The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64
Chapter V. — Wairakei
n the fourth day we went to Wairakei. Seven miles of a ride through ti-tree brought us there. The last mile or so was as much downhill as the road to ruin, but that will be altered before long. We were pretty hungry when we arrived. We were hungry mostly all the time during that hurrah. Getting up so early made the days so long, and the intervals between meals seemed unusually lengthy.
We had a "temporary," so to speak, consisting of sardine sandwiches and whisky and water, and then started out exploring. John Turner guided us. He was almost the first European to see the Wairakei wonders, and he had given some of them quaint names indeed: "Devil's Kitchen," "Hades' Laundry" (only Turner hadn't read the revised edition, and put it more plainly), "Satan's Tollgate," "Deuce to Pay," and so on.
The devil has a good deal to answer for in the way of weird architecture. It is rather a compliment to him, too, giving him credit for so much that is beautiful and marvellous.
After a climb—on horseback—through dense ti-tree and tupaki, over a somewhat steep hill, we reached the steamy quarters. Hot spongy soil, weird hissings, splashings, and mysterious murmurings, strange odours, and dense clouds of steam first apprised us of their proximity. We tethered our horses on the hillside, and descended the wonderful valley through which Te Wairakei makes its hot course.
Tahuatahi was the first marvel we came to—an immense geyser, that, at regular intervals of about five minutes, sends up a column of water thirty feet or more into the air. Next, we saw Terekereke, page 78 a basin full of bubbling clear water and wonderfully shaped and incrusted rocks. The exterior is cone-shaped, and appears like the most beautiful delicate pink and white coral. The deposit from the overflowing water from this and its nearest neighbours will, in process of time, form a terrace, or terraces, that will rival the far-famed Pink and White. Terekereke, and a sister geyser some ten yards distant, show by their performances a strong affinity with each other. When one ceases the other begins. They are similar in formation, and quite alike in activity. The boiling water comes from a great depth in the cavity—comes with a gurgling roar till the cauldron is filled, then a bright column shoots up several feet in the air and falls back in a brilliant, fountain-like shower of glittering drops. The effect on any substance submitted long enough to its action is petrifaction; or, at least, the incrustations become so thick and solid that the substance seems petrified. A little higher up the hill, through Satan's Tollgate, and past the Deuce to Pay, is a petrifying spring that in a month's time will so incrust a twig of ti-tree that the twig seems solid stone. And the incrustations are so beautiful; white, pale pink, saffron-colour, and grey; shaped to the object so that every notch, and twist, and knot are emphasized rather than obliterated, and the surface all wrought into little curves and ripples. In the Crow's Nest group (not Taupo Crow's Nest, remember) of wonders, to which we presently came, there is a variety of springs and mudholes beyond anything I saw throughout the Hot Springs district. First a pool of milk-white boiling mud (Turner calls this the milk bath), the deposit from which appears to be pure chalk. Next, and only a yard or so distant, a cauldron of thick, steel-grey mud; after that a reddish one, hematite lying on the ground for yards around it; then a sulphur spring; and not far from that a cauldron of soapy looking fluid that must contain soda or potash, or both; then a pool of oily mud; and, in close proximity, some brightly clear springs, with pure alum coating the ground all round them.
The mineral variety is astonishing. Hematite, sulphur, lime, silica, chalk, alum, sodium, potassium—all within an area of half-a-mile.page 79
The Steam Hammer, a cavernous puia, kept our attention a long time, the throb and thud were so regular, so loud, so everlasting. To realize that it has probably been thumping away through eternal ages past, and will continue to thump through eternal ages future, gave one a feeling of exasperation, and set one longing to go below and search out the particular crank that, properly twisted, would bring the whole mighty machine to a stop. That we did not, however, go experimenting in that way, is proven by the circumstance of our being still alive.
After about three hours' active wonder-viewing, we came to the most remarkable feature of this remarkable locality, Great Wairakei—an immense cavernous basin in the hillside, tilled with clear, bright blue, ever-boiling water, and measuring some fifty by thirty feet in extent. The edges of this basin are beautifully incrusted with coral-like fringes, and all about it are sheets of enamel or porcelain, wherever the water has touched on its way down to the creek. Millions of gallons of the brightest, bluest, clearest fluid are there in a perpetual state of ebullition; now dashing foamingly against the sides, now bubbling all over in coves and eddies, now boiling fiercely here and there. During the quieter spells it is curious to watch the big bubbles floating bell-shaped towards the outlet; in the mad moments it is awful to see the seething tempest clash many feet up the sides and fall back in a shower of glittering foam. Now and then a thick column of water is sent high in the air, the waves go splashing furiously over the coral lips, and you feel that, for the sake of the loved ones at home who might be sorry to lose you, you had better make haste and get out of the way.
The water at Wairakei, causing a coating of fine silica to form upon everything within its reach, renders any dark mark upon the enamelled surroundings indelible, just as at the Pink Terrace. The two ladies of our party, being the first European women to see Wairakei, selected a small tablet, and pencilled their names and the date thereon. This was well enough, only for the example. Unless prohibited, every mother's son going there after this will carry along a scrap of lead pencil, and immortalize his aristocratic page 80 or plebeian label, with no more respect for the eternal fitness of things than a watch dog has for the pants of a midnight serenader.
Talking of respect, we could not help being amused at the little displayed by our guide for the geysers. Except that he kept a respectful distance (anyone would do that), his demeanour towards them was most irreverent. "Now then, play up, you son of a gun!" cried he, when Terekereke was a little behind time with the geyser. "Wasn't it only yesterday I told you to expect ladies, and you'd got to pile up and do your level best? And here you are as meek as if you were in church!"
We sat on a mound at the foot of Great Wairakei, and watched the fascinating spectacle for half-an-hour; then climbed back to our horses, and returned to the valley. Kai was waiting; piping hot tea in a billy, fried mutton, and camp-oven bread; and we fell to at once.
Two hours later we were bathing, by the light of the moon, in the natural bath under the Fall in Kiriohinekai. This bath is warm—very warm; but just a little further down is a place where bathers can swim in cold or hot water, ad lib. And there are no fewer than four places on the Wairakei property where this extraordinary and convenient proximity of hot and cold water occurs; first, where the cold stream crosses Kiriohinekai; next, where the Wairakei joins Waikato; again, at what is called the Golden Bath, above the Huka Falls; and last, at the head of the Wairakei Stream, on the boundary of Ouranui.
The Kiriohinekai water is strongly mineral and medicinal. The name, in Maori, signifios "New Skin." I have not yet seen the analysis of it; but I think that will shew it to possess curious and exceptional properties. Iodine, or iron, or both, are in it, I fancy, from the effect it has upon the general system of those who bathe in and drink it regularly. It has a singular effect upon the hair too, darkening and promoting its growth. One of the men in charge here says that when he first arrived he was bald. To his surprise, his hair began to grow again soon after he began regular bathing, and now he has quite a good new crop; several shades darker, too, than the original colour. Fancy the Kiriohine- page 81 kai bottled off, and circulated throughout the world as the Mailable Miraculous Hair Restorer! It would be, to a certainty, if it were in that land of enterprise, America.
Next day we visited Te Huka (The Foam), the wonderful waterfall of this district. A short canter through the valley and over ti-tree and tupaki-covered rising ground brought us to the steep bank overlooking the Fall. For about three hundred yards here the Waikato rushes madly through a narrow rocky pass, scarce thirty feet across its widest parts, making a series of rapids that it positively dazes one to look at. The descent over these to the Fall is very steep; by the time the tumultuous blue stream is half way, it is lashed into a mass of snowy foam. The blue hue of the Waikato just here is intense, the vivid whiteness of the foam in contrast is dazzling. The actual fall of the water is not more than twenty-five or thirty feet, but the force and impetuosity that it gains in that trough of rapids makes it the maddest, most bewildering waterfall that I have ever seen. Just below, the stream widens out suddenly into a broad sheet, and here it swirls and surges and eddies in passionate turmoil for a hundred yards and more; scarce getting calm again until it winds away beyond the observer's vision.
One could make a grandly tragic exit from this world via Huka Falls. I remarked this to J., and he said, "Yes;" he thought a fellow might easily Huk' it that way if he wanted to. This rather took the sentiment out of the idea. But, truly, anyone tired of life could be certain of a swift and effective escape from it through Huka. One would only have to run quickly down the sloping edge of the precipitous bank—the run would give impetus to the leap,—in two seconds one would be in eternity; and no funeral expenses. Nothing that gets in there is ever seen again. A man once experimented with his dog. I conclude he wasn't very fond of the dog. It would require some nerve and hardness of heart to commit any living thing to that mad torrent; and I fancy one would pass some bad quarter hours in life afterwards if the poor victim sent back, in its whirling descent to the water, one of those appealing, despairing glances peculiar to animals in extremity.page 82
A party of natives once tried conclusions with Te Huka. Te Huka is still there, but the natives—No hea! or to put it more intelligibly, nowhere! It was a good moral lesson on the sinfulness of "blowing," and Anthony Trollope missed a point when he didn't secure and use it in his book on "colonials." The "blowers" in this particular case were seventy in number, and headed by a chief rejoicing in the brief and musical name of Tamateapokaiwhenua. What his other names were I don't know. I didn't seek to know. Life is too short. When this chief was a little boy, and his mother wanted to call him up to whop him, she always breathed his name in instalments as it were, and took two or three breaths to it.
Well, Tamatea-&c.-&c.-&c. and his companions, who were over to Taupo on a visit from the Wanganui district, were boasting to their hosts of what they could do in the way of skimming rapids. The Taupo people remarked, in a casual way, that they knew of some rapids they did not think anyone would skim—and live to boast of it. Tamatea-&c.-&c.-&c. said he would like to see them. So the Taupoites led the boasters round to the upper end of Te Huka, where the water lies in a calm sheet, above the first step of the rapids. After some banter, and perhaps a little betting, the Tamatea-etceteras embarked in a good-sized, strong canoe, and started for their doom. The Taupo people ran along the bank and cheered. The canoe passed the first rapid and the second, and the Taupoites shouted, "How do you like it now?" And the Tamatca-etcetras yelled back derisive remarks about piccaninny rapids that even a wahine would not be afraid to paddle over. "Wait a bit," cried Taupo, hurrying up to keep pace with the fast accelerating speed of the canoe.
Another brief moment and the Tamas realized their trouble. As the canoe shot past a certain ledge of rock, which our guide pointed out to us, one of the number made a desperate leap and saved himself. Even as he leapt, the canoe was sucked under by the foaming torrent, and nothing more was ever seen of the other sixty-nine men. It is said that portions of the canoe were found years afterwards, jammed between the rocks below the Fall, but of the daring chief and his followers not a vestige ever came to light again.page 83
Turner told us this story as we sat on the brink above the Fall, and our imagination drew a vivid picture of the canoe with its doomed freight, speeding down the frothy passage to destruction. What the actual spectators felt about it, whether satisfaction or remorse, we did not hear. Probably remorse, for letting so much good fresh meat get wasted in that way.
With a good long farewell look at Te Huka, we turned away up the ascent to where we had left our horses—untethered,—and found they had not been such asses as we were in trusting them, for they had gone home. And we had to do likewise, on foot; and a storm came up, and the wind blew, and the rain fell, and the road from Te Huka to camp seemed just forty thousand times as long as the road from camp to Te Huka in the morning. We had intended to visit Matarakutia—a miraculous medicine bath some distance above the Falls, which is said, by the Maoris, to be an infallible cure for leprosy,—but, owing to that trick of our steeds, we could not go.
That night we sat round the camp fire, and told rat stories. The subject was suggested by the appearance among us of some big, brown specimens of the Norwegian rodent that prevails throughout this island and displays a friendly sociability that is often quite embarrassing. J. began by telling us of an adventure of his. One night, he said, when he was camping in a whare near Wairakei, he felt what he thought to be a hand pushed through the raupo wall and touching his head, until, putting up his own hands hastily, he found that the thing was furry. Then he skipped out of his blankets with alacrity, and got a light. There was a rat as large as a good-sized tom-cat, sitting on his haunches and hanging his fore-paws like a kangaroo, while he smiled on J. with a jocund amiability. J. stood back and "shoo'd "him like he was a hen, and the rat simply laughed aloud and showed every tooth in his head while doing it. J. got up on a barrel, taking, by the way, a pick-handle and a tin of preserved salmon. He kept the pick-handle in hand as a weapon in case of attack. The tin of salmon he aimed savagely at the rat; but the rat, dodging gracefully, caught it in his paws, and aimed it back. J. tried page 84 again, and the trick was repeated; and yet again, with the same result And all this time the rat was working round gradually until at last it stood between J. and a heap of agricultural implements that lay in a corner of the whare. Then, when J. sent the salmon spinning along with a little extra force, Mr. Rodent simply stepped aside in time to let the tin fly bang against the sharp edge of a spade. Result—the tin was divided almost in two. Finishing the division quickly with his teeth, the rat set both halves up on end, so as not to spill the juice, and sat down to supper. Pausing now and then to pick his teeth and wipe his moustaches, he would remark that J. was not a bad sort of pakeha, after all, and that he, the rat, felt deeply obligated, and would do as much for J. some time when opportunity served; but that if J. thought a brown Norwegian didn't know enough to escape destruction from a salmon-tin—why, J. might consider himself outside, that's all. Then, as daylight crept in at the window and door chinks, the rat yawned and said he must be getting home, 'cause the missus would be sitting up for him, and might make nasty remarks if he was late; and then he bid J. a cheerful good-bye. We sat very quiet for a while after the conclusion of this story. It was some time before any other member of the party mustered up courage enough to tell another, and, when he did, the narrative fell a little flat.
But I heard two stories about Auckland rats the other day which rather take the shine out of the above. A family of Auckland rats had discovered a nest of eggs, and were sorely exercised in their minds about the safe carriage of the dainties to the family larder. The road between the egg-nest and the home-nest was long and rough, and eggshells are sadly fragile. At last a genius fixed upon the following plan, and it was carried out with triumphant success:—The rats lay on their backs in a long line as far as the numbers would reach, the first of the line lying close to the eggs. An egg was given into his forepaws, and he rolled it down along his soft belly till the next one caught it in his forepaws. This one passed it on in the same fashion to the next, and so on to the end; the first rats running to lie down again page 85 further on, until the system was completed and the eggs safely housed. The other anecdote is precisely the same as regards "hen fruit," and a dilemma; but, in this case, one rat lay on his back and held an egg between his paws, while his brethren lugged him home by the tail: the process being repeated till the transportation was complete. The narrator of these stories told me that they were as true as—well, as true as if George Washington himself had invented them; and nothing could be said fairer than that.
But, really, the brown rat in this island is a terror. I know a man, part of whose right ear was annexed by one during a camping expedition. They are audacious beyond belief. They have quite exterminated every vestige of their small cousin, the indigenous Maori rat; and the Maoris quote this extinction as prophetic of their own, saying, with the resignation of a fatalist, that "as the Maori rat died out before the pakeha rat, so will the Maori die out before the pakeha." They might do us the justice to add that there is a distinction between the methods of extermination. The pakeha rat ate the Maori rat; we do not eat the Maoris. We wouldn't, if we could.
Our next trip of note was to Karapiti (Screaming Hole), distant not more than a mile from Wairakei settlement. Day and night, week after week, month after month, and year after year there rises a weird, sighing wail, like the cry of a lost soul, from this cavernous hollow. A legend is attached to Karapiti of a beautiful deserted wife, who came thither with her babe, and sat on the brink of the hole, alternately bewailing her sorrow and hushing the child with lullabies. Presently, in an excess of frenzy, she flung herself in. Karapiti was then a steam-valve, but silent. Since then, the heart-broken mother's voice comes always forth with the steam, as she still laments over her trouble and lulls her child to sleep.
The Taupo natives judge the weather by Karapiti, and know from it when it is safe to go out on the lake in canoes. In the immediate vicinity of this fumarole are several minor ones and hot springs.
From Karapiti we went to Pirorirori (Fountain), a beautiful little fern-upholstered cave, scarce half-a-mile from Wairakei. From page 86 this cave flows a stream of clear cold water, delicious to drink, and having its origin in a perpetual spring at the further end. Right next door to this case is a curious lakelet; a deep basin, hollowed, quarry-like, in the hill, and half full of water of a dull opaque blue.
O, but there's a mighty field in this district for students of mineralogy and chemistry ! How will they account for this muddy blue lakelet—which must take its colour from some mineral ingredient—within half-a-dozen yards of a pure, fresh, wholesome stream? And how for the marvels of hot and cold springs rising from almost exactly the same source ? How for the startingly different qualities of baths divided only by a foot or two of earth t And how for the dozen different minerals sometimes obtainable from one small patch of ground?
After inspecting Pirorirori, we went home to the camp; reserving the choicest wonder of Wairakei for another day. Early next morning we started for it, reaching it after a ride of two short miles. Rotokawa is its name, and it is a place seldom visited by tourists at present. When the development of Wairakei makes it easier of access, it will be one of the main features of the district It is already one of the most wonderful. The lagoon swarms with wild fowl; it is, in fact, the great breeding place of this part of the country. All round its shores the soil is hot and spongy, and crusted with alum and sulphur. A huge boiling pond, some three hundred by two hundred yards in area, seethes and bubbles close to the lake; and it is scarcely safe to walk anywhere near, because of the thinness of the crust dividing one from the caloric below. Sulphur, water, steam, and mud-springs perforate the ground for several acres; altogether it is a ghastly district, and weirdly interesting. The waters should be of high therapeutic value by reason of the strong sulphur deposit; that of the lake is acid and bitter in flavour, owing to its being strongly impregnated with alum and sulphur.
From Rotokawa one gets a good view of Tauhara, which, judging from its formation, must have been a pretty lively volcano at some remote period of the past. It is not wise to explore this district without a proficient guide. Even then you run risks page 87 unless you follow very conscientiously in his tracks. Trotting round rather recklessly by myself, I put one foot suddenly through the thin crust, and took it out again with considerable celerity. Not soon enough to prevent a slight scorching, however. "Don't put your foot in there!" shouted the guide—after it was done. It occurred to me that this was like most worldly advice; it came too late.
In recovering my footing after the above involuntary experiment, I fetched up forcibly against a stump of wood, and dislocated five toes. Result—profanity. With two damaged feet I felt rather handicapped, and had to hobble lamely along with a stick.
Mr. E., who had won some reputation for medical and surgical skill through having successfully operated as dentist upon two or three unhappy Maoris, wanted to "make a case" of me; but I said that I didn't think pulling out my teeth would improve my condition at all, so I declined any experiments. Mr. M. advised homoeopathic treatment, and when I said, "How?" answered, "Dip the scalded foot in another boiling hole, and bang the bruised one against another log a few times. Similia similibus curantur."
Mr. G. recommended a mustard plaster; J. was in favour of Epsom Salts; Mrs. G. suggested hartshorn and oil. I scorned all these remedies, and carried my wounds back swiftly to Wairakei, where a lengthy soaking in miraculous Kiriohinekai speedily healed them.
It was from Wairakei we visited Orakeikorako; but there I lost my note-book, and have, therefore, but a hazy recollection of what is to be seen at that place. When one has been spectating ngawhas and puias (geysers and hot springs), day after day, for weeks at a stretch, one's memory may be excused from retaining all that one has seen, in proper order. I will not, therefore, commit myself to a description in detail of the wondrous phenomena of Orakeikorako, since my experience of them is now like a confused dream of a valley full of lovely baths, van-coloured terraces, enamelled basins of shining blue water, and the rapid page 88 rushing Waikato flowing tumultuously amidst it all. The Orakei-korako springs cover at least a mile of ground on both steep sides of the valley, and for variety exceed all other places, I think, except perhaps Wairakei. Every spring and geyser has its own name, fearful and wonderful in multiplication of syllables; and I was glad of a chance of not remembering them. Let everyone take his own share in troubles of that kind. Why should one poor staggering mortal carry them all for the good of the multitude? The general title—Orakeikorako—is enough, and more than enough, for any feeble human brain.
There is an alum cave at this place that no one should miss seeing; and there is a native settlement, the members of which will be found very friendly and hospitable. From Orakeikorako it is quite easy to go across country to Ohinemutu; via the foot of Paeroa Range, where may be seen some more steam and hot-water marvels of a startling description. The geyser, Te Kopiha, on the top of Paeroa, is the very grandest in the country, but very difficult to get at. Te Waikite boiling wells, a little further on, have not been seen by more than a dozen pairs of eyes in all, I believe, so difficult are they of access. A small river of hot water, called Otamakokori, has its rise in these wells, and flows for several miles across a plain at the foot of the range. Paeroa is one dreadful mass of hot crumbling soil; and the wonder is that it is not entirely consumed by its own heat. It will be, in time, if it goes on as at present.
From Orakeikorako to Paeroa is about six miles; the plain is then crossed as far as the hot creek, some two or three miles; then a rough ride of twenty-five or so, past Rotokakahi at Wairoa, brings you into Ohinemutu. We did not follow this route, but retraced the fifteen miles of hill and dale that divides Orakeikorako from Wairakei; and were tired enough to enjoy a few days' rest when we got there.
We spent the remainder of our stay in looking round the estate, and in noting the enterprising owner's plan for its improvement and the development of a township upon it. If his scheme be carried out according to present programme, the place will, in page 89 a few years, be a very paradise. Mr. Graham is certainly a remarkable man. The pioneer principle with him amounts almost to mania. His enterprising soul seems to revel in the opening up of new country, the founding of new settlements, and the cultivating and beautifying of wild places; and no amount of toil, tedium, or trouble has power to discourage him from attaining these ends. He seems rather to delight in difficulties, and his indomitable spirit of perseverance helps him over all obstacles. What he has done at Waiwera and Ohinemutu are enough to send his name down to posterity in this part of the world; what he is going to do at Wairakei should immortalize him.
Government, or individuals ostensibly acting on Government behalf, have tried to deprive him of the best acres of Wairakei land. And right here a humble outsider would like to question the wisdom of Government in trying to appropriate every inch of hot spring country, to the utter exclusion of private enterprise. It seems such folly to try to prevent men of wit and capital from helping in the quick development of the therapeutic resources of the country. It is well enough to secure the already established places like Rotorua, Whakarewarewa, Tikitere, and Sulphur Point. The establishment of a gigantic hospital, like that at present designed for the latter place, is an admirable thing. But even the places I have mentioned, or some of them, might very judiciously be suffered to go into the hands of private speculators, who, for their own sakes, would be sure to make, as quickly as possible, their investments profitable and attractive. The present scheme of Government will, or I am no prophet, result in a minimum of good for a maximum of effort. Tax-payers will, of course, be the sufferers.
But, granting the success of the Ohinemutu plan—and I am sure such a grandly worthy scheme deserves heartiest wishes for its success—granting that, what does Government propose to do with the other thousands of hot springs that it seems bent on keeping entirely within its own grasp and control? Why not give outside men and money a chance?
Look at Waiwera ! Would Government management of that charming and health-giving retreat have resulted in half the success page 90 to itself and pleasurable advantage to the public? I venture to say that Government might have expended £100,000 on a place like that without making it nearly so prosperous, and in every way delightful, as it is under present rule and possession.
Those land leases at Ohinemutu too, strike one as ridiculous. They might result profitably for posterity if they did not terminate in ninety-nine years. I doubt whether they will return much profit to anyone inside of that term. From £20 to £25 a-year rental for the lease of thirty-two perches of land—that is the price that many speculators have undertaken to pay,—and then building and cultivation expenses to follow, seem to me to leave mighty small margin for returns. But the victims know, or will know, best, of course.
To return to Wairakei, from which excitement has hid us somewhat far afield,—time, and not a long time either, will show what private enterprise will effect in that quarter. Already the valley wherein the settlement is located presents an aspect of cultivation. Thousands of planted trees of all varieties are already thriving in their new locality, a great proportion being fruit trees of every description; and Mr. Graham intends planting, this year, many thousands more. The valley is beautiful now; it will be a very bower of loveliness when all these trees are grown. That is one point in which the owner excels most pioneers—he begins by beautifying. He aims at securing comfort and luxury for the far future, while not forgetting the cultivation of ordinarily useful things for the present. It is well for the future of Wairakei that it has fallen into such good hands. It is magnificent property, and will be turned to magnificent account if present designs be borne out. From all that one has seen of Mr. Graham's enterprise in this country, one judges his energy to be unlimited, and may prophesy that he will carry out, to perfection, whatever he undertakes; so Wairakei could not be in better possession.
Already several fine grass paddocks are yielding good results, while vegetables for household use grow abundantly. The soil here, especially to the northward of the settlement, ranks far above that of most of the Taupo country in fertility. Wherever the page 91 tupaki grows is said to be good land, and that shrub thrives luxuriously all over Wairakei. Horse-feed in the Taupo district is painfully scarce and dear. At Wairakei, experiment has proved that the supply grown on the land will be both good and unstinted.
Mr. Graham is constructing a road that will shorten the present route by several miles, and will be pleasanter and more interesting beside. Instead of going through Taupo to Wairakei, the tourist of the future will go through Wairakei to Taupo, passing Te Huka Fall, and other features of interest, by the way. The new road will branch off from the old at Puketarata, a native settlement of some importance, four miles or so north of Taupo. And this summer, it is expected, will see the completion of the new direct route between Cambridge and Ohinemutu; in traversing which the traveller will take Wairakei and Taupo in his way. People will be able then to make a round trip through all the Lake District; going from Auckland, via Tauranga, Ohinemutu, Wairakei, and Taupo to Cambridge, or vice versa.
The settlement of Wairakei lies in a valley, which slopes gradually down to the Waikato. Every facility is afforded by Nature for good drainage and perfect sanitary arrangements. Kiriohinekai runs right through the centre, and the cold stream that joins the hot one is situated in what will be the very heart of the new township. Public baths are to be erected there, with hot and cold water in abundance.
And the cold stream, being excellent drinking water, will be laid on to the houses for domestic purposes. Other baths will be erected at the junction of Wairakei and Waikato, thus affording another variety of hot and cold bathing. Smaller sheds will probably be built at the various medicinal springs, according to public needs. The new road is a chain and a-half wide, as far as the Ouranui boundary; and it is Mr. Graham's intention to have this planted all its entire length, on both sides, with English and colonial trees. The land in this direction is specially adapted to cultivation, and the owner proposes dividing it into convenient allotments for sale.page 92
Nothing could be more delightful than the climate of this place. It escapes all the keen bleakness of the atmosphere at Taupo, because of its sheltered situation. And the natural scenery is very beautiful; but the owner intends improving on this with the aid of art and architecture. Besides giving the new township wide, handsome streets, extensive parks, and recreation grounds, he purposes making ornamental walks on the banks of the streams, planting them with trees and shrubs, and further decorating them with fountains. The never-failing supply of water makes the fountain design comparatively easy. As regards water, both cold and hot, Wairakei certainly is a place most abundantly blessed. Every house will have it laid on in pipes. Household affairs should go as easy as greased wheels, and conflagrations be an impossibility.
Settlers in this district have no difficulty about timber for building purposes, &c., &c., for there are several forests within easy distance. The neighbourhood affords abundant sport to disciples of the rod and gun. Rotokawa abounds in game, Waikato in fish. Rokapu and a kind of greyling, called by the natives pokoura, are the most abundant of the latter, but golden carp has also been successfully planted in the Waikato. Koura, the small, delicious crayfish that forms one of the staple articles of diet with the Maoris, is plentiful here too, as, indeed, it is everywhere in this part of the island.
We were all enchanted with Wairakei, and some of us went into poetry about it. Of all the effusive results of the general affliction there was, however, but one worth reading, and that I append.