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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

Chapter II. — Guide to Wairakei and Taupo

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Chapter II.

Guide to Wairakei and Taupo.

Anyone bent on seeing the lake district properly, and, therefore, not hurriedly, should go prepared to spend at least a month there, making Ohinemutu headquarters; and Taupo and Wairakei would be the first places to visit after the Terraces. The present a route is through Taupo to Wairakei; the future one will be through Wairakei to Taupo. Robertson's coach runs through once a week under present arrangements, leaving Ohinemutu every Thursday morning early, getting back there late on the following evening. Fares now are thirty shillings each way. When this trip becomes more popular, and the new road, now in course of construction, is completed, there will probably be some slight reduction.

The chief points of interest on the journey from Ohinemutu are, first:—Whakarewarewa (hot springs and geysers); next, waikorowhiti (Whistling Stream), on the banks of which you travel some miles; then Moerangi Range; then Horo Horo Mountain; then Abraham's Altar, the Dickens' Rock, and the Witch's Stone; after that, Pohaturoa, (a curious pyramidal mound, with interesting history) and Ateamuri, where the coach stops at mid-day, on the bank of Waikato; then Niho ote Kiore, the constabulary station; sundry bits of forest, and occasional Maori settlements; ultimately, Ruapehu and Tongariro, and all the lofty ranges that surround, at some distance, Lake Taupo.

For detailed description of Taupo and Wairakei, I must refer the reader to the chapters in this book devoted to those localities. But I may here remark that my trip there was the most vividly interesting of any that I ever made.

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The Terraces of Rotomahana, of course, stand alone and unique in my memory, as they must in that of every beholder; but next to the Terraces, the Wairakei wonders are the most remarkable I ever saw; and, as it is entirely new ground (not more than twenty Europeans have as yet seen it), I am at the more pains to draw attention to, and describe it—especially as it promises to become one of the chief centres of interest to future tourists, and as I believe that the medicinal properties of its hot springs and creeks will, when thoroughly known and tested, make it famous throughout the world.

The Wairakei block covers an area of 4,200 acres; its boundaries are the Ouranui block on the west, Waikato River on the east, the hot stream Waipuwerawera on the south, and the hot stream Wairakei on the north. It is at present under the sole ownership of Mr. Robert Graham, one of the most active and energetic of Auckland's enterprising pioneers. But it is his wise intention to lay the land open to purchasers, and it seems to me that there is every inducement to would-be settlers to go there. It is the only freehold land in all the lake country, owned either by Government or individuals. It is located in the very centre of the North Island, and is almost as easy of access from the West Coast as from the East, from Napier as from Auckland, from Cambridge as from Tauranga. The land lies at an altitude of 1,600 feet above sea-level, and the climate is magnificent. It seems a spot designed by Nature as the site of a beautiful, healthy, inland city; and, in the matter of hot water marvels, such a city would take precedence of any place, existing or imaginary, that I have ever heard of yet. The leading wonders at present are: Kiriohinekai and Wairakei, the hot creeks; Great Wairakei Geyser; Tuhuatahi; Terekereke and his sister; the petrifying spring; the salt, hematite, alum, and sulphur springs; the vari-coloured terraces; the steam hammer; and all the boiling mud and steam-escapes that perforate the hillsides of the valley through which Te Wairakei stream runs. Then within very easy distance are Te Huka Falls, Karapiti fumaroles and solfataras, Pirorirori Cave, and Rotokawa, with its weird surroundings. These are the things that I saw, but I page 11 understand that other wonders than these exist at Wairakei. And, as a good portion of the land is yet terra incognita even to the owner, it is likely enough that there are many curious places yet to be discovered. Wairakei has the advantage over most other hot spring localities in being easily cultivable. Very little difficulty is experienced in clearing the soil, and it is remarkably fertile. The new road designed by the owner is now well on its way towards completion, and will enhance the pleasure, as well as abridge the length, of the journey. Mr. Graham intends establishing a proper hydropathic hospital at Wairakei, under care and management of a thoroughly competent hydropathist. So invalids may be certain of the best possible treatment there.

Another route to Taupo, that should be popular with lovers of riding and of wonderful scenery, will be from Ohinemutu, through Rotomahana and Orakeikorako.

At Taupo there is good accommodation, especially at Noble's Hotel, at the rate of 10s. a-day; very moderate, when one considers the awful rate of freightage on every article conveyed there from town. At Mr. Lofley's private house in the Glen, visitors can be very comfortably quartered at similar charges; there they will have exceptional bathing advantages.

There are many interesting places to visit in the Taupo district; one only requires the two great essentials—time and money—to see them all. A trip right round the Lake on horseback is most delightful; but Crow's Nest and the adjacent hot phenomena, on the banks of the Waikato, are within reach of everybody who does not object to a short walk.

A coach runs between Taupo and Napier twice a-week. The journey occupies about a day and a-half; the coach stopping over night at Tarawera (not the Terrace Tarawera, remember), forty-six miles from Taupo. The distance between Tarawera and Sapier is forty-eight miles. The scenery on this route is magnificent. Robertson advertises through-tickets at £5; passing the tourist from Tauranga to Napier, via Ohinemutu and Taupo.

It will be seen, therefore, that there are many plans for viewing the whole of the lake district with despatch and at very page 12 moderate expense. The railway between Morrinsville and Rotorua is already under way; when it is completed, and continued on from Rotorua to Taupo, as it will be within a reasonable time, there will be still greater facility for seeing, to advantage, the wonderland of the Southern Hemisphere. The present route through the Waikato country is from Auckland to Hamilton, distance ninety-three miles; Hamilton to Cambridge, eleven miles; Cambridge to Oxford, twenty miles; Oxford to Ohinemutu, thirty-two miles; Cambridge to Taupo, seventy-four miles; Cambridge to Wairakei, sixty-eight miles; Cambridge to Ateamuri, fifty-two miles; Ohinemutu to Waitakerei, fifty miles; Ohinemutu to Taupo, fifty-six miles. But a great portion of this has to be travelled on horseback, under care of a guide, so it is by no means a popular route at present. The railway will make all the difference; but I think the short tour, that is from Auckland via Tauranga, will always and deservedly be the favourite one to the Lakes and Hot Springs.