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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)


After the visitor to the Rotorua Wonderland has seen the geysers and the hot springs, there remain the lakes and their beautiful shores and forests and the Maori life, and these features of the Wai-Ariki country are as attractive to many people as the thermal sights. In this article Mr. Cowan describes the pleasure of cruising and camping on Rotorua and Rotoiti, and the unusual interest of Mokoia Island, the Lakeland Holy Isle. (The illustrations accompanying the article have been reproduced from paintings by the late Mr. T. Ryan.)

Campers-out and fishermen are early risers. They need no daylight-saving legislation to rouse them out of their blankets at peep of dawn. Whether we sleep in a tent or in the good open air—and a tent is over-stuffy for my liking, and unnecessary in fine summer weather—there are many things that lull one to sound slumber. The soothing wawarawai, murmur of gently-lapping water on the beach, or the music of a cascade rising and falling on the night wind; little wandering breaths of air; scent of treebark and ferns and moss; the call of a night bird, sometimes the trill of the cricket; to my fancy, lying ear to ground, the vast inarticulate lullaby of Mother Earth herself as she spins on her eternal course all blend into the healthy opiate of dreamless sleep. But the camper's sub-conscious mind is alert to the first signs and sounds of awakening day; a louder note in the ripple-wash on the sands; a breezy stir in the trees above the bivouac; a shivery breath from the grey waters; the raw freshness of the world when nature yawns and stretches herself against the dawn.

It still wanted an hour or more to sunrise when Tamarahi and I stirred out of our blankets on Matariki beach, our snug camping place on the north-west corner of Mokoia Island, and made ready for the second leg of our boating cruise around the lakes, a long projected sail in company from Ohinemutu to Mokoia and then down through the Ohau Channel and around the many bays of Rotoiti. The morning star was dimmed by a little haze that floated above us; the water of Rotorua stretched grey and cold to the dim further shore.

“Night's candles are burnt out and jocund day

“Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”

Weather-wise Tamarahi had a look around at sky and lake, and when I suggested breakfast before we started he shook his head. “Better wait till we get to the Ohau,” he said; “the wind is getting up; let's start now before there's much sea on the bar yonder.”