruise we reached Pukehika Pah, once a large place but now deserted and tapued forever.  The system of tapu requires a little explaining.  To tapu or consecrate, it is to make any person, place or thing sacred for a long or short period.  If a person touches a dead body he is tapued for a certain time, no one must touch him or they die.  The clothes of a Chief or Priest are tapued and their belongings also.  Anyone touching their things are supposed to die.  No Maori will risk his life by going into a whare that is tapu.  The head of a Chief was always considered sacred and tapu.  If he only touched it with his fingers he was obliged at once to sniff his fingers with his nose to draw the sacred power back again which the fingers got by touching the head.  Anyone wishing to preserve anything, house, cattle, crops or trees etc, the safest way is to tapu it.  No native will dare risk his life to touch it.


I knew some bushman who cut a small tree that was tapued, they used it to make a maul.  They lit a fire with the chips and made some tea.  A young Maori came along and they gave him a drink of the tea.  He died soon after and the Maoris say it was because the tree was tapu that boiled the water to make the tea.


A missionary said he was once going up the river in a boat when he heard a terrible noise of crying and screaming of tangi.  When he went to see what was the matter the group of Maoris seemed almost mad with terror.  The Chief had been eating fish and got a bone in his throat, he was nearly dead with agony.  No one for fear of his own life, which he would certainly have lost had he touched the Chief, would go near him.  The missionary got the bone out of the Chief’s throat and then began to tell the natives how foolish it was to see a man die without helping him.  After half an hour, Yareha the Chief, who was just recovered enough to speak, with his first words ordered the tribe to take the away the missionary’s belongings as payment for having touched his sacred head.


We did not stop at the tapu Pah but continued straight-ahead passing between tremendous high banks covered with vegetation that cannot be equaled in any other country in the world for beauty.  The waterfalls, which were leaping over these high cliffs, added wonderfully to the picture.


As the paddle steamer “Wairere” curves another bend in the river we are in full view of Pipiriki, our destination.  The most noticeable building being the large accommodation house on a rise about three hundred feet above the river and surround by all sorts of Maori whares.  We had been nine and a half hours coming up the river and it was the most beautiful day’s outing I ever had or hope to have.  One needs to have pen in hand continually and requires to be a B.A, M.A, L.L.D.D to give a description that will do justice to the famous and wonderful river of beauty.


After leaving the boat we had to walk some distance along the right bank of the river to see the famous Paparoa Falls.  These are caused by the River Maunganuiateao, a tributary which leaps over the cliffs into the Wanganui River, a striking scene.  Close to this noise and rush of this leaping river we lit our fire and had tea in picnic style.  Having satisfied our hungry appetite our next movement was to try and buy a horse which we required to carry our swags.  We went around visiting all the Maoris with the object of doing a deal but the Maoris are not slow to seize an opportunity to make a good thing – they asked three times the value of their horses.  The news traveled quicker that any wireless telegraphy around all the Pahs in Pipiriki that rua Pakeha (two white men) wanted to buy a horse.  Straight away there was a corner in the horse market every place we went to.  They were up to the trick and wanted more than the one previous.


The Maoris everywhere are very superstitious but at Pipiriki they are very much so.  Most of them are afraid to go out at night alone without something to defend himself.  They say they might meet Te Taipo (the Devil).  At this place great patches of bush, mostly karaka trees were all cut down by the natives in early days because a Maori prophet said the lizards were the cause of the defeat of the Maoris in their wars.  This grove of karaka trees was the hiding place of swarms of lizards so it had to be cut down.  The lizards were caught, roasted and eaten.  The sayings of the Maori prophets were often the cause of disturbances and wars amongst tribes.  In1865 wars were raging in Pipiriki, the Hauhau tribes being the cause of the trouble.  Trenches and earthworks may still be seen here.  No doubt many have been killed and eaten in this locality, some of them are nothing more than semi savages now.


The canoes can go over a hundred miles beyond Pipiriki, what is known as the upper reaches.  The attractions being the Waitomo and Blanket Caves; the scenery en-route is magnificent.  I was particularly struck by the peculiar and mixed crew of a large canoe, which was being paddled up the river.  In the bow was a girl, next a young man then a stout middle-aged man. Then a good-looking but very stout young women, an elderly women, a girl, a man with a red shirt for a suit, a child behind him.  Then a dwarf looking little old chap, a good looking girl, an old women, a boy, two children, a young women a much tattooed old Chief and several dogs.  All men and women both were smoking pipes, except the children who were busy with both hands eating half-ripe cherries.


As we were unable to get a horse in Pipiriki we decided to start on the road for Raetihi.  A flourishing little town in the back blocks of New Zealand, seventeen miles from Pipiriki.  With our swags upon our backs, gun under arm, billy in hand, we said goodbye to Pipiriki at seven o’clock at night.  We never saw any church, chapel or place of worship of any kind in all the settlement but as we were leaving I noticed the gospel painted in large letters upon a notice board in the following words. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”, which I think is a splendid sermon to all that pass by this way.  For two or three hours we continued our tramp along a narrow road that curves around the mountains like a shelf upon the sides of these huge steep bush covered mountains.  The moon had now taken the place of the sun.  We found it rather dark and dangerous travelling through the gullies where the moon or even the sunlight seldom ever shone.  At times we passed vast gullies thousands of feet deep, the bush so dense it was impossible to see the bottom.  We couldn’t find a piece of flat land large enough to camp on for an hour.  We were anxious to pitch for the night and at last we decided to lay upon the road which was very narrow with perpendicular mountains on one hand and a chasm of great depth on the other.  Here we rolled in our rugs, removing only our boots, which we used for a pillow.  Didn’t use the tent as the road was too hard and perhaps a cart might want to pass.  It was Christmas Eve but neither of us hung our socks up for Father Christmas.  Perhaps it was because the bed was hard or for fear of a cart crushing us, but we could not sleep.  Anyhow we laid and listened to the Christmas waits whose carols continued the whole night.  The musical concert consisted of the roaring and splashing of a creek at bottom of gully accompanied by carious night birds; the tui, bellbird and morepork (New Zealand owl).  Christmas had dawned only half an hour when down came a heavy shower.  We laid the tent over us and soon after a cart came along.  The driver (a Maori) was nearly scared to death to see something white spread over the road.  He thought it was Taipo (the Devil) but when I spoke to him in his own language he felt more secure.  We asked him how far to the nearest shelter and he told us of a bushman’s encampment two miles away.  We at once obeyed the command “Take up thy bed and walk”.  Here in the small hours of the morning we were feeling our way along a dark and dangerous road that curved around the hillside until we thought the Maori’s two miles was four English miles.


At last we reached the bushman’s camp then we were advised to go a little farther to an old whare by the roadside which we reached about 3.00AM Christmas Day.  Again we lay down but were unable to sleep for the mosquitos’ bit with fury.


At daylight we took our guns and had a cruise in the bush, seeking what we could devour, native birds being the principal sport that morning.  We returned to the whare, had breakfast and packed up our swags and treked in the direction of Raetihi. At noon we reached a sawmill where more shooting was indulged in.  After a halt of half an hour we continued our journey.  By the way we had an interesting chat with owner of the sawmill.


We arrived in Raetihi in afternoon.  Fortunately we brought plenty of provisions from Pipiriki for all places were closed for two days.  We camped in bush on banks of river.  On the opposite side of river is a large Maori Pah.  The river onetime was bridged but now only the wrecked remains are left, having been swept away by a flood.  A large tree lays across the river, evidently carried there by same flood.  By stepping upon large boulders and then upon the tree, we were able to cross the river in the dry season.  When we arrived at the Pah we found a tangi being carried on.  Maoris from all parts had assembled to take part.  Amongst them I noticed the old Maori who came upon the steamer at a Pah along the Wanganui River and insisted on shaking hands with all aboard.  Of course he came over to us to shake hands and asked us to shout waipiro for him.


At the Pah there was weeping, wailing, moaning and groaning, abundance of water was shed in the form of tears.  All the mourners decorated themselves with flax, native mats, dog skins and feathers.  The native crepe is green (not black as used by the Europeans) for this they use ferns and leaves of trees.  They wear all sorts of green stuff and also cover the dead with it.  After the agonizing mourning has lasted a few days the natives perform the haka and the wahines honour the dead with the poi dance.


The haka is an extraordinary dance and impossible to describe, it requires to be seen to be understood.  As a rule about a hundred men perform the dance.  The all squat down on their heels, suddenly when the leader gives the order, all jump as high as possible, everyone having a spear or mere in their hands.  They all shout and yell as they jump.  When they drop the thud of a hundred pairs of bare feet almost shakes the ground.  The do every movement as regularly as trained soldiers at drill.  They all lean sideways and raise their right legs at the same time slapping their thighs, then they lean to the right raising their left leg and striking it with their hands as they do so.  Then all at once they all jump about two feet high waving their spears and other weapons and yelling a loud chorus which is turned into a deep sigh.  Everyone then opens his mouth as wide as possible, hangs his tongue out wagging it side to side and rolling their eyes around at the same time.  With backs bent they wag their sterns to and fro and many other movements are gone through.  Then it is repeated and gets very exciting and gets their blood up.


The poi dances performed by the wahines and kohines (women and girls) is pretty interesting and like the haka, is very exciting.  They don’t shout and yell like the men but sing and chant tunes of native melodies and swing the pois to the music.  The poi is a hollow ball plaited with flax with a string a foot long by which it is held and swung.  They have one in each hand and swing them in all directions while they themselves bend down, turn around, step back and forward; the performance is not unlike a gymnasium club drill.  These performances are done in honour of the dead, after all the crying is done.


The Maori girls look forward to a good cry at a tangi. As eager as an English lady does a party or ball they decorate themselves with all kinds of stuff, especially greenery their crepe.  The Maoris are as enthusiastic when going to a tangi as the London Coasters are when going to the derby.


I was particularly struck by the comical turnout we saw at Raetihi visiting the tangi there.  It was a bullock dray with a couple of poor but large animals, one each side of a long pole with a yoke across their necks.  They had no other harness, the driver in front leading them by a piece of flax tied on their horns.  They crawled awful slow but all aboard seemed to be enjoying their outing.  The two who sat in front had a great stick, which they used to persuade the animals to keep moving.  In the middle of the dray was three or four old wahines with their piccaniny on their backs.  The Maori women always carry their children in a sling upon the back.  They were quite flash; I noticed two of the women had sliver mounted pipes.  In the back of the dray was a host of boys and children sparingly dressed who were continuously laughing and talking to several men walking behind.  In the bottom of dray was a cargo of potatoes, shellfish, tin cans and other tucker.  If I had a kodak instead of a gun I certainly would have had a shot at them.


While having a korero (chat) to the owner of the bullock dray I found out he was a brother to a Maori named Happy Chase who we met on the paddle steamer “Waiere” on the Wanganui River.  We tried to buy a horse off him but he only had heavy horses and bullocks.  He was anxious to buy my rifle and as it was rather heavy to carry beside the swag, I let it go.


On Boxing Day we went to some sports in Raetihi.  The principal event of the day was a tree chopping competition by experienced bushmen.  Three trees of equal size were chosen about two feet through; they had seven-pound axes.  At a given signal the chips began to fly which made the crowd stand clear.  In four and half minutes the first tree fell, both the others fell under the five minutes.


Us two strangers in town were a mystery to everybody.  They offered us work thinking that was what we were traveling for.  They asked us numerous questions but we did not satisfy their curiosity.  We went three and half miles to buy a horse, a great part of the way being over fallen bush upon hillsides.  It was hard work stepping over logs and branches and walking around trees that lay thickly about the hills.  After an hours steeplechase over fallen bush we captured the desired animal which was a young black hack not broken in.  He could jump five feet high and altogether unsuitable for us.


On our way to our camp we were stuck up by a Policeman who said we both answered the description of two men-of-war men who had deserted from warship “St George” then at Auckland.  After answering abundant questions and a strong cross-examination the constable was still doubtful, telling us our descriptions were so exact.  But we happened to have our diary, a record of every day’s doings since we left Wellington.  This satisfied our uniform friend and we then bid him Kio Ora (goodbye) and returned to camp.


While at Raetihi we made enquiry’s as to which was the best road to get to Tokaanu and were told it would take us four days by road around Kereoi way but could be done in three days by crossing the Waimarino Plains.  They said it was seldom anyone crossed the plains, owing to the nature of the country traveling was difficult there being no tracks.  We were not going to be frightened to tackle it because others had had to return being unable to get across.  If we could save a day’s tramping we intended to do so.  When we had got enough supplies for the journey we started off through the bush in the direction of the plains.  The days journey was more wearisome than interesting.  We shot some Kukupas (New Zealand pigeons) they are much larger that the English pigeons.  On one occasion I shot one of these birds and it fell into the bush which was so thick a dog would have had difficulty to enter it.  I forced my way through the thickly mass of undergrowth consisting of scrub, ti tree, manuka, mikau palms, tree ferns and cabbage trees all interlaced by vines and supplejacks.  The supplejacks are like canes and grow to a tremendous length, twisting itself around everything within its reach.  It was impossible for me to get to the bird I shot so dense was this jungle.  I had to use my knife freely to cut the rope like vines that entangled me so.  While in this bush I discovered some pretty tree moss growing upon a dead tree.  It grows about and inch and half high and is just like little umbrellas.  I secured some of this rare moss which added to my collection of ferns.


At night we reached a settlers place at a clearing in the bush.  A small settler is commonly called a cockatoo.  At this place we pitched for the night.  By seven o’clock next morning we were loaded up and on our way.  Some bushmen we met advised us to be sure to get across the four rivers as quickly as possible and upon no account to stay the night between them.  The waters rise so quickly as they are fed by the snow from the summit of Mount Ruapehu.  Travelers have been fixed for a week or more between these rivers being unable to cross those before them or to return over the others.  Two hours smart walk brought us to the first of these unbridged rivers.  The bed of the river was hundred yards across and thickly covered with large boulders.  We were unable to get across dry shod by these stepping-stones, some of them would weigh several tons as they were six feet above water.  The next river was known as the Sulphur Stream; here we had a more difficult task.  A wire rope was fixed across from post to post either side of the river.  A basket was on wire for travelers to convey themselves across in but owing a lack of use and being exposed to all weathers, it was rotten broke and unsafe.  Our only chance was to strip off and ford it.  When halfway across, the strong current nearly swept me away.  The bed being sharp stones which cut my feet making it worse that ever to stand the strong current.  The water was freezing cold as it came from the snow of the perpetual snow-capped Mountain Ruapehu.  I was unable to hold the packs above water so I threw them to Ted who had already landed his and returned to help me.  We were glad to get safely over this and several other rather large rivers.  We crossed scores of smaller creeks and passed through mud, bush, logs and roots that was plentiful on the track.  At midday we reached the boarder of the forest. Our track now came to an end as we entered upon the vast Waimarino Plains, that stretched for a few hundred miles up the centre of the North Island, covering the greater part of the King Country and portions of the Waikato District. 


As we entered upon the plains we had magnificent view of three great volcanoes, two of which are extinct; Ruapehu 8700 feet, Ngauruahoe 7000 feet and Tongariro 6200 feet high.  These mountains are in a row and touch each other.  Ruapehu is the highest in North Island being nearly 9000 feet.  The summit is a long ridge and is perpetually snowcapped, which reaches about a third of the way down its slopes.  The clouds often hide the summit of this lofty mount but we were fortunate to have a good day and splendid view.  The clouds were quietly lying upon the slopes while the glistening snow-white ridge towered two or three thousand feet above the clouds.  It looked like a huge iceberg in the sky.


Ngaruhoe is the centre mountain and is perfectly round and had a sharp peak, which makes her a good cone shape.  She has only ceased to be active a few years.  During my short stay in the colony I have read of her sending columns of steam up to the height of two thousand feet.  I have now been told Ngaruhoe is not extinct for occasionally her peak is hidden in wreaths of smoke rising from her crater.


From Tongariro’s rugged heights could be seen everlasting columns of steam that continually rise from its various craters.  We will say more about this mountain of activity later on when we have had a closer inspection.


From where we first came upon the plains these mountains are thirty miles to our right in a westerly direction.  On our left the vast desert of pumice sand stretches eastward far beyond the horizon and is perfectly level with the exception of streams and rivers of which there are hundreds in the plains.  It is quite certain these plains were once a forest.  We could see in the banks of the rivers charred trunks of trees burned and buried beneath six feet of pure pumice stone which fell in the form of lava from the volcanoes before mentioned.


The plains are not altogether void of vegetation but scattered with patches of bush all shapes and sizes, some of them many miles across.  Flax grows in the swamps and a scanty crop of buffalo grass and tussocks was the only growth in some places while vast stretchers of country was a desert of white pumice stone and sand upon which nothing would grow.  A few miles from where we entered the plains is an old deserted and desolate Maori Pah which no doubt had been a flourishing village one time but now not the slightest sign of life is visible.  The half buried wrecked whares are all that remain to tell of the volcanic eruption that rendered the land useless and driven away and perhaps killed many of the natives that once inhabited the now forsaken Pah.



We had now been traveling the greater part of the day through this trackless barren wilderness.  Dark had begun to set in and we were about to camp to camp for the night when we saw a group of horses about four miles away on the outside of some bush.  Thinking there would be a farm there we at once set off to where the horses were, as we wanted better shelter and advice for our pilgrimage.  When within a few hundred yards the horses saw us and galloped towards us, coming within about fifty yards.  They neighed, stamped their hooves and shaking their long manes and tails fiercely and at once we knew they were wild horses.  Before we could load the gun this group of five splendid heavy draught horses were galloping away like racers, making the sand fly with their heels as they went.


This experience revealed to us the fact we were lost.  The bits of tracks we had been trying to follow all day were nothing more than wild horse tracks.  We could not content ourselves to camp there but by the light of a very small piece of moon we continued our ramblings till ten at night with the hope of finding a track or seeing a light or something to guide us.  Our plight seemed worse that ever, we were weary, footsore and fairly knocked up.  When we camped for the night we were like the babes in the wood not knowing where we were or when we were likely to get out of it.  At midnight we were awakened by something prowling round our tent.  Jumping up quickly to see what it was, there were three wild horses seeming to protest against us camping on their territory.  We only had one gun but fortunately it was loaded.  Ted fired at the grey one that formed the best target.  The charge lowered him; he groaned and kicked for a while.  Thinking he would soon die we were surprised next morning to see he had got up and cleared out.  We had no more visitors that night neither did we get any sleep.


At daylight we were up and seeking to find a way that would lead to some inhabited place.  Going several miles before breakfast and crossing about half a mile of swamp knee deep in soft pumice mud, we came to a river where we got a hurried breakfast.  This reduced our supplies to a few large biscuits and a tin of meat, only enough for another meal each.  We crossed the river a few miles farther and reached a bush so terrible thick it was impossible to enter it.  We wanted to climb a tree to see if we could see anything that would guide us.  So dense was the undergrowth we could not get near a tree.  We had to return, re-crossing the river and swamp but in a different direction to that by which we came.  Four hours we wandered across the plains, now and then seeing the tracks of wild horses.  Following a horse track that led round the borders of a bush, sometimes going through the bush and over numerous creeks we again landed on the open plains.  At last we decided to return to Raetihi – a three-day journey back.  We got muddled as ever when going on a bank and scouring the plains with our eyes.  When to our joy I sighted several miles away some packhorses.  I could just see the packs upon their backs moving above the flax that grew in the swamp that was between us.


Forgetting we were tired and hungry we went as fast as we could in the direction of our deliverer.  Not stopping to remove our boots to cross creeks but wading through several about three feet deep.  The man was an Indian Hawker named Raunaq Singh coming from Taumarunui in King Country and going to Atoki.  Asking him how far it was to Tokaanu he said fifty-two miles so we decided to go with him to Atoki which is the nearest Maori Pah to where we were found.  It was thirty miles of the most terrible traveling I ever saw.  His horses got bogged at almost every creek we crossed (in the soft pumice).  In some places we had to roll them over and drag them out.  He said we saved him from losing his horses and was surprised to see us chaps attempting to cross these desolate plains where human life is so seldom seen.  Not one man a month goes that way and it was three years since he came that way himself.  He vowed he would never attempt it again, not even with horses.  Our deliverer and friend was very good, he put our packs upon his horse and walked himself and supplied us with tucker.  The Indian could talk good English and we had some interesting chats about our adventures, also talks upon other subjects.


We reached Atoki late that evening so knocked up and deadbeat once we sat down we couldn’t move again.  The Maori’s were pleased to see us, they so seldom see white man.  They cleaned out the largest and best whare in the Pah, the front was all covered with native carvings.  Clean flax mats were laid down for us to sleep on and a dish of steaming hot potatoes was brought in by a beautiful Maori Maiden.  Nearly the whole tribe assembled in and around the whare to see us white strangers and hear what we had to talk about.  The pretty girl returned again with a plate of hot scones she made especially for us.


The Maori Chief was pleased to hear about our adventures and was delighted when we told him we came from England and when we spoke about England.  They listened to us as they would to one that had rose from the dead.  They were particularly interested to hear all about the Boer War.  He spoke in sorrowful tones about the death of the Great White Queen Mother Victoria.  The next day he invited us to stay longer and visit the Ketetahi hot springs on the top of Tongariro.  The Pah was situated at the foot of Mount Tongariro and close to the beautiful sheet of water Lake Roto-Aira.  This is a different side of the mountain to that we saw three days ago in the plains.  Our Indian friend brought us around the base of the mountain when we came to this place.


We started off with the Indian as our guide up the winding track that ascends the slopes of Mount Tongairio.  It is ten miles from the Pah to the Ketetahi springs at the top.  This was the first of the wonderful sights as we followed the narrow steep track cut out of the slopes of the pumice stone mountain.  We could smell the brimstone, which was stronger as we got higher and could see logs of trees buried under the pumice stone.  On the way up we crossed a mountain torrent, the water was warm and yellow and smelt strong of chemicals.  Another hot creek was crossed which was a bluish tint and was sulphurous.


At last we reached the great gully of brimstone – a grand reward for our climb.  A sight that is magnificent, wonderful and impossible to describe.  The steam was gushing from thousands of places with terrific noise like an ocean vessel blowing off steam – like a thousand vessels doing so.  There were geysers (fountains of hot water_ so powerful that stones and mud were forced up fifteen feet.  Lakes of all sizes boiling fiercely everywhere.  In places the hot water was squirting out of cracks in rocks and gushing out of caves causing great wave and spray that overflowed the pool every time.  Round about and between these wonderful natural boilers the blocks of pumice stone and ground is covered with sulphur, as yellow as keen mustard.  The waters are various colours and all overflowing which causes the hot creek that runs down the mountain.


The top of Mount Tongariro is a group of peaks, it would take a week to visit them all.  We could see dense clouds of steam rising from other parts of the mountain several miles away.  While looking down a crater at the black waters boiling the noise prevented me hearing the others go away.  On looking round I couldn’t see them anywhere because of the dense steam and began to think they had fallen down a boiling crater.  Being a bit anxious looking about for them with clouds of steam all round me, I walked into a bed of soft steaming round; the steam rising like smoke from a ballast fire.  All of a sudden I dropped in up to my knees.  The ground was hot and the steam blew out my clothes like a balloon.  My feelings were peculiar and I thought my fate was going to be worse.  Our Indian friend says there must be plenty of coals down below after seeing all in the Katahi portions of Tongariro.


We commenced our journey downwards.  The water in the creeks was so awful hot we could not put our hands in it – they get cooler as they go down.  Had a delightful hot bath a mile from springs.


From the heights of Tongariro we obtained a glorious view.  The landscape including a tremendous portion of the centre of the North Island.  As far as our eyes could pierce through space we could see across the vast Waimarino Plains with its multitudes of rivers and creeks glittering in the sun.  Looking in the direction of Ataki at the base of the mountain shone like a diamond the beautiful Lake Rotoaria.  Beyond that was the Tokaanu range of hills covered with bush.  In the far distance we had a clear view of the great inland sea Lake Taupo.  While in the other direction could be seen the sugar loaf shaped peak of Ngauruhoe.  In the same range is the glistening snow-capped monarch Mount Ruapehu.  Time forbid us to admire the glorious and wonderful surroundings for long.  As we descended the Mount we met wild horses.  We arrived back at Otaki Pah just before dark where we were supplied with a good spread my Mr. Poinpa Otaki (The Chief) who is a great landowner.  His land covers about thirty miles square of country including several mountains and lakes.  His sheep are too numerous to be numbered the total amounting beyond six figures.


Before leaving Atoki we made a bargain exchanging our gun for a horse.  They were anxious to get the gun, especially the pretty girl who could shoot well – we very much needed the horse.  It was a fine young animal only three years old and quiet, it could walk four miles an hour comfortably.  We bid our Maori friends kia-ora and started off for Tokaanu, a distance of twenty-two miles.


As we left Atoki we passed close around the edge of Lake Rotoaira.  The scenery around this lake is beautiful in extreme, swans, ducks and other water birds were very plentiful in the lake.  We saw them in groups of hundreds but could not shoot any as the season was closed and we had parted with both guns.  We arrived in Tokaanu early in afternoon and were disgusted with the natives here who are nothing more that semi-savages.  Everyone we met had forty questions to ask, the following being a few, “Where you come from?, What you come for? Where you going to? When are you going? Where you camp last night? Where you get that horse? How much you give for it? Where you going to camp tonight? What you got in that pack? Where you going after you been to Rotorua?” etc. etc.  We would not satisfy them be telling them our business and then they got superstitious.  They gave us several invitations to stay the night in their whares but that was only so they could steal our horse and rob us of our things.  I had a peep into their whares as we went through the Pah.  The floors were the bare ground which was dreadfully dirty.  Dogs were wandering in and out and several pigs lay grunting in a heap of rubbish under the bench where the tucker was kept.  Some old maori women were smoking their pipes till the place was filled with smoke.  It was quite certain that there were plenty of fleas running about loose in their whares.


Outside was a tribe of men and boys, some of the older man were very much tattooed and wearing green stone earrings.  They could not understand a word of English and their only dress was a shawl hung over the shoulders or tied around their waist.  They were tormenting a pig – one was holding its tail and others were striking it with sticks and stones making the animal shriek dreadfully.  They laughed and enjoyed this sport till the pig was dead.  Then they lit a great fire of bushes and pitched the dead pig into the flames to cook for food without bleeding or opening it, without washing or scraping it.


The greater part of the afternoon was taken up seeing the thermal wonders in Tokaanu.  On both sides of the road clouds of steam was rising from all sorts of pools, steam holes and boiling mud pits.  The steam was even oozing out the sides of fence posts and in the road way close to the wheel ruts which were full of warm water.  Several maori women were doing their washing in a warm creek and doing cooking in another pool that boiled continuously.  Farther down the road a score or so of youngsters were bathing in the warm creek.  We enquired for a baker but nobody knew what a baker was.  After a lot of maori talk they said “pakeha make te kai” (white man makes the bread).  We found out the only white man was the schoolmaster who made bread about twice a week.  The next man we wanted was the butcher.  Some maori boys hunted about the Pah till they found him.  An ugly dirty old maori.  “Are you the butcher” we said.  “Ahi” (yes) “Me am de butcher”.  “Well I want a leg of mutton”.  “I only got sheep meat,” he said.  We followed him through some scrub that led to a tree and here hung half a sheep.  It looked as if it had been there a week.  The maori butcher had no knife, no saw, no chopper, no hooks, no shop, no change and no sense.


We did not intend to camp near this uncivilized tribe of maoris so we journeyed about five miles and pitched our tent upon the banks of a big river close to where it entered the lake.  That night the bells that rang the old year out and New Year in were Bellbirds who rang their notes all night.  The Taupo lake was rough like a sea with great waves rolling on the beach.  The road was close to the lake for several miles with several rivers to be forded.  The larger portion of the lake is surrounded by perpendicular cliffs rising straight out of the water to a height in some places of a thousand feet.  Over these great cliffs several mountain torrents fall into the foaming lake below.  Early explorers have said it is one vast crater but I am inclined to think it is filled and overflowed many vast craters.  Its area being 154,680 acres and over thirty miles across.  The lake lies 1250 feet above sea level and is everywhere surrounded by volcanic formation.  Large masses of pumice stone from the rocks and cliffs everywhere.  Taupo Moana (sea) is fed by numerous tributaries but has only one outlet, the great Waikato River.


The natives very rarely venture to cross the lake in canoes now a steam launch is upon the lake.  There is an island in the lake named Mututaiko which is strictly tapued from time long ago and is still held in fear by the natives who will neither go near it themselves or let anyone else for fear of a dreadful whirlpool which is close to the island.  I am told the whirlpool supplies a subterranean passage which goes down such a tremendous depth that it gets hot and bursts up again causing all the geysers and hot springs which are found in multitudes throughout the district.


After travelling along the shores several miles, the road because of the great cliffs turns inland and leads us away into the ranges where we came across numerous wild pigs.  For over two miles the road rose continually uphill till we reached the flat-topped ranges.  It came tea time and we could not get water anywhere or grass for the horse.  This great plateau is all pumice stone formation and the roads were as white and dry as chalk.  The only growth here consisted of raupo, kohai, manuka, ti tree and tussocks.  We were forced to make a night tramp for darkness had come upon us and still no signs of any water.  We did not expect the plateau would be so far across.  We were just preparing to camp for the night in the parched desert of the plateau without any tea when by the light of a small moon, which had just come from cover of the clouds, we sighted Lake Taupo again a few miles away.  We at once erected our tent and when we had been to the Lake for water it was close to midnight before tea was over.


The next morning we descended from the plateau by a road that winds downwards for two or three miles, passing through a great gorge was wonderful as anything to be found in nature.  Vertical cliffs of snowy whiteness streaked with red rose two hundred feet on either side.  This wonderful place is called Earthquake Gorge.  It has never been a watercourse but the pumice cliffs were cleft asunder during some ancient earthquake, through the slips at their foot are due to one which occurred quite recently.  The trip down this gorge was as thrilling and delightful as anything on the trip.  The road runs again along the flat by the shores of the lake.  It commenced to rain so we took shelter at a maori Pah close to the beach.  After looking around the Pah not a soul was about so we took possession.  There was plenty of feed for the horse and fruit trees so after a further look about the other whares we discovered all sorts of things; furniture, books, flags, harness but saw nobody.  Being wet we stayed all day and had plenty of cherries and gooseberries, which we stewed for dessert.  While busy around a great fire cooking our tea the owner came along.  Instead of being in a fury as we expected he was pleased to see us and shook hands telling us we were welcome to plenty of fruit.  I asked him his name, which was Te Heu Heu, and the name of the Pah was Pukawa.  From this Pah we could see the geyser sending columns of steam up to a great height (nine miles away in Taupo).  Geese and ducks are abundant, as there are some large swamps close to the lake where these birds make their home.


A great part of the country that we lave lately passed through presents the appearance of having been swept by a flood.  As some time or other the great channels no doubt were worn by water which has left high ridges of a variety of shapes and very steep points.  As we rested on the crest of a lofty ridge we recollected how many before our departure had said we could not do it, we would get lost or come back.  The true state of the interior or back-backs of the country is known little of in the big towns.


We arrived in Taupo about ten o’clock next morning.  It is a small village on the extreme Northeast corner of Lake Taupo.  The village was once much larger than it is now as it was an important station for the armed constabulary.  It still possesses a redoubt containing a blockhouse and a police station.  During our visit we could not get bread or fresh meat anywhere, no butcher or baker in the place.  There was one little store in Taupo where we got tucker for the journey.  The sights seen around Taupo are such that require to be seen to be understood – it fairly baffles description.  The scenes of these thermal wonders will linger in the memory of those privileged to see them, for their lifetime.


A few miles from Taupo is Rotokawa (bitter lake) which is about a mile across.  On the northern side are several hills formed of varicoloured earth, mostly abundant sulphur.  Near these hills there are numbers of boiling springs and horrible pits of sulphurous mud, the strong smell is very sickening.  There are acres upon acres of red earth of every shade, from rose to crimson.  Besides the reddy tints there is earth as white as chalk and sulphur incrustations like rocks of mustard.  Close round is growing manuka scrub, some green some brown.  The ground is soft and dangerous and full of gaping creeks.  On all sides the sound of hissing and spluttering is blood curdling, coming from countless pits where mud of every colour is constantly bubbling and splashing, boiling and steaming.  Although the clouring is lovely this infernal region is simply awful; the strong fumes can be smelt miles away.


Loffleys Gully is the bottom of an earthquake rift.  The hot springs of mineral waters of this gully are famous for its healing powers for rheumatic invalids.  Near the banks of the river are a cluster of hot springs named Satan’s Glory which boils very fiercely gushing from a dark red cave.  The Witch’s Cauldron is a beautiful boiling pool with pretty colours all round it.  Paddle Wheel Ben is a spring that sends out much steam and makes a noise like a paddle wheel.  There are many others boiling and bubbling up on all sides.  The rocky banks are a great variety of colours, the most remarkable of the group is the Crow’s Nest Geyser – the eruptions are very irregular.  We saw it active some distance away but it didn’t play while we were close.  It plays higher when the Waikato River is full.  The Crow’s Nest is the largest geyser in New Zealand; the column does not go straight up but on an angle of sixty degrees to the height of eighty feet.  Onekeneke is a hot lake near Taupo surrounded by beautiful native bush with patches of black terraces covered with tiny cascades of steaming water.


In the Taupo district are alum baths, sulphur baths, oil baths and other baths for treatment of invalids.


When leaving Taupo we cross a big bridge over the Waikato River the only great outlet of the mighty lake.  Three miles from Taupo we come to New Zealand’s Niagara; the Huka Falls which are grand and beautiful – to depict their wondrous beauty is beyond my powers.  A fine suspension bridge spans the river here.  Standing on the suspension bridge we gazed with wonder at the ceaseless and tremendous activity of those whirling waters, rushing, surging, leaping in billows of foam which dash against the cliffs causing glittering showers.  We were deeply impressed by the grandeur of the scene.  The Waikato River here flows between great rocky cliffs falling seventy-nine feet in three hundred yards a series of rapids.  With force and fury the waters hurl themselves over these many rapids then breaks with a fearful and thunderous roar over a precipice thirty eight feet into a wide open pool below.  Foaming and heaving, tossing up showers of glistening spray it is simply appealing to see the frantic struggle of the seething torrent.  We carved our names upon the rails of the bridge before leaving.


The valley below the falls towards Wairakei is well wooded and the surrounding scenery is rugged and romantic.  Another three miles brings us to the wonderful Geyser Valley Wairakei.  Wairakei the true wonderland of New Zealand comprises an area of 4203 acres on which are situated all the principal sights in the Hot Lake District.


When we reached Wairakei our first movement was to find a suitable place for camping.  We pitched our tent by the side of a hot creek named Hirio-hine-kai (which means food for the skin). We left the horse to mind the tent etc while we went up to the Geyser Hotel which is the only building in Wairakei to get tucker.  It’s a very dear place to live in, they charge a pound a day at the hotel.  We had to pay 4d per 1b for bread which was a luxury having not had any for several days.  After having dinner off a leg of mutton we set out sightseeing.


We visited first the wonderful Hot Lake Valley, which is about three miles long.  Starting from our camp we followed the hot creek through the bush keeping on the track used by tourist and guides.  I am sorry we could not get a pamphlet containing the names of the many beautiful coloured lakes in this valley.  But perhaps the names of those in the Geyser Valley will be sufficient to weary my readers.  Te Wairakei means sparkling waters, some tourists christened it Witching Wairakei.  The following are a few seen in Lake Valley, a boiling water leaping and sparkling over a basin whose sides are yellow while the bottom is a dark green.  Large hot pool five yards across, another hot pool, a perfect beauty, its colour a splendid violet, Kapai.  We crossed the main hot creek, here we saw some baths rigged up for the use of invalids.  Numerous little geysers were popping up in all directions, a boiling hole of pure white stuff like lime, hot pool green tinted by several other colours, then a mud volcano.  About tree feet high, six feet across the centre full of boiling mud of a light brown colour, very much like a bed of mortar.  There was a blowhole in centre where the mud is forced out making the heap larger and smothering the branches of the trees, which hang over.  Next we saw a large area of steaming ground quite soft and yellow with sulphur close to it.  Then a long narrow lake boiling fiercely with a hole of hot muddy water, hot cliffs and steam oozing out everywhere, coloured red with patches of black; hot lake green with patches of salmon colour really lovely to look upon.  Large lake, water clear, a lake of blue mud boiling like porridge, another lake which I think is the most beautiful this I ever saw.  The steam was not so dense that rose from this and we could see the colours better, it was mostly dark green but streaks of many other colours ran zigzag through it and would not mix – marvelous.  There were thousands of other sights too numerous to mention, these are the best ones.


Next day we visited the famous Geyser Valley containing thermal wonders not seen in any other part of the world.  To visit the Geyser Valley is a delight to everybody, none are disappointing.  The cloud of steam that is ever rising from this valley showed us where to look for the thermal activity; the beautiful and marvelous.  We did not hurry through but took plenty of time to see them active and examine their peculiar variations.  We watched them for several eruptions so as to obtain an idea of the true features and rare beauty if these wonderful springs.  The roaring noise of boiling, babbling, gushing of many waters of all degrees of temperature was rather alarming to us when first heard.  The tremendous explosion makes one gaze speechless upon such a magnificent sight.  Its rather dangerous to get too near for nature’s stokers have got full steam on


As we went further along the valley every minute brought us to fresh wonders, different entirely from the last.  Here a group of little mud volcanoes in full action, they are comical but pretty.  There, a furious boiling pool, clear as crystal, with geyser eruptions every few minutes.  Or again, a small lake of a deep green surrounded by cliffs of pink and white pumice stone and silica.  Now a basin of boiling mud of a dull grey, then a pink one, then again a black one.  Next a geyser with sulphurous fumes issuing from a crater incrusted with yellow crystals of sulphur.  While from a thousand and one cracks and crevices in the rocks of many colours jets of steam are hissing from the side, almost hidden in the bush with water rising about eight feet driving the boiling waves over the rocks with fury.  The mud volcanoes of which there are hundreds, are mostly a sugar-loaf shape and of various sizes.  Some so small we looked right down the crater where we could see the coloured mud boiling and splashing, erupting every few minutes.  There are two geysers a hundred yards apart whose activity takes place alternately, one being to play the moment the other ceases.  Every part of the valley not covered by mater or bush is covered with a hard half crystallized crust, here and there patches of baked clay like piecrust with boiling water underneath.  Some of the waters have the power of fossilizing woods and similar things.  We secured some pieces of wood from Eagles Nest Geyser, petrified and covered all over with silica.


As we had a printed guide of Geyser Valley I am able to give a few particulars of the principal sights we saw of nature’s marvelous works.  It is impossible in a letter like this to detail or describe half of what we saw so I will mention only a few of the most important.  The Champagne Cauldron is a very impressive sight, so named because of the exquisite sparkle of its ever-boiling contents.  The dense clouds of steam, which rise from this pool, prevented us getting a good view of the banks.  But when we go down to the level of the creek the sight was magnificent.  The large round pool is eighty feet across and is in perpetual activity.  In some places with bright clear bubbles like champagne, in others sudden upbursts of masses of boiling water six or eight feet high.  While smaller fountains are constantly playing in different parts of the boiling pool, a partly coloured sinter slope, prettily rippled, forms the sides.  In the sinter slope are numerous small springs sending out various peculiar colours, white, red, brown sulphur and cream.


Passing along a beautiful fern grove where the native bush is seen in its entire splendor and the golden toi toi is waving amongst various greenery, we come to the Great Wairakei.  In of nature’s most beautiful objects, its ejection’s occur every twelve minutes.  When at its best is a grand sight.  Its basin is covered with a fawn tinted sinter deposit.  At the back is a steep wall of rocks about seventy feet high and has an appearance like sponge of many colours, but hard as steel.  So magnificent is the display we waited and saw several eruptions.  While waiting our attention was attracted by a throb, throbbing noise somewhere else.  On the other side of the hot creek is a spring called the Donkey Engine, its continual puff puff shakes the ground which proves the hot water machinery below is very busy.  Between the eruptions we ventured to peep down the crater of the great Wairakei.  Next instant the scalding mass began to gurgle and swish round the cauldron with a fearful roar that makes every nerve quiver within us.  A minute later it seethes and surges with increasing vigour and the hot puffs of dense steam forces us back.  Then the brilliant fountain of boiling water is astonishing – when seen, must be appreciated.  Close to the Great Wairakei is a clear spring boiling in a beautiful encrusted basin with walls tinted with colours of the rainbow, this is called the Little Wairakei.


The narrow track that winds up and down the banks and over rustic bridges across the stream leads to the sights in the following order: Tuhua-tahi or Champagne Cauldron, Pack Horse Geyser, Great and Small Wairakeis, Donkey Engine, Fairy Baths, Dragon’s Mouth Geyser. Lightening Pool, Black Geyser, White Springs, Mud Volcanoes, Old Coloured Terraces, Eagles Nest, Grierson Bower and Fairy Geysers, The Boilers, Te Korowhiti, The Whistles, The Prince of Wales Feathers, The Twins, The Red Geysers, The Petrifying Geyser, the Steam hammer, the funnels, Te Rekereke, The Heel Geyser, Natural Bridge, Hot Caves, Heron’s Nest, Large Blue Lake, Old Sinter Plateau, Hot Steaming Ground and thousands of steam jets everywhere.


The Fairy Baths are a group of pretty tinted hot springs, their sides are covered with silica of various shapes and colours.  The Dragon Geyser plays through a peculiar shaped opening, which resembles a dragon’s mouth.  The throat and upper jaw are deep red colour and the other jaw a salmon pink.  The slope above it is encrusted with silica of red and brown shaded with other tints caused by the discharge of crystal waters containing chemicals.  If I forget all others I shall never forget this one.


While sitting on a ledge close by waiting to see the eruption of this geyser we heard a rumbling noise that shook the ground where we sat and a roaring noise of the troubled waters was heard in the Dragon’s Mouth.  Thinking the display was about to take place, we were anxiously waiting while the thunder-like groans still continued.  I walked up to the open jaws of this deep chasm and threw an old shovel down the crater.  Immediately the hug column of boiling water shot up with a deafening roar.  I shifted mighty quick but as it was I got some splashes that scalded where they touched.


Halfway down the slope is the Lightening Pool where the water is sky blue and bubbles like balls of light rise from its boiling depths and break in heavy ripples on its surface; the gleam flashes in all directions.  It is very interesting to watch these stars flash up from the lower regions of this mysterious and marvelous pool.  Mostly all these lakes and geysers are bottomless.


They Black Geyser plays regularly, its waters are inky and its basin black as coal with waters that rise several feet high.  The white springs are small lakes of ever-boiling water white like milk.  The mud volcanoes which are seen on all sides are great pools of simmering mud of great variety of colours and sloppy like porridge.  Some boil and splash four or five feet high.  The Eagle’s Nest Geyser plays every two hours and such a grand display is worth waiting for.  This exhibition of nature’s work is one of the most beautiful and interesting scenes in wonderland.  It is about twelve feet across and all round the top is petrified stems and branches of trees uprooted by the outbursts and interlaced like a huge bird’s nest encrusted and cemented together by a snow-white sinter.  We secured some of these petrified sticks as curios.  As soon as the magnificent eruptions of the Eagle’s Geyser had finished we went through the Grierson Bower which leads to the Fairy Geyser.  The pathway has recently been made through the romantic and lovely spot with branches of manuka, nikau, ferntrees and toi reeds lapping overhead.  The ground is like velvet, carpeted with rich and rare moss, some of which I added to my collection of ferns.  I was specially charmed by a series of cascades in the creek, the leaping spray was glittering lovely.  As for the Fairy Geyser it is a gem surrounded by the best of bush scenery.  The gaping crater is rose colour and the outgush of crystal waters is a perfect picture.  The valley is a perfect cluster of wonders.


We crossed Satan’s Tollgate – a boiling fountain where a plank is laid across a creek formed by the overflow.  The scalding flood shoots up every half minute and we had to be very quick in crossing to escape the outgush.  Nervous people have to round over the cliffs to avoid this dangerous tollgate.  When safely across Satan’s Tollgate we climbed up a steep terrace called the Menagerie because of the curious formation.  The petrified tree trunks look like the heads of various animals.  Several geysers spout out from the terrace and the overflow which bursts over the terrace gradually petrifies the logs in images of flesh colour stone.  In a rocky sponge looking hole of many colours is the Boilers whose waters never cease their fierce boiling.  Then we came to the noisy Whistle Geyser whose thrilling noise is horrifying to hear.  We passed the Arrow Geyser and several other springs and geysers and then reached the Prince of Wales Geyser, so called because petrified rock is lying across the crater.  The magnificent outburst is divided into two columns and the display is beautiful.  Nga Mahanga of the Twins Geyser are side by side forming a pear shaped basin encrusted by silica of yellow, green, brown and rose tints.  The Big Brother is in action every four minutes and the Little Brother plays every sixteen minutes, the eruptions varying from five to fifteen feet in height.  When an eruption is about to take place the whole water heaves and raises about four feet boiling furiously for a few seconds then a tremendous explosion throws the boiling column heavenwards.  The spray goes twice as high as the main body of water the steam reaching to the clouds and the noise of the falling mass is terrific.


The next subject if the Red Geyser, close by is the Artist’s Pool with other springs also some pretty terraces.  On every side steam curls upward, a sign of activity in the regions below.  Passing up a flight of steps formed at the side of the terrace we come to the mouth of the Red Geyser.  The sinter and silica encrusted inside and outside the crater are a deep coral red.  Lying all about are tree stumps petrified in peculiar shapes and variety of colours.  We took up a position as close as we dare so to get a good view.  After a few minutes the silent waters began to gurgle, then surging and hissing increasing to a tremendous roar and raging with fury till the ground where we stood quivered and quaked followed by the explosion which throws the sparkling boiling water fully twenty feet then a brief pause, followed by another outburst, a little weaker each time till the force is done.  This grand interesting performance lasts about ten minutes.  The most alarming about it is when the roar of the water has ceased the ear splitting sound like the unwinding of a ships anchor cable is heard below.  It seems to come closer and closer till its booming like volcanic thunder and I cannot describe my feeling.  I thought something terrific was about to happen then all at once thump, thump, puff, puff we distinctly hear the sound like the approaching of a locomotive quite near then it gets weaker until the water in the geyser sucks and gurgles and the escape of steam is all we hear.


Te-rekereke is one of the most attractive geysers, it never stops boiling and when in violent eruption it plays up twenty feet high every few minutes.  At all times the steam is so dense we cannot see across the geyser.  The basin is beautiful encrusted with many colours.  Close by is some petrifying springs called the funnels, which perform every twenty minutes.  Okurawai is the name of a group of coloured springs, which cover nearly an acre.  They are also called the paint pots because of the colour of the thick boiling liquid in them.  There was a red, green, yellow, brown, white, grey, black and pink.  The earth all about here is also a mixture of colours and very hot and soft, a dangerous place to venture across.


Our little track, which has led us in and out amongst the wonderful sights now, brings us to the end of the valley, which is about three miles long.  There must have been some lively earthquakes here in days gone by.  At the end of the valley there are hills of soft rotten earth, highly coloured and steaming, crumbling precipices, steaming ridges, coloured cliffs.  Had I not seen myself, I could not believe that such magnificent and wonderful sights were to be seen in nature.  Here amongst the desolate and dangerous end of the valley are scores of very little pools of the most beautiful colours imaginable.  A few of them were chrome, grey, green, primrose, opal, claret, salmon besides pure white and milk white.  I was so struck by the beauty of these lakelets I scalded my fingers trying to get pieces of the many coloured silica.  I got a few pieces the others too dangerous to get.


We returned the same way and saw the whole of the sights in Wairakei Geyser Valley the second time.  Our camp was beside the Kiri-o-hine-kai Creek so we enjoyed delightful hot baths night and morning, as hot as we could bear it in sulphurous waters.  Kereapiti or the Devil’s Trumpet is on a hill fifteen minutes walk from Wairakei and rather difficult to get at but is worth all the trouble.  It is surrounded by treacherous ground, steaming holes and boiling mud which prevents anyone getting close.  The hissing and booming sound is appalling.  The geyser shoots to a great height and can be seen fifteen miles away; we saw it nine miles before we reached Taupo.  We passed several parties of tourists being piloted about by a guide.


After two days rambling through the marvelous and beautiful Wairakei Wonderland we left delighted, having seen more than we expected.  It is fifty-six miles from Taupo to Rotorua and there is much to be seen all along the route.


When four miles from Wairakei we left our horse and packs, also our washing hanging up to dry while we went two miles off the road to see the Ara-tia-tia rapids.  These are the grandest rapids in the Southern Hemisphere and worth going hundreds of miles to see.  The track, which leads to the rapids, winds and curves through some splendid native bush upon the hillside near the Waikato River.  The roaring and thundering of the mighty water rings through the bush.  A series of rocky steps brings us to a cliff projecting into the river, we climbed upon this cliff about two hundred feet above the water and here the Waikato rushes down a ragged channel, its course broken by gigantic rocks of every shape.  How can I describe the grandeur of the lovely Ara-tia-tia?  The English language is too poor to do justice to such a glorious sight.  The raging foaming torrent of the mighty Waikato falls three hundred feet in six different falls, some of them dropping fifteen feet.  The plunging surging foaming billows form half a mile of rapids.  Showers of spray rise a hundred feet high and glittering in the sun fall again into the frothing white foaming billows.  The rapids are upon a curve in the river, which makes it impossible to take a photo of the whole thing.  Returning through the bush some pretty ferns and moss took my fancy and I at once began to collect some to add to my already bulky collection of ferns.  It took us three quarters of an hour to find the track again; it’s very easy to get lost in the bush.  Guided by the noise of the rapids we returned to the river and found the track and soon got back to our luggage and had dinner.


Upon the opposite bank of the river is a cluster of beautiful cascades of boiling water, these cascades have chemical substances of every tint of the rainbow.  There is also a large natural swimming bath.  The natives of the Pah close by spend half of their time in the steaming pool.  There was they tell us, a large geyser farther up the river which used to throw the water to such a great height that its downfall is said to have swamped canoes on the opposite bank hundreds of yards away, it is now defunct.


The whole of the hills and woods seen from where we camped are dotted with thousands of steam jets which was a very peculiar sight, especially in the morning when the beautiful landscape with the many little wreaths and clouds of steam was clearer and better seen.


We loaded up our horse with the swags and started on the New Coach road going in the direction of Rotorua.  Our packs have got a bad habit of falling off or coming to grief in some way.  More than once we have had to go back along the track looking for lost articles.  This day we traveled all day, reaching at night a roadman’s place close to a great bridge that spans the Waikato River.  I noticed a mile post thirty-two miles to Rotorua.  Here we tarried for the night.  The evening was wet but we spent the hours pleasantly sitting around the roadman’s kitchen fire.  Mr Crompton the roadman left England many years ago.  He was delighted to meet a couple of new chums and to hear about the old homeland.  A boy Crompton goes fifteen miles to school every day.  Started to go when he was eight years old when he first could ride as he goes by horseback.  Mr Crompton showed us the next morning a fine warm lake a few miles away where he usually bathes, it is about two chain long.  We at once began to haul off for a swim in the steaming water.  It was so hot it took me some time to decide to get in but my fellow traveler Teddie plunged right in and began to swim to the farther end.  The roadman was terrified and yelled like mad “for God’s sake don’t go up there, it boils”.  Teddie was within a few yards from where it was bubbling and boiling like fury.  He came out red like a lobster half cooked.  It appears that one end only is used for bathing.  I did not venture more than twenty feet from the coolest end.


A few more miles travelling brought us to Atiamuri.  On both sides of the road steam can be seen almost all the way.  Several hot creeks crossed the road and ditches everywhere contained hot water, differing in colour one from another.  A few miles off the road is the native village Orakei-Korako.  Here natural wonders are busy in their activity and too numerous to mention.  One geyser in Orakei-Korako is named Koro-koro-o-te-taipo meaning “The Devil’s Throat”.  When the water is still you can gaze thirty feet down its crater like gaping jaws the throat is coated with sinter and crimson red.  The alum caves are well worth a visit.  The wondrous beauty of the many colours cannot be put in writing.  White, pink, sulphur, chrome, green, brown, scarlet; some look like the top of a custard pudding half browned with patches of pale yellow.


When within twenty miles of Rotorua we are in the Waiotapu Valley where countless wonders are just as beautiful and marvelous as any.  The are a source of great attraction to tourists and we saw several couches and brake loads of people coming from Rotorua to visit this delightful fairyland.  Sulphur terraces are by the roadside and are formed by the overflow of boiling springs causing rippled cascades of lovely silica.  Another curious sight at Waiotapu is the great mud volcano, the largest of this sort of thermal works.  Always bubbling and boiling, sometimes so fiercely it is dangerous to get near.  At other times a glimpse of the seathing contents can be watched with safety.  The porridge like paste forms beautiful floral devices, roses and lilies opening and closing as the bubbles unfold.  Then up shoots several great splashes of the hot stuff that makes thousands of little rings all over the pool when it falls.  The sulphur volcanoes are steam holes with sides thickly encrusted with pure yellow sulphur.  The alum cliffs extend for several miles are parts of explosion craters.  Alum is found among the cliffs in crystals, pools of alum water are plentiful.  The cliffs are white, covered here and there with patches of green and salmon colour, the earth is soft, rotten and warm.  Mangakakaramea is the name of the volcano mountain meaning “mountain of coloured earth” remarkable for its many coloured soils upon slopes.  It was one time the scene of explosive outbursts and some of the craters are still steaming.  It is about three thousand feet high and sometimes called Rainbow Hill.  A lake at the base of this hill with waters of a deep green is also by the same name Maungakakaramea.  Another lake we saw named Ngapouri the waters were of a blue colour.


We didn’t waste much time about the Waiotapu district but pushed on and camped at night within thirteen miles of Rotorua.  The hills around us were covered with stunted growth of ferns.  The lowlands dotted by a scanty growth of tussocks and buffalo grass with bunches of tall toi-toi reeds waving here and there.  We pitched our tent about a hundred yards from the road near an old forsaken whare.  We wouldn’t sleep inside, too many insects running about loose.


The first of the Rotorua attractive sights are seen at Whakarewarewa, a Maori village two miles from the town of Rotorua.  This is one of the places visited by the Prince of Wales and party during the Royal Tour through the colonies.  The following is a few of the sights seen at Whakarewarewa – the wonderful Opal Lake, mud volcanoes, large hot springs, Lake Ruhui, Lake Waikawkaw, Great Cauldron Papakura, Te-Hinau Cave, Waikiti Geyser, Pohaturoa Hill, Pareia Geyser, steam holes, alum baths, Te Puia Pah, sulphur craters, paupau holes, old sinter, torpedoes, Kereru Geyser, Rotowai-a-te-Wharangi, The Brain Pot, Hot Lake Wairoa, Mahanga Geyser, Waikorohihi Geyser, Pohutu Steam Holes, oil baths, washing pools, Parikohuru Cooking Springs, Korotiotio Lake, Puhunga Lake, Rotopikopiko-i-whiti, Whakarewarea Pah, Rotopeke Hot Springs, Green Lake, Rotopariri, Hot Black Lake, Rotokanapana, Rotokokopiko, Rotokakahi, Tehorangatura Geyser, spout bath, Porilaia Geyser, cluster of mud volcanoes, Porridge Pots, The Plateau, and steaming ground.  Also there are several curative baths for invalids.  One of them the Arikikapakapa Bath sometimes called Jack’s Bath is celebrated for its remarkable cures of rheumatism, it is much valued because of its healing powers.


The Brain Pot – the history attached to this boiling mud hole is caused by the elopement of a Maori Chief Mokotiti with the wife of another Chief Manawa.  War took place between them and Mokotiti was killed.  His body was cooked in this steam hole, now called the Brain Pot.  In the cannibal feast, which followed, Manawa ate the brains of his enemy Mokotiti.


Whakarewarewa is in a hot situation and what a marvelous scene of grandeur.  We were surrounded on all sides by activity and boiling confusion, spluttering mud holes, spouting geysers, roaring steam escaping and hoarse bellowing everywhere.  The beautiful yellow of sulphur is seen on all sides. 


The Torpedo is a geyser under the water of the Puarenga River.  When the explosions take place it shakes the ground and forces up dirt and sand from the bottom of the stream every few seconds.


At the Whakarewarewa Pah we saw men, women, children, dogs, pigs and cats lazily laying about the warm ground.  Some of the Maori women were plaiting mats and baskets with flax.  As we crossed a bridge over the creek we saw a crowd of Maori boys and girls swimming in the creek and diving for money thrown in by the tourists.  The Waikite terrace is the most beautiful in New Zealand.  The waters from the Waikite Geyser contains silica which colours and petrifies the whole slope round it forming beautiful steps of all shapes and colours, they are continually wet with boiling water.


The Waikorohihi Geyser has earned for itself the name of “The Little Nuisance” because when it’s in action it prevents another one close by from playing.  The Wairoa Geyser it is said throws its scalding waters one hundred and fifty feet high but the prettiest we saw was about fifty or sixty feet.  A magnificent and wonderful sight beautiful to look upon, the noise of the hissing, roaring, terrible explosion of boiling waters is deafening but a lovely scene.  The wonders of this locality are too numerous and to marvelous to explain, it simply baffles description, words fail to explain.


We pitched our tent in the racecourse in the town of Rotorua.  All around us are the marks of fire patches where five thousand natives camped six months previous during the visit of Royalty.  In the centre of the town on the four cross road near the Grand Hotel still stands eight great arches built during the royal visit.  Rotorua is a high-class town visited by tourists from all parts of the world.  The streets are very wide, there are eight rows of trees along the streets and a cycle track is formed.  The town is lit up by electricity and in every way up to date.


We commenced the next day by visiting Ohinemutu, an old Maori Pah on the shores of Lake Rotorua.  The Maoris here live in a perpetual cloud of steam.  Their dwellings are surrounded by geysers, Hot Springs and steam holes etc.  The highly mineral baths are a sure remedy for almost all complaints; many a sufferer has been cured by a single day’s bathing.  The whole village is built on a thin crust of rock and soil roofing over one vast boiler.  Hot springs hiss and seethe in every direction.  Spouting upwards and boiling with fury from every crack and crevice jets of steam spurt forth.  The open bay of the great lake is warmed by the springs and bubbling steam jets.  So thin is the crust on which this village stands that in most places it is possible to poke a walking stick down into the ground and steam shoots out the hole made.  Nature here is the public cook – food is boiled by being hung in a flax basket and tied to a rope in one of the many boiling pools.  Stewing and baking are performed by simply scraping a hole in the ground to placing the pot in.  Some hold the pot in a boiling pool.  Food is also cooked by laying it between layers of ferns and earth in one of the hot air passages.  In the middle of the settlement stone flags have been laid into the ground and they get quite warm.  This is a favourite lounge – the Maoris of Ohinemutu bring their blankets and lay on the warm stones, especially in the evening.  It is no easy matter about here in the dark, in some places the thin crust will not bear a man’s weight.  Boiling water is bubbling on every side and it would not do for anyone having taken too much waipero (beer) to try to find his way about here alone, a single false step and he would be boiled rags.  The Maoris tell us of people that actually fell into one of these boiling cauldrons and were cooked in a second.  Stray horses have also met the same horrible fate.


The Sanatorium Rotorua belongs to the government – the baths of wonderful healing waters are of every temperature from sixty to two hundred and twelve degrees.  The Lake Rotorua is about seven miles across and area is 20,000 acres across.  A small steam launch runs across once a day.  In the centre of the lake is the celebrated Mokoia Island, which rises twenty-eight feet above the lake and 1518 feet above sea level.  Its slopes are partly covered with grass, the rest is clothed with ferns and bush.


Mokoia Island is famous for the important secrets of legends, early history, beliefs and customs of the Maoris.  The most horrible being the massacre of the Arawa Tribe, the most beautiful is the story of Hinemoa a Chief’s daughter of the greatest beauty and the bluest blood in all New Zealand.  When finding her family, the tribe that lived in Ohinemtu on the mainland opposed to the marriage she longed for, hearing the sound of her lover’s trumpet upon the island, at midnight she swam the lake, supporting herself when tired by a string of gourds around her neck.  She hid herself in the warm bath till her lover Tutanekai found her hiding beneath the rocks and took her home as his wife and lived happily ever after.  The settlement is still noted for the beauty of its girls.  We saw a few, which I consider the prettiest girls I ever saw.


A large Wharepuni or meeting-house named Tama-te-Kapua stands in Ohinemutu.  It is beautifully carved by ancient Maoris and supposed to be the best of its kind in existence.  Near by is the scene of the old sunken Pah.  Circumstances won’t permit me to mention any more of the countless, interesting and marvelous sights seen in Ohinemutu.


We next visited Tikitere the Terrible.  Tikitere is eleven miles around the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua.  This was out of our way so we went out one day and back the next but we couldn’t miss to see the inferno of the district.  The sights include Dante’s Inferno, Hells Gate, sulphur beds, fairy baths and Devil’s Delight.  About a mile from these through some bush is the beautiful blue crater Lake Rotokawau.  These places were visited by their Royal Highness’s the Prince and Princess of Wales.  Any attempt of mine to describe these terrible boiling bottomless entrances to Hell would only be a failure.  The cleverest of men cannot put the majestic magnificent wonderful works of nature into words.  The noise is great, the steam so dense, the fumes so strong, its awfully dangerous to move about alone and many have lost their lives here.


We camped at night close to a Maori Pah named Te Ngae on the shores of the lake and here we found a pretty little waterfall in a stream than runs into the lake.  Close by is the ruins of an old mill, also a mission house.  The garden and orchard have run wild like a wilderness, weeds and creepers are tall and thick.  Teddie was lighting the fire while I was fixing the tent when along came two great ugly half-civilized old Maoris.  They squatted down upon their heels close to our fire asking a thousand and one questions.  When we told them we came from Wellington they didn’t believe us, they laughed and grinned to each other like fools.  All we could get from them was “me see to juke” (The Duke) they didn’t want us to forget it for they told us about fifty times that they see the Duke and they were members of the Maori council.  We found out from these semi-savages that one of them owned a large area of land, including several acres of cherry orchard on the other side of the stream.  He gave us an invitation to the orchard telling us to have as many as we could carry.  We both satisfied ourselves and filled our pockets.


The next morning we made an early start back to Rotorua.  Climbing to the top of a hill in Tikitere we were favoured with a glorious view of the surrounding country, also a glimpse of Rotoiti and other lakes.  When back in Rotorua we got a stock of supplies and started off in the direction of Okoroire, when ten miles from Rotorua the road entered the bush.  One of the charms of New Zealand is the wealth of its bush scenery, celebrated for its beautiful variety of ferns.  As we passed along a perfect avenue of delight every turn in the road brought some rare visions of beauty and some fresh charm that does one good to gaze upon.  I secured several different varieties of fern to add to my collection.


After a hard days travelling mostly uphill, we arrived at a sawmill just before dark.  Here we got the use of a bushman’s whare.  The bunks were fixed on the wall one above another like a board ship.  In the morning we felt decidedly freshened by the natures sweet restorer “sleep”.  Saddling our noble steed we continued to follow the narrow road that lead us through a jungle of fernland.  The road had now crossed the saddle of the range and went downhill the whole way to Okoroire, which place we arrived at about four o’clock in the afternoon.


Okoroire is thirty miles from Rotorua; the route is one of the finest and most beautiful drives in fernland – a paradise to all lovers of horticulture.  On arrival in Okoroire we thought it was strange to see the only store closed up.  When asking the reason was quite surprised to hear it was Sunday.  The store is run by the Hotelkeeper who kindly unlocked the store and supplied our every need charging us upcountry prices for the goods.  Okoroire is one of the best health resorts in the Colony, its climate, scenery and surroundings cannot be beaten.  The Natural hot mineral baths have perfectly cured many sufferers of skin diseases, sciatica, lumbago, rheumatism etc.  Besides making life worth living, there is in Okoroire every attraction for sportsmen.  Its rivers are full of trout and abundance of pheasants, quails, hares, deet etc.  As we were leaving Okoroire we saw numerous duck, swamphens and pigeons that appeared anxious to be shot.  Hares, pheasants and quail on both sides but, alas, both of us had got rid of our guns.  We camped for the night on the banks of a river six miles from Okaroire and didn’t I know it too, the mosquitoes gave me a terrible night.  Thousands upon thousands invaded our camp and I was bitten from head to foot.  I sat all night with a handkerchief tied over my head and flapping another to drive out my greatest enemies.  In the morning I was awful sore and could only see with difficulty, my eyes being dreadfully swollen karkins (very bad).  Rain fell during the morning but we pushed on in the direction of Te Aroha.  We got very wet while fording the Thames River.  Going a few miles along the riverbanks we came to the Matamata hot baths.  Here were a crowd of fellows that had come twenty miles on horseback to have a dip in the natural heated water.  The road we took was very little used, only differing from the open country by the wheel marks in the grass.  Towards afternoon we found ourselves travelling along a range of hills wrapped in the clouds for a couple of hours.


When we reached a small dairy farm at Gordon settlement we got shelter in a whare which enabled us to get fry.  Oh those mosquitoes again!  They caused me to burn most of my sulphur specimens which I collected in Rotorua, in order to keep them out, but it would fumigate us before it would kill the pests.  My friend Ted was more fortunate than myself, they did not bite him.


Having now passed through the Wonderland of the World and the mosquitoes began to make camp life unbearable, we decided to finish the remainder of our tour in luxury and comfort.  So it was necessary to part with the third one of our party, our faithful horse.  Having done so, nest morning we were seated in a fine spring gig behind a fast trotting horse being driven by a Mr. McLeod who bought our nag.  Along the route we passed numerous small dairy farms and settlers homes.  We crossed a river where the ruins of a bridge that had been carried away by a flood were partly under water and a thousand feet from its proper place.  From the range of hills on our right were some magnificent waterfalls that took several great leaps down the mountains densely covered with bush.  Driving around the base of a mountain we suddenly found ourselves in a little gold mining town Wairongmai.  Several tunnels in the mountain are plainly seen, the Break House shows the position of the shaft.  As we pass the batteries we could hear the stampers at work.


At the end of a very interesting sixteen-mile drive our driver introduces us to the pretty and flourishing town Te Aroha.  Here we each told the other he was in love. (Aroha means love). The railway comes to this town so while waiting for the train we had a few hours in which to inspect the places of interest in Te Aroha, including the sanatorium and thermal springs, library and other public buildings.  There are pretty cottages and handsome churches, altogether a model little town.


Twenty miles by train brings us to Paeroa where we break the journey in order to visit the gold mines of Waihi.  There were all sorts of coaches and carts at the station.  We got aboard a four-horse dray and go seated for a fourteen-mile drive to Waihi, arriving there just in time to get a late supper and go to bed.  Waihi is the largest goldmining town in New Zealand.  Thousands of miners, cottages and huts are scattered about the hills and valleys, facing all directions.  There are only a few roads in the centre of town.  The majority of the small dwellings were stuck anyhow and anywhere.  During the great goldrush a few years ago the Martha Hill Mining Company had five mines which are situated a few miles apart upon the slopes of Martha Hill.  They are connected underground by a network of tunnels.  We applied to the manager who gave us permission to descend the mines.  We went down number three shaft.  The breaks man who gave us a red candle each and kindly offered to show us around and explain to us the working of a goldmine.  They would not allow us to go alone, as neither of us had any previous experience of exploring goldmines.  We entered the iron cage, the Breaksman rang the bell, the engines started and we were at once in darkness, descending at a rapid pace into the earth.  We stopped at several levels on the way down to see the miners at work blasting the quartz and the truckers pushing the trucks along the small railway.  The signal bell is rung and again we are speedily descending to the lower regions, after stopping at various levels we finally reach the bottom level.  Before lighting our candles our guide called our attention to the thousands of brilliant shining sparks that glittered upon the walls and ceiling of the tunnels.  Following our guide along the track line, which is partly hid by puddles of water that is always dripping from the roof and walls, we come to a crossing where drives lead off in four directions.  Turning down one of these other tunnels we come to a wide space where a gang are at work.  They are blasting the reef of quartz, a great seam of marble-like rock containing the precious metal.  This is loaded into the trucks and hoisted into daylight by the iron cage.  We are next taken through a pass which is a hole cut straight up through the roof from one level to another.  While climbing the perpendicular ladder on the wall about forty feet up, I got smothered with red candle grease off our candles.  Here we were shown the newly found rich gold-bearing reef.  The seam was about thirty feet wide, height unknown.  We had to lay down and crawl under the reef through an opening about eighteen inches high.  In doing se we got smothered with mud which gave us the appearance of miners.  Descending again to number six level the bottom which is five hundred and fifty feet below the surface, we are taken about half a mile passing scores of other tunnels, passes, shoots and fillings of mullock.  We come to another shaft, (that of number two mine) which has seven levels, the lowest being flooded.  We could see the water as the shaft was filled to where we were.


After seeing all and having a very interesting lesson in goldmining, we return to number three shaft, enter the cage, the signal bell is rung and we are rising like a balloon, the draught putting the candles out.  The engineers knowing by the signals given that men were coming up prepared to play a joke on us.  Just before the cage came to the surface they suddenly stopped the engines and at the same time they dropped a blast on the top of the cage.  The explosion made iron tremble and ring like thunder.  Then we quietly rose to daylight surrounded by miners with smiles upon their faces.  The Breaksman asked us if we would work in the mine because he could give us a job.


Troubling the manager again, we secured a permit to visit the batteries.  A railway is laid to all the mines and an engine is kept busy taking trainloads of quartz to the batteries to be put through the various processes which we had the privilege of seeing.  It is impossible to make one another heard when speeding in the batteries.  Hundreds of stampers, which are steam hammers, are at work crushing the quartz into fine dust.  Then the dust is put into huge vats about twenty feet around, there are acres of them.  Chemical and water is used to send the gold dust to the bottom.  The top part is taken away, the rest is put through the furnace and the gold melted into bars.  There are several batteries in Waihi besides those at Waikino, another mining town, which we passed close to Waihi.  We had a look at the engines and machinery in the battery.  The population of Waihi is four thousand.


We once more mounted the coach, leaving the golden town of Waihi.  Arrived at Paeroa station in time to get a late train to Thames, a seaport and mining town.  Paeroa to Thames is twenty-two miles.  Thames district is noted for its great kauri forest.  The kauri tree is the largest of all New Zealand trees.  We were advised before starting not to fail to see the giant kauri tree at Thames, which measured forty two feet in circumference and considerable over one hundred feet high.  The lowest branch being sixty feet from the ground.  It is a common sight in bush district to see a team of fourteen bullock hauling kauri logs out of the bush.


From Thames we took the steamer to Auckland, or rather the Steamer took us.  it was a splendid trip up the Hauraki Gulf.  On the starboard side we had a fine view of the blue hills of the Coromandal and on the port side was the Mainland.  Bush clad to the water’s edge and sheltered from the roughness of the ocean by the Motutapu, Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands, which are situated in the Gulf.  A trip of four and half-hours brings us to Waitemata Harbour.


At midday we stepped ashore in Auckland.  This was my second visit to the northern city, having landed there when I arrived in the Colony.  Auckland is the largest and I think I can safely say the prettiest city in New Zealand.  We spent five days there, the whole time being taken up sightseeing.  Trips were made by the ferry steamers to several different places across the harbour to the North Shore, Motutapu, Devonport.  Also an excursion about twenty miles to an Island, a visit was made to the Calliope Graving Deck.  We saw the SS Delphie in dock.  Had a climb to the flagstaff upon the headlands for which we were rewarded with a charming view of city suburbs and harbour with islands.  In the centre of the city is Albert Park, an attractive and well-kept reserve.  In the park there is a statue of the late Queen, fishponds, fountains, flowerbeds, seats etc.


The following are a few of the places we visited.  Art gallery, public library, YMCA, Baptist tabernacle, city swimming baths and museum which is noted for its excellent collection of Maori curios including carved whares and a war canoe which was eight two feet long, all in one solid piece, made from a huge kauri tree hollowed out.  It is well shaped, carved and decorated with a figurehead.


Just outside Auckland is an extinct volcano Mount Eden.  We climbed to the summit and descended the crater, which is, by my measuring two hundred yards deep and three hundred yards across.  Rough lumps of scoria still lay about the crater.  Walls are built around the fields with the stuff collected off the land that was thrown from this volcano.  Traces of fortifications are still seen upon the slopes of Mount Eden used by the Maoris in troublesome times.  The view from Mount Eden is one never to be forgotten for variety, extent and magnificence.  The whole of the city and suburbs, the harbour, islands and all surroundings are within our gaze.  One can see the sea on both sides of the country.  Manakau harbour on the west coast, Hauraki Gulf on the east coast and vast stretches of country both north and south, including the bush covered range Waitakarea also Niho-tapu ranges.  Every river, lake, house or railway are easily seen from this attractive pleasure spot of Mount Eden.  The landscape is magnificent.  Auckland (Aotea) can boast of several large parks, the largest being the Domain which contains two hundred acres.  Much could be said about New Zealand’s largest and oldest city with its population of 67,226 persons but I cannot now say more about Auckland.  Having now spent five days hunting about Auckland sightseeing and enjoying ourselves the time had come now for our departure.


We booked a passage by the SS Zealandia a fine inter-colonial steamer of two thousand tons burden.  We decided to go via the East Coast calling at Gisborne and Napier because I have been down the West Coast before visiting Onehunga and New Plymouth en route.  By going down East Coast I have circled the North Island, sailing every mile of its coast.  After twenty-three hours of seasickness, no sleep, and very little food we arrived in Gisborne.  I speak for myself only, here we are told one of the passengers died during the trip from Auckland.  The vessel did not go up to town but anchored in the bay.  The corpse was taken ashore by a small steamer SS Waihi, the boat I went to Blenheim by the first time.  After seven hours delay discharging and taking in cargo and passengers, the Zealandia turns her bows towards the open sea again.  The sea was now calm and we reached Napier at five AM after a smart run of eight hours.


The boat went up to the breakwater and we were ashore all day.  During which time we are cruising about the town, visiting botanical gardens and other places of interest.  From a hilltop we obtained a fine birdseye view of the pretty and progressive seaport of Napier.  The rolling waves of the Hawkes Bay made the SS Zealandia bounce about as we left Napier just before dark.  When the vessel got out into the open sea she began shipping seas, the wind blew fiercely and waves breaking upon the deck.  I was seasick and turned into bunk, the safest place.  All night a heavy gale was raging with hurricane force.  The gallant craft rolled dreadfully almost throwing me out of the bunk.  It was a very severe time for me as I am a bad sailor, it nearly shook my life out.  It took us seventeen hours to run from Napier to Wellington.  When I arrived I was in a weak condition having had no sleep and very little food during the voyage.


We received a great welcome back by our landlady and landlord who brought tea trays and cups and glasses, making a lot of fuss.  After a hearty breakfast I went to bed leaving my fellow traveler to tell of our adventure.


We expected to have been away much longer but as the shooting season was closed we didn’t get the shooting expected.  We saw more than expected and missed nothing in the North Island that was worth seeing.  During our six weeks holiday we were continually surrounded by wonderful and magnificent sights.  I was in Wellington two weeks before returning to toil amongst the shaving and sawdust.


I look back to it all with a pleasure which makes me feel most intensely how far superior the enjoyment of nature are to all the pleasures of civilised life.  Everlasting will be the recollections of those scenes to me.


There is in this favoured region scenic beauty enough to satisfy all, healing springs enough to cure the ailments of the human race.  The only way to carry away true impressions is to take time to see thoroughly the locations visited.  No written description can convey the least idea of the remarkable wonders of New Zealand, which must be seen to be appreciated.














  Page last updated

  25 November 2013