The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)
Railway travel, with all its modern improvements in speed and comfort, has greatly eased and simplified the once rather difficult and expensive journey from New Zealand's coast cities to the Rotorua thermal wonder country. In the old days—not so long ago but that they are still well within one's memory—there was a day's horse-coach travel from the rail-head at Cambridge, in the Waikato. or from the little port of Tauranga, before the seemingly interminable forest opened out and the weary passenger saw below the blue waters of Lake Rotorua gleaming in the setting sun, and the myriad hot springs around the shores rising in snowy clouds like the smoke of enchanted camp fires. Nowadays the run to Lakeland is as speedy and pleasant and safe as technical science and a progressive State Department can make it.
Perhaps there was more of strangeness and enchantment about this amazing part of New Zealand in the pre-railway era than there is today, for those who enjoy roughing it, and who like to skirmish ahead of the tourist. But the discomforts and the cost discouraged most people. It was difficult to get about the country; the accommodation was primitive. For years after the foundation of the State township on the southern shore of the famous lake, the Geyser country was, in effect, reserved for a few people with leisure and money. The coming of the railway changed all that. The year 1894 saw the completion of the Government rail line linking up Rotorua with Auckland and the outside world, and this revolutionised travel, set the builders of hotels and boardinghouses and shops to work, set shipbuilders turning out steam launches for the lakes, and made a Lakeland tour a pleasure for the multitude. Nowadays the New Zealander has little excuse for not paying the Rotorua-Taupo region a visit—indeed, a visit year after years. For no matter how many times one has trained it to the land of lakes and geysers, there is always something new to see; and there is always something of the charm of breaking into a magic land as well as land of beauty. For all the changes and luxuries that time has brought to the place, a vast deal of the olden enchantment remains, and Nature has a way of asserting herself in unexpected forms now and again by way of reminding mere man that she, after all, is supreme.
A recent overseas visitors to New Zealand gave it as his opinion that our Geyserland was more interesting than the famous Yellowstone Park. Though New Zealand's geyser country was smaller, he said, that very fact was an advantage rather than a drawback. In the Rotorua region the traveller found one wonder after another in quick succession, and the impression of the whole was more lasting. In Yellowstone Park one had travel a considerable area between the sights. It was true that America's great thermal park had larger geysers than Rotorua, but one did not measure beauty by size.page 26