The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 12 (March 1, 1937)
New Zealand's Scenic Beauty
New Zealand's Scenic Beauty.
There was a touch of humour in the solution advanced by a recent visitor that New Zealand's adverse balance of trade with America might be adjusted by selling them our scenery. No Scotsman, with all his reputation for making a keen bargain, could have conceived such a “slick” way to achieve an appearance of economic adjustment. The shade of Adam Smith would shudder at the thought. Even the original Adam could not take his scenery with him.
Scenery is no trading asset; it is rather a windfall of nature, like the lucrative catch-crop of red clover a farmer may sometimes chance upon from a shorn and fallow wheat-field.
Ideas may be exchanged for eggs and bacon—they frequently are—but the operation forms no equalising feature in the local or national economic balance-sheet. And scenery, although more tangible than ideas, is less transferable; and the best of it stays where nature has put it, and cannot thrive in a foreign clime.
New Zealand's scenery is outstanding in range and beauty, and has enchantments that are in no way related to the marts of commerce. Its chief virtues lie in the mental and physical stimulus it gives, and the inevitable adjustment of outlook it produces upon the real and relative value and importance of things. As Emerson declared: “At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes in these precincts.”
As has been well said of the beauty in nature, it “serves as a differential thermometer, detecting the presence or absence of the divine sentiment in man.” To serve this purpose our mountains and rivers, lakes and forests, geysers and glow-worms all contribute, and they are open to all who care to enjoy them.
The excellent work done for years past by such bodies as the Forest and Bird Protection Society and the various Beautifying Societies throughout the Dominion has helped to impress on the minds of our own people the need for scenery preservation and an attitude towards the protection of nature's assets which helps to ensure them against desecration. And this attitude becomes more necessary as the vantage points from which the most dazzling spectacles may be viewed become increasingly accessible through the opening up of roads and tracks, and the improvements constantly taking place in transport facilities. Some of the country's greatest scenic attractions still remain to be opened up for the approach of the average traveller, and when this has been done this country will have a still more overwhelming claim to be the world's scenic playground.
One glory of the country is its tendency to revert to its original state if left alone for a while. Where clearings were made in the early days of settlement and then abandoned for some reason—a gold rush, or difficulty of access, or insufficient capital for development—it has been seen that nature has claimed the land for its own again, covering the scarred surfaces with the lovely verdure of native grass and fern and forest.
This power of recuperation means much in the preservation of the country's scenic assets, and will help to ensure for all time the most essential factors in the composition of the country's scenery.
The value of these assets is realised, and every encouragement is given, by good publicity overseas and by good transport facilities within the Dominion, for the peoples of all the world to come and enjoy what nature has provided here so lavishly. The cost of such a visit is recompensed by the value in service and scenery received.
But to suggest that a New Zealand farmer need not sell his butter because an American tourist is coming to see the waterfall in his back paddock, is to carry the idea of reciprocity in trade right out of its proper sphere.