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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Natural Amenities

Natural Amenities.

Scenery.—The first and by no means the least of the resources of New Zealand are its natural amenities. Someone has said that we cannot discount climate. As an abstract proposition this is probably correct, but in actual practise it is nearly as fallacious as the assertion that we could not grow our own wheat. Although they may not be scheduled as such, fine scenery and blue skies are valuable collateral security, with fertile plains and rich mines in the money market. Grand mountains, rivers, and lakes, are tangible assets in a nation's balance-sheet; and in some countries they are, indirectly, the main source of revenue. Even in Great page 30 Britain, with all its wealth, they are the direct and sole support of large and populous districts.

Although the tourist traffic is only in its infancy, it is beginning to affect the commerce of the country. The geysers of the North and the glaciers of the South are already contributing their quota to the dividends of the Union Company, and the main stay of the Wakatipu district is the scenery of the Lake. As there is nothing in the Southern Seas to compete with her scenery, New Zealand must always be the recreation ground of Australasia; and the healing waters of the North Island have appropriately been called "the World's Bethesda." The protective policy of the Victorians may keep our oats and potatoes out of their market, but it cannot keep the money in their own country when the commodities to be bought are the health-giving pleasures of the Hot Springs and the mountains. It is impossible to estimate the possibilities of the tourist traffic of New Zealand, for it depends very little on the home demand, and the outside market is unlimited.

Climate.—The climatic endowments are greatly enhanced by their diversity. Taken in connection with her other varied resources this makes new Zealand what may be termed a self-contained country. We grow maize and oranges in the north, and barley and turnips in the south; grapes in the interior of Otago, and red currants on the sea-board. The diversity of climate is attributable to the configuration and geographical position of the islands—a long narrow strip lying north and south close to the tropics, but separated from this and other heat centres by unbroken seas that modify the temperature. There is no country in the world of so small a size that extends over so many degrees of latitude.

Water.—Another natural endowment in New Zealand, which is not appraised at its proper value, is the page 31 abundant supply of water everywhere obtainable. In all probability there is not a single spot in either island that is ten miles from a permanent water supply, and the places where the distance is even half as much are few and far between. In addition to its ordinary uses pure water is indispensable for many manufacturing purposes. And if the predictions of scientific men, with reference to electricity, come true, we have in our swift flowing rivers, what Dr Johnston would call, a "potentiality" of wealth. Scientists tell us that the motive power of the future is electricity, to be engendered by the forces now running to waste in every stream, and distributed to the consumer like gas or water. There is more inherent power in the Waitaki alone than in all the machinery of the Union Company's steamers put together.