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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)

Over the Waters

Over the Waters.

You can make the trip to Fairy Springs easily and comfortably in half a day, but the trip across Lake Rotorua and to Okere Falls is one of those joyous all-day outings which take you far afield into another world. It is possible to tour the fringe of the lake by car, but on a fine day the trip by launch is irresistible. The skipper casts off at 9.30 from the wharf near Ohinemutu. Seated comfortably, and drinking in deep of the bracing air, you watch the shores of the lake recede rapidly over a surface of shimmering blue. You will never again know so much contentment, for, over this lake, if anywhere, contentment is the presiding deity. Angler after

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Angler you will pass swiftly by, each casting his line amiably, smoking probably, and almost surely as oblivious to the troubles of this world as a new-born babe. Nearly an hour of this delightful cruising brings you to the first port of call, Hamurana, on the opposite shore from Rotorua. Here you disembark to visit another famous spring, about half a mile from the shore. The way lies over pleasant meadows, and by a clear, greenish-coloured stream that has its source in the spring. It is a pity that the limitations of the time-table force you to hurry, for Hamurana is one of those quiet, restful, intimate places where you would like to pitch tent, and laze about with an armful of your favourite novels. Here is lake country that adds to its many natural beauties, and its complete separation from the mundane world of bustle, a warm and pleasant climate. But the duties of the guide, a young Maori boy, leave him no time for reflection, and we hurry on to the spring. Its surface area, is small; it is really a large fissure between rocks. Gaze down into its clear depths as long as you may, you will see no bottom, for there is none known to man. The water is so wonderfully cool and pure that you will be foolish not to drink a glass of it, but the most remarkable feature of the spring is the extraordinary force and volume of its output. Cast a penny into the pool, for example, and you will see it forced upward instead of sinking, such is the tremendous urge of the rising water. The total daily output reaches the colossal figure of twelve million gallons a day.

From Hamurana, the launch turns her nose down the lake towards Okere Falls. It glides smoothly along past the rugged northern shore until near the head of the lake it reaches the shallow waters at the entrance to Ohau Channel. Here the speed is reduced to a cautious crawl. Ohau Channel is a natural canal, winding in its course, and connecting Lake Rotorua with Lake Rotoiti. At places the channel is so narrow that you could almost touch the bank with your outstretched hand, but the waters are deep and perfectly safe to navigate. For nearly two miles you wind in and out of this tortuous water-course; drooping willows occasionally swish over the top deck; on the shores you cath frequent glimpses of the delightful Maori village of Mourea. If in your dreams of paradise you have had visions of green earth and cooling trees, of clear, deep water rolling gently through their midst, of everywhere a spread of blue skies and miles of rugged bush, and if you have added to such vague dreams a longing for peace that is absolute, you will leave Ohau Channel behind you with the greatest reluctance. I sincerely envy the Maoris who wave and smile so contentedly as the launch passes. The old Omar Khayyam grows strong in me; here is my wilderness, and here would love and I conspire if the bonds of this world were looser. The channel is no less a Mecca for the angler; in May, particularly, fisherman's luck is at its best.

Entering Rotoiti, the launch makes straight ahead for the northern shore, and shallower arm of the lake. Drawing near to the head you pass a tiny island, consecrated to the burial of a celebrated chief. About this and other spots around these lakes, hover the ghosts of many stirring incidents of the past, stories of valour, audacity and cunning, that make the Maori warrior a picturesque, if somewhat terrible figure, in history. In all these stories the launch skippers are deeply versed, for they have imbibed them from youth, and they seem to have a natural gift of narration that keeps you hanging breathlessly on every word.