Recollections of Travel in New Zealand and Australia
To Lake Taupo and Back
To Lake Taupo and Back.
A short residence among the Maoris affords an opportunity of estimating the merits and demerits of communism; and the admirers of that system might with advantage study the results practically arrived at in the old tribal organization of New Zealand. No man could fairly call his property his own. I observed one Maori, more industrious than his neighbours, who owned a cow, and milked it, but the rest of the tribe helped themselves to the milk as a matter of course, and the owner thought himself lucky to be allowed to retain a small modicum. Not that all men are equal among the Maoris, as great weight attaches to the word and authority of the chief, but the difficulty of acquiring and retaining individual property under the old native customs is in practice so great as to paralyse individual exertion and improvement. Living, feeding, and sleeping are very much in common. This may seem somewhat picturesque, but it is very damping to individual ambition, and seriously injurious to the progress of the community in what we call civilisation. Communism may be page 115suitable at a certain stage in the life of a people, about the first advance from utter barbarism, but for a civilised community to adopt such a system would be absolute retrogression.
On our arrival at Whanganui, Topia informed the resident magistrate (Major Durie) that the natives intended going armed in a large body to Otaki early in March to salute the king's flag, but that the Pakeha need not be alarmed, as no harm was intended. Major Durie replied that he would refer the matter to the Governor.
As I was unwilling to be defeated in my attempts to explore the upper Whanganui, I resolved, after consulting with Mr. Deighton and others, to turn the flank of the position and get in the rear of the obstructionists. Having, therefore, made the necessary preparations, I mounted my horse and started for the Rangitikei river on January 8th; the steamer "Wonga Wonga" coming up the river from Taranaki at the same time with a wing of the 65th Regiment.
I called upon the Rev. Mr. Taylor at Putiki. He told me that the dip of the coal at Tangarakau was slight, and that he considered this coal-field extended across the strait from Mokau to Massacre Bay. In riding to the westward the farms appeared to be rather burnt up, and much remained to be done to bring the pasture-land into a proper state of cultivation. At Cameron's inn at Turakina I met the Bishop of Wellington looking tired and sunburnt. He had lost his horse at the Rangitikei, and was page 116forced to continue his journey, mounted first upon a large cart horse and next upon a pony. The name of Cameron is legion in the district, and the Christian names of Sandy and Donald abound; while Gaelic is heard on all sides. At 6 P.M. I reached Korero-maiwaho, the residence of Mr. Jordan, and heard great complaints of the drunkenness of both Maori and Pakeha at the races held there lately. On January 9th I proceeded with Mr. Deighton to obtain a canoe in which to ascend the Rangitikei river. We called at Hammond's and fell in with one Mahia, who took us to the pa Onepuehu, on the opposite side of the river. Here we engaged a canoe with a crew of four men to start on the 13th, and take us to Patea. In the evening we returned to Jordan's. Mr. Gibbes Jordan complained that, however well the Maoris were treated and fed, they would give no assistance unless paid exorbitantly, and were always ready to desert at a pinch, or to stand out then for a rise of wages. The Rangitikei land is not equal to that at Whanganui. It is cold and wet, and will involve a large outlay in draining and working before it can be brought into good order, although when well treated it will eventually do well.*
* I saw immense improvement three years ago.
On January 14th we got away at 8.30 A.M. Our crew consisted of Mahia as captain, Hohepa (Taioneone) Hohepa, Anatipa. Thus out of four men we had two "Josephs;" that, I think, is the meaning of Hohepa. The Rangitikei river is much inferior in size and depth to the Whanganui; consequently the canoes which navigate it are smaller. I may also state that the crews have not the same physique, and that the population of the district is sparser. In the lower part of its course the Rangitikei has a shingly bottom, like the rivers of the Canterbury Plains, winding and sprawling through a broad bed of gravel, which again is bounded by cliffs of gravel, sand and clay, with tertiary strata in places. This lower part of the river is mostly open and free from forest.
From our point of embarkation, however, the character of the river changes. It is bounded by cliffs at a moderate distance from each other, and the bed of the river, although still of gravel, has not room to spread into the great sheets of shingle page 118which we found lower down. We spent six days in passing through the forest. A section of the cliff gave me the following result in a descending series:—i. Drift-gravel; 2. soft sandstone with marine fossils fifty or sixty feet thick; 3. blue clay with fossils. I was informed that at a place called Ekipi, the cliff being thrown down by the earthquakes of the year 1855, had blocked up the river for two days, during which time a lake formed above and the river became dry below. This is an accident extremely likely to happen in the beds of any of the rivers on this coast from the Rangitikei westward, and might produce serious catastrophes. We spent the night on a gravel bed at a place called Waikokowai, where I found some lignite containing impressions of ferns.
* A fabulous gigantic Saurian.
At 6 P.M. we encamped at Makohine on the left bank; the place is tolerably open, and a large bush fire was burning. Here the road from the west coast strikes the river. We met a party of natives from Taupo. They had walked so far, and were making a bark canoe to take them down the river. I found waldheimia here. I observed the Maoris preparing to catch eels with meat on the end of a piece of flax which was tied to a rod. The scenery is very like that of the Whanganui, except that the cliffs are not nearly so high. We observed a good deal of totara. Our encampment was highly picturesque—the natives round their fire, the tents, the cliffs, the foliage, and the river, lighted by the clear starlight and the camp fires. At this place a large bush-fire was close to us, and the effect of the burning embers falling in streams of fire over the cliffs was magnificent.
On January 16th we started at 8.30 A.M., after a good bathe and an eel breakfast. At 9 o'clock we stopped at Kaitarepa on the left bank to get a pannikin; we had left without one and had found the inconvenience of having nothing but the lid of a tin to drink out of. We passed Te Marakiraki and Te Rangiau on the right bank and reached Tapue on page 120the left. Here an aboriginal brought a side of pork as a present to our crew. At 11 A.M. I saw the Otaire range bearing N.N.W. It is covered with forest, and has every appearance of being only a higher part of the tertiaries. We passed a deserted pa on the right bank, called Waimanu. Here we shot a cormorant. On the left bank opposite is Putatara perched on the top of a cliff. We stopped to dine at Otaire, and found here pecten, waldheimia, spirifer, &c. We passed Taupakamau, Koau, and Te Horeta on the left bank, and at 4 P.M. ascended a bad rapid, and soon afterwards passed a waterfall on the right bank. Few waterfalls on this river are to be compared with those of the Whanganui.
We nearly came to grief at a rapid below Te Whata. Anatipa and Hohepa (Taioneone) were towing the canoe up stream with the painter, when the former slipped and fell into the current. Both lads were swept down stream with great velocity; the canoe went rapidly in the same direction, and turning broadside to the stream, half filled with water and threatened to be dashed against a cliff on the right bank, Hohepa, exhausted and nearly sinking, was rescued by Mr. Deighton, who caught him by the hair when he was below the water. The situation was one of danger, which however was over in a few seconds. The canoe was then baled out, and being lightened by some of us landing and walking above the rapid, was towed up. We passed some, more bad rapids and camped at Te Whata, a confined space with whity-blue clay cliffs containing page 121nodules. We slept on fuschia boughs after a delicious bathe, the weather during the day having been intensely hot. Mahia and Anatipa went to catch eels, in which they were successful. The eel is caught with strips of meat or guts tied as bait to the line with flax.
On January 17th the weather was cooler, and we started at 8.30 A.M. The Maoris indulged in singing airs, which put me in mind of the drawling music of the Arabs and other Easterns. Having passed a succession of bad rapids, we stopped at Pohunga to dinner. Here the Taupo road crossed the river. The cliffs now are entirely of a bluish-white clay with marine fossils beneath, and drift gravel, as of an old river bed, at the top, from five to twenty feet thick. While dinner was being prepared, two pigeons alighted on a tree just above the fire, and were dropped by Mr. Deighton almost literally into the pot. At 4.30 P.M. we passed the Kauwhata junction. This tributary is almost as large as the main river, and falls in on the left bank. Here we shot a bittern, and encamped a little higher up in a most picturesque spot. We passed some large boulders of volcanic rock to-day, apparently not in situ, and suggestive of the question, for future investigation, how they got there. Anatipa adorned his head with the bittern's wings, and they made a magnificent head-dress. The roar of water heard during the night was very great. It must be awkward camping on the Rangitikei when floods prevail, as it is difficult to find page 122any ground upon which to rest except the shingle flats, and the cliffs are vertical.
On January 18th we passed through cliffs entirely of sandstone, with bands of flat and of rounded stones. At Kai-inanga, Deighton shot a pair of whio, or blue-ducks. We passed Hautapu at 10.30, a large tributary falling into the right bank. Here the Taupo road touches the river. At 11 A.M. sighted Ruahine, bearing north-east by compass. At the Tokakaitangata rapids, which were very bad ones, we got another pair of whio. If I remember right, these boulders are of igneous rock. Kowhai is plentiful, and festoons the banks like weeping willow; totara is also a common tree. At Terare, an old deserted settlement, we foraged and got onions, potatoes, cabbages, and a pannikin. We soon afterwards reached Maungatutu, where the stream of that name comes in on the left bank between cliffs of nodular band sandstone about two hundred feet high and only twenty to thirty yards across. Here the crew insisted on encamping, although it was a disagreeably confined space between high cliffs on both sides.
On Sunday, January 19th, in accordance with Maori custom, we were obliged to halt. The heat was excessive, and bathing delicious. We fed excellently on whio.
The view in the direction of Napier shows flat topped hills, evidently limestone tertiaries. In the pa were seventeen dogs, one calf, two pigs, four hens, and one little chicken. In the evening the Maori returned, having procured only one horse, a grey; so we had to pack the horse with our baggage, and walk to Taupo.
On January 22nd the Maoris brought us two pigeons for breakfast. Parera, one of the Maoris, started with us, and with Aperahama accompanied us to Pakehiwi. We crossed the Moawhanga by a bridge (Tuhape), the banks being quite perpendicular and the river about a hundred and fifty feet below. The bridge was only six paces across; I think this was the first bridge I had seen of Maori construction. Here I got some tertiary fossils. We found the old horse rather addicted to kicking. He was born in the year Te Heu-Heu was smothered—about 1847. At 2.30 P.M. we reached Pakehiwi, a small village unenclosed. The ground we had passed over is excellent sheep country, well grassed, undulating, and, except in a few flats which may be wet in winter, seems dry.
On the morning of January 23rd a bell was rung for karakia, or prayer. We afterwards breakfasted, and on preparing to start found that the horse had strayed. We observed some very handsome maire and kowhai trees. In the branches of the former we had the day before observed many snares set for catching pigeons. The Maoris are a matter-of-fact people. Having drawn a sketch of the village, into the foreground of which Mr. Deighton introduced the figure of a horse with a boy feeding it, the Maoris wished to know which was the horse and which the boy. The horse having been caught, we made a start at 11.15 A.M., passing over a rolling country covered with grass, ferns, tutu, spear-grass, &c. At 1 P.M. we ascended Te Horo-o-moe-hau, a landslip. From this point Ruahine stands out well; it appeared bare, with bush in patches. Otaire bore S. 25° W. At 2.20 P.M. we reached the pretty village of Turangarere, the principal residence of the late chief Herekiekie, situated on the right bank of the Hautapu. Here there is a celebrated waata or storehouse, very large and highly ornamented with carvings. There is also a fine waterfall about twenty feet high, and here I got marine tertiary fossils.page 129
The locality is tolerably open, grassy, pastoral, and pretty. Herekiekie died lately. He was a chief highly respected both by the Maori and by the Pakeha. We bathed in the Hautapu, fed, and started at 4.15 P.M. At 5 o'clock we opened upon the large plains reaching to the foot of the volcanic group. Ruapehu bore N. 33° W., Ngauruhoe N. 20° W., the top of the latter being enveloped in smoke. The country continued grassy and apparently a fine sheep country. I observed a good deal of aniseed. Our road lay near the banks of the Hautapu, upon which we encamped at 6.45 P.M., at a place called Poutamurengi, where we slept under an old breakwind in an artificial cave. We found breakwinds to be a regular institution in the interior. The country lies high and cold, and in places there is no bush; therefore it is found necessary to have permanent sleeping places for travellers. The night was bright and cold, and the view from the break-wind over the valley of the Hautapu was pleasing and pastoral, being a happy intermingling of open country and forest, of hill and dale, with the silver stream winding through it.
It might be supposed that in the interior of the island we should find the Maoris in a more primitive, or rather a more savage state than on the coast, where they are more in contact with Europeans; but such is not the case. The Maoris are constantly moving about to visit their friends, attend feasts, and so on; and those who dwell in the interior know as much of the Europeans as those on the coast.page 130
An old lady whom we met at Patea, whose picture I took while performing a tangi to our crew, and who had only a few weeks before been at Ranana (London) on the Whanganui, mentioned that a Pakeha (who happened to be myself) had drawn the picture of another lady who was executing a tangi before Topia.
On January 24th we made a start at 7 A.M., Deighton and myself riding the old horse for an hour each alternately. We passed through a good grassy country until we crossed the Waitangi, which stream appears at this place to mark the boundary between the marine tertiary beds and the igneous rocks of Ruapehu. We now travelled over some volcanic ashes, with a gradual ascent towards the cone of Ruapehu. We were now on the Onetapu, or sacred ground, a high waste and barren plateau, covered deep by snow in winter, torn by floods and winds, and presenting a remarkable picture of wildness and desolation. This plain must be much higher than Patea, where the Maoris informed us that the snow never lies after mid-day. Tuakau informed me that, some little time before he was born, a party of one hundred and fifty Waikatos were caught here in a snow-storm and took refuge in a cave in Ruapehu; after finishing the food they brought with them, they ate their slaves, then their children, and then each other, until at last only two escaped!
At 10.30 A.M. we reached the banks of the Wangaehu, which is here a dismal stream, soaking page 131through sand and igneous boulders and giving out a strong sulphureous smell. The bed of the river was most unpleasant for travelling on, and the sand was blowing. At noon we stopped at a snow stream to dine. This is a new stream which burst out after the fall of the avalanche which caused the destruction of the Wangaehu bridge. From this point the centre of Ruapehu bore north-west, Ngauruhoe N.N.W., the Kaimanawa range N.N.E.
We observed the course of the avalanche from Ruapehu which had done the damage we have mentioned. It had descended from the nevé, or probably the glacier, which may be observed on the east side of that mountain, had crossed the plain, or rather the inclined plane, for several miles, tearing up bushes and scarring the surface in its way. Its progress was arrested by the further bank of the Wangaehu, which ran at right angles to the course of the avalanche. The mass of snow and other matters now formed a dam, behind which the waters accumulated until they acquired sufficient force to burst the obstruction and to sweep its fragments to the sea, in the course of which they destroyed the bridge near the mouth of the Wangaehu, at the distance, in a straight line from Ruapehu, of at least fifty or sixty miles.
From the outline and general appearance of the Kaimanawa range, I saw at once that it was composed of palseozoic or mesozoic rocks, similar to those of Tararua and Ruahine. Structurally considered, I suppose it may be looked upon as the page 132highest land in the North Island, although it is inferior in height to Ruapehu, whose sharp and weathered volcanic peaks show clear against the sky at a height of 9200 feet above the sea.
Crossing the watershed we passed a rock, on one side of which the Wangaehu rises, a dirty and sulphureous river which flows south to Cook's Strait; while on the other side rises the Waikato, a clear and sweet river which, flowing through the valley between Tongariro and Kaimanawa, falls, into Lake Taupo near Tokanu. At 4 P.M. we came in sight of Lake Taupo; a haze hung over it from the smoke of Ngauruhoe, which drifted in that direction. This mountain now stood out in full mass, a regular volcanic cone of great beauty. Far away to the north of the lake Tauhara, an old volcano was in sight. We crossed several roaring torrents descending from Tongariro to the Waikato. Some were sweet and some sulphureous, while the ground passed over was composed entirely of volcanic products, lavas, trachytes, dolerites, ashes, and sand. The trees were stunted and alpine in character, but produced on the banks of streams a pleasing effect. Would not trees grown from the seed of these alpine trees be hardy in Europe?
At 6 P.M. we encamped on the banks of a torrent below Tongariro, called Waihohonu. It was very beautiful; the stream raged and foamed over huge boulders of igneous rocks, and the banks were topped and fringed by dwarf black birch. The stream was clear and cold. We found Tuakau a page 133very handy, civil fellow. He made no difficulty to-day in going back a long distance, to find my geological hammer, which I had dropped.
At the time of our visit Tokanu presented a lively scene. The great chief Herekiekie had died about a year before. His body had been deposited in a small wooden mausoleum erected specially for the purpose, with a small glass window through which the body might be seen; and the inhabitants of all the surrounding districts had collected to celebrate his obsequies and to perform the prescribed tangi, to say nothing of the feasting. We strolled round the village and were struck with the extent of the cultivations; much was in tobacco, each cultivator appearing to have a small plot to himself. Here we met Hare, Herekiekie's brother, a fine, manly-looking fellow; and here a very ludicrous incident occurred. Te Herekiekie's widow was squatted crying beside a puia (hot spring), and Deighton, seeing her, went up as an old acquaintance to pay his respects. She secured him by the hand, covered her head with her mantle and commenced a tangi. Deighton succumbed, and said to Biggs and myself, "You may as well go, for I shall be kept here for an hour or two!" However, in about half an hour he was able to rejoin us.
In consequence of the absence of roads, the natives at Lake Taupo find great difficulty in supplying themselves with articles of European manufacture, which are now necessaries of life to them. To supply themselves with clothing they are obliged to go to market at Whanganui or Rangitikei, and in this way they come into contact with European ideas. The difficulties and distance are too great to take produce from Taupo to Whan-ganui for sale. We bought a pig for £1, killed it and prepared it in fat for our further journey. During the night we had a heavy thunderstorm.
On the 29th Mr. Law, the newly-appointed resident magistrate for the district, walked in, very wet, on his way to the Rev. Mr. Grace's, and set off page 141in the rain for Oreti, near Pukawa, the residence of the said missionary. Mr. Law told me a story illustrative of the respect the Maoris have for logical repartée. An old chief was brought up before the runanga for supplying our troops with potatoes on their march to Maunganuiateao, and when interrogated replied, "Does not the Bible require us to feed our enemies?" The answer was held to be a complete and satisfactory justification of the chief's conduct.
On January 30th we got a canoe and paddled over to Pukawa, at the south-west side of the lake, passing beautiful cliffs of dolerite on the way, covered with bush. We walked to Oreti, the house of the Rev. Mr. Grace, an unfinished building, built chiefly of pumice, which when found in large blocks is said to be an excellent building material and well adapted for keeping out the wet. There is a splendid view from the house. We found the family at dinner, at a sort of "commons," with all their Maori pupils around them. We were regaled on mutton, apple-tart, and sugar beer, which was a pleasant change from pork and game. After dinner we walked to Te Heu-Heu's pa. The old chief was out, but soon arrived. He was a dark, insignificant-looking old savage, known formerly under the name of Iwikau. He was coarse in his language and evidently fond of a joke. He cannot be baptized, as he declines to put away five of his six wives, although they are neither young nor pretty. Old Te Heu-Heu's monument is here, he of the sad page 142story at Terapa. His body was taken to Tongariro with the intention of throwing it down the crater of Ngauruhoe, but the bearers did not accomplish the ascent, and the body was brought back to Pukawa. I believe they have since deposited it somewhere on the mountain.
Twins were brought for our inspection; the father and mother were apparently very proud of them. Good apples are grown in Mr. Grace's garden, and the figs promise well. Hoani informed me that there is a whirlpool in the middle of Lake Taupo, inhabited by a tamiwha [sic: taniwha], who whirls the canoes round and round, and then devours them and their contents.
* Hot springs.
This interior country of the North Island is by no means rich. Mr. Grace told me that he estimated the wheat-growing land at 1500 acres only, and enormous areas are occupied with pumice. But with a climate so favourable to vegetation, the advent of an industrious population will render much of the land which now looks barren, fertile enough. At Tokanu we found good crops of potatoes, wheat, kumera, taro, tobacco, and water-melons; the peach trees were abundantly loaded with fruit; but the apple trees had the blight. The Maoris were erecting a mill at Tokanu, and had employed a Swiss as engineer, who called upon us. He spoke very little English and not much Maori, and was glad to exchange a few words of French with me. He begged for a little salt, with which we supplied him. His life, one would think, must be very triste. The ennui of a long detention at a Maori kaianga,* particularly when caused by heavy rain, is very exhausting, as there is no comfortable indoors to retire to. Luckily an old copy of Shakespeare was discovered in the pa, which helped to relieve the tedium of our stay.
* Exclamation of welcome. † Eat rats.
Thunderstorms swept across the mountains with such rapidity that I had great difficulty in sketching them. Old Hoani suggested that if the day were fine we should see the mountains clearly, but as there were clouds about they were sometimes hidden; to which remark I could offer no objection. While our dinner was cooking, a tremendous thunderstorm burst upon us without notice, and lasted for about two hours. The bush got so wet that it was out of the question to enter it that afternoon. The mountains cleared and covered alternately.
Hoani informed me that about twenty-five years before, Ngauruhoe threw up fire. Hoani was on his way with Tauteka, Te Heu-Heu's elder brother, and a taua, or fighting party, to attack Waitotara. Tauteka was killed; and whenever the mountain throws up fire it is a sign that the Taupo natives are to lose a great chief. The Wangaehu and adjoining streams were said to have been all dried up at the time. Shortly afterwards Ngauruhoe threw out a great quantity of stones, and its top, which was a sharp cone, became truncated, and spoilt in appearance. It still frequently throws out ashes, which affect the eyes when the wind is blowing from page 147the mountain. It is also constantly rumbling and making noises like reports of cannon. There is no tradition of a lava stream proceeding from the cone.
The plateau here is said to be covered several feet deep in snow during the winter. We observed a good deal of rough feed on the plains, which were only pastured by a few cattle and horses, sent up from Whanganui by Mr. Gotty. The natives have about 2000 sheep in the vicinity of Taupo, but the difficulty of getting the wool to the coast is very great. Mr. Grace proposed to erect a mill and to manufacture the wool on the spot for local consumption. I suspect it would be much better to open up roads; for, as I said, Maori mills of all sorts are normally under repair and not working. Ruamata is the native name of the plains that we had been crossing.
We were in the clouds all night, and the atmosphere was very damp. At 6.15 A.M. we started, took a parting glance at the mountains, and entered the recesses of the forest. The path was of the most fatiguing character, rough and damp, and the trees were all dripping from the previous rain. We passed two kaiangas, and at 8.15 emerged upon a small open space of fern above the Waipare stream. A ridge was pointed out to me on the other side of which the Whanganui runs from Tongariro. We descended by a very steep path to the bed of the Waipare, in which I found a slate rock with quartz veins, which formed the bed of the stream, along which I traced boulders of trachyte. Immediately page 148above were what I suppose to be marine tertiaries, possibly mixed with volcanic tufa, but the bush and the superficial clay obscured the character of the rocks. Thence we ascended a very steep ridge, Te Wakatangi-hanga, reaching the top at 10.15 A.M. At 11.10 we stopped to dine, Hoani having shot two pigeons and two ducks, which were at once transferred to the pot. We started again at 12.45 and at 1.30 crossed the Kaikoura stream, its bed being of igneous rock, but no slate visible. Arrived at a shed called Pukehinau at 3 P.M., we afterwards struck the right bank of the Whanganui river, at a pretty spot called Terena, whence the smoke of Tongariro bore east. We waded the river, which was very cold and rather deep, but of no great width. Here we heard the cicada, which is not known at Taupo. We passed over an open country on the left bank of the river, rather pretty. The sections of the cliffs showed pumice and perhaps tufa. We next crossed a cold and rapid torrent called Whakapapa, all hands holding a pole in case of accident; and we encamped at sunset on the left bank of the Whanganui after a very fatiguing walk of twelve hours over a most difficult country. Where we camped we found some fine peach trees, but the fruit was not quite ripe. During the night the mosquitoes drove us from the shelter of the peach trees to a more open spot on the shingle of the river bed.
On the morning of February 6th we crossed the Whanganui to a place called Te Narara Huerau.page 149
The stream was broad, rapid, and cold, and the stones slippery. Paurini was evidently anxious about my safety; for however hard he may be at a bargain, a Maori considers his honour is at stake to guard a traveller under his charge from risk. A huge snag was fixed in the middle of the river, round the lower end of which the current swept with great force. Paurini looked at it, and clearly did not like it. He had a swag on his back already, weighing a hundredweight or so, and when he told me to get on his shoulders besides, I naturally hesitated. However, as he insisted, I did as I was bid, and Paurini, who had the form of a Hercules, walked boldly but warily round the snag. I doubt if any white man extant could have done this. At the same time it must be understood that an additional weight is a great help in wading a rapid stream, so long as the foot does not slip. I weighed then about ten stone four pounds; add another hundredweight to this, and Paurini had a heavy weight to carry. I have often been struck with the miserable figure even powerful white men cut when crossing rivers, in contrast to the Maoris. The bare feet unaccustomed to the rough stones, the comparatively thin shanks, the bleached and colourless skin, and the tottering and clumsy gait, do not compare favourably with the bold step, the massive limbs, the unrestrained movements of the Maori.
At Terena we had yesterday observed the mill stones for the Taupo mill. They had been brought thus far by canoe, and had to be carried to Taupo page 150over the very rough road which we had traversed. We had evidently descended very much since leaving the Ruamata plains. As I had no barometer with me I can only guess at the elevation; but if we call the height of that plateau 2000 to 2500 feet, I should think we had dropped to a level of from 600 to 800 feet above the sea. The climate was warm and suited for rapid growth, the vegetation luxuriant, the river flats extensive, and the country to be called hilly rather than mountainous. The river cliffs were of pumice and pumice sand lying upon gravel. The Maoris insisted on showing us a pakeha tree; it proved to be a straight, well-grown sycamore, some thirty feet high: here we saw a flute open at both ends and with three stops.
Pigeons are snared in this way: An open dish, canoe-shaped, is placed in the boughs of a tree and filled with water, while its sides are set with snares. The pigeons stand on the side to drink, and get their heads or legs into the snare, in which they are suspended. The small birds in the bush were very tame, and the boys knocked them over with sticks. From the top of the hill I got the following bearing. Ngauruhoe S. 5° E., centre of Ruapehu S. 35° E., Hikurangi N. 35° W.
We paid off Paurini and our other guides, and got two of Topini's men to take us to his place. We passed over pumice flats, and one hill where I observed soft sandstone. The country was pretty, and dotted at intervals with small villages or hamlets. We were lucky in getting horses to cross page 151the river, which we had to do twice, as wading the Whanganui is generally a risky affair. At 11 P. M. we reached Topini's village of Tapuia Kumera, situated on a river-flat of the Whanganui, about two and a half miles above its junction with Ongarue, a considerable stream falling in on the right bank.