Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Te Ika a Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants

Chapter XVI. The Geology of New Zealand.*

page break

Chapter XVI. The Geology of New Zealand.*

Wairake, Bolling Springs Near Taupo

Wairake, Bolling Springs Near Taupo

The solitary position of these Islands, separated by such a wide expanse of ocean from the continent of America on the east, and Australia on the west, their size and extent forming a belt of more than a thousand miles in length, together with our recent acquaintance with their existence, give them a great Geological interest.

When we look at the map of the World, we cannot fail to observe the apparently continuous line of islands which stretch

* Much of this paper was originally published in the New Zealand Magazine, Wellington, 1850.

page 220 southward from Japan to New Zealand.* These at once strike the eye of the Geologist, as being the disrupted fragments of an ancient continental line; nor can we help noticing that its general direction is parallel to another, extending from the Asiatic Continent, along the entire length of Australia, and further that these two, closely correspond, in the direction they take, with two others, which are on a still grander scale, the first comprising the entire western coast of the two Americas, the other taking in, the western sides of Africa and Europe.

These four continental lines may, therefore, be termed the grand costæ, or ribs of the world, since they have withstood all those convulsions which have so materially changed the face of our globe, and very probably submerged the far greater portion of the southern hemisphere. They moreover possess such distinctive features both in the character of their Botany, Zoology, and Ornithology, as to mark each of them as being a separate centre. Australia differs in its various productions, from every other part of the globe. New Zealand, also, as widely differs from it as the former does from the rest of the world.

If any weight be due to these conjectures, the New Zealand Isles, as the remains of one of these continental lines, may claim an equal antiquity with them, and thus destroy the common idea of their comparatively recent origin. That they have been constantly undergoing changes in their length and breadth, and that they are still far from being in a state of

* An ancient continuous line of land will account for the presence of wingless birds, such as the Apterix Australis or Kiwi and the Dinornis or Moa on these islands. Capt. King, R.N., states there are soundings from the Three Kings to Norfolk Island.

It is remarkable that the Gold regions chiefly lie in these lines. Spain, and the coast of Africa, which by way of distinction, is named the Gold Coast, forming one. The American line taking in Peru, Mexico, and California. The Australian line, Port Philip, New South Wales, Borneo, and several of the Indian Isles: and further acquaintance with the Geology of New Zealand may show that it also abounds in this precious ore for if we regard these continental lines as being waves of primal upheavement, and gold being probably the most ancient metal it is naturally to be looked for in the most ancient fissures of the earth's surface in which it was formed.

[Since thin note was printed, the Author's conjectures have proved correct, and he has the credit of being the first who made them. The Gold Flelds of Austrulla and New Zealand having been since discovered.]

page 221 quiescence experience proves, but that their general framework is as ancient as that of other parts of the earth's surface, appears highly probable.*

The Geological features in New Zealand are clearly marked; so that there is no difficulty in detecting the character of the agent employed.

New Zealand may be properly called a volcanic country, since it contains a long line of craters which extend from one end of the country to the other; in fact, nearly half the mountains in the country are extinct craters: volcanic action, however, seems to have been greater in particular localities. In the north the centre was at Otaua, near the Bay of Islands, which is a very remarkable district. An immense crater rises above the level of the surrounding country, with steep precipitous cliffs of pipeclay, which, on the summit, incline inwards, so as to form a vast bowl several miles in diameter. This appears to have been, formerly, one huge crater; but when that became exhausted, a series of smaller ones broke out on the sides, which are still, more or less, in operation, and are chiefly filled with water of great depth from which streams of gas escape in every part. One of these crater lakes contains white mud, which bubbles up in all directions; in another, the heated gas is emitted from innumerable pores, the highest degree of temperature being 196 Fah., the ground seems to be constantly subsiding; probably in the same degree as the mud is ejected from the neighbouring spots. It is very evident, that after the grand crater became extinct, it was covered with a most luxuriant growth of Kauri timber, the leaves of which, in some places, formed a turf stratum of nearly twelve feet in thickness; and in every part the immense roots are still perfect in the ground, the smaller ones being encased with pure sulphur. The lakes also are filled with timber; and even the leaves and cones of the trees are as fresh as though they had just fallen from them.

* The acute termination of all the lands of our globe towards the South pole tend to shew that the destruction, however caused, emanated from that quarter.

These parts are resorted to by scrofulous and diseased natives, especially females from the Bay of Islands, for the benefit of vapour baths, to form which they simply scoop out a little hollow in the sand, about a foot deep, lining it with old mats, upon which the patient is placed with a blanket thrown over the person to keep in the heat. The invalids generally remain about a month at the baths, and have little temporary huts erected, which give a singular appearance to this lonely and desolato region.

page 222

The surrounding plain of Taiamai, is covered with scoria and large masses of rock, which have, evidently, been ejected from some of the many neighbouring craters. There are also large quantities of vesicular iron, the pores of which appear to have been filled up with pipe-clay mud.

Near Pa Karaka there is a remarkable volcanic cone, upwards of four hundred feet high. The mountain is hollow, and may be descended full three hundred feet, the sides are vitrified, and the small space at the bottom is covered with masses of rock and timber. At a little distance from the mountain there is a small lake whose surplus waters have a subterraneous outlet, and from the neighbouring scoriaceous rock, gas is emitted in such quantities and force, that a bladder applied to one of the orifices may be easily filled.

Pukenui is another extinct volcano, in the same neighbour-hood, having at its base a fine lake called Mapere. On theopposite side rises a remarkable hill called Putai, formed entirely from the deposit of boiling springs, which once abounded there. The mass of the hill is a soft, ochreous substance, filled with minute plates of mica; on the top are several remarkable apertures of great depth, through which, doubtless, the hot water was ejected; at the base are innumerable chasms of considerable depth, from some of which gas still escapes. Lava streams and basaltic rocks abound in all this region, clearly marking it as having once formed a grand centre of action; the range of which extended as far north as Wangaroa Harbour, which contains incontestable proofs of fearful disruptions and upheavements.

Passing on to the vicinity of Auckland the attention is at once arrested by the number of ancient craters, which arise from the surrounding plain. There are several remarkable subterraneous lava passages,* and partial subsidings, which

* Those called the “Three Kings,” in particular, are well worth the Geologist's attention; they are evidently subterraneous lava courses; in some places the pressure of the lava has caused the soil above to fall in, leaving wide apertures, by which the visitor now descends into them; the natives formerly used them as places of sepulture.

page 223 are well worth being noticed. The lava has, in many places, flowed under ground at such an inconsiderable depth as to bake all the superincumbent earth to the consistency of brick, which frequently contains beautiful impressions of the leaves of trees, which formerly grew on the surface.

The next centre appears to be Waka-ari, White or Sulphur Island, which with its neighbour Moutohora, Whale Island, is still in action; the latter indeed is chiefly filled with solfatara and hot springs; but the former is a volcano rising out of the sea, from the crater of which a volume of smoke is always ascending, which is visible at a great distance. Large masses of sulphur are there produced, and the varied form and character of the molten rocks of this crater are very interesting.

The grand centre of volcanic action extends from White Island to Rotorua, and thence by Taupo and Tongariro to Wanganui, a distance of nearly 200 miles, forming a continuous line across the entire width of the island. The number of boiling gulfs, solfatara, and boiling mud pools in that line is extraordinary. They are seen in every direction—in the forest, in the plain, and in the water. A large number of them are concentrated at a place called Tikitere, and a most extraordinary assemblage of them is found at Ohinemotu, which renders that place one of the most remarkable in New Zealand. At Paeroa, near the Waikato, there is one of the largest of these mud pools; it is from sixty to a hundred feet wide; in the centre, first an enormous bubble of mud arises, which gradually increases in height and size, and at last becomes a jet of mud eight or ten feet high, with several smaller ones on each side; the mud is thrown up in large masses on the sides, where it dries, and assumes a cubical form; it readily separates into laminæ of different thickness, which bear a very close resemblance to slate, and, perhaps, in this mud vortex is to be seen, on a small scale, what was once the state of a large portion of the earth's crust, during the formation of slate.

At Orakokorako, on the Waikato, the boiling springs are page 224 almost innumerable; some of them shoot up a volume of water to a considerable height, and are little, if at all, inferior to the Geysers of Iceland. A village is placed in the midst of them; the reason assigned for living in such a singular locality was, that as there is no necessity for fires, all their cooking being done in the hot springs, the women's backs are not broken with carrying fuel, and further, from the warmth of the ground they were enabled to raise their crops several weeks earlier than their neighbours; but, as a counterbalance for these advantages, many fatal accidents occur from persons, especially strangers and children, falling into these fearful caldrons, and being boiled.

Rotomahana, a warm water lake of considerable size, is surrounded with innumerable boiling gulfs; in fact, it is itself nothing but a crater, the sides of which are full of action; it is perhaps one of the most singular places in the world, its boiling gulfs, and natural snow-white terraces formed from silicious deposits are as wonderful as they are beautiful. Thence to Hohake and Rotokawa there is nothing to be seen but jets of vapour, and so on to Taupo, where fearful boiling gulfs abound at the two extremities of that noble lake, at Rangatira and Tokanu. One of the boiling springs at Tokanu possesses the property of changing the nature of anything which may be placed in it, and converting it into a beautiful silicious substance of pure white, and this is done without any apparent addition of matter; but if the article be not entirely immersed, having only the water flowing about it, then it becomes enlarged by a silicious deposit upon its surface. The process of thus converting wood into stone is very rapid, and in some localities, water does not appear to be a necessary agent in accomplishing this change. At Rotorua, large pieces of wood are thus lignified by the aid of heated gas, highly charged with sulphur, alum, and iron, or other chemical substances, which penetrates the pores of the wood, and fills them up with silex, converting them into agates, and even giving them the transparent form of chalcedony.

Again at Roto-aira, a beautiful lake at the base of the Tongariro range, which attains an elevation of 10,236 feet, page break
The Geysers of Orakokorako.

The Geysers of Orakokorako.

page 225 boiling springs abound. Tongariro itself is not so lofty, but from its cone, it constantly belches forth a volume of smoke, and occasionally of flame, which has been distinctly seen at a distance of a hundred and fifty miles,* and although the powers of this fearful volcano appear to have long lain dormant, there is no security that it will not break out again. The size and active operation of Mount Erebus appear to be the greatest security of New Zealand, and that crater may be viewed as its safety-valve; for, if anything were to impede its operation, the entire line of New Zealand craters would, very probably, break out again. Lofty as Tongariro now appears, there is reason to suppose that its present height is much less than it was formerly; or rather, that the grand crater of former days has sunk down, and, in doing so, caused Mount Taranaki to rise up. This is agreeable with native tradition, and, moreover, with the general features of the spot, a space of nearly twelve miles intervening between the two principal mountains, Tongariro and Ruapehu. This, at a distance, appears to be an elevated table land, but it is, in fact, a deep lake.
The matter ejected from these craters has been immense, chiefly pumice stones and sand: formerly, the central plains had a super-stratum of yellow ochre, and were heavily timbered. The hot pumice ejected from the neighbouring volcanoes, appears to have first charred the forest and then covered it to the depth, in many places, of a hundred feet, and wherever there

* Formerly, when Tongariro emitted flame, the natives regarded it as a command from their Atua to make war; and when the coast natives saw it, they always expected an invasion from Taupo.

The tradition is that Tongariro became jealous of Taranaki, and accused him of being too intimate with Pianga, another neighbouring mountain; they fought, and Taranaki being worsted, set off one night going down the Wanganui, thus forming the channel of the river; he crossed over by Wai Totara, leaving a fragment there, and then fixed himself in his present position. The spot where he formerly stood is now occupied by a deep lake, which still bears the name of Taranaki, and is supposed to be a kind of Pandemonium, the grand abode of all the New Zealand gods: this is probably a fable, founded on fact.

The Wanganui River is evidently a volcanic fissure, flowing in many places between walls of several hundred feet perpendicular height, and cutting through vallies at right angles, without having one of its own.

page 226 is a deep ravine, the charred timber is seen jutting out in large masses. This deposit, in some places, extends a very long way; and, even at the mouth of the Wanganui, the low lands are deeply covered with it, as well as with solid lumps of charred wood. That Tongariro has caused the formation of the great Taupo lake, by the subsiding of the land to supply the place before occupied by so much ejected matter, appears certain; and further, that this occurred at different intervals is also evident; for, although the ancient extent of the lake was nearly double what it is at present, it seems to have become wider and deeper than formerly. Many trunks of trees are still visible in its waters, which were there when the country was first peopled, and are so well known that each bears the name of some ancestor. What is here said of Taupo, applies to all the neighbouring lakes as well; but whilst their basins were thus formed to the extent of the matter ejected, it is evident that the throes of the volcanoes mainly contributed to the elevation of the country. From the sea to the base of Taupo there is a regular series of stages, one rising higher than another, until we reach the central plains of Tongariro, thence the country gradually slopes to the north. But although much of the up-heavement of the land occurred during the time these volcanoes were in eruption, it is also evident that even yet the land is rising. This must now solely be attributed to the agency of earthquakes. The southern and central parts of the island appear to be the principal seat of their action; and though, in general, the shocks are slight, yet, periodically, every five or six years, they have been more violent, and attended with more serious consequences.
In the year 1843, Wanganui was the chief centre of volcanic movement; most of the chimneys in the little settlement were thrown down, the church was much injured, and the earth opened in parallel fissures; the cliffs had every appearance of being upheaved a foot on one side of the river, whilst the ground on the other side, perhaps, subsided as much. The shocks invariably came from the same quarter, W.N.W.*

* On the 8th July, 1843, a series of shocks were felt at Wanganui. The most severe one took place about 5 p.m., and lasted several minutes. It did considerable damage to the little settlement, most of the brick chimneys in it were thrown down; part of the gable end of the church at Putiki, which is built of brick, fell, the bricks falling into the pulpit, and smashing its floor, this occurred during the time of evening prayer. Providentially, I was from home, or, in all probability, the consequences would have been very serious. So great was the shock, that the earth opened in fissures, the chief one being in the bed of the river, which was deepened several fathoms. These fissures were parallel to each other: they were of considerable length, and diminished in breadth as they receded from the river. One in the water, which was very visible when the tide was out, was about two feet wide, and the last one which I noticed was five inches across; they were several hundred feet long. The “Columbine,” a vessel of 70 tons, was laid down on a bank opposite the town, to have her keel repaired. The bank on which she laid dry sunk, and left five feet of water in its place. Large portions of the cliffs were thrown down; and, at Rangitikei, a family residing under a cliff was overwhelmed with the house by a land-slip. The river was remarkably agitated with short waves, such as are seen where two currents meet, and the water overflowed the banks in several places. In my house, the pendulum of the time-piece was shaken out of its socket. This great shock was followed by many smaller ones, and during the succeeding month, there were, at least, fifty of them.

page 227 Much sulphureous gas also escaped, which, for a time, affected the health of the place. The movement seemed chiefly to follow the course of rivers, whose channels may be regarded as fissures on a large scale.

The next alarming one took place about two o'clock on Monday morning, October 16th, 1848, when a series of heavy shocks were felt. This last visitation established one interesting fact, that the disturbing cause is not stationary: the quarter from which it proceeded had shifted since the year 1843 from W.N.W. to W.S.W.: it afterwards, however, returned to its former quarter. The shocks appeared to commence gradually, and were preceded by the usual loud rumble; the principal one lasted full four minutes. The movement was very violent, and although the motion seemed to come from the west, the same as in all preceding ones, still it was more from the south than usual, and there was also a lateral vibration noticed in this as well. The shocks lasted near an hour. At Wanganui they cracked some chimneys, injured the baker's oven, and shook down a few bricks and some plaster in the church; but, with those exceptions, they did very little injury there. This earthquake was followed by a disagreeable smell, and headaches page 228 were quite general. After these shocks large quantities of bitumen or asphaltum were washed up on the coast; some pieces were of considerable weight. At Ohau, much gas was ejected from circular openings. But the grand centre of action was at Wellington, where most of the houses were more or less injured; indeed, there was scarcely a brick building left standing, or a single chimney which was not thrown down. Several fissures were formed, and the land was raised so much that the small craft which were accustomed to anchor close in shore, were obliged to change their ground.*

On the 23rd of January 1855, the south-western part of New

* Despatch of Lieutenant-Governor Eyre, relative to the Earthquake at Wellington.

Government House, Wellington, 19th October, 1848.

Sir,—It is my most painful duty to inform your Excellency that a terrible calamity has overtaken this province: an earthquake has occurred, and the town of Wellington is in ruins.

On the morning of Monday the 16th of October, about twenty minutes to two a.m., the first shock occurred, and was sufficiently strong to throw down or injure most of the chimneys in the town, and to crack the walls of very many of the brick buildings.

Considerable loss of property was sustained by breakages in the houses, and a good deal of alarm excited in the minds of the inhabitants. During the whole of Monday shocks and tremblings of the earth were from time to time experienced, but of a slighter character than the first.

On Tuesday, the 17th October, about four o'clock a.m., another rather smart shock was felt, and again at eight a.m. Lighter ones continued at intervals during the day, until twenty minutes to four o'clock in the afternoon, when a sudden and much more violent shock took place; by this, chimneys remaining up were, for the most part, cast down. The native hospital, the gaol, many of the large brick stores, and the high brick walls, were thrown down: immense destruction of property took place, and, I regret to add, a melancholy loss of life.

Barrack-Sergeant Lovell and two of his children were thrown down and buried by falling ruins. Upon being extricated, one of the children was found dead, and the other so seriously injured, that it died a few hours afterwards. The Sergeant himself was much hurt, and now lies in a precarious state.— (Since dead.)

During the remainder of Tuesday and the succeeding night, slight shocks only were felt; but about five a.m., on Wednesday morning, a stronger one occurred, and another about eight a.m. Minor shocks continued at intervals during the remainder of the day and evening, until the morning of Thursday the 19th, at ten minutes past five a.m., when a most violent and awful shock took place; every building was rocked to and fro in a fearful manner, and, with the exception of the wooden dwellings, most of the houses and stores were seriously shattered or fell in. The whole population were in the utmost consternation and alarm, and the destruction of property was immense; but most providentially, up to the present time, no further loss of life has ensued.

Numbers of persons are, however, ruined; many left houseless and homeless, excepting such temporary shelter as can be afforded by the new church, Te Aro, by Government House (where the hospital patients and some others are taken in), and by the wooden buildings of their friends.

Many persons are afraid of remaining in any of the houses at night, and retire to the bush, among the hills, in the hope of being more secure, notwithstanding the wild and inclement weather by which the earthquake has been accompanied.

A blow has been struck at the prosperity, almost at the very existence, of the settlement, from which it will not readily recover. Terror and dismay reign everywhere: for the last four days no business of any kind has been transacted. The energies of all seemed paralysed, and during that period no one has been able to feel for a moment that even life itself is secure.

As I now write, too, (eleven p.m., 19th October,) incessant and alarming tremblings of the earth are experienced; what may be the eventual result, or when this dreadful state of suspense and anxiety may be terminated, God alone can tell; but everyone seems to feel a presentiment that it will end in some more fearful catastrophe than any which has yet taken place.

The sad ravages which have already occurred, and the terror which so frightful a visitation naturally produces in most men's minds, will, I apprehend, drive from the colony all who can find means to get away. The few ships now in port, waiting for moderate weather to sail, are crowded to excess with colonists abandoning the country,* and numbers are unable to obtain passages.

Under this awful visitation, I deemed it my duty at once to summon my Executive Council, and, with their approval, to proclaim a day of public and solemn fast, prayer, and humiliation, in order that supplication may be offered up to Almighty God to avert the recurrence of any similar visitation, and Friday, the 20th of October, was appointed for this purpose.

I will not fail to communicate to your Excellency such further information and reports as it may be in my power from time to time to render.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your Excellency's most obedient humble Servant,

(Signed) E. Eyre.

His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief.

* A large vessel was filled with these poor timid creatures, who, when they were in fancied security on board, regained sufficient courage to get up a dance to the sound of the violin, kindly expressing their wish, that now they were out of the place, it might go to the—; the impious wish was scarcely expressed before the ship missed stays, drifted on the rocks, and was lost, and these nerveless runaways were glad to return to their abandoned homes.

page 229 Zealand was again visited with the most severe earthquakes which have occurred since it has been known to us. The native church at Wanganui was thrown down, as well as the chimneys page 230 of the Mission-house. In various parts the ground opened, so that some places appeared as though they had been ploughed up in furrows. Large quantities of gas and water were ejected from many circular apertures, around which mounds, several yards high, were formed; the ground was so intersected with deep ravines as actually to stop all travelling for a time. At Wellington, the harbour is stated to have been raised full four feet and a half, and similar changes to have taken place in every part of the district.*

* Extracts from The New Zealand Spectator, of February 7th, 1855.

Wanganui.—The accounts received from Wanganui by the Overland mail on Saturday, describe the earthquake to have been as severe as at Wellington. The following is an extract from a private letter:—

“The Rosebud left last Sunday forenoon, with a N.E. wind, and got well away. Last night (Tuesday), about nine o'clock, we had as heavy a shock of an earthquake as ever I have felt, and of longer duration in respect to its steady violence. It was very dark, and raining at the time. I should think it lasted about two minutes, and it was scarcely possible to stand without holding by something while it lasted. The mischief it did was considerable. It threw down nearly all the chimneys. * * * The bed of the river at low water this morning looked like an ill-ploughed field, although a high tide had intervened, which must have helped to fill up the fissures made, and it had sunk in many places and rose in others, presenting a very ugly appearance. Taylor and Watt's wharf is nearly a wreck, warped and bent up and down all along, and the extreme end sunk obliquely. * * * There has been no long interval since the first shock, further ones occurring of more or less violence, for now near 24 hours. The postman brings word it was very bad as far as Mana watu. We had no personal accidents.”

Te Kopi.—We understand that at Te Kopi, a small boat harbour at the Wairarapa, a very heavy wave swept the beach, washing away the sheds, buildings, the bales of wool that were lying there to be taken to Wellington, and all that was on the beach. The Muka Muka rocks, which were the worst part of the coast road to Wairarapa, have now become the best by the alteration caused by the earthquake, the beach now extending a considerable distance beyond them above the level of high water.

The earthquake seems to have been generally felt about the same time throughout New Zealand, at least information to that effect has been received from every province, except Otago, from which there has been no arrival; and the Taranaki Herald states that the Josephine Willis, which had arrived there, felt the shock about nine o'clock p.m., on the evening of the 23rd, at a distance of one hundred and fifty miles from the coast of New Zealand. From measurements which have since been made, it has been ascertained that the land has been raised to a height of from three feet six inches to four feet. All the shell fish attached to the rocks, that live below low water mark, in consequence of the elevation of the land, are dead, and the number is considerable enough to cause a strong smell to be perceived by those walking round the east side of the harbour towards Evans' Bay. The Bally Rock, off Point Jerningham, which was formerly eighteen inches below low water (spring tides) is now about two feet above low water. About ten minutes after the first great shock, a great wave entered the harbour, which was estimated to to have been above twelve feet in vertical height; from the narrow entrance of the harbour compared to its area very little damage was done by it, but in the open and exposed boat harbour at Te Kopi, all the buildings, &c., on the beach, were swept away by a similar wave. Two coasters, one from the Kaikoras, the other from Point Underwood, on their approaching the harbour the next morning at daylight, passed through an immense quantity of dead fish, principally ling, and quantities of dead fish were found on the beach, and at Burnham water.

In the dividing range of hills between the Wairarapa and Wellington, on the east side of the harbour, there have been several very heavy landslips from their summits, which are plainly visible from Wellington. The earthquake appears to have exerted great force on this range.

To the Editor of The New Zealand Spectator.

Wellington, January 29, 1855.

Sir,—Left Wellington on Wednesday, at ten o'clock, the morning after the shock; found several landslips on the Petoni Road, only one of any size, and that at present but a slight obstacle to the communication into the Hutt, a road being now rapidly pushed round its base; swing bridge over the river gone, broken, and ground burst up at each abutment, lower end fallen into the water, the whole aslant up stream: visible effects of the shock on the roads and country in general; presented stronger manifestations on entering the valley: as a rule, chimneys are down along the whole line; mills reported as damaged, houses damaged internally rather than externally: road, for seven miles, that is, up to three miles the other side of Buck's Hotel, considerably injured; many of the smaller bridges gone at the lower gorges; several considerable land-slips occur, impassable for carts; from this point, for thirteen miles, as far as Hodder's, the roads are all right, but three miles beyond, on the ascent up the Rimutaka gorges, for upwards of seven miles, the land-slips and crevices are both numerous, dangerous, and almost impassable, even on foot. Barricades of the largest trees, stumps, and rocks, avalanches of earth, underwood, decayed trees, and boulders, bar your progress, and conceal your line of road, while loose logs and stones hang in threatening positions far above your head, so that a steady hand and cool head are necessary to carry you safely over the precipices that sweep down below you to the bottom of the valley: no sort of conveyance can pass; all horses are left at Hodder's Hotel, on this side the gorges, and you proceed on foot to Burling's, at the entrance of the valley: all parties should avoid the Blue Rock, and diverge to the left down the stream.

On entering the district, and proceeding to Nick's on the river, the shock appears to have been generally felt as seriously as with yourselves, and the only casualties I heard of were four natives reported dead in the lower valley. The shocks appear to have occurred simultaneously throughout the whole line of country, and the depression of the people's minds to be both considerable and general.

I am, Sir, your obedient Servant, R. E. Willray.

Extract from Commander Drury's Remark Book.

Cook's Straits, January 25, 1855.

The Anniversary of the Wellington Settlement was most auspiciously celebrated—a brighter or calmer day never beamed on the harbour. The boat races, and every description of sports on shore, went off with much good humour and éclat, and the only drawback was want of wind for the sailing boats.

In the evening, a light N.W. wind sprang up, which increased gradually during the night; and at eight, on the morning of the 23rd, it blew violently. The sports, however, continued, and the race-course drew nearly the whole population of Wellington: but a drenching rain at noon checked the further progress of joviality, which was to be repeated on the morrow.

At eleven minutes past nine o'clock, p.m., the gale still blowing strong, we felt suddenly an uncommon and disagreeable grinding, as if the ship was grating over a rough bottom. It continued with severity for more than a minute; the ship slewed broadside to the wind; we were then in six fathoms, so there was little doubt but that it was an earthquake. Lights were seen running to and fro in all parts of the town, and evidences of consternation combined with a loud crash.

Lieutenant Jones and myself immediately landed. We found the tido alternately ebbing and flowing.

The first scene before us on landing was the Government Offices, entirely destroyed, the upper story (the falling of which had caused the crash we heard), lying on the ground; the staircase, the Council Chamber, the papers and documents in heterogeneous confusion; an adjoining chemist's shop, whose simples and compounds admixing, had a decided bias to peppermint; while the doorway of the public-house was a confusion of broken bottles. The sentinel in charge of the Government building, who had just been thrown backwards and forwards, was now walking in front of the wreck, with perfect sang froid, no doubt crying “All's well” to the hour.

It is not my intention to narrate more than the general effects and disasters of this severe shock; and firstly, we have to be thankful to God, that amidst the general wreck of property, but one life has been sacrificed, and not more than four others seriously wounded, up to the time of our departure. This would appear astonishing to a person viewing the wreck of the houses, the mass of brick-work from the falling of the chimneys, the dislodgment of furniture, the fissures in the earth, the extraordinary rise of tide, the entire destruction of some tenements, the collapse of others, the universal sacrifice of property, and the natural terror and despair among the inhabitants, all tending to far greater personal disaster than fortunately I have to narrate. And here I would especially dwell upon the benefit of the warning of 1848 to the inhabitants, which, under Divine Providence, by causing them to occupy wooden houses, has been the salvation of many lives; and the hour, too, was favorable to the escape of adults, who seized the children from beneath the tottering chimneys, themselves not having generally retired to bed.

Few, if any, since 1848, have been rash enough to build a brick house: the chimneys had generally been secured as well as possible by iron braces, &c. The most substantial two-storied house—Baron Alsdorf's hotel—of lath and plaster, buried its owner in the partial ruins. Government House, had it been occupied, must have destroyed its inmates, for every room was a pile of brickwork, the chandeliers, &c., utterly destroyed. The guard had a wonderful escape from the Guard-room, and the gun at the flagstaff turned over.

I have already mentioned the entire destruction of the Council Chamber, the upper story being completely severed from the lower; the Treasury strong box, and the papers and documents apparently in irretrievable confusion.

The elegant and substantial new building, the Union Bank, is, in its front, a perfect ruin; and I hear the damage within is not much less. Opposite this building, on the road, a considerable opening emitted slimy mud, and the main street was overflowed by inundation. The most substantially-built wooden houses of one story, with the exception of the chimneys, are mainly standing. Those of less substantial calibre (and I am sorry to say there are many), are in a state of collapse. There is an universal destruction of crockery, bottles, &c., and a pitiful loss of valuable ornaments, clocks, &c. Several stores are unapproachable, until neighbouring dangers are removed.

The principal shock occurred at 9h. 11m. p.m., and it was far the most severe. During the night scarcely half an hour elapsed without a lesser shock, more or less violent, accompanied by a deep hollow sound; but all these subsequent ones were of much shorter duration; and the first having levelled every portion of brickwork, in the lower part of the town, there was less to fear; but the inhabitants generally moved to the open ground, and the following day the streets and gardens were the scene of an involuntary pic-nic.

From what we noticed, it appeared that the elemental wave proceeded from about W.N.W. to E.S.E., that its actual effect upon terra firma was slight, and that the fissures were generally where the road was made, although the mud emitted from the crack at Te Aro must be considered as subterraneous deposit, from what depth not easily decided.

From close observations on the barometer, I have no reason to believe that the effect before or after the principal shock was evident (it ranged from 29·30 to 30·00), nor that the calm preceding, or the gale attending, the earthquake, had any connexion with the subterraneous convulsions.* We witnessed, during the 48 hours following, every variety of wind and weather, yet with repeated shocks; but although I would disconnect the atmospheric influence with the earthquakes, we had every reason to believe the latter had immediate local influence on the atmosphere, producing violent gusts after the shock.

It is a fact, that as action, or firing, will produce a local calm by the disturbance of the atmosphere, the phenomenon here may be more easily accounted for. But a more interesting and extraordinary phenomenon occurred (I say extraordinary because no person appears to have observed it in the earthquake of 1848); for eight hours subsequent to the first and great shock, the tide approached and receded from the shore every twenty minutes, rising from eight to ten feet, and receding four feet lower than at spring tides. One ship, I heard, was aground at her anchorage four times. The ordinary tide seemed quite at a discount, for the following day (24th) it scarcely rose at all.

The general effects of the earthquake were evidently felt more upon the lower parts of the town; at the Hutt most severely. The bridge there was destroyed, and the houses much damaged. I am also informed the Porirua road is sunk in places.

Recurring to our landing after the first shock, Lieutenant Jones and myself went into several houses. The panic was certainly great, and many accepted the offer to go on board, the houses we were in swinging to and fro, and the ground in a constant tremulous motion. It was sufficient to unnerve the stoutest hearts; but after a delay of three or four hours (in which we were visiting other parts of the town), on returning to the parties who had accepted an asylum on board, we found one and all had determined to abide on shore, indeed they were getting accustomed to it. The wives would not desert the husbands, and the husbands would not desert the town.

We returned to the ship at two a.m., the tide having at that time receded about four feet lower than at ordinary spring tide.

On the 24th the shock continued; but at greater intervals as the day advanced; but the tremulous motion was continuous.

The scene on the streets was novel; some people standing at their thresholds, groups upon mats, clear of the houses, or in tents in their gardens. Those who had suffered less than their neighbours were assiduous in rendering assistance. What a different scene would have occurred in the fatherland! With shops exposed, and every temptation to plunder, there seemed to be neither fear nor thought of robbery, but a generous and manly feeling to lessen each other's burdens pervaded all classes, from the Superintendent to the lowest mechanic, from the Colonel to every soldier of the 65th Regiment; nor can I forget to mention the ready asylum afforded by the merchant vessels in the harbour to the houseless and more nervous inhabitants.

On the 25th, at 0h. 55m. a.m., there was a very sharp but comparatively short shock.

Having ascertained we could be of no further assistance, we weighed for Nelson, and in crossing Cook's Straits we felt one shock in 26 fathoms, at noon, off Sinclair Head (exactly the same feeling as when at anchor), and a slighter shock in 80 fathoms, off Queen Charlotte's Sound.

In these events there is much to be thankful for in the absence of fire; had it been winter, the universal falling in of chimneys would have assuredly fired the wooden houses: had the first shock been an hour later, many lives would probably have been lost, as the populace would have been in bed. Much fear is entertained for the soldiers at Wanganui barracks. I trust we shall find that Nelson has suffered as lightly as on former occasions.

* With due deference to Captain Drury, I am inclined to attribute the chief cause of earth-quakes to alteration in barometrical pressure, During many years' observation, I have invariably remarked, that they have been either preceded or followed by severe gales or storms; and it appears reasonable to suppose, that when the internal pressure is greater than the external, the earth's crust will be subject to these convulsions, in proportion to the greater or less solidity of its strata.

page 231

In fact, the raising of sea-beaches is a very common occurrence, and in every part of the island numerous instances are to be seen, several of which have occurred during my residence.

page 232

But although there is abundant proof of upheavement still going on in the Northern Island, it is trifling when compared with that of the Middle Island. The Nelson paper of page 233 September, 1847, states, that the hull of a vessel was lately discovered on the western coast, lying two hundred yards from high water mark, with a small tree growing through its bottom. page 234 The vessel was supposed to be the Active, which was lost in 1814. How great an alteration must that locality have undergone since it was stranded there, when in a period of thirty-three page 235 years the ocean had retired to a distance of two hundred yards from the shore; or, in other words, that part of the coast has risen to such an exteut as to remove the hull of the vessel so far beyond high water mark. There is good reason to suppose that this upheavement of the coast is not confined to one spot, but has extended the entire length of the island.

From the evidence of a person who was formerly engaged in sealing at Dusky Bay, as far back as the year 1823, it appears that from 1826 to 1827 there was an almost constant succession of earthquakes, some of which were sufficiently violent to throw men down. At times, he and his party, who then resided on a small island, were so alarmed lest it should be submerged, that they put out to sea: there, however, they found no safety, for such was the flux and reflux of the ocean, that they were in the greatest danger of being swamped, and were thankful to get on shore again. The sealers were accustomed to visit a small cove called the jail, which was a most suitable place for anchorage, being well sheltered with lofty cliffs on every side; and having deep water in it close to the shore, so that they could step out on the rocks from their boats. It is situated about eighty miles to the north of Dusky Bay. After the earthquakes the locality was completely page 236 altered; the sea had so entirely retired from the cove, that it was dry land. Beyond Cascade Point the whole coast presented a most shattered appearance, so much so that its former state could scarcely be recognized. Large masses of the mountains had fallen, and in many places the trees might be seen under the water.

From these circumstances, it is evident that the Middle Island is rapidly rising, and of this fact there are other proofs to be adduced. The climate has undergone a great change, which can only be accounted for by the increased elevation of the land. Coal measures appear at Massacre Bay and Molyneux River, intermingled with abundance of Kauri resin. This noble pine is not now found growing within ten degrees of latitude north of Molyneux River. In no single spot within that wide range is a Kauri tree to be met with. Hence we conclude that the climate has considerably altered, since that carboniferous deposit was made; but it is not necessary to go back to the probably remote period of its formation. The Kauri resin is still found on the surface of the land, with every appearance of its having had quite as recent an origin as that picked up in the north. It is most probable, therefore, that the tree has grown in these latitudes at a comparatively recent period. This beautiful pine does not appear to require heat, so much as shelter and humidity. If, then, as we suppose, the land was formerly low in that latitude, the climate would necessarily be humid and mild, the cold being tempered by the sea, and not increased by the propinquity of snowy mountains; thus the Kauri might have flourished there, as well as other trees which now belong to a warmer climate.*

* Extract of Lieut.-Governor Eyre's letter, describing his ascent of the Kai Koura, a mountain of the Middle Island, 9,114 feet high:—

Government House, 26th Nov. 1849.

My Dear Sir,—I write a line to inform you, that I have returned from the Middle Island, after only a fortnight's absence, in consequence of the melanoholy loss of one of my party (a native), who, slipping on a snow slide at the hill Tapuaenuko, fell about 1500 feet, and was killed. Two others also of the party had very providential escapes more than once, viz., myself and another of the natives. We got up the hill after a dangerous and most laborious ascent of thirteen hours, from the nearest point to which we could get the camp, but it was past seven in the evening, and although one-quarter of an hour would have placed me on the summit of the highest point, I could not spare that brief period, and was obliged to descend, without going up the last slight rise (probably 50 feet in elevation and 300 yards in distance), which would have given me a view over everything. I consequently did not see the southern, but had a magnificent view in every other direction. We had to halt on the hill, about 700 feet below the summit, without fire, and in the midst of snow, but the weather fortunately was fine, and the cold less intense than I anticipated. We did not get back to camp until about six in the evening of the following day. The sad event of losing one of the party, added to other considerations, made me give up the idea of trying to cross to Port Cooper, and I at once returned to Wellington; but I believe there is no impediment in the way of such a journey; and I feel sure that if I had gone on, ten days from where I turned, would have brought me to Port Cooper. Little vegetation on the hill, but mosses and lichens, and some coarse grasses, besides prickly plants, of which the “Taramea” is the chief; but the singular part was, that on so steep and high a hill, where now nothing but mosses and lichens grow, were the charred remains of large totara trees, evidently shewing that the ground once has been low and has been covered with forest, and that it has been pushed up within a comparatively recent geological period. There was grey granite on the highest ridge.

I will Never willingly try to ascend any snowy mountain again.

Believe me in haste yours very truly,

E. Eybe

Rev. R. Taylor..

Mr. Clifford, jun., stated the same to me, and further, that the totara is not now to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the mountain, although there, large trunks of totara trees, generally charred, are found beyond the region of grass, where nothing but moss and lichens grow. This gentleman stated that these remarkable remains of trees are generally laid in lines, and gave him the idea of drift timber, laying in such large quantities on the precipitous sides of the mountain.

page 237

Another proof to be adduced in favour of this hypothesis is the Moa (Dinornis), the gigantic ostrich of these islands. The struthious race of birds exclusively belongs to a mild climate; a warmer one than that where the remains of the Moa are now found. Formerly, not only were these birds numerous in the southern parts of the North Island, but in every part of the Middle Island as well. The remains of the gigantic Moa are seldom found without their being intermingled with those of several different sized species of the same bird. Hence it is to be inferred that the climate was once suitable for them, since they abounded, and at a com- page 238 paratively recent period too, for their bones are found in only a partially fossilized state. To what then can we ascribe their extinction, but to a change of climate? Man has nothing to do with their destruction.* That they existed at a comparatively recent period is proved by their bones. Native tradition also asserts it, as there are still songs of hunting the Moa extant. It is yet to be ascertained whether it is not still alive in the Middle Island.

The character and general features therefore of the Middle Island have undergone, and are still undergoing, a rapid change. As the mountain ranges become more and more elevated, the

* It is singular that the old Natives affirm, since their early days there has been a wonderful decrease of those birds, which they regarded as their chief means of subsistence, such as the Kiwi, Weka, and Kakapo; though they were formerly so abundant, that they could obtain them everywhere without difficulty, they are now so rare as seldom to be met with, and the Kakapo is all but extinct in the Northern Island. This is not to be attributed to anything connected with the coming of Europeans, but rather to some other cause—perhaps to change of climate. The European cat, dog, and rat, are all more recently introduced enemies, and great ones too; but, before their appearance, the natural supply had begun to decrease, so much so, that they were greatly pinched for food before the Europeans came, whose arrival was so opportune, that we may ascribe it justly to God's good providence among other benefits to furnish fresh means of sustenance for the Aborigines of these Isles, when their own had so remarkably failed.

Mr. Meurant, employed by the Government as Native Interpreter, stated to me that in the latter end of 1823, he saw the flesh of the Moa in Molyneux harbour; since that period, he has seen feathers of the same bird in the Native's hair. They were of a black or dark colour, with a purple edge, having quills like those of the Albatross in size, but much coarser. He saw a Moa bone which reached four inches above his hip from the ground, and as thick as his knee, with flesh and sinews upon it. The flesh looked like beef. The slaves who were from the interior, said that it was still to be found inland. The Natives told him that the one whose flesh he had seen was a dead one, which they had found accidentally, that they had often endeavoured to snare them but without success. A man named George Pauley, now living in Foveaux Straits, told him he had seen the Moa, which he described as being an immense monster, standing about twenty feet high. He saw it near a lake in the interior. It ran from him and he also from it. He saw its footmarks before ho came to the river Tairi, and the mountains. Thomas Chasseland, the man who interpreted for Meurant, was well acquainted with the Maori language. He also saw the flesh, and, at first, they thought it was human.

The Dinornis may also be discovered in New Guinea and other islands in the same line to the north of New Zealand.

page 239 climate must be proportionably refrigerated. Nor will this be the only change effected: large tracts of level land will be also upheaved. That this has already been the case to a considerable extent is evident from the extensive plains on the eastern side; that it is still going on is also evident from the observation of every one who is acquainted with the island. Large mud flats are now being formed at the mouth of almost every river, and there are low plains covered with timber, which are scarcely above the highest tides. That this will continue to be the case is most probable. The rapid streams and rivers flowing from the adjacent lofty mountains must bring down immense quantities of stone and soil, which Nature in her secret laboratory is preparing to form future plains for man's use. The courses of these streams, or rather torrents, being so short, and the mountain sides so sharp and precipitous, as to be acted upon by every storm, vast masses are thus being continually detached, having been previously loosened by earthquakes; entire sides of mountains frequently slip down; the heavy rains increasing the body of water in the rivers, aid in transporting their debris to the ocean bed, where they are dispersed and spread out, layer above layer, until repeated upheavements lift the whole to the surface, first as mud flats, then above the level of ordinary tides, when it speedily becomes covered with a luxuriant vegetation.
A Sketch Near Wangape, on the North-West Coast.

A Sketch Near Wangape, on the North-West Coast.

page 240

This leads to the consideration of the sedimentary deposits. These are chiefly marine or lacustrine. The marine are formed in the way already mentioned, and the shoal seas around a. great portion of these Islands mark their extent. On the western coast of the North Island, it is evident vast tracts of land have been gained from the sea, by the deposits of the Wanganui, Rangitikei, and Manawatu rivers. Near the coast, in that part, the land is generally low, covered with gravel or shingle, and with large quantities of drift timber; inland it is alternate swamp and grass with parallel ranges of ancient sand hills, now covered with a growth of fern. Near the sea, and especially near the mouth of rivers, large quantities of sand are blown up from the shore, and form drifting sand hills. This is, evidently, a portion of the matter brought down the rivers by the floods; the mud being precipitated to the bottom of the sea by the coagulating action of the salt water upon it, there gradually forms a compact mass: but the sand having nothing to fix it, is, by constant attrition, washed finer and finer, and then thrown up by the high tides in large quantities on the shore, whence the sea breeze speedily conveys it inland.

The vallies of New Zealand are not numerous or extensive; indeed the almost entire absence of them, and the acute pointed hills, which are only separated from each other by deep ravines, are to be considered as amongst the peculiar features of this country, and as most of these have never been touched by the hand of man, they enable the Geologist to observe the exact state in which they were first upheaved. The remarkable way in which the surface of these Islands was fractured when first elevated, is yet to be observed as plainly as though it had recently taken place; for whilst one side of a hill is covered with the debris of primitive rocks, gravel, and vegetable mould, the other is either ochre or pipe clay, destitute of any rolled stone, without soil; the fern also on one side is of a more luxuriant growth than on the other.*

Another kind of sedimentary deposit remains to be noticed,—

* The country is cracked at an angle of 45°.

page 241 the volcanic. Wherever a volcano has arisen near the sea, or in the sea, it has formed sedimentary strata around, in proportion to the quantity of matter ejected. Much of this kind of formation is seen at Wangaroa, and Hick's Bay, where the rocks are composed of volcanic grit, and contain most of the shells now found on the coast. These deposits are doubtless very extensive in a country where volcanic agency has been so active.

Whilst the Geologist marks these strata and the volcanic features of the country, he is also struck with the frequent upheavements the various localities have undergone. No one can walk from Wanganui to Taranaki without observing the many alterations of level which have taken place in that district. Near the north head of that river he beholds, at low water, the stumps of ancient trees still maintaining their position in the sea; and on the shore another level appears with numerous trees jutting out, which are covered with lofty sand hills. Wai Totara,—the river of Totara trees,—takes its name from a thick grove still standing in its bed, which so obstructs its course that a canoe can hardly wind its way amongst the many trunks which rise up in it. At Manawa-pou, where the cliffs are little less than four hundred feet high, large stumps are also seen standing in the ocean, where they have braved for years the force of the violent surf which breaks upon that coast. Further on, the cliffs become even yet higher, and there also similar remains of forest are seen at the level of the ocean, above which is a thick stratum of blue clay, containing numerous marine deposits; upon this there is another level with large trunks of trees, which are covered with alternate strata of gravel, shingle, and sand, then another layer of timber is seen, upon which are other deposits, forming the present surface of the land.

By reflecting upon these changes, it is at once perceived how many convulsions must have shattered the land, alternately elevated it, allowing time for a stately growth of timber, then sinking it again into the depths of the ocean, where, year after year, age after age, the gradual deposit of mud, finally attains a thickness of more than a hundred feet, another convulsion up- page 242 heaves the whole, allows time for another growth of forest, when all again subsides, and the same gradual process is repeated. The traveller along the coast has only to read these pages of the Earth's history, which are unfolded for his instruction, and reflect upon them; but this is only a page, and one which is visible: another remains still to be examined.

The sure indications of coal, which further along the coast crops out, betoken a series of more ancient convulsions. Modern subsidings of the earth's surface to such an extent are, happily, rare, although, doubtless, many occur in places where there are none to see or to make them known.* To what is the present exemption from such terrible visitations in these islands to be attributed? but to the volcanoes which extend through them. They have poured forth their streams of molten rock: they have filled up the cracks and crevices of the earth's crust: they have strengthened the deficiencies of its framework, andhindered the recurrence of future convulsions. Small, perhaps, as the extent of these islands now is, to what it formerly was, thesestreams of lava stop further encroachments on the land. Thus, while the ocean is rapidly gainington some parts of the south-west coast of the Northern Island, the promontory of Cape Egmont presents its front to the surge, and withstands its fury; strengthened by numorous streams of lova, which are plainly seen like buttresses at every headland from that Cape as far as the Sugar-loaf rocks, they form so many impassable barriers to the further inroads of the ocean.

That these islands have been disrupted by former convulsions, is seen by a single glance at the map; but the period is, perhaps, as far back as the general disjunction of the continental line of which New Zealand is only a surviving link.

A few words remain to be said of the rocks of New Zealand. In the North, the basis is whin, above which is an ochreous clay, containing bright particles of magnetic iron, which

* The natives have several traditions of lands and islands having been submerged. There is one of an island near Taranaki, which had a very large Pa upon it, suddenly sinking with all its inhabitants during the night; of another at Patea, and of an island in Cook's Strafts, called Titapua, thus disappearing.

page 243 prevails from the North Cape to the Bay of Islands.* Steatite is also common. Limestone shows itself in various localities, and when it comes in contact with whin, it is seen in apparently half melted lumps in the midst of that rock; in other parts it assumes an amygdaloid form. Another line of limestone appears at Mokau, a third at Waiapu, near the East Cape.
A Limestone Cave, at Pukemapau.

A Limestone Cave, at Pukemapau.

These limestone ranges are remarkably destitute of fossils, but generally they partake more of the purity of marble, although the surface rock contains many particles of clay stone gravel. At Mokau there are numerous caves, in some of which the bones of the Moa have been discovered. At Wangaroa gneiss forms the summit of the two mountains, St. Peter and St. Paul. The same is the prevailing rock at

* Magnetic iron sand abounds in many localities; it is heaped up on the shores in hillocks of several feet in height, and it has been found to be very pure, and will eventually prove a valuable article of commerce.

About a mile from Pukemapau, we came to a large care in the limestone range which is here first met with. It is called Tanaure-ure. It has a large lofty entrance, with a native Fuschia growing at its mouth, bearing a more delicate flower than that of the ordinary kind Huge masses of stalactite hang pendant from the roof, and, further in, we perceived a chasm, which, when a stone was thrown, told us there was water at the bottom. By the aid of a candle, we found our way down, when we came to a fine crystal stream, about a foot or so deep, which was soon passed. Having ascended the opposite side about twenty feet, and crept through a narrow passage among stalactites, which were united with the floor, we entered another apartment hung with transparent stalactites of every form and size, which gave it quite a fairy look; thence we entered two other rooms, equally ornamented. As we had no ladder, we could not reach other passages, which were some height from the floor, and, eridently, led to other rooms. The travellers who had visited this cave, have made dreadful havoc amongst these natural beauties; breaking off more than they could carry away. But many had evidently been broken long before Europeans visited the place, and, formerly, the natives were too superstitious to enter such spots: large fractured stalactites, having smaller ones attached to their extremities, were observed. The solid rock, too, on both sides, was fractured in regular lines, this hed evidently been done by earthquakes, which most probably, had caused many of these pendant masses to fall. Some of the stalactites must have weighed a ton, and were full eight feet long, and two in diameter. The rock was of a pure cream colour. Under the stalagmite which covered the floor there was a layer of dark vegetable soil, but, although it was dug into, no bones were found. The length of the cave was estimated at about a hundred feet from the entrance. The natives stated that there were many similar caves, some of which are quite filled with Moa bones.

page 244 Taranaki, and of the intervening peaks between it and Tongariro; there scoria and fused rocks prevail so much, that it is difficult to say what is the basis of the mountain. There is much obsidian and pumice near Taupo. The Tararua range, which terminates at Te Pari-pari, near Kapiti, has a compact slate for its base. Copper has been discovered at Doubtless Bay, and at the Kawa-kawa and Barrier Islands. Coal is found of good quality at the Mokau, Waikato, and Wanganui Rivers, and there is every reason to suppose that it will prove a very abundant mineral in these islands. Gold has been discovered in Coromandel harbour; there the rocks are of remarkably pure feltspar, of dazzling brightness. The gold discovered contains ⅓ silver, and is found in thin plates, and in considerable quantity: it is said to have been also discovered at Ahuriri, and in several other localities.

Of the rocks of the Middle Island little is at present known; but as they are reported to be chiefly primitive, it is very probable all the precious metals will be found there in abundance. The rock which confers its native name on the island—Pounamu, green jade, is abundant and highly prized by the New Zealanders, who manufacture their ornaments and the much-valued Mere from it. Portions of it are so transparent and lustrous as to render it worthy of a place amongst the precious stones.

He Mermere Pounamu Pesented to the Queen.

He Mermere Pounamu Pesented to the Queen.

page 245
Roto-Mauana, The Warm Lake.

Roto-Mauana, The Warm Lake.

I cannot better conclude this chapter than by giving an account of a visit which I paid to the Warm Lake.

The first view of Roto-Mahana is very remarkable, and cannot fail to excite the traveller's astonishment. The lake lies in a great hollow, evidently a crater, flanked on the side by which we approached its margin with lofty precipices; but containing a considerable extent of low swampy land along one of the shores; the opposite bank is formed of hills, literally covered with boiling springs, emitting volumes of steam, and the soil being of red or white ochre, gives the whole a most page 246 extraordinary appearance. On the lower side it has an outlet into the Tarawera Lake. There are several islands in it, some merely a few connected tufts of grass, but abounding in water fowl, ducks, pukeko (porphyrio) and sea birds, which appear to delight in the warmth of their abode. Two of these islands present a singular appearance, being composed of misshapen rocks and ochreous hills, filled with boiling cauldrons and jets of vapour, intermingled with manuka trees and native huts, on reaching which, the stranger scarcely knows where to set his foot, lest he should tread on unsafe ground, the whole surface being very hot, and overspread with fragments of former puia.

When we came to the border of the lake, two canoes put off from one of the islands, to convey us over. Being desirous of ascertaining the temperature of the water, I kept my hand in it whilst crossing, and found that it varied from 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit; the difference of heat in places may be attributed to the innumerable boiling springs at the bottom of the lake, the existence of which was detected on the surface, by their bubbling up and noise. The lake appears to be of great depth—the water had no peculiar flavour.

On reaching the island, we were received by the natives with a loud welcome; and after a short stay, we went, during the culinary operations of our hosts, to examine one of the puia, or hot springs, in the vicinity, and a more remarkable place I never saw. It had the appearance of an immense flight of White marble itsifs, each step being from one to three feet in height, of a silicious stone, formed by the deposit of the waters; in some places of a beautiful pale pink color, over which about two inches of warm water fell. I ascended this magnificent and unequalled staircase, some parts of which were so slippery, that I had some difficulty in keeping my footing. One of the steps presented merely a rim externally, and formed a basin, about four feet in depth, of beautifully clear water, having a greenish hue, like that of the lake over which we had passed. Neither I nor my companion could resist the tempting luxury of the bath which was before us. We found the temperature to be nearly 90°, although it varied in each of the three compartments into which the bath was divided. Afterwards, I page 247 ascended to the summit of the staircase, where there was a large level flat; the centre not being visible at first on account of the volume of steam which issued from it; the surface cracked under the feet like thin ice, but being formed of successive laminæ, was firm. As I advanced, I discovered that the centre was occupied by an immense gulf of hot water, of a very fine pale blue color, so remarkably clear that, although the bottom could not be discerned, it was evidently of great depth. Having cautiously approached the edge which overarched this awful abyss, and looking down, I beheld a large rock of a pure white substance rising from the vast profound almost to the surface, which formed a beautiful contrast with the azure water. A tree also which had fallen in was likewise petrified, and added to the scene. Upon one part of the pavement, over which the water had flowed, a thin deposit of sulphur was left, which tinged it with a bright yellow; some of the steps being of a rose tint, and others of a pure white, increased the general effect. Numbers of petrified manuka seeds were scattered about in every direction. The height of the flight of steps which I have described, might be about sixty feet; the name of the boiling spring is “Tukupuarangi,” or the Cloudy Atmosphere, from its always being shrowded with vapour. The surrounding hills are covered with dark green fern, which sets off this wonderful work of nature to greater advantage. So large a number of boiling springs in so small a space, I Never beheld; indeed, I could distinctly hear the noise of several at the bottom of the lake, and others boiling up furiously from their subterranean receptacles, all which convey to the mind of a traveller a feeling of awe and insecurity. It is not without some hesitation that he treads the ground, fearing at each step lest the crust should give way and plunge him into the hidden depths below.

The sun had set when we returned to the island, and finding that our natives had gone on to Piripai we followed by canoe, gliding amongst islands covered with rushes, and every instant starting the wild fowl from their warm retreats. We landed in a retired nook shaded with trees, and after securing the canoe we walked to the village, which is seated on the page 248 “Tarawera Lake,” where we received a cordial welcome. Immediately opposite, there is a lofty mountain which the natives formerly regarded as sacred, from the idea that it was the abode of spirits; they said, although many persons had attempted to ascend it, no one ever succeeded in reaching the top; for the higher they climbed, the higher also grew the mountain. The teacher of the village is a “tuwenua”—a kind of leper, whose toes and fingers seemed to be wearing away with dry ulcerous looking sores, his skin being quite horny. There were two other lepers there, which, as the disease is uncommon, I looked upon as a remarkable occurrence, especially in so small a place; probably the hot sulphureous springs may have something to do with it. The whole of the front teeth of these people are either much decayed, or quite yellow and unsightly, which may be attributed to their constantly cooking their food in the boiling springs. The night which we passed was so extremely cold that I could scarcely sleep; this appeared singular as the Pa is surrounded by hot springs, and the inference to be drawn from their proximity, where hundreds of them are sending up their clouds of steam, is, that it would materially heighten the temperature, and this supposition would be strengthened by the circumstance that a large and deep lake of warm water and of nearly a mile in length is in the immediate vicinity; but such is not the case, for although the water is warm, the air one foot above it is very cold.

The next morning I arose early and accompanied by my companion, we paid a visit to the largest puia or boiling spring called “Te Tarata.” At the first view its appearance is that of an immense flight of steps, of a circular form, with water flowing over them, which seemed to freeze as it fell, assuming the color of snow. The water here is of a different character to that of the Tukupuarangi, being of a bluish, milky hue, and having a very soft and slightly saline flavour: the change in its temperature I found very striking, for in some parts it was quite cold, while in others it was warm or hot. On some of the steps there was a very slippery deposit of a brown ochreous substance; on others, a formation closely resembling a kind page 249 of moss, slightly petrified. As I ascended I found the steps increase in height and width, each containing one or more baths, some of cold water, others of warm, and some of both in the same basin. In one of the largest my companion and two or three of the natives who accompanied us entered. This noble bath was nearly fifty feet in length, and in parts too deep to wade through. As I wished to ascend to the higher steps to get a view of the boiling gulf, I requested my companion to call his dog which was following me. In going up I found the water almost too hot for the naked feet, and therefore crept up along the sides where the manuka and fern were growing very luxuriantly, and, strange to say, although overhanging the steamy water, it felt icy cold to the feet. On reaching the top of the flight of steps, I found the silicious deposit had formed a level pavement, over which one or two inches of water, nearly boiling, flowed, beyond was a small pool, close to the gulf, which occupied the centre, and sent forth volumes of vapour, completely concealing its form from view. In the middle of the platform, was a rocky mound overhanging the chasm, where those who reached it obtained a nearer sight of the abyss; to facilitate which, a row of stepping stones had been laid for travellers to pass over. As I was advancing along these, the poor dog, who had broken away from its master, ran past me, and finding the water scald his feet, he bounded on with a yell of pain, and, in an instant, plunged into the pool of hot water. The poor animal made a vain attempt to escape, it rolled over, and in an instant was dead, and sank to the bottom; its agonizing struggles quite unnerved me; it was one of the most distressing and painful sights I ever witnessed. I could render no aid, and knew if I had rescued the poor creature, its torments would only have been prolonged. After seeing it at the bottom of the pool which had thus suddenly become its grave, I retraced my steps. I afterwards learned that two poor children met a similar end some few years back in a neighbouring puia; the elder one, who was carrying an infant, went to take out a basket of potatoes which had been cooking in it; when, standing on the verge, the infant struggled in its bearer's arms, and it is page 250 supposed, fell in; the other, without hesitation, jumped after to rescue it. The place has ever since been “tapu.”

These wonderful works of the Creator, while they excite our admiration, cannot be looked upon without awe: it is here we see a portion of the grand laboratory of nature, where the process of resolving and renewing is constantly going on; here we see how easily soft and impalpable powder can be cemented into solid stone, and the apparently indestructible rocks be either softened and reduced to mud, or sublimed so as to fly off in gas.

Cooking at a Boiling spring.

Cooking at a Boiling spring.