The Cold Lakes of New Zealand.1
The Hot Lakes of New Zealand have been the theme of many a pen, from Jules Verne—graphic and entertaining, but weak as to facts—down to the Blue-Books of the Colonial Government, where the stern prose of veracity is the principal, if not the only, attraction. But the Cold Lakes of New Zealand have received little attention at the hands of European writers. Lake Wakatipu has, however, been honoured by at least two distinguished writers—Anthony Trollope and Miss Isabella Bird. The famous novelist came in the depth of winter; the weather was not propitious and the roads were bad; and, although frankly acknowledging the amenities of the country, he as freely exercises the Englishman's privilege of grumbling. Miss Bird was more fortunate, alike in the season of the year, the weather, and the facilities for travelling. In her usual fearless, unembarrassed style she followed "unbeaten tracks," fraternised with saw-millers at the head of the lake, and entered into warm friendships with coach-drivers and others. But we looked in vain for her impressions; the only record she has given the world of her New Zealand trip is in the opening chapters of the Hawaiian Archipelago. Auckland is described in terms suggestive of abject somnolency, and the colony generally is designated as "Sleepy New Zealand." Any suggestion of this kind must of course be repudiated by every true colonist, and he can have no difficulty in making good his case, for the records of the Stock Exchange give abundant evidence that sleepiness is not our besetting sin.
The following notes are an attempt to give the people of the Home country an idea of those delightful regions at the other side of the globe, which may appropriately be called the New Highlands.
1 Reprinted from The Scottish Geographical Magazine for November 1887.
There are no hot lakes in the South or Middle Island, as it is indifferently called, and with the exception of those on the Hanmer Plains, and a few less important ones in the same locality, there are no hot springs, and but few mineral waters. This is probably due to the fact that the volcanic formations are far less extensive than in the North Island. The hills that encircle the harbours of Dunedin and Lyttelton are the only two places where eruptive rocks occur in appreciable quantities. But in the matter of ordinary cold lakes and mountain scenery the South Island holds the prior place. Besides a countless number of tarns, there are probably about sixty lakes of all sizes and shapes, from beautiful circles of liquid brilliants a mile across, to Te Anau, with its many fiords, covering 132 square miles. The lakes follow generally the main axis of the island, and a straight line could be drawn on the map running through eight of the largest, extending from Manapouri to Te Kapo, a distance of nearly 200 miles. There are also a few lakes at a lower level on both sides of the island; those on the eastern side are unimportant, but those on the west coast are very beautiful. Although the surrounding country is generally low and flat, it is densely wooded, and the luxuriance of the foliage can only be surpassed in the tropics. A distant background of snow-covered mountains is everywhere obtainable, and the reflections are said to be equal to anything in the far-famed Yosemite Valley. North of Mount Cook, where the Southern Alps form an unbroken chain, the mountain lakes are for the most part small, and they usually occupy lateral valleys leading to the passes. But in Otago, where there is no definite backbone to the island, they are more widely dispersed and of much greater extent. It is this part of the country that is commonly known as the Lake District. There are twelve principal lakes, arranged into four distinct groups; Hauroto, [unclear: Poritiriti] and Hakaporia, in the extreme south, are drained direct into [unclear: Fovea] Straits by rivers of their own; but the other nine are divided into three river systems, each including three large lakes and several small ones. The northern or Canterbury group, drained by the Waitaki River, comprises the Te Kapo, Pukaki, and Ohau Lakes. The river is about twice the size of the Tay, five times the size of the Thames, and eleven times the size of the Clyde; and the lakes cover an area of 80 square miles. The central group, from whence the Clutha takes its page 3 supplies, consists of the Hawea, Wanaka, and Wakatipu Lakes, covering an area of 237 square miles, and feeding a river of greater volume than the Nile. The western group comprises the Te Anau, Manapouri, and Monowai Lakes, containing in the aggregate 193 square miles of surface, and drained by the Waiau, a river that discharges somewhat more water than the Waitaki. The three isolated lakes in the southern group cover an area of 44 square miles.
The northern group is situated in the Mackenzie Plain. So far as their size and immediate surroundings are concerned, these lakes are inferior to those of Otago. The Mackenzie Plain is an open undulating country, without much natural beauty, though at the same time a glorious view can be obtained at every point of the snow-clad Southern Alps and other ranges. The district is also interesting from a geological point of view, and on account of its proximity to Mount Cook, the centre of attraction in the Alpine scenery of New Zealand. The sentiment of the Italian proverb, "See Naples and die," is peculiarly applicable to the monarch of southern mountains, for pen and pencil are alike powerless to depict its surpassing grandeur.
As seen from Braemar, Mount Cook is the termination of the long circle of the Ben Ohau range, a beautiful chain of rugged mountains, rising into a dozen peaks of every conceivable shape, from dome to spire. The peaks get higher and farther apart as they approach Mount Cook; but although surrounded by six or seven mountains over 8000 or 9000 feet high, it stands majestically alone, towering 12,350 feet above the sea. From some points of view, Mount Cook bears a close resemblance to the Aiguille du Dru, as given in the frontispiece to Professor Tyndall's book on the "Forms of Water."
The glorious spectacle of the mountains is not the only attraction in the neighbourhood, for here is established one of Nature's grandest workshops. A regular succession of machines—frost, sunshine, torrent, avalanche, and glacier—are incessantly at work converting the raw materials extracted from the clouds and quarried from the mountain scarp into the floods that swell the Waitaki, and the shingle and soil that make the Canterbury plains. "The mills of God grind slowly" is not true of the factory on Mount Cook, for the operations are carried on with an activity and clamour unattainable by human agencies.
According to Sir Julius Von Haast, the whole of the Mackenzie country was at some remote period the bed of a huge glacier, the largest planing machine ever employed in smoothing down the Britain of the south. This is obvious even to the unscientific visitor, for the tool-marks and chips are everywhere visible in scored boulders, stony hillocks, silt beds, and other morainic deposits, identically the same products as come from the mills still at work a little higher up among the mountains. The lakes are formed by moraines lying across the river-beds; and, in the case of Te Kapo and Pukaki, it is clear that the Godley and Tasman glaciers extended down to them at a comparatively recent period. The page 4 rivers spring direct from the glaciers full-grown : they have no childhood no youth, no struggle for existence; they are born with the full vigour of manhood, and at once proceed in a bee-line to their destination, defying every obstacle. The whole course of the Tasman River, from the glacier to the lake, a distance of twenty-two miles, is perfectly straight; and there is only one slight bend in the Godley, which is of much the same length. These rivers are divided into numerous channels, looped and interlaced in an extraordinary manner. Seen from the neighbouring heights, they resemble those curiously reticulated pieces of organic fibre we sometimes see under a microscope. The glaciers that feed Lake Ohau are comparatively small; consequently its waters are clean and bright in cold weather; but the other two lakes are never clear, and as they are not large enough to be settling ponds, the water leaves them in a muddy state. It has a dirty bluish-green tinge, intensely cold, and rushes along in swirls and eddies. The lakes in the Mackenzie country appear to be silting up rapidly. The deltas at their heads are already four or five miles long and increasing daily; so in course of time the Waitaki will have no means of purification, and it will roll down muddier and more mercilessly than ever.
The lower ends of the Godley and Tasman glaciers that feed the Te Kapo and Pukaki Lakes are respectively 3580 and 2450 feet above sea-level, the latter being the lowest glacier on the eastern side of the range The altitudes of the lakes themselves are—Te Kapo, 2440; Pukaki, 1720; and Ohau, 1840 feet. The depths of the lakes are unknown, but they are believed to be comparatively shallow.
Mount Cook and its environs are pre-eminently the home of the Ice King, and the birthplace of glaciers. The glaciers of New Zealand have never been accurately mapped out;1 but they are known to extend with more or less frequency from Earnslaw to the head-waters of the Waimakarira River, a distance of 200 miles. For ninety miles in the Waitaki and Rangitata watersheds the ice-field is almost continuous. The Rev. Mr. Green, who came all the way from England to scale Mount Cook travelled over a glacier twice the size of any in the European Alps Curiously enough the principal ice-field occurs at the narrowest part of the island. Whether this is a mere coincidence has not been explained.
1 An exception must be made in the case of the Tasman and other glaciers in the immediate neighbourhood of Mount Cook. The author is apparently unaware of the maps appended to Professor von Lendenfeld's excellent monograph on the New Zealand Alps is No. 75 of Petermann's Ergänzungshefte.—Ed. S. G. M.
The heaviest floods in the snow rivers always occur in summer, when the weather is hot and dry on the plains; and it is scarcely possible to conceive a more anomalous sight than the mighty river rolling down in high flood, and carrying destruction before it, while the country on both sides is parched with drought and panting for a drop of moisture.
The lakes in the central group are the best known in New Zealand, for there have been coach-roads to all of them for many years, and the railway has been open to Lake Wakatipu since 1878. It is not, however, the amenities of the scenery, but the thirst for gold that has opened up the country. The precious metal was first discovered in the Wakatipu district in 1862, and before many months had elapsed there were several steamers on the lake. Although steady and permanent, the gold-mining industry is now comparatively small, and the district is dependent to a great extent on agriculture and the tourist traffic.
Hawea, the more northerly of the central lakes, is the smallest as well as the least interesting; it is 19 miles long, 3 miles in its greatest breadth, and has an area of 48 square miles; it stands 1060 feet above sea-level, and the general depth is from 910 to 1285 feet, running up to 450 feet near the ends. The scenery of Hawea is somewhat tamer than that of the other lakes in the central group; the mountains on the western side and at the head are lofty and bold, but those on the eastern side are lower and more rounded, and the country at the foot presents a fine tract of flat agricultural land.
Wanaka, which at one point is less than two miles from Hawea, is 29 miles long, and from 1 to 3 miles broad, and has an area of 75 square miles. Its altitude is 970 feet, and its depth ranges from 600 to 1085 feet, the greater portion being upwards of 800 feet deep. The lake is long, narrow, and sinuous, but, at the foot, runs into arms and gulfs that extend over a circle of 9 miles in diameter. Land and water are intertwined in the most extraordinary way, like the parts of a child's puzzle. In this and other respects it closely resembles the lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. Wanaka is declared to be one of the finest lakes in the world. Comparing it with the other two most picturesque lakes in Otago, it may be said that Manapouri is remarkable for beauty, and Wakatipu for grandeur, but that Wanaka is both beautiful and grand. The scenery is diversified in the extreme : conical hills and islands, bushy ravines with rushing torrents, and towering mountains crowned with glistening snow-fields, combine to form a picture that is as difficult to imagine as to describe.
From the surface and shores of Lake Wanaka it is possible to see about thirty named and measured peaks, from 4000 to nearly 10,000 feet high, and a countless number that have neither been named nor measured. The general height is from 5000 to 7000 feet, but there are four or five page 6 peaks between the last-mentioned height and that of Mount Aspiring, 9940 feet. Aspiring, which may he called the Matterhorn of New Zealand, is the fourth highest mountain in Australasia. Although about 20 miles distant, it can be seen to perfection from the lake, for it constitutes the head of a wide, open, and flat valley, in which flows the Matukitiki river. All this part of the lake scenery is particularly impressive. Aspiring, Alta, and the Minarets are appropriately named; the first two fully bear out what their names indicate, and the latter is decidedly suggestive of Oriental architecture. Alta and the Minarets rise sheer from the water's edge to an elevation of 7840 and 6440 feet respectively.
Wanaka has three beautiful islands, one of which is remarkable for having a small lake on the top, some hundreds of feet above the large one; where the water comes from is a problem not easy to solve.
Wakatipu, the last lake in the central group, is probably the best known in New Zealand, being the favourite resort of tourists, who now visit it by excursion train in great numbers. The lake is 50 miles long, and from 1 to 3 miles wide, and covers an area of 114 square miles. It stands at a level of 1050 feet above the sea, and is 1400 feet deep. In shape it is somewhat like an elongated letter S, and has a general resemblance to Lake Maggiore in the north of Italy. The outline of the shore is very regular, there being only two or three indentations that can be called bays. The scenery of Lake Wakatipu is very grand. The eye is wholly occupied with huge mountain masses and towering peaks, to the exclusion of anything that requires minute inspection. Lake Wakatipu is literally surrounded by a wall of mountains, and the gateways in the wall are few and narrow. Like the other lakes in the central group, Wakatipu has comparatively little forest; the flatter slopes are covered with fern, the common bracken of Scotland; for a few hundred feet after that comes the ordinary tussock grass of the country, which continues well up to the snow-line. The ledges in the steeper parts of the mountains are generally filled with evergreen shrubs, which make a fitting contrast to the sombre grey of the schist rocks, and the ravines and water-falls are fringed with vegetation of the same kind.
From the deck of the steamer on the lake can he seen about forty well-known peaks from 4000 to upwards of 9000 feet high. There are seven over 8000, and the great majority of the remainder range from 5000 to 7000. Much of the charm of the Otago lake scenery is due to the facility with which it can be seen, and with which comparisons can be made between the various heights. The larger lakes in the European Alps lie outside the principal mountain masses, and frequently the best view of a peak is that got from a pass or spur half-way up; whereas in New Zealand the lakes wind in among and around the grandest mountains, and every height is easily measurable.
Commencing at the Kingston end of Lake Wakatipu, the mountains soon get bold and rugged, the Bay and Bayonet Peaks, and Mount Dick, on the western side, rise sheer and craggy from the water's edge. Although page 7 less steep at the base, the Remarkables, on the eastern side, is perhaps the most impregnable of the ramparts that surround the lake. It is comparatively straight and level, but closely serrated, and so steep at the top as hitherto to defy colonial climbers. The wall is buttressed in a very extraordinary manner by narrow rock spurs, the sides of which are too steep for snow to lie on; but as it lies on the intervening flat places, the winter aspect of the mountain is that of a curious mosaic in black and white. In the middle reach of the lake, there is a tolerably solid range on the northern side, but the mountains on the southern side are more or less isolated, and at one place there is a narrow valley leading to the Te Anau country. The finest scenery of all is at the head of the lake : there is no single peak so imposing as Mount Cook, but the general view is grand in the extreme, for the whole lake is guarded by a mighty array of mountains, whose predominant characteristic is massiveness. The centre-piece in the scene is Earnslaw, which may aptly be called the Mont Blanc of New Zealand, for in general appearance it closely resembles the monarch of the European Alps; the only difference is that the latter is somewhat more rounded on the summit. One of the most prominent features of Earnslaw is an immense glacier that occupies a hollow at a high elevation on the mountain's side. At the end of winter it presents a smooth glassy appearance, like the frozen surface of a lake; but the movement over its sloping irregular bed in summer causes it to break up into huge steps, the front of each being the exposed edge of a crevasse. The glacier begins at the foot of a steep part of the mountain, and is jammed in between two spurs in a curious manner, so that the whole thing is not unlike a gigantic scat. A classical enthusiast has called it "Jove's Chair;" but we prefer the more homely comparison of the old Scotch lady, who said, "It is just like the 'Great White Throne.'"
There are three picturesque islands on Lake Wakatipu, about 7 miles from the head; they command the best view of the mountains, and are in consequence a favourite resort of picnic parties.
The glacier origin of the central lakes is commonly accepted, and in the case of Wakatipu it is apparent on every hand. The mountain slopes generally consist of small ledges, smooth and round, suggestive of the work of a machine that had a downward and forward motion. There are several glacier deposits along the shores, and the terminal moraine at Kingston is probably the most perfect in Otago. It stands about 250 feet above the present lake level, and extends about a mile and a half down, the valley. The railway, which is made through the moraine, is laid out to follow one of the gullies that led the water from the glacier to the main river beyond. This is one of two unique experiences in railway making in New Zealand: the other is in Canterbury, where a tunnel is made through the wall of an ancient volcano, the harbour of Lyttelton being the crater. As the heavily freighted excursion train comes winding down the steep face of the moraine, with every brake screwed down, we may imagine the noise to be a microphonic reproduction of the crunching page 8 sound of the glacier, pushing forward a load that all the locomotives in Europe could not move, and the fanciful passenger in the Lyttelton tunnel may compare the engine's head-light to the spark that lit the original Plutonic fire.
As already stated, the depth of Lake Wakatipu is 1400 feet, but this is only in one place, the general depth being 1200 feet. The soundings are remarkably uniform, and there is no shallow water along the shore; the slopes of the mountains appear to continue right down to the bottom of the lake.
The central lakes are mainly supplied by rivers carrying glacier sediment; consequently, the water at their head is more or less muddy, but it leaves them quite pure : the large lakes act as settling basins, and otherwise purify the water in the most effectual manner. Unfortunately, the purity of the Clutha is not long retained; the diggers restore the sediment extracted by the lakes, and the river rolls down to the sea in a discoloured state all the year round.
The rivers at the heads of the lakes, like many others among the mountains, are remarkable for the sylvan beauty of their immediate surroundings. They flow through flat grassy valleys, divided into glades and parks by belts and clumps of bush, laid out by nature in a way that art can never excel. The bush is mostly black birch or beech, Fagus solandri, which in shape resembles the Macrocarpa; and isolated trees are frequently seen in positions that seem to have been specially selected by Nature's landscape gardener. The valley of the Route Burn has been compared with the policies of Taymouth Castle, but with an extensive background of magnificent Alpine scenery.
The Clutha is only 150 miles long, but it has a watershed of 8250 square miles, in which there is a heavy rainfall. As previously stated, the volume of water is very great. The river for the most part runs through rocky gorges; hut, with the exception of a few miles near the Blue Mountains, the scenery is not striking. The most remarkable feature on its whole course is a succession of wonderful terraces that occur on the Wanaka branch; they are as smooth and regular as if set out and built by the hand of man, and in several instances the ends and corners have all the appearance of an immense railway embankment stopped in the middle—a record of financial collapse.
The western group of lakes is within 60 miles of a railway, and there is a good driving road all the way; but they are comparatively unknown, the ordinary tourist not having yet made their acquaintance. The reason is that the district is still unsettled, and there are in consequence no regular means of conveyance, and no proper accommodation at public-houses.
Te Anau, the most northerly of the western lakes, is the largest in the Middle Island. The main body of water, which extends due north and south, is 38 miles long, and from 1 to 6 miles broad; it has three arms or fiords running off from the western side and winding among the mountains, their dimensions being from 10 to 18 miles long, and from l to 3 page 9 miles broad. The lake covers an area of 132 square miles; it stands 700 feet above sea-level, and is from 720 to 940 feet deep. The country for 25 miles on the eastern shores of Te Anau is low and undulating, but the fiords and other portions of the lake partake more or less of the character of Wakatipu and Wanaka. Although not nearly so high, the mountains generally rise steeper from the water's edge, and, with the exception of some 15 miles of the low country just mentioned, there is a fringe of dense bush all round.
Te Anau has ten islands of various sizes and shapes, some of them being very picturesque.
Manapouri is of an indescribable shape and indefinite dimensions, being so cut up into bays, gulfs, and arms as to make it impossible to determine what is length or what is breadth. An idea of its size can, however, be obtained from the area, which is 50 square miles. The altitude is 610 feet; the depth has never been ascertained, but it must be very great, the bottom being supposed to descend considerably below sea-level, as in the case of the other large lakes. Manapouri has five beautiful wooded islands that stretch across the lake near the foot, and constitute a prominent feature in the landscape; unlike much of the colonial nomenclature of localities, they have received euphonious and poetical, if not appropriate names :—Rona, Pomona, and others suggestive of Canute and Minna Troil. The lake is literally embossed in the mountains as a brilliant set in emeralds, with outer rings of rougher and darker gems, that change their colours with every mood of the sky. The islands as well as the mountain spurs rise abruptly from the water, frequently with a convex outline, a good idea of which is conveyed in the name of one of the headlands—"The Beehive"; above the level of the bush and the beehives the curve becomes concave, and the mountains rise tier upon tier, an amphitheatre of gigantic proportions. The general effect is of wondrous beauty and silent solemn grandeur. The same impression is made on the Maories, for the name of the lake can be translated into "sorrowing heart" or "dark influence;" evidently they consider it the abode of some deity who docs not usually take a cheerful view of sublunary affairs.
Te Anau and Manapouri are only 5 miles apart, consequently the surrounding scenery is common to both. The lakes are guarded to the westward by irregular detachments of mountains, huddled promiscuously together like a badly trained army. They, however, show a good front, and sweep round the head of Te Anau and onwards to Wakatipu in a regular curve, like the circle of the Ben Ohau range in the Mackenzie country. There are some forty named and measured peaks in the vicinity, but they are considerably lower than those round the central lakes, the general height being only from 4000 to 5000 feet. The view from the shoulder of the Takatimos, an isolated range that bounds the Te Anau country on the south, is at once Alpine and sylvan. Mountains, lakes and rivers, forests, plains, and rolling downs, are brought together in a way that is seldom seen, and the picture will be still more complete page 10 a few years hence, when the low country is clotted over with cosy homesteads.
Monowai, the third of the western lakes, lies in a subsidiary valley about 16 miles from Manapouri, and 500 feet above sea-level; it is 14 miles long, and from half a mile to a mile broad, the area being 11 square miles It curves round the end of a mountain range, and in shape resembles the boomerang of the Australian natives. Like the other lakes in the western wilds, Monowai is surrounded by rugged mountains fringed with bush but there is an open valley nearly all the way from the river [unclear: Waia] consequently it is easy of access.
The vegetation of the western lake country is varied and profuse. [unclear: h] includes all sorts and conditions of plants, from the great red beech-tree Fagus fusca, six feet in diameter, to "wee modest" flowers as [unclear: delicate] the lily of the valley. With the exception of fuchsia and three or four others, all the trees and shrubs in the Middle Island are evergreen; but is does not follow that the woods are monotonous, for the foliage is of every conceivable colour and tint, from the burnished green of the laurel to the rusty brown of the pepper tree and the silver grey of the Olearia.
Although not so apparent to the unscientific eye, geologists [unclear: tell] that the western lakes, as well as those in the central group, have been formed by glacial action. Professor Hutton points out a large [unclear: hi] situated about eight miles down the valley as the terminal moraine [unclear: of] huge glacier that had the whole of the Te Anau country for its [unclear: lai] Possibly the scarcity of morainic deposits is due to the variety of formations that occur in the Waiau watershed. Rocks of all kinds are nl with, from gneiss and schist, harder than basalt, to granular limestone [unclear: a] soft as chalk. One of the most interesting geological features is a series of immense terraces, four or five in number, that mark successive water levels. Relatively to the lakes, they occupy the same position as those on the upper Clutha.
The Waiau, which drains the western lakes, is one of the finest river in New Zealand: no part of it is uninteresting; and there are fresh beauties and new objects of interest at every turn. For a short [unclear: dist] below the lake the river flows as smoothly and slowly as a [unclear: canal,] after that, rocky gorges and shingle reaches alternate all the way to the sea. The average fall is 10 feet a mile, and there are no fords or bridge and few ferries.
The southern lakes have only been seen by explorers, and by but few of these. The first trustworthy map of the district bears the date of June 1883. The reason the lakes have been so long unknown is the in accessible nature of the country. With the exception of the mountain tops, it is all covered with dense bush, in addition to which [unclear: the] ground is swampy.
Hauroto, the largest of the southern lakes, lies 4 miles south-west from Lake Monowai. It is 21 miles long, and from three-quarters to a males and a half broad, with an inlet 4 miles long and one and a half broad. page 11 the total area being 25½ square miles. The lake winds among the mountains in long flat curves, the inlet being nearly detached by two islands that stretch across its mouth. The altitude of Hauroto is 610 feet, the same as Manapouri, and it is only 15 miles from the sea; consequently the river, which has never been traced out, must have large waterfalls, or be little more than a foaming torrent for its whole length.
Poutiritiri lies generally parallel with Hauroto, but 7 miles west from it, and much nearer Foveaux Straits, its lower end being only 6 miles from the sea. The lake is 18 miles long and of the same width as Hauroto; the area is 16½ square miles, and the altitude 120 feet. In shape it is a reduced copy of Lake Wakatipu, with the bends stretched out flatter. The outline of the shore is exactly the same, being without indentations and otherwise quite regular.
The southern end of the South Island is known to the natives by a name which signifies "the last joint of the tail," and it would be equally applicable to Hakapoua, the third and last lake in the southern group, for it is the most southerly one in New Zealand, and the most insignificant of the twelve herein described. It is only 4 miles long by half a mile wide, and stands at a low level, about 4 miles from the coast.
The southern lakes are situated among the mountains, like the others in Otago, but there is no high range between them and the sea. Thirty peaks in their immediate vicinity have been named and measured; they range from 3500 to 5000 feet high, but the great majority are under 4000. Beyond the fact that the mountains are rugged, the valleys swampy, and the woods damp and impenetrable, we have little information with reference to the country that surrounds the southern lakes.
This completes our description of the Cold Lakes of New Zealand. It is confined entirely to their physical aspect. They have no legendary or historical associations to commend them. Until the advent of the white men, thirty years ago, the country had no inhabitants. The Maories occasionally visited the interior on fishing and hunting expeditions, and in search of greenstone with which to make weapons and ornaments; but there was no fixed population. The only traditions, therefore, are the adventures by "flood and fell" of squatters looking for sheep country, diggers prospecting for gold, and surveyors spying out the land.