NEW ZEALAND VISIT
Red roofs and white verandahs; straight sandy streets of immense width, planted with green trees, and spindling away into unnaturally bright blue distances; omnibuses phaetons, motor-cars, and four-in-hands passing at long intervals towards the shining lakes that lie beside the town; puffs of white steam rising up among green gardens and open fields; a ring of amethyst-coloured hills surrounding the whole bright scene, bathed in such a white, pure, crystalline sun as never shines on misty England. That is Rotorua, a half-day's journey from Auckland, and the centre of the wonderful geyser region of New Zealand.
Every one now-a-days knows that New Zealand possesses wonderful geysers, but not quite everybody knows what a geyser is; and certainly very few are aware of the extraordinary richness and variety of the geyser country. Geysers are intermittent fountains of boiling water, in height from a couple of feet up to fifteen hundred - the enormous geyser of the whole world. They consist of a shaft reaching down from the surface of the earth to deep, very highly heated reservoirs of steam and boiling water below; and (usually) of a siliceous basin surrounding the shaft-opening, and full of hot water. Some geysers open in the centre of a cone of siliceous sinter, built up by the deposits from the water, and have no basin. The periodic explosions of active geysers are due to the following facts - water under heavy pressure requires a much higher temperature to boil than water free from pressure. While the water high up in the geyser pipe may be a little under 212 degrees, that in the lower levels may be standing at 50 or 60 degrees higher, and only kept from expanding into steam by the weight of the column above it. If anything lessens that weight or increases the temperature of the lower water, this latter will explode into steam, and drive the upper waters high into air with the force of its exit from the shaft. This, briefly, is the theory of geyser action.
Rotorua itself, the great focus of the healing forces of Nature in the geyser district, is simply a crust over a mass of hot springs charged with various minerals. Three feet under earth you will find hot water, in nearly any part of the town. There are hundreds of hot springs in the neighbourhood that have never been analysed. Of the many that are in use in the Government Nanatorium, the "Priest's Water" and "Rachel Water" are the most famous. The former cures rheumatism, gout, and blood diseases, while "Rachel" makes her patrons "beautiful for ever" by curing all forms of skin trouble, and bestowing a lovely complexion, not to speak of the remarkable effects of the spring on nervous affections. there are also wonderful but swimming baths of hot volcanic mud, and baths of hot sulphur vapour rising direct from the burning caverns under the earth.
But for people who are in good health, it is the "sights" of Rotorua that are the chief attractions, and these are very many. One of the loveliest, and a welcome change from the countless hot-water springs, is Hamurana, surely the most beautiful river source in the world. It is reached by a journey across one of the lakes in a steamer. All the way the great lake ripples purest turquoise under a high, clear, cloudless sky; green islands rise bright and cool from its shining surface, sharply peaked and shadowed mountains, on the distant shores, stand out in strange hues of crystalline hyacinth unknown to our northern climes. By-and-by the little steamer leaves us on a green wooded shore, and we take boat up a fairy river to a region of enchanted beauty. Blossoming trees line the sun-steeped banks; the water is of the strangest colours - jade-green, clear molten sapphire, silver, emerald, and transparent as a great highway of rock crystal. Enormous trout weighing up to twenty pounds, rush from under our keel; grass-green and rose-red water weeds quiver far beneath the oar. Wild fuchsias, wild cherries, loaded with scarlet fruit, snowy-flowered tea-tree, arum lilies, yellow broom, and pink dark-roses, hang out over the water. But a few hundred yards and the big lovely river comes to a sudden end, walled in by blossoming bushes, and apparently cut short in the strangest of culs-de-sac. In reality it is the source we have reached; here the whole Hamurana stream springs full-grown from the earth. A great rift in the bed of the glassy river is visible, where the water wells up under our keel in wavering masses of amber, aquamarine, and deep blue, shot with glancing arrows of prismatic light. Five million gallons are poured forth from this deep cold cavern every twenty-four hours - each drop as clear as a diamond, and as pure. The force of the upspringing stream is so great that pennies can be thrown in from the boat without sinking to the bottom of the cavern - the water sends them back, and casts them out into the shallows about the edge of the rift. Sometimes a small silver coin will slip down into depths, and lie glittering many fathoms below, magnified conspicuously by the transparent water. The Maori natives, who are marvellous divers, have tried time and again to reach this tempting store of treasure; but no man can stem the uprushing torrent of water, and if the coins were gold, they would be so safe as they are now from being taken by human hands. The most determined suicide could not drown himself in the Hamurana River source, for the stream about the source is shallow, and the cavern water itself would not permit him to sink, however willing he might be.
The Valley of Tikitere, some ten miles from Rotorua;, is the greatest contrast that could possibly be conceived to Hamurana's enchanted loveliness. Enchanted indeed this valley also might be, but by a spell of evil. It is the nearest possible approach to the familiar conception of hell. A stretch of white siliceous soil, streaked here and there with the blood-coloured stains of hematite, or the livid yellow of sulphur, is pitted all over with lakes, pools, and small deep pot-holes of boiling mud, sometimes thick, sometimes thin, but always scalding, bubbling, spirting, and threatening. Chief of all the horrors is the well-named lake, "Gates of Hell". Standing upon a bank of white earth that is warm undertook and seamed with steaming cracks, one looks down upon a ghastly hell-hole of a seething cauldron, slimy black in colour, and veiled with stinging mists that only now and then lift sufficiently to show the hideous surface of the lake. The foul broth of which it is composed bubbles and lifts ceaselessly, now and then rising into ominous heights and waves that seem about to break upon the banks above. The heat reaches our faces, as we stand half-stiffed on the pathway. Just beside us, a large pool of bubbling mud, which stands constantly at 212 degrees Fahrenheit - ordinary boiling point - seems almost cool in comparison. Little wonder that is so; for the "Gates of Hell" is largely composed of sulphuric acid, and its surface temperature is 232 degrees F.
Beyond lies a perfect wilderness of boiling mud-holes of every kind. Here, there is a pond of mud as thick as porridge, there, one fluid as cream. Her, the deadly, scalding surface lies innocently smooth and unrippled; there, it leaps and thunders like a young volcano in action. At one corner we come suddenly upon an ugly black archway, leading to no inviting interior; nothing can be seen within; but the loud gurglings and chokings of the seething depths inside restrain any desire for closer observation. "The Heavenly Twins," derisively so-named, are two boiling mud-holes not a foot apart, but quite unconnected; one boils the thickest of brews, while its twin concocts the thinnest. One must follow the guide closely and carefully about those ghastly wonders. One step off the pathway, and a horrible death awaits the careless walker. Even the path itself is only cool and solid on the outside skin. the guide stops now and then to dig his stick into the whitey-brown earth for a couple of inches, and turn up a clod all glittering on the under-side with fresh crystals of sulphur. this under-side is so hot that one can hardly touch it with the unprotected hand!
From one deep mud-hole, of a comparatively reasonable temperature, mud is taken out for medical uses. It is wonderfully effective as a bath, for soothing pain and curing sleeplessness. Further on, on safe ground, one can see a hot waterfall about twenty feet high in temperature about 100 degrees F., which is used as a douche bath by invalids of many kinds, with remarkable results. On the edges of the valley, I see for the first time in detail exactly how the "fumarole," or steam blow-hole, is used for cooking purposes. Over the opening of a small manageable blow-hole, an inch or two across, is placed a box without a bottom. The food to be cooked is placed in the box, either in a pot, or wrapped in leaves. The lid is then put on, and covered with clay. In an hour or so the meat or stew is done to a turn, and even if left too long, it cannot be burned. One blow-hole, in constant use by the Maoris, is not steam at all, but hot sulphur vapour, which deposits a crust of sulphur on everything it touches. This does not trouble the Maori, however; he eats his food quite contentedly, with a strong sulphurous flavour added to its natural taste, and says it does him good. Certainly, the natives living about Tikitere are unusually strong and hearty in appearance, and never troubled with any kind of illness.
People of middle age will doubtless remember vividly the impression created all over the world in 1886 by the eruption of the great volcano Tarawera and the destruction of New Zealand's most cherished natural wonder - the peerless Pin and White Terraces of Rotomahana. Countless marvels have been left, and one new one that far outstrips the Terraces in sheer wonder and magnificence - Waimangu, the greatest geyser in the world; but New Zealand still laments her beautiful Terraces and shores the spot where they lie deep, buried under ninety feet of volcanic debris, as though pointing out the grave of something loved and lost. A day of wonderful interest is that spent in seeing the track of the great eruption. Leaving Rotorua early in the morning, I saw, as the coach wound up the hilly road outside the town, many traces of that awful night and day of darkness, thunder, and terror, eighteen years ago. Although Rotorua is fifteen miles or more from the site of the Terraces, the sky was dark all the day of the eruption, and only three or four miles from the town black volcanic dust fell so densely as to leave a stratum several inches thick over the country. This is clearly visible in the cuttings at the side of the road, where the black stratum can be seen underlying the more recent layer of ordinary soil. Where the great coach-road to Rotomahana once ran, a chasm some sixty feet deep scars the mountain side, caused by the fearful rush of water that took place down the road-track. An earthquake crack, thirty feet deep, runs close to the road for a long distance. All the way up to the buried village of Wairoa, similar traces can be seen. 'but before the village is reached, two gems of scenic loveliness are passed - the Blue and Green Lakes, lying side by side, each enclosed by steep rugged hills, reflected clearly on the glassy surface. One is of the strangest, most delicate Sevres blue - a colour not depending on any reflection from above, for I saw it on a grey and cloudy day - the other is a bright verdigris green. "Chemicals in the water" is the very vague reason given by inhabitants of the district for these remarkable beauties of colour.
I must note here that in no case have I succeeded in obtaining any satisfactory reason for the remarkable blues and greens so common in both the cold and hot waters of the thermal district. The Waikato River, a great cold stream, full of immense trout; Taupo Lake (cold); the coloured lakes of Wairakei and Waiotapu (hot); Hamurana Springs (cold), and many others, display these remarkable tints, under every sky and in every depth of water. Varying reasons are given, but none seem satisfactory. The beauty of the colouring is, at all events certain, and the cause may safely be left to geologists. Wairoa Village is now a green silent waste of young forest and rich grass, broken only by the ruins of the old hotel that stood there before the eruption, and by a few scattered traces of other human occupation - a fragment of wall, the rusty skeleton of an iron bedstead, lying in a gully; the remains of a shattered buggy. In 1886 it occupied the place now held by Rotorua, and was visited by numbers of tourists, all anxious to see the Terraces, which lay not far away at the other end of the chain of lakes now united in one, and called Rotomahana. On the day of the eruption, the roof of the hotel was broken in by red-hot falling stones and mud, and eleven people were killed. Some, who escaped, run out and took refuge in a native "warry" or hut, which strange to say, remained uninjured. Over a hundred people in all - mostly Maoris - were killed by the eruption, which destroyed millions of acres of good land, swept away several native villages, and utterly altered the face of the whole country.
Lake Tarawera, which must be crossed to see the site of the lost terraces, lies under the shadow of the great volcanic cone of Tarawera., 8,000 feet high, from which much of the molten rock and burning ashes came. It is as lovely, in its own strange way, as the famous lakes of Italy and Switzerland. The water is intensely blue, and the high hills closing it in are of a colour unknown to most other scenery in the world - a strange pale barren grey, so nearly white as to be slightly suggestive of snow. Like snow, too, is the distribution of this coloured matter; it lies on the crests and projections of the hills, and is streaked thinly down the sides. It is ash, volcanic ash, cast out by the surrounding craters on that fatal night of June, 1886, and lying unchanged on the hills about the lake ever since. Tarawera itself towers above the lake, grim and dark and ominous; a mountain not yet tamed by any means, and still hot, though not molten, in the interior of the cone. On he shores of the lake, as the launch carries us past, can be seen, at one spot, the whitened bones of some of the natives who perished in the eruption. the name and titles of one, who was a great chief, are painted on a tock that overhangs the shore.
Rotomahana, the second lake, is also surrounded ash-whitened hills. At the far end, as or second oil-launch starts to cross, we can see thick columns of steam rising against the grey of the cliffs. these are the gravestones of the lost Pink terrace; these tall pillars of cloud alone mark the spot where one half of the world's greatest wonder once stood. Just where the launch starts, the White Terrace was buried, under a hundred feet of earth and mud, deep in the bed of the lake. What were the Terraces like? New Zealand has many oil paintings of them, so that a clear idea of their loveliness can be formed even to-day. they consisted of two immense terraced slopes, formed by the action of downward dropping hot water heavily loaded with silicon. Every terrace was a succession of fairy-like baths and basins, filled with bright blue water. One was pure ivory-white, the other, tinged with hematite, was bright pink. The exquisite natural carvings and flutings of the silicon, the beautiful tints of the terraces, the blue sky above and blue lakes below, together formed a picture the like of which does not exist on earth to-day.
Our oil-launch, sailing now over water which is actually boiling, close in shore, though main body of the lake is cold, allows us to land on the very spot where the Pink Terrace once stood. It is a dangerous task even with the aid of a guide, to pick one's way about this stretch of ground, for it is nothing but a crumbling honey-comb of foiling-water ponds, and narrow ridges as brittle as pie-crust. Over these latter we take our perilous way, painting each footstep slowly and carefully, but never standing still, for the ground is so exceedingly hot that the soles of one's boots are scorched, if planted long in one place. ?The earth is choked and clouded with steam, the ponds roar and bubble about our feet, the blow-holes rumble. The ground is full of raw cracks, old and new, and as our small party steps over one of these, on the way back, it is seen to be visibly wider than it was on the previous coming! To-morrow the whole of this narrow ridge may have crumbled in and disappeared. No one is sorry to reach the launch again, and glide away from those threatening shores. A little further on, where we land for the walk up to Waimangu Geyser, there is a hot iodine spring, unique among medical waters, and most useful in many diseases. Arrangements are now being made to have the water collected and sent to Rotorua; up to the present, it had only been used by the Maoris.
The Maori haka, battle dance, 1924
All the three-mile walk up to the geyser is crowded with tokens of the great eruption. Mud cliffs a hundred feet in height were creat4ed by the terrible outburst, and for miles about the whole country was covered yards deep with the boiling slimy mass. Not only Tarawera, but three other caters (all visible in the high distance above the lake) were erupting together, for a night and a day. The eruptions took place without the least warning of any kind, about ten o'clock at night. The chain of lakes about Tarawera's foot suddenly exploded like colossal bombs, blowing their entire contents, and all the mud from their bottoms, over the whole country-side. Tarawera and the neighbouring craters cast out huge jets of flame, and scattered burning masses of rock, ashes, and scoriae, for many miles. The noise was terrible, and the sky for twenty miles around was dark at noonday. It is supposed that the eruption was caused by the falling in of the lake bottom, which allowed the water to drop into the underlying fires, and exploded the lakes instantly into steam. Up a great earthquake chasm, among deep volcano craters that were formed at the time of the eruption, we climb towards the Great Geyser. These crates are for the most part still in a more or less heated state through grass and ferns grow in the interior of nearly all and so apprehension is felt as to future outbursts. One has a hot mudpool at the bottom; a second spits steam from many cracks and blow-holes; a third, the largest of all, erupted slightly in August 1904, and threw a quantity of hot mud and stones out over the top.
Waimangu Geyser itself, which is really more a volcano than a geyser, is supposed to have been formed at the time of the eruption. It did not, however, commence its present activity until 1900, when an enormously high "shot" was seen by one or two explorers camping in the neighbourhood, and the source of once investigated. It became apparent that New Zealand, in the place of the lost Terraces, had acquired the largest and most magnificent geyser in the whole world. The exchange is by no means a bad one. Waimangu attracts hundreds of travellers to the pretty little hot4el planted on a cliff not far from the crater; and those who have been fortunate enough to see the geyser play, one and all utterly lose themselves in attempting to express the extraordinary majesty, wonder, and terror of the sight. The geyser is somewhat irregular in action, but generally plays every day or so. The water in the huge basin heaves and lifts; then an enormous cloud of steam rushes up, and then a column of black water, charged with mud and stones, flings itself upward in repeated leaps or "shots" through the steam, to an almost incredible height - at times as high as fifteen hundred feet. More than a quarter of a mile in sheer height in Waimangu's biggest "shot". On such occasions, the sky is darkened by the tremendous spread of the leaping waters, the earth trembles with the concussion, and the watching spectators, perched high above the crater by the shelter hut, feel as though the terrors of the Last Day itself were falling upon them, unprepared.
In the summer of 1903 two girls and a guide were killed during the explosion of the geyser. The girls had been repeatedly warned, even entreated, out to stand near the crater, as it was momentarily expected to "play", but they hovered close by the verge, anxious to secure a photograph. Without warning, Waimangu suddenly rose and hurled itself bodily skyward out of its bed. The enormous backfall of the boiling water caught and swept away the luckless three, and they were carried down the outflow valley in the flood that succeeds every eruption. When found, the bodies were terribly mutilated, and stripped of all clothing. The mother of the girls, standing higher up, saw the whole awful disaster, and had to be forcibly held back from rushing into the crater, in a wild effort to save her children. Since that melancholy day, the geyser basin has been railed off, in such a manner that no one can approach near enough to incur the slightest danger. Warbrick, the head guide of the district, was present, and nearly lost his life in a daring attempt to save the girls and the guide, who was his own brother. He rushed into the mist of the falling stones and water, to try and drag the luckless victims back, but was too late to save them, and narrowly escaped being carried away himself.
Warbrick is the best-known guide in New Zealand, and a character of considerable interest. He is a half-caste Maori, decidedly more intelligent than the average white man, and speaking English perfectly. In company with a sailor, he lately made what was probably the most daring boat-trip ever attempted on earth - nothing less than a voyage over Waimangu's boiling basin, undertaken with the object of sounding the depths of the geyser. The monster often erupts without the least warning, sending the whole contents of the huge basin bodily skyward; so that the feat was one likely to shake the strongest nerve. Warbrick took a lead line with him, and noted the various depths of the crater basin. In the centre, where the great throat of the geyser opens up, no bottom could be found. The boat came safely to shore, after some minutes spent in performing one of the most perilous feats ever attempted, even by a Maori. Visitors generally stay at the government accommodation house near the geyser for a day or two on the chance of seeing a good "shot," and they seldom go away unrewarded. It is well worth while to cut short one's stay in some other place by a couple of days, to have a chance of seeing the world's greatest thermal wonder in full action, for Waimangu, when playing, is the sight of a lifetime. I was not fortunate enough to see the geyser in action, as it was undergoing a period of "sulks" at the time of my visit; but it had been playing as it playful some weeks after I left, nothing would have tempted me away from its neighbourhood until I had seen an eruption.
One of the great charms of the geyser country about Rotorua is its absolute unlikeness to anything that can be found on the other side of the Line. to the much-travelled wanderer, nearly all famous show-places, after a time, display a distressing similarity. The two or three leading types of peasant to be found on the Continent of Europe, grow familiar by-and-by. Giuseppe of Italy is not very novel to the traveller who still remembers Ignacio of Spain; German Wilhelm recalls Dutch Jan; Belgian Francoise is sister to French Mathilde. As for the "sights" - well, one waterfall is very like another, and lakes and rain castles pall, taken in bulk. Even if the traveller wanders further away, he does not find much in Egypt, India, or Japan, that has not been greatly spoiled for him beforehand, by the countless descriptions he has heard and read ever since childhood. It seems almost as though the illimitable flood of sight-seers, past and present, rushing through all the famous beauty-spots of the old world, had washed away something of their charm - as if the air about such laces were drained dry of the ozone of fresh delight which every lovely and wonderful spot should give, leaving only an atmosphere of feeling that is stale and used-up in the last degree.
For myself, the carefully revived native dances of the Maoris, performed for money, in civilised concert halls; the "haka" or war dance, done by children on the roads for pennies, and the modern native carvings, done with English tools, which are all among the most striking features of daily life in Rotorua, were not the real attractions of the place. Those lay in the common features of ordinary Maori existence, seen here, there, and everywhere, without pose or preparation. When one strolls out along the country roads near the town, it is an adventure to meet a party of wild-eyed, brown-faced men and women gathering madly up and down hill on their rough "brumbies" (wild horses, broken in) - both sexes alike wrapped in heavy blankets, and sitting astride. Wandering about on a bibyle, it pleasantly increased the "go-abroady" feeling that most travellers welcome, to come upon a woman taking a fat fowl out of the steam-hole cooker, that Nature has provided just at the door of her thatch-roofed, reed-built "warry," and to stop and talk for an interesting quarter of an hour with a barefooted half-clad savage, who speaks English as good as one's own, reads the daily papers and has his opinions on Mr. Seddon's fiscal policy. The Maori guides and hangers on, about the best-known sights, are naturally more or less spoiled by the visitors. But the real Maori, of whom one gets on occasional sight, even about such a civilised town as Rotorua, is attractive enough to make me fully understand the strong regard that most New Zealanders have for their native friends. Dignity, pride, and the manners of an exiled royalty are his natural heritage. His mind is as keen as the white man's, though perhaps somewhat narrower in scope; he has a vivid sense of humour, strong feelings about honour and faithfulness, the courage of a bull-dog, and the reckless daring of an Irish dragoon. Worth knowing, and well worth liking when known, ar4e the brown men and women of North New Zealand.
The little village of Ohinemutu, less than a mile from Rotorua, is astonishingly Maori still, in spite of the development of the district for tourist travel. Go down towards the shores of the lake at the back of the big hotel, and you step at once into a native "pub," built in the haphazard fashion peculiar to Maori settlements. There are no streets, and no definite beginnings or endings. The houses face every way, and are of many fashions; here a reed-guilt warry, there a house with a front, splendidly carved and painted in old native fashion, farther on a wooden dwelling about as large as a bathing-box, with a full-sized bay-window fastened on to it. Most are wooden huts with iron roofs - a compromise between native and European styles.
Everywhere one goes, there are steaming pools with newly washed clothes drying on the edge, or small brown bodies happily disporting themselves in the water. Cooking-boxes are erected over countless steam-holes; and every here and there, one meets a tall brown-man or woman, looking extremely clean and damp, and wrapped in a big coloured blanket and nothing else, stalking house-wards from a refreshing bath. Try to take a photograph, and if the Maori is accustom3ed to tourists, he will ask a shilling for the labour of posing; but if he has recently come down from the wilds, and is still unspoiled, he will reject an offer of coin with quiet dignity. Taken as nature made him, the Maori is not greedy of money. It is only a very few months since the Maoris of the King country (a wild, half-claimed district in the "back blocks") have allowed gold prospectors to pass through their lands. Until recently they admitted tourists and sportsmen freely, but refused to allow any one to look for gold, giving as a reason their belief that the feeling of gold did no country and good. Whakarewarewa, a couple of miles outside the town of Rotorua, has a very interesting model of a typical Maori fortified "pub," lately completed by the Government. The large space of grass enclosed by the fort is guarded by high earth breastworks and a deep ditch. Beyond the ditch is an open wooden paling apparently more for ornament than use, on which are placed at intervals carved wooden figures of a threatening and terrifying character. All of them are native work, but of modern date.
The geysers of Whakarewarewa are many and famous. The more famous of all was the great twin geyser Waikite, whose double throat opens at the top of a high terraced cone, built u of siliceous sinter, deposited by the geyser water during long ages of action. Waikite has ceased to play since 1886, when the railway from Auckland to Rotorua was completed. On the day when the line was opened for traffic, the geyser ceased playing and its fountains have never ascended since. Wairoa (Maori, "Long Water") is now the lion of Whakarewarewa. It plays very seldom of its own accord, but on special occasions the local authorities permit it to be dosed with soap, which always produces an eruption. A geyser constantly physicked in this manner often gives up playing altogether in the end; so careful restrictions hedge round the operation, in the case of Wairoa. It is first necessary to procure consent from the Government Tourist Department in Wellington, and then to arrange a day and give notice to the town. The Government authorities in Wellington were kind enough to send an order to Rotorua to have Wairoa soaped for me during my stay; and I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the novel sensation of starting the geyser myself.
On a Sunday afternoon of December 1904, all Rotorua assembled in a black crowd at "Whaka" to see Wairoa commanding the spot; bets were freely made about the height and quality of the coming performance, and every one scuffled politely for a front place when the ceremony began. The caretaker of the grounds and the head guide solemnly removed the wooden cover (pierced to allow the escape of steam) which is padlocked over the geyser's stony lips, and handed me a bag containing three bars of soap, cut up into small pieces. I stood on the edge of the geyser-mouth, looking down a great black well full of steam, and rumbling with deep, groaning murmurs from below, until the guide gave the word, and then emptied the bag down Wairoa's throat.
Almost immediately, white lather began to form in the depths of the well, and rose rapidly to the verge. The guide now ordered me away from the geyser; for, although Wairoa generally takes some minutes to play after being soaped, one can never be absolutely certain that it will not respond with inconvenient swiftness. I went back to a neighbouring hillock from which an excellent view could be obtained, and waited with the eager crowd. Every now and then a small rush of water lifted over the geyser rim, and once or twice the fountain seemed about to start; but it was not until seventeen minutes after I had put in the soap that Wairoa choked, gurgled, and finally broke into a roar like a ten thousand ton liner throwing off steam. In another instant, still roaring, the geyser shot up silvery white water, dissolving at the top, full 140 feet above ground, into a crest of delicate streamy feathers all sparkling in the sun. The display lasted about a couple of minutes, and then sank gradually away; but for long afterwards, Wairoa mumbled and grumbled and frothed at the mouth, not settling down into quiet for at least an hour.
Of Auckland - "last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart," as Kipling has called it - thus compelling all later travellers to see, or at least pretend to see, exquisite loveliness in prosaic: Queen Street, and go a-hunting for poetic solitudes along the quays - I have nothing to say. Great ports are all alike, the wide world over, and hotel is as like unto hotel as pebble unto pebble. And when the story is done, why linger?
I have set forth to tell something of Britain of the South Seas, and such as it is, my say has been said.
An extract from IN THE STRANGE SOUTH SEAS by BEATRICE GRIMSHAW, published in London by Hutchinson & Co., 1908.
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