The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64
Chapter III. — Wairoa, Rotomahana, and the Terraces
Wairoa, Rotomahana, and the Terraces.
ellow passenger with us to Wairoa was Te Hemapo, a Taupo chief, who entertained us with some thrilling reminiscences of the wars between the Europeans and the hostile Hauhaus. He (Te Hemapo) fought on the white side, but says that Government has shown very little appreciation of his services. It has, on the contrary, refused to fulfil its covenant with him in respect to land concerns of some importance.
He related to us some harrowing incidents of battle and pillage, and told us of many "hairbreadth 'scapes" experienced by him and sundry Europeans in company with him. And his narratives so interested us that we paid little heed to the somewhat monotonous scenery for the first six miles out of Ohinemutu. But we roused up at Tikitapu Bush, for the beauty of it would rouse anybody out of anything. The road through it is literally an avenue, bordered with ferns and magnificent timber—rimu, tawa, and miro predominating. Some of the trees and shrubs were bright with scarlet berries, others bore black ones plentifully. The scarlet berries are good to eat and the black ones are not; or else the black ones are, and the scarlet ones are not—I've forgotten how it is exactly. But if anyone is really anxious to know, I should recommend him to eat some of either kind, and judge by results. If he survives, he will know that he hasn't eaten the poisonous ones, of course; and whether he does eat them afterwards or not is a matter entirely at his own option.
The trees in this bush, as in all others in New Zealand, are completely clothed with parasites. The curious koherehere is especially noticeable, growing in clumps from every joint of these page 41 giants, and disputing possession with the rata, the supplejack, and all the other vampires that draw the life out of their supporters. At night, Tikitapu Bush is literally illuminated with glow-worms, and presents a unique appearance, with its glory of foliage and myriads of tiny, living lanterns.
As we approached the end of the avenue, we caught the first glimpse of Tikitapu Lake, or Blue Lake, as it is more familiarly called. It is a small sheet of intensely blue water, surrounded by steep wooded hills of vivid green. One very narrow range at the upper end divides it from its neighbour, Rotokakahi, (Green Lake). The dividing ground is not more than four chains wide, yet Rotokakahi is over seventy feet lower in altitude above sea-level than Tikitapu is.
There is a legend to the effect that once a taniwha (fabulou reptile or dragon), abode in Tikitapu. This "insect" proved quite as unpleasant in his time and generation as our St. George-extinguished representative of the same species did in his. He slaughtered his millions—more or less. His name was Katauri, and he was the private property of the Ngahinewha, a Maori tribe endowed with specially cantankerous proclivities. And whenever the Ngahinewa got up a grudge against any other tribe, they just used to set the dragon on, and he gobbled the enemy remorselessly. What he couldn't eat on the spot he used to lay by against a rainy day, as it were; used to plant it down in the bottom of the lake, to serve when business happened to be slack. This sort of thing went on monotonously for a great while, until at last a grand korero was held by the anti-taniwha communities, and a resolution passed that the programme had to be changed somehow; someone must decide to sail in, and put a stop to this killing monopoly, or die trying to. Well, the Ngatitama tribe thought they might do it, and so they sent a challenge to the Ngahinewha forthwith. A lively battle ensued, which resulted in Katauri's becoming defunct. It is said that a dimunitive descendant of his, a kind of big lizard, still lives in Tikitapu.
Skirting the lake on the eastern side we drove through a profusion of ti-tree, fern, and tupaki, on past Rotokakahi. page 42 We noticed a shrub here with dark green, white-lined leaves, and learned that it is the wharangi, which horses eat greedily whenever they can, suffering afterwards from a kind of intoxication that results in death, unless remedies are administered promptly. Rotokakahi is a rather dingy coloured expanse of water, not nearly so pretty as Tikitapu. It is shut in by steep, lofty mountains covered with dwarf growth, through a gap in the peaks of which, old Horohoro's familiar long straight summit appears in the cloudy distance. Near the western shore of the lake is the pretty island, Motutawa, about which there is a curious legend, running thus:—Once there dwelt on Motutawa a tortoise, named Tuhutiti. And during her hatching season, Tuhutiti returned home, after a brief and necessary absence, and found that all her beautiful batch of eggs had been stolen. Great was her anger, and greater still was her anguish. Being gifted with a super-tuhutitian sense of smell, she began to seek her eggs by scent, and, following her nose, as the saying is, she came to a camp of travelling Maoris, and found the inmates all asleep, the time being night. But Tuhutiti snuffed out the thieves, two women slumbering together, and stealing softly up, she tickled their noses with her tail. They awakened in affright, and seeing Tuhutiti, screamed themselves into convulsions. The poor tortoise demanded her eggs, which frightened the women still more, and the end of it was that Tuhutiti was slain. After her death, the women examined the eggs, and found in each a tiny Tuhutiti.
Rotokakahi has an outlet in the Wairoa Creek, which flows rapidly and noisily between shrub-grown banks until it reaches the Fall, about half-a-mile below Wairoa settlement. Here it makes a sudden descent of eighty feet or so, forming a lovely cascade amidst lovelier foliage, and then rushes on through a narrow, rocky gorge till it empties itself into Tarawera Lake.
Our road wound beside this creek from Rotokakahi until we sighted Wairoa settlement, with the lake just revealed in the distance, and Tarawera Mountain rearing its lofty peaks to the sky beyond.
The Terrace Hotel, ably managed by Mr. and Mrs. Moncrieff, page 43 though by no means an imposing edifice, is very pleasant and comfortable. When we had disposed of our luggage there, and ascertained the dinner hour, we set out to explore the settlement.
Wairoa is hemmed in by mountains. Moerangi lifts itself in lofty grandeur over against Rotokakahi, Tokinihau (Big Hill) rears his majestic head opposite, and the ranges, of which these mountains are a part, extend clear clown to Tarawera. The settlement consists almost entirely of Maoris. Scarce half-a-dozen white families live at Wairoa. The natives are very fair specimens, but scarcely so bright and cheerful in appearance as their Ohinemutu friends. We visited the carved temple here. It is ingenious in device, and very gay with fresh paint, but is not nearly so large or interesting as that at Ohinemutu. It is in this temple that the natives perform the haka for visitors who are willing to pay for that exhibition. We did not see it, but we heard quite enough about it to feel justified in saying that it is every white man's duty to suppress rather than encourage it. Excited by rum and pakeha approval, the dancers often bring this haka to a pitch of indescribable indecency, and the result of it is often a filthy, drunken orgie of several days duration.
Mr. W. P. Snow, an American gentleman, who has just recently concluded a year's pleasure-sojourn in the Lakes District, and who has been most untiring in his efforts to promote temperance and general well-being among the Maoris, told us that more evil was wrought among those at Wairoa by the injudicious encouragement of the haka than by any other means almost. There are innocent hakas, the performance of which would harm nobody; but at Wairoa these innocent ones are more frequently exceeded than not, and the result is often unlimited drunkenness and immorality.
A day, or even more, may be pleasantly and interestingly passed at Wairoa in visiting the pretty church and the mission station, occupied for thirty years and more by the Rev. Mr. Spencer, to whose hospitality to the traveller Hochstetter and many others have borne witness. His residence is in the midst of a beautiful plantation, on the top of a hill overlooking Tarawera. The site is admirable, the view superb.page 44
Was she from the Emerald Island,
As her name was Erin-nora?
This, methinks, I hear you ask me,
And I answer, No, she was not.
Though she dwelt beside the craythur,
I could find no green about her;
For her skin was dark and dusky,
Shining bright with fat of wild pig,
And her raven locks were hanging,
Like the mane of Shetland pony,
Down upon my tender bosom,
As she stooped to fondly kiss me,
Softly whispering, "Tena koe,
Kapai pakeha, O kapai!"
Rubbing noses, as she pressed me
In her arms so thick and brawny.
Then she placed me on her shoulders,
Plunging through the frothy billows,
Clad in simple garb primeval;
Whilst the fierce, sulphuric waters
Steamed around the charming creature,
Oozing forth a rich aroma,
Like the smell of bacon seething
In some mighty pot of cabbage.
All we can say of Erin-nora is that she was very sociable, and didn't ooze when we saw her. She struck me as being rather absorbent than oozing.
On the evening of our arrival at Wairoa, we made acquaintance with the guide Sophia, a most intelligent, pleasant woman, who speaks English remarkably well. She is refined and delicate in appearance, gentle-mannered, and soft-voiced; but she must have a wonderfully strong constitution, for she has borne fifteen living children, has worked hard, and endured her share of privation and hardship, yet looks positively youthful and pretty after it all.page 45
Early in the morning—oh, painfully, sinfully, early in the morning!—we quitted our downy pillow to start for the Terraces. After a good breakfast, by way of encouragement, we set off walking down the Waituwhera Gorge to the lake where we were to embark.
Tarawera Lake is notable for its grand scenery. Its shores are rugged, and rocky, and steep; its waters deeply and darkly blue. The lake extends some seven or eight miles lengthwise, and is five or six in breadth. The three flat cones of the Tarawera Mountains loom loftily to the south-east, 2,000 feet above sea-level; and, eastward, through a gap in the range, the towering peak of Mount Edgcumbe is plainly visible. Through that gap in the range, runs Tarawera's outlet, Awa o te Atua (River of the Gods), past Edgcumbe and away on to the Bay of Plenty. At some distance from its source the river forms a magnificent waterfall, Te Tauhapi, over which is a curious natural bridge that is sacred to the Maoris, as a burial place. The Maoris are ambitious in the matter of burial grounds. All sorts of peculiar and hardly accessible spots are chosen by them for the sepulture of the bones of dead friends. The three cones of Tarawera, called respectively Wahangu, Ruawahia, and Tarawera, are all made tapu by this kind of funeral.
About a year ago, the water in Tarawera suddenly changed colour, and became nauseous and unwholesome. There was some corresponding disturbance in Rotokakahi too, and the creek between rose rapidly to such a height that the natives were alarmed, and, apprehensive of a flood, swarmed up the hills and waited till it subsided again. Sophia asserts that she saw a great lizard struggling up the creek to Rotokakahi on the morning after the disturbance, but, as no one else saw it, she cannot prove the truth of her vision. It is not unlikely, however, that some small cousin of the crocodile tribe does live in Rotokakahi, since that lake is accredited with such inhabitants by more than one section of Maoris.
Tarawera water remained unusable for nearly a year, its colour during that space being of a dirty green. Then it changed to perfect purity again, and is now quite available for drinking purposes.page 46
We embarked at the foot of the gorge in the "Riripeti," a staunch little boat, manned by eight Maoris. We sped along under sail past beautiful variegated bush, past a big overhanging rock, with a single rata growing out of its stony heart, apparently; past Koriri, a promontory on the north shore, where used to be an important pa, and where Mr. and Mrs. Snow lived several months under canvas.
Mr. Snow pervades this district. Everywhere you may hear his name, and eulogistic comments upon his philanthropic efforts for the amelioration of the condition of the Maori. He devoted himself completely while here to inculcating principles of thrift and industry, and in trying to redeem the natives from their great curse and temptation—drink. All honour to him! If others would only follow the example of this gentleman and his co-worker, Mr. Hazard, in their disinterested endeavours to raise the Maoris from their present level of listlessness and disposition to intemperance, much good might be done to a race well worthy of the white man's aid and consideration.
As we got further out to sea, our guide, Sophia, pointed out to us a part of the lake, near the north-cast shore, which, she said, Maori boatmen always avoided religiously, because of a superstition about a magic tree said to be growing under the water there. This tree is called Matarehua, and when any great chief is about to die it thrusts its branches high above the surface. When the people see this they prepare for mourning. Boatmen will not approach the place if they can help it, for it is said that the tree has power to hold and destroy any canoe that passes over it. Possibly some whirlpool or undercurrent strong enough to impede progress has given rise to this superstition. The tree—well, the tree—is one of those phenomena generally mentioned as having been seen by a man who told his brother, who told a friend, who told your grandfather, who told your mother, who told you.
Hounding Mora Point, we stopped at a native village to buy peaches and kouras. Rounding another point, we entered Te Ariki, the south-east bay of Tarawera, and here our attention was called to a yellow lichen-covered rock, called Huruwhenua (Devil's Rock) page 47 which stood in close to the steep wooded shore. Said Sophia, in obedience to certain intelligent signs from the crew, "If some little thing is not left on this rock to bribe the devil to let us go safe, we shall capsize. It is quite true," she continued earnestly, "for I see one myself a few years ago. The people laugh, and say they will not pay such nonsense, and before they get fifty yards away—ha! over go the boat. And the day was so cold, too; they have to go shivering up the hill and walk home."
In face of this evidence, we felt it would be tempting Satan to pass without paying toll. So we hunted up our smallest coins—Sophia, good heart, insisted on the smallest—and passed them over to a tattooed old heathen in the stern. He struck the rock several times with a branch of wet fern, and did an incantation that excited frantic mirth amongst his countrymen. To us it was unintelligible, yet we pretty well guessed the gist of it, I fancy.
"Taipo! Taipo! here's some more fools of pakehas. Help us to make them bleed rum; kapai rum." During the incantation he passed up the rock a moment, and put his hand in his pocket—the hand with the sixpences in, you observe. Then he came back, and winked at his brethren. Then Sophia winked at me, and showed her white teeth; and I winked back, of course. Then we sailed on with easy minds. And we were not capsized, which is the best possible proof of the expediency of having a coin handy whenever "there is the devil to pay."
After Huruwhenua, Wairua Creek is the most noticeable feature. This is the outlet of Wairua Lake, in which is a hot spring island. A little further on there are hot baths on the southern shore of Te Ariki, said to be highly curative of certain disorders of the blood. Near them is the Maori settlement Kauhanga. From this point one gets a fine view of Tarawera Range, in a new, strange, terrace-like aspect. At the head of Te Ariki is Karaka, another bit of hot springs country, where the tourist lands, opposite the Maori settlement Tahunatorea. We were told that once a Maori child was born here without any skin on its body, that its unpleasant condition rendered it so cruelly and painfully susceptible to the page 48 cold air that its mother, to preserve it, immersed it in one of the baths, where it lived for three years, fed and watched over by her. If she had put it in one of the Terrace baths it would have had a brand new hide of pure alabaster in less than three months. But, when you come to think of it, perhaps an alabaster hide would not be quite the most convenient thing to move round in, after all Every good thing has its drawbacks.
At Tahunatorea we left our boat, and, following our guide for about a mile over hill and dale of ti-tree and fern, we reached the summit of a hill, from which we had our first view of Te Tarata, the White Terrace. That first view was disappointing. We could not see the lovely wonder properly from that point. It fell short, oh! very far short of our imaginings. We looked at each other, and although everybody read disappointment in every other body's eyes, nobody had the courage to own it. Then, with a subtle little smile on her face, Sophia told us to "Come on." I believe she purposely gave us that first dispiriting peep in order to surprise us the more thoroughly afterwards. When we reached the foot of the Terrace; when we saw its lovely coral-lipped basins, filled with illuminated liquid azure; when we climbed all up the glittering fretwork, over which the clear water flashed and murmured, and dipped first in one shell-shaped reservoir and then in another; when finally we attained the top and sat on the green islet at the brink of that wonderful cauldron of bewildering, boiling blue water, then we felt sorry for what we had thought at first. We "took it all back," and felt humble as mice.
The Terrace is over a hundred feet in height; its lowest step has a curved sweep of some two hundred yards. There is a diminution of size at every step clear up to the top, so that, looking down, the Terrace has the appearance of a large, white, expanded fan. The boiling lakelet on the top is about a hundred feet in length by seventy in breadth.
Imagine it then, if you can, and imagine it as made up of petrified snow, with the purest blue of the sky melted down into its cups, and illuminated in some supernaturally beautiful fashion from beneath. If any human architect could create so perfectly page 49 lovely a thing as the White Terrace, it would be irreverent to stand in his presence with one's hat on. The glory of the vision filled one with a religious feeling that forty thousand religious meetings would have failed to awaken. Two lines of a hymn learnt in childhood came into my mind as I gazed, and rang there for hours afterwards:—
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
I don't know the rest of the hymn, and I don't want to. Chances are ten to one that it sinks, like most religious poetry, especially the modern, into irreverence and profanity.
Te Tarata is not always active. Sometimes the cauldron is quite empty and the Terrace dry. We congratulated ourselves on our good fortune in seeing it wet, until we afterwards met a tourist who had seen it dry. His description made us feel that nothing would satisfy us but his experience, so we intend to go back some day and try again. When inactive, the upper basin or crater is empty to a depth of fifty feet, and is lovely beyond description, with its delicate sculptured sides, and lace-like fringes. In front of all the basins hang incrustations that look like petrified drapery. The activity of the spring depends entirely upon the direction of the wind, we were told. Sophia says that Te Tarata is invariably dry when the wind is from the north-east, and the force and display depend almost entirely upon the direction of the wind.
Any article that is put in the water here is preserved and encrusted almost to petrifaction. We got specimens of this in the shape of locusts, bees, dragon-flies, ferns, glass, rags, &c., &c. One piece of rag was turned positively to stone—light, brittle stone. The other things were deeply encrusted, but preserved in perfect shape. Sophia shewed us a tiny bird that she had hidden under some ferns in the water on her last visit. Every feather was turned white, and the slender legs seemed petrified into crystals. In a little while, Sophia said, it would be ready for removal, and might be preserved for ever. She took every pains to procure us good specimens, but we had neglected to take a little box for their safe carriage. They are so brittle that it is impossible to carry them without breakage, unless in a box provided for the purpose.page 50
A projecting portion of the upper Terrace is said to be part of the trunk of a large tree. It is like that in shape, certainly, but it is no longer a wooden substance, if ever it was one. The islet on the top of the Terrace is named Puhoto, and with its growth of vivid green, looks beautifully singular amidst the clouds of steam.
Leaving Te Tarata, our guide led us some distance through bush and scrub, until we presently reached Ngahapu, a tempestuous boiling well, forty feet long, and thirty wide, from which the water spouted up furiously every few minutes to a height of twenty or thirty feet. This is one of the most important geysers of the district. Sometimes it plays to the height of fifty feet, and the commotion in the well is constant and terrible. Near it is another, not so violent, but quite lively enough, and throbbing ceaselessly with the regular throb of a steam engine. It is called the Steamer. Near to this again is a small, clear, boiling lake, Te Takapau, and closely approximate are steam holes, boiling pools, and minor geysers innumerable.
Down on the border of Rotomahana we halted under the ti-tree for kai. Kouras and potatoes were boiled in one of the springs, and with peaches, and bread-and-butter, we made out a splendid meal.
After lunch we followed our guide over a hill and down a ravine, and found ourselves in a very weird locality. First we saw a huge cauldron of mud, boiling, of course—everything boils in this district; next an oil-pool, full of a thick, greasy substance; then a series of diminutive volcanoes, all ejecting mud, hot water, and steam; finally, a small lake, the water of which is of a bright yellowish-green tint. This lake and its immediate district are called collectively Rotokanapunapu. Every single feature of the place has a separate name besides, but they are too numerous and difficult to remember. As a background to this scene stands Mangamamao, a high hill, from hundreds of fissures in which steam issues with a constancy and heat that are appalling. The entire mount seems made of steam, and but for its myriad escape valves would undoubtedly blow off its roof without delay.page 51
Te Ana Taipo (Devil's Hole) is not far from this; a big, ground-funnel through which the steam escapes with the whistling, shrieking force and fierceness of a hundred valves combined. Closely adjacent to Te Ana Taipo is Kakariki, a boiling geyser lakelet, some 60 by 50 feet in extent.
From this we went to the Porridge Pot (Huka is the Maori name), filled with a kind of white clay, boiling slowly like thick porridge, and said to be good to eat. We ate a little that had cooled on the edge, found that it tasted of nothing in particular, but was soft and rather pleasant to the tongue and palate. The Maoris eat it by the handful, and say it is wholesome and medicinal. I should say it was very filling, and it is certainly cheap.
We passed on now to Pouri te Rangi—sometimes called Koingo, I think,—a boiling pool named after a slave who used to utilize it for cooking, and who either fell in, or didn't. I am a little mixed as to the fatal accidents associated with this district, there have been so many. One thing you may reckon on as a dead certainty :—if poor Pouri te Rangi did fall into this well, she never got out again with any comfort to herself or her sorrowful relations. The water boils hard all the time, and there is an intermittent geyser that plays to a considerable height, and sheds a silicious deposit for several yards around. From this point we had a very good view of the Pink Terrace on the opposite shore of Rotomahana. But, like our other first view it was a little disappointing, and we waited until a nearer vision should justify us in forming an opinion about it.
Te Whatapahu (Pain in the Belly) was the next wonder we be held. It is an intermittent geyser, but always noisy. The rumbling, groaning sound of it, as of some underground giant in the agonies of colic, probably suggested its title.
From this we walked to the cave, Ngawanga. It is not a large cave, by any means, yet it has served as a birthplace for eight generations of chiefs, the last of the line having no fewer than twelve children born within it. Mokonuiarangi was his name, or else it was the name of one of his grandfathers. Again I am a little mixed; a name like that is calculated to upset the page 52 best-regulated intellect. A man who would, of his own accord, carry about so many syllables deserves to be mixed ruthlessly with his forefathers. The Maori chiefs still retain the atrocious habit of wearing long names—at least, many of them do; but that of having twelve children is out of fashion. This is perhaps because they do not have so many wives at once now as they used to. Mr. Mokonuiarangi had ten wives; whether the dozen offspring were the result of combined effort, or of individual enterprise, history sayeth not.
From the cave we visited Ruakiwi, wherein a Maori infant and its nurse met death and burial at once; Kiroi, in which two Maori children fell many years ago, nothing of them being recovered but their heads; and Kapiti, a handsome geyser at the top of a small pink, and white, and yellow terrace that runs down almost to the brink of Rotomahana.
Looking down into those boiling wells, and hearing the tragic tales connected with them, gave one an uncomfortable sensation every time. One imagined how the hot water would close around the poor tortured body. One thought of the eternity of agony that would be crowded into the one brief moment dividing life and death for the hapless mortal, whom one false step would hurl into the hissing, seething, awful depths of these boiling, bottomless graves. We were glad we knew no one who had met with such a horrible fate. The poor creatures who had suffered that death were strangers to us, and years had elapsed since the events, and we felt very glad it was so.
Having described a sort of erratic circle we found ourselves now back at our resting place, and we at once embarked in the waiting canoe for the opposite shore. Rotomahana (Warm Lake) is by no means pretty. Its shape is irregular, its borders sedgy, its waters dingy green in colour. In size it is about a mile each way. Near the White Terrace shore are the two islets, Puwai and Pukuri. On Puwai, Hochstetter camped for a night or two, when on his grand tour through this wonderland, twenty years ago.
Eastward of Rotomahana is another lake, smaller in size, and called in contrast, Rotomakariri (Cold Lake).page 53
A brief voyage across Rotomahana brought us to Otukapua-rangi, the Pink Terrace. Someone has said that "anything so exquisite as this Pink Terrace does not exist elsewhere in nature." If the White Terrace did not exist in nature, this assertion might be true. As it is, the White Terrace, in my humble opinion, rather extinguishes its neighbour, though the latter is very beautiful too.
It is smaller than the White, it is more regular in formation, it widens as it ascends, which detracts from its beauty in comparison with Te Tarata's fan-like spread. The dark green ti-tree background sets Otukapuarangi off prettily, but Te Tarata has a much more imposing and effective setting. In point of chiselling, embossing, sculpture, and filagree the two terraces stand equal, I think. The delicate pink shade of the one is considered by some people to enhance it above the other; but the dazzling white of Te Tarata, in contrast with the lovely blue of the water in its cups, is, to me, much more beautiful. And Te Tarata has another advantage in having escaped the disfigurement that Otukapuarangi has suffered at the hands of tourists, who can't visit a place without leaving name and address behind them. The lovely porcelain surfaces of the Pink Terrace are scribbled over from end to end with signatures. It may be a matter of interest to the world to know that John Smith and James Brown, and sundry other illustrious ones, have honoured the Terraces with a visit, but I fail to see it. I fail to see why those beautiful tablets should be scrawled over, and darkened and degraded into a common visitors' book by the thousands of insignificant human atoms that serve to fill up the chinks in creation. It may be well enough for first visitors to a place to leave some record of their pioneering. Those who follow take a real interest in that. But when general globe-trotting humanity insists on leaving its name, baptismal and otherwise, at full length on a piece of God's handiwork so perfectly and incomparably beautiful as these Terraces—especially when about a full square yard is pegged off for one bit of individual conceit—why, then Nature pauses to enquire to what lengths the native cheek of general globe-trotting humanity will carry it.page 54
Another fiendish tendency of tourists is to break and chip off portions of the Terrace to carry away as specimens. Already the delicate filigree curtains that drape the basins are marred by this sacrilegious habit. Sophia told us of one party who, not content with going the back way, so to speak, in order to cheat the natives out of their fees, actually took axes with them to chop off pieces of the beautiful pink silica of Otukapuarangi. That man is naturally a destructive animal, history proves; but that he can find in his heart to disfigure, and mutilate, and destroy that which hath delighted and charmed him beyond expression would be incredible, did we not remember that it is not an uncommon thing for men to beat their wives and illuse many things in which they have erstwhile found pleasure.
It is comforting to know that these particular Vandals failed in their object. They had reckoned on finding no one at the Terraces. They, a riding party, had gone round about, as has been said, in order to save canoe expenses and fees; but two Maoris happened to espy them, and they were defeated and their axes confiscated.
The Pink Terrace is about eighty feet in height. Being comparatively narrow, it looks higher. The steps are level, not cupped like those of the White Terrace, all except five or six towards the top. These five or six are glorious enamelled baths, into which one dips successively with a sense of enjoyment indescribable. It is a luxury that surely is not obtainable anywhere else in the wide world. It is something never, never to be forgotten. Water, clear, bright, and blue, from lukewarm to as nearly boiling as you can bear it; fresh breezes to keep your head and face cool, porcelain basins deep enough to swim in, blue sky overhead, and dark green foliage all around; the "toot onsomble" as a lady expressed it to me, "is altogether too utterly trop; too bewilderingly, exquisitely, consummately oh fay for anything!"
Pink Terrace is by no means so pink as it's painted. At a distance the shade is very beautiful, In close proximity many portions of it are seen to be rather of a dirty white than pink. page 55 The boiling cauldron on the top is forty or fifty yards across, is blue in colour, but clear sapphire blue, not the pale turquoise of that in the cups of Te Tarata. The spring of Pink Terrace is not so active as that of the White; the summits of both are almost always obscured by steam.
Quite regretfully we quitted our enchanting bath and retired into the ti-tree to dress. There was a soft, enamelly feeling upon our skin for hours afterwards. Long continued daily bathing there would most assuredly give one a fine coat of silica. There is room for experiment, if anyone has a fancy for permanent enamel.
From Pink Terrace we canoed up a small inlet of the lake to Ruahota, a yellow sheet of sulphur water; and past this to the geyser Te Whakataratara, and then we slowly paddled down Rotomahana to the warm creek Kaiwaka; enjoying, as we passed one grand final view of Te Tarata, with its mountain background of coloured earth and steam, and Mount Tarawera looming in the distance. In the sedgy borders of the lake we saw many waterfowl; wild duck and the pretty pukeko being specially abundant. The golden carp has been successfully acclimatised to Rotomahana, and thrives admirably in its perpetual warm bath.
It is a wonderful thing—that lake of constantly warm water, yet, considering the constant flow from the hot springs around and above and beneath it, the wonder would be if it were not warm. We floated down the serpentine length of Kaiwaka (Canoe-destroyer—called so because its rapids are sometimes considered dangerous to canoes), noting the hot and cold springs, and embryo terraces that stud its toe-toe, fern, and ti-tree-covered banks, until presently we found ourselves back at Karaka. Here we changed from the canoe to the boat again, and were soon under way for Wairoa. The return trip was delightful. The Maoris sang a canoe song, each man taking a solo in turn, at a certain bar of which the entire crew drew in their oars with a sudden, simultaneous movement, and gesticulated in rythm with a queer, hissing chorus.
We crossed Tarawera near the south-western shore this time, and were shown the spot where under exists a large, cavernous rock, page 56 where a great chief, Rangitihi, once hid in safety from his enemies for a long time. He must have been a good diver, and he must have had some ingenious method of keeping his dwelling watertight while inhabiting it, I suppose. The rock is called Kohatu a Rangatihi (The Stone House of Rangitihi).
As the sun descended in gold and rosy splendour behind the circle of mountains that shelter Wairoa, and cool night breezes began to blow over Tarawera, we landed at the boatshed and made our way once more through Waituwhera Gorge; thus ending the most wonder-filled day of our brief month in hot water.