His Excellency Sir George F. Bowen, G. C. M. G.
Delivered to the Members of the New Zealand Institute, at the Anniversary Meeting, held on the 23rd September, 1871.
It is with great pleasure that I now proceed to open, with the usual anniversary address, the session for 1871 of the New Zealand Institute.
Progress of the New Zealand Institute..
This is the fourth occasion on which we have assembled for the purpose of reviewing the progress achieved by literature and science in this country, and especially the efforts made by our own Association for their advancement. From the report recently laid before the Legislature, it will be seen that there is ample ground for congratulation in the continued success of the scheme under which we are organised. During the last twelve months our numbers have been increased by the accession of above two hundred new members; while the society recently formed at Nelson “for the promotion of science and industry” has been affiliated. The connection of all the chief provinces and cities of the Colony with this central body has thus been completed. Nor is it less gratifying to observe that our Transactions have been very favourably reviewed by many high authorities, both in England and on the continent of Europe; and that strong opinions have been expressed to the effect that a similar Institute for the systematic organisation of the various literary and scientific societies is urgently required in the mother country.
The progress and popularity of the New Zealand Institute may be regarded as a not unimportant evidence of the condition of intellectual studies and tastes in this community. And here I may be permitted to allude to what
seems the prominent characteristic of public opinion at the present day; I mean the active interest that has been awakened in everything which tends to the diffusion of sound education, and to the better qualification of the youth of the Colony for fulfilling their duty and privilege of self-government. The measures adopted last year by the Parliament for the foundation of a Colonial University, and the actual establishment in the vigorous Province of Otago (in this as in other respects a true off-shoot of Scotland)* of a University which is already in operation, are striking proofs of the general desire for education of the highest class. At the same time the Bill introduced by the Government, and now under the earnest consideration of the Legislature, shows that primary and secondary education will also be zealously fostered by the State.
The recent arrival of several accomplished and learned Professors to occupy the chairs of the Otago University is an epoch in the history of New Zealand which may probably hereafter be more prominent in the annals of this country, and may exercise more enduring influence than many events to which greater present importance has been attached. The proposed system of Affiliated Colleges, on the basis of local examinations, is in accordance with the direction in which the English Universities are now tending. Like the constitution of our own Society, this appears to be the system best adapted to the geographical position of New Zealand; for, while it does not preclude the most successful College in whatsoever Province from proving and maintaining its pre-eminence, it encourages rather than limits that emulation by which alone a high state of efficiency in educational establishments can be secured.
New Zealand University.
In connection with this subject, I wish to make one remark—of course, in my capacity, not of Governor of the Colony, but of President of the Institute. It is this:—In common with the joint committee of both Houses of the Legislature, and of most of those who have given full attention to the point, I think it very desirable that some well-considered and equitable arrangement should be made whereby the two existing University Councils may be amalgamated—by which our available resources may be economised, and there may be thus erected, on the foundations already so carefully laid, one great and truly national University of New Zealand.
Technical and Scientific Education.
Turning to the question of technical and scientific education, to which I drew attention in my address of last year, I have much pleasure in announcing that the scheme for establishing a course of practical instruction in connection
[Footnote] * “In almost all the periods of the history of Scotland, whatever documents deal with the social condition of the country reveal a machinery for education always abundant.”—Burton's “History of Scotland,” chap. 39.
with the Colonial Museum has been already so far carried into effect that the Laboratory has been adapted for the reception of a certain number of students.
New Museum at Christchurch.
It would be improper, on this occasion, to omit mention of the Museum which has been opened during the past year at Christchurch. That institution is an eminent proof of the recognition which the claims of science receive in the Province of Canterbury, and of the admirable manner in which the liberal support granted by the Provincial Government has been applied.
Review of Volume III. of the “Transactions” of the Institute.
I will now proceed to refer briefly to the annual volume in which the proceedings of the several A ffiliated Societies are published. Our third volume, that for 1870, fully keeps up the character of its predecessors, and has been received with greater interest, from the fact that the large amount of carefully selected matter which it contains is more amply illustrated by drawings and figures than either of the volumes previously issued.
The name of Mr. Walter Buller, eminent among those of the contributors to the Zoology of New Zealand, appears at the head of several excellent papers—all interesting and valuable, as might be expected from so accomplished an observer in this branch of science, and especially in his own favourite department of ornithology. I would recommend particular attention to Mr. Buller's description of the huia (heteralocha Gouldi), that rare and beautiful bird held sacred by the Maoris, which can be known in its native state to few colonists, but of which very perfect specimens are preserved in the Colonial Museum. Worthy also of especial notice and careful study is the conclusion of Mr. Potts' elaborate Essay on the Birds of New Zealand, the commencement of which appeared in the volume of our Transactions for 1869. There are other contributors to Zoology in the volume now before us, whose distinguished names would alone votich for the value of their remarks. Foremost among these is the name of Dr. F. J. Knox, who remains devoted to the natural history of the Cetacea, and who has furnished some important papers on this and on other subjects. Moreover, it is gratifying to find among the contributors to this section of our Transactions, Dr. J. E. Gray, of the British Museum. This gentleman, so eminent in the scientific societies of Europe, has supplied a description of a new species of whale discovered in the seas around New Zealand. It may here be mentioned that during my visit in last February, in H.M.S. ‘Clio,’ to Milford Sound, I was myself so fortunate as to shoot three seals, which appear to belong to a species that has hitherto escaped accurate notice.
Among those to whom this Colony is most indebted for fresh investigations of its Botany, Mr. Kirk occupies a high place as a writer on this engaging and practically useful branch of study. It will be seen that nearly all his papers are confined to the Province of Auckland; and it is to be regretted that we do not receive from other parts of the Colony more frequent communications on the same subject. Mr. Kirk's botanical researches have led him to the conclusion that while many native trees and plants are much more rare than formerly, and are confined to smaller areas, none have become extinct.
Exhibition of the New Zealand Flax.
In connection with this portion of my address, I should draw attention to the exhibition now open in the Colonial Museum of numerous and well arranged specimens of the New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax). As I have remarked in previous addresses, it cannot be too often repeated that the main object of Parliament in founding and endowing the Institute and Museum was to furnish practical assistance in the development and utilisation of the rich natural resources of these islands. Now, this flax exhibition is an excellent illustration of the value of the method of conveying instruction through the eye, by means of classified specimens; and this kind of education is one of our fundamental and necessary functions. The present collection will form a good basis for future reference; and it is to be hoped that it may prove the means of rendering permanent an industry, the importance of which to New Zealand can hardly be exaggerated, if only a satisfactory solution of the difficulties involved in the process of manufacture were discovered. The experience in this respect already acquired has been somewhat dearly purchased; but even a cursory inspection of the exhibition is sufficient to show that much progress has been made, and that a large amount of accurate information respecting this entire subject has been collected. All will admire the varied and beautiful specimens of the manner in which the Maoris have adapted this indigenous fibre to almost every purpose of domestic economy. Several of the articles of native manufacture show at once thought in contrivance, taste in design, and skill in execution.
There is a very important and practical application of science, regarding which I must here say a few words. I refer to the formation of Botanic Gardens and Nurseries for the rearing of useful and ornamental trees and shrubs. Planting is now generally recognised as an essential step towards the future prosperity of every new country. The character of the climate, the comfort of life, and the beauty of the scenery, all depend, in no slight degree, on this work. Some progress has already been achieved in this respect throughout these islands. During the past year I have derived great
satisfaction from witnessing the efforts made at all the principal centres of population. Each province has its own peculiar advantages; but on this occasion I wish to allude especially to that garden which forms an essential adjunct to our Institute. It is now a little more than a year since the Botanic Reserve was placed under the management of the Board of Governors, and there is good reason to be satisfied with the advance already secured. Not only has the luxury of a pleasant recreation ground been conferred on the inhabitants of Wellington, and on the numerous visitors Who reside here during the sessions of the Colonial Parliament, but a field has also been provided for interesting experiments in practical botany. The preservation of the beautiful patches of native forest, which still survive in the ravines, and the affixing the names of the various trees and shrubs, have created, at a small expense, a Botanic Garden of the most useful kind. Visitors are thus enabled to render themselves familiar with the indigenous vegetation of this country, with its scientific classification, and with the beauty and value of the flora of this and of other lands.
In the department of Chemistry, nearly all the papers are by Mr. Skey, the Analyst to the Geological Survey of New Zealand; and the Institute is fortunate in possessing among its members a gentleman so well qualified to handle this branch of science.
We must all deplore the loss by drowning, while in the zealous discharge of his duty, of another officer of the Government Survey—Mr. E. H. Davis—to whom our Transactions owe several instructive geological papers.
On the above, and on a variety of miscellaneous subjects, we have a number of interesting contributions by Dr. Hector, Dr. Haast, Mr. Travers, Captain Hutton, arid others of our leading associates. The last, but by no means the least important paper in the third volume of our Transactions is the opportune lecture, by Mr. Justice Chapman, on the “Political Economy of Railways,” which will excite the more interest from the fact that the Colony is now about to undertake extensive public works, such as those of which the learned Judge has so ably treated.
On the whole, it may be safely affirmed that the Institute has no reason to be dissatisfied with the amount of work which it has accomplished during the first three years of its existence; and if we look to the large accession to its numbers during the past year, and to the interest which its labours have excited, alike in this and in the neighbouring colonies and in the mother country, we may confidently regard the progress already made as only the germ and infant promise of a far greater development and success in the future.
Official Visits of the Governor.
After this brief and imperfect sketch of the recent Transactions and present position of the Institute, I will proceed—so far as time will allow, and in accordance with a request addressed to me—to give a short account of my official visits during the past year to two of the most remarkable regions to be found in this or in any other country of the world. I allude, in the first place, to the great volcanic zone in the North Island, stretching for nearly 150 miles from the ever-steaming crater of Whakari (or White Island), in the Bay of Plenty, to Lake Taupo and the burning mountain of Tongariro. Here the traveller admires, under an Italian sky and in an Italian climate, a long succession of panoramas of hot Iakes and boiling springs, far surpassing in variety, beauty, and curiosity, the famed geysers of Iceland. In the second place, I refer to Milford Sound and to those other grand and wondrous inlets of the south-west coast of the Middle Island, which, rarely visited by civilised man, and shrouded in almost perpetual mist and storm, combine the snowy peaks and glaciers of Switzerland with the gloomy forests, deep seas, and winding channels of the fiords of Norway.
I.—The Hot Lakes in the North Island.
My visit to the Hot Lakes was made in company with the Duke of Edinburgh and several officers of H.M.S. ‘Galatea.’ Leaving Auckland, by sea, on the 12th of last December, we landed on the following morning at Tauranga, where the “son of the Queen” (te tamaiti o te Kuini), as His Royal Highness is styled by the Maoris, was enthusiastically welcomed by seven hundred chiefs and clansmen of the tribes of the Arawas and of the Ngaiterangis. It will be remembered that the last-named clan fought bravely against the British troops at the Gate Pa,* and elsewhere, in 1864; but they soon afterwards made peace with the Government, and now at the korero (or conference) held to greet the Duke of Edinburgh, they vied with our faithful friends, the Arawas, in expressions of loyalty to the Queen, and of good will to the English settlers. At the conclusion of his speech, Enoka te Whanake, a chief foremost among our enemies during the late war, said; “It is true that I fought against the Queen at the Gate Pa; but I have repented of this evil, and am now living under the shadow of Her laws. As for this Tawhiao, who styles himself the ‘King of the Maoris,’ let him be brought hither as a footstool for the son of our Queen, whom we welcome among us this day.”
From Tauranga we proceeded to Maketu, the principal kainga, or settlement, of the Arawas, and celebrated in their traditions as the spot where their forefathers, some twenty generations back, first landed in New Zealand.
[Footnote] * This pa was three miles from Tauranga, and was so named because it commanded the approach to the inland districts, at a point where the road passes along a narrow tract of firm ground between two extensive swamps.
No Europeans have as yet settled in the inland districts of this portion of the North Island, but the “Queen's son” was as safe among the Arawas in their own country as he would be among the Gordons in Aberdeenshire. We were however, attended by a guard of honour, consisting of an escort of the clansmen in arms for the Queen. The Duke of Edinburgh and his officers were much interested by the many striking scenes and incidents of life in a Maori camp, especially by the war-songs chanted by the Arawas around the watchfires which they kindled each night in front of our tents. On the other hand, the native warriors were delighted by His Royal Highness's power of enduring fatigue—by his good horsemanship and swimming—by the skill and vigour with which he paddled his canoe across their lakes—and, above all, perhaps, by his constantly wearing the kilt, which is the favourite garb of the Maori as well as of the Scotch Highlanders.
On the 14th December we rode a distance of forty miles, from Maketu to Ohinemutu, the principal inland settlement of the Arawas. It is situated at the north-western extremity of the beautiful lake of Rotorua, and has in front the lofty islet of Mokoia, famous for the legend of Hine Moa, the Hero, and of her lover, the Leander of the Maoris.* The road from Maketu to Ohinemutu, winding along the shores of Rotoiti and Rotorua, presents a succession of lovely prospects. It was spontaneously commenced by the Arawas, the chiefs and clansmen labouring together, for the use of the Duke of Edinburgh when his visit was first expected in 1868.
Ohinemutu still exhibits most of the features and scenes of a Maori pa and kainga of the olden time. The dwellings of the chiefs are surrounded with stockades, while many of them are adorned with grotesque woodcarvings, and are curious specimens of native architecture. The boiling springs—sure signs of the volcanic fires smouldering below—see the, bubble, and steam on every side;—among the houses, where they form excellent natural cooking places;—and in the tepid waters of the neighbouring lake, in which the natives swim, each morning and evening, as in a vast natural bath. On Sunday, the 18th December, a missionary clergyman, the Rev. S. Spencer, who had accompanied our party from Maketu, read the service of the Church of England, in the open air, on the shore of Lake Rotorua. It was a calm, clear, and sunny day, and the scene was highly picturesque and suggestive; with the little knot of Englishmen surrounding the “son of the Queen,” and the large congregation of Maoris repeating the responses and chanting the hymns in their own sonorous language; amid some of the finest prospects of lake and mountain, and near some of the most wonderful natural phenomena in the world; in the very heart, moreover, of the native districts
of New Zealand, and of the country most renowned in Maori song and legend;—and on a spot where, in the memory of men still living, human victims were sacrificed and cannibal feasts were held.
From Ohinemutu we visited the neighbouring geysers and solfataras of Whakarewarewa, which at intervals throw high into the air columns of water, with whirling clouds of steam and showers of pumice stone. Thence we rode over the hills, skirting the deep blue lakes of Tikitapu and Roto-kakaki,—both embosomed in overhanging forests and craggy cliffs,—to Tarawera, which surpasses in wild grandeur of scenery all its rival lakes. On the following morning we crossed Lake Tarawera in native canoes, and encamped for the night by the side of one of the famous terrace-fountains* of Lake Rotomahana,—the most striking marvels in this region of wonders, and of which no verbal description can convey any adequate idea. They have been likened to cascades of bright and sparkling water, gently falling from blue basins of turquoise over a succession of natural shelves, and suddenly turned, as they fall, into terraces of white marble,† streaked with soft lines of pink. Many rare and delicate ferns, and other plants usually found only in the Tropics, cling in green clusters round the snow-white margin of the fountains, and flourish in luxuriant growth in the warm and dank air.
From Rotomahana we rode back in two days to Maketu, and thence returned by sea to Auckland. Thus it will be seen that the chief points in the district of the Hot Lakes can even now be visited by active horsemen in an excursion of a week or ten days. The natives alone have hitherto made practical use, for the cure of various diseases, of the healing properties of these waters. But when, through the progress of colonisation, these springs, truly described by Hochstetter as the “grandest in the world,” shall have become more accessible, it cannot be doubted that, as multitudes of summer tourists from the cities of the old world now resort to the warm baths of Germany, and to the mountains of Switzerland, so thousands will hereafter flock from Australia, and from all parts of the southern hemisphere, to those regions of New Zealand where nature displays many of her most remarkable beauties and wonders in the most genial and healthy of climates.
I shall not trespass on your time and patience by dwelling at greater length on this part of my subject. The Lake district of the North Island has been fully described in the well-known and elaborate work of Dr.
[Footnote] * Named respectively Te Tarata and Otukapuarangi. The first of these names is said to signify “the tattooed rock,” and to refer to the strange figures and shapes formed by the silicious deposits of the terraces. The second name means “cloudy atmosphere,” from the continually ascending clouds of steam.
[Footnote] †The terraces of Rotomahana are encrusted by the overflowing waters with a white silicious deposit, the growth of many years.—See “Hochstetter's New Zealand,” chap. 18.
Hochstetter, and by other writers more competent than myself.* Let it suffice on the present occasion to say that all the authorities agree that the solfataras, geysers, and fumaroles alike owe their origin to water sinking through natural fissures into the caverns of the earth, where it becomes heated by ever-burning volcanic fires. High-pressure steam is thus generated, which, accompanied by volcanic gases, forces its way up towards the cooler surface, and is there condensed into hot water. It has been further remarked that even the legends of the Maoris correctly ascribe the origin of the hot lakes and springs to the combined agency of fire and water, in connection with the still active craters of Whakari and of Tongariro. The traditions of the Arawas relate that among the chiefs who led their ancestors from Hawaikit† to New Zealand was Ngatiroirangi, whose name, being interpreted, signifies “the messenger of Heaven.” He landed at Maketu, whence he set forth with his slave Ngauruhoe to explore the new found land. As they journeyed on ward they at length beheld, towards the South, the lofty snow-clad mountain of Tongariro (literally “towards the south”). Climbing to the highest peak to gain a wider view of the surrounding country, they were benumbed with” the cold, when the chief shouted to his sisters, who had remained upon Whakari, to send him fire. The sisters heard his call, and sent him the sacred fire brought from Hawaiki. It was borne in the hands of two taniwhas or water-spirits, dwelling in the caverns of the earth and ocean, from Whakari, through a subterranean passage, to the top of Tongariro. The fire arrived just in time to save the life of the chief, but the slave was already dead. And so the crater of Tongariro is called, to this day, by the name of Ngauruhoe; and the sacred fire still blazes throughout the underground zone along which it was carried by the taniwhas. It burns under the lakes of Rotoiti, Rotorua, and Rotomahana—under the thousand hot springs which burst forth between Whakari and Tongariro. Dr. Hochstetter (“New Zealand,” chap. 18) remarks that “this legend affords a remarkable instance of the accurate observation of the natives, who have thus indicated the true line of the chief volcanic action in the North Island.”
II. The Sounds on the south-west coast of the Middle Island.
I now proceed to give a short sketch of my visit during the months of February and March, in the present year, to the magnificent, but hitherto little known, Sounds on the south-west coast of the Middle Island, whither Commodore Stirling conveyed me in H.M.S. ‘Clio.’ Dr. Hector accompanied
[Footnote] * See also the graphic and accurate account of the Hot Lakes in “A Ride through the Disturbed Districts of New Zealand,” by Lieutenant the Hon. H. Meade, R.N., London, 1871.
[Footnote] † The Hawaiki of Maori annals was probably Hawaii in the Sandwich Islands, or Savaii in the Navigators' Islands.
us; and, had it not been for the disaster which befel us in Bligh Sound, we expected to have been enabled to collect much practical information respecting that part of the Colony, and also to furnish fresh and valuable notices to the Geographical, Geological, and Zoological Societies of London. It may here be mentioned that the best general descriptions of the south-west coast of the Middle Island which have hitherto been published, will be found in the “New Zealand Pilot,” compiled chiefly by an honorary member of our Institute, Admiral Richards, F.R.S., the present Hydrographer to the Admiralty; and in a paper by Dr. Hector, printed in the 34th volume (for 1864) of the Journals of the Royal Geographical Society. The notes which I shall now read to you were written while the ‘Clio’ lay disabled in Bligh Sound, and have been partly embodied in my despatches to the Imperial Government.
We left Wellington on the 4th of last February, but the ‘Clio’ was much delayed at first by baffling winds, and afterwards by a strong contrary gale with a heavy sea. We reached Milford Sound on the 11th, and remained there, thoroughly examining that extraordinary inlet, until the 17th February.
Admiral Richards has observed* that the only harbours of shelter for large ships along the West Coast of the Middle Island of New Zealand—a distance of five hundred miles—are the thirteen sounds or inlets which penetrate its south-western shore between the parallels of 44 and 46 degrees south latitude, including a space of little more than one hundred miles. They are, counting from the north, and according to the names given chiefly by the adventurous whalers, who alone have frequented these inhospitable regions, as follows:—1. Milford Sound; 2. Bligh Sound; 3. George Sound; 4. Caswell Sound; 5. Charles Sound; 6. Nancy Sound; 7. Thomson Sound; 8. Doubtful Inlet; 9. Daggs Sound; 10. Breaksea Sound; 11. Dusky Bay; 12. Chalky, or Dark Cloud Inlet; 13. Preservation Inlet. As I wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, these arms of the Great Southern Ocean, cleaving their way through the massive sea wall of steep and rugged cliffs, reach far into the wild solitudes of the lofty mountains which form the cordillera, or “dividing range,” of the Middle Island. These mountains attain their highest elevation further north, in Mount Cook, a snowy peak rising 13,200 feet above the sea level, and visible in clear weather at a distance of more than a hundred miles to the mariner approaching New Zealand; thus forming a noble monument of the illustrious navigator who first recommended the planting of an English settlement in this country. To quote Admiral Richards:—“A view of the surrounding country from the summit of one of the mountains bordering the coast, of from 4,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation, is perhaps one of the most grand and magnificent spectacles it is possible to imagine; and, standing on such an elevation rising over the south side of Caswell Sound, Cook's description of
[Footnote] * See “New Zealand Pilot,” chap. ix.
this region was forcibly called to mind. He says:—‘A prospect more rude and craggy is rarely to be met with, for inland appeared nothing but the summits of mountains of a stupendous height, and consisting of rocks that are totally barren and naked, except where they are covered with snow.’ We could only compare the scene around us as far as the eye could reach, north to Milford Haven, south to Dusky Bay, and eastward inland for a distance of sixty miles, to a vast sea of mountains of every possible variety of shape and ruggedness; the clouds and mist floated far beneath us, and the harbour appeared no more than an insignificant stream. The prospect was most bewildering, and, even to a practised eye, the possibility of recognising any particular mountain, as a point of the survey from a future station, seemed almost hopeless.”
The following extract from Dr. Hector's account of Milford Sound shows the probable mode of its formation:—“Three miles from the entrance of the Sound it becomes contracted to the width of half a mile, and its sides rise perpendicularly from the water's edge, sometimes for 2,000 feet, and then slope at a high angle to the peaks that are covered with perpetual snow. The scenery is quite equal to the finest that can be enjoyed by the most difficult and toilsome journeys into the Alps of the interior; and the effect is greatly enhanced, as well as the access made more easy, by the incursion of the sea, as it were, into their alpine solitudes. The sea, in fact, now occupies a chasm that was in past ages ploughed by an immense glacier; and it is through the natural progress of events by which the mountain mass has been reduced in altitude, that the ice stream has been replaced by the waters of the ocean. The evidence of this change may be seen at a glance. The lateral valleys join the main one at various elevations, but are all sharply cut off by the precipitous wall of the sound, the erosion of which was no doubt continued by a great central glacier long after the subordinate and tributary glaciers had ceased to exist. The precipices exhibit the marks of ice-action with great distinctness, and descend quite abruptly to a depth of 800 to 1200 feet below the water level. Towards its head the sound becomes more expanded, and receives several large valleys that preserve the same character, but radiate in different directions into the highest ranges. At the time that these valleys were filled with glaciers, a great ‘ice lake’ must have existed in the upper and expanded portion of the sound, from which the only outlet would be through the chasm which forms its lower part.
On account of the great depth of water in these inlets, and of the sudden storms of wind rushing down from the mountains above, vessels are generally obliged to moor to trees or pinnacles of rock, whenever they reach a cove in which an anchor can be dropped. Accordingly, while we were in Milford Sound, the ‘Clio’ lay at anchor in Harrison's Cove, only a few yards from the
shore, and moored head and stern to huge trunks of trees. Immediately above rose Pembroke Peak to the height of nearly 7,000 feet, covered with perpetual snow, and with a glacier reaching down to within 2,000 feet of the sea. The lower slopes of the mountains around are covered with fine trees, and with the luxuriant and evergreen foliage of the tree-fern and the other beautiful undergrowth of the New Zealand forests. Two permanent waterfalls, one 700 and the other 540 feet in height, add picturesque beauty to the gloomy and desolate grandeur of the upper part of Milford Sound. During a storm of wind and rain, mingled with snow and sleet, which, though it was the middle of summer, raged during three days of our stay, avalanches were often heard thundering down, with a roar as of distant artillery, from the snow fields above; while a multitude of foaming cascades poured over the face of the lower precipices, hurling with them into the sea masses of rock and trunks of trees. On the other hand, nothing could exceed the charm of the few fine days which we enjoyed during our voyage. In his work, entitled “Greater Britain,” (Part II., chap. 2), Sir Charles Dilke has truly observed “that the peculiarity which makes the New Zealand West Coast scenery the most beautiful in the world is that here alone you can find semi-tropical vegetation growing close up to the eternal snows. The latitude, and the great moisture of the climate, bring the glaciers srevy low into the valleys;…… and cause the growth of palm-like ferns on the ice-river's very edge. The glaciers of Mount Cook are the longest in the world, except those at the sources of the Indus; but close about them have been found tree-ferns of thirty and forty feet in height. It is not till you enter the mountains that you escape the moisture of the coast, and quit for the scenery of the Alps the scenery of fairy land.” Again, Sir C. Dilke's description of the view from Hokitika at sunrise would apply also to the same view from many other points on the West Coast: “A hundred miles of the Southern Alps stood out upon a pale blue sky in curves of gloomy white that were just beginning to blush with pink, but ended to the southward in a cone of fire that stood up from the ocean; it was the snow-dome of Mount Cook struck by the rising sun. The evergreen bush, flaming with the crimson of the rata blooms, hung upon the mountain side, and covered the plains to the very margin of the narrow sands with a dense jungle. It was one of those sights that haunt men for years.”
The neighbourhood of the sea, and the semi-tropical magnificence of the foliage, are features in which the New Zealand Alps excel the highest mountain ranges in Europe. As members of the Alpine Club of England have already scaled the peaks of the Caucasus, it is hoped that they will ere long explore the glaciers and summits of Mount Cook, together with the elsewhere unrivalled scenery of the neighbouring fiords. Mount Cook (as has been already said) rises to 13,200 feet above the sea level—that is, it surpasses all
but Mont Blanc and one or two others of the highest of the Alps of Europe. But the exploration of this giant of the southern hemisphere probably presents no unwonted difficulty to practised mountaineers, while it could not fail to add largely to the general stock of scientific knowledge. The present Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Kimberley) has, at my instance, invited the attention of the Royal Geographical Society to this subject. I have also to announce that the Admiralty, in consequence of my representations, intend to publish new and corrected charts, on an enlarged scale, of the West Coast of New Zealand.
The ‘Clio’ left Milford Sound on the morning of the 17th February, and on the same afternoon struck on her port bow upon a sunken rock, unnoticed in the existing charts, near the middle of the second reach of Bligh Sound. Had the accident occurred amidships, she would probably have at once gone down with all on board. As it was, the ship made water so fast through the leak on the port bow that she was immediately put back, and anchored in Bounty Haven, at the head of Bligh Sound. The pumps kept the water down, while the divers, with two of whom the ‘Clio’ was fortunately furnished, examined, and the carpenters stopped the leak. I was very glad to be of some service in this emergency, by pointing out, from my knowledge of their foliage, the best timber trees in the forests covering the slopes of the mountains around this harbour. A party of seamen and marines was sent on shore to procure sufficient wood far such repairs as enabled the ‘Clio’ to put to sea again in the course of a fortnight. Meanwhile, we were absolutely cut off from all communication with the rest of the world; for the repeated attempts made to discover a pass leading directly from the settlements in the Province of Otago to the sounds on its south-western coasts, have hitherto completely failed, owing to the inaccessible character of the intervening forests and mountains. In 1863, Dr. Hector, hoping to discover some mode of communication with the inhabited districts on the East of the dividing range, forced his way up the valley of the Cleddau River, which flows into the head of Milford Sound. After a toilsome scramble of two days, his further progress was barred by almost perpendicular cliffs of some 5,000 feet in height, with snowy peaks rising several thousand feet higher. However, Dr. Hector afterwards found his way by a rugged and circuitous path from Martin's Bay (nearly forty miles north of Bligh Sound), to Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu; and he now volunteered to attempt the same route again, with messages from myself to the Colonial Government, and from Commodore Stirling to the officer commanding H.M.S. ‘Virago’ at Wellington. Accordingly, on the night of our disaster, he sailed in the launch of the ‘Clio;’ which returned, after an absence of five days, and reported that Dr. Hector, with two seamen, sent by the Commodore to attend him, had been safely landed on the 19th at Martin's Bay, and had set out forthwith on their journey across the mountains. It may
here be mentioned that a river named the Kaduku (or Hollyford), with a difficult bar at its mouth, runs into Martin's Bay from Lake M'Kerrow (or (Kakapo), on the northern shore of which a few adventurous settlers from Otago have lately planted themselves.
On the 27th February we were agreeably surprised by the arrival in Bligh Sound of a small steamer, the ‘Storm Bird,’ despatched to our assistance by the Colonial Government, with fifty sheep and other provisions for the officers and crew, so soon as Dr. Hector had reached the nearest settlement and made our situation known by telegraph. Shortly afterwards the ‘Virago’ also arrived to the aid of the ‘Clio.’ Commodore Stirling then determined to take his ship to be docked at Sydney; so, on the morning of the 1st March, I left Bligh Sound in the ‘Storm Bird’ for Invercargill. After passing successively the entrances to George, Caswell, Charles, and Nancy Sounds, we anchored at sunset in the secure harbour of Deas Cove, about three miles from the entrance of Thomson Sound. On the following morning we started at daybreak, steamed up Thomson Sound, and returned to the open sea by Doubtful Inlet. After passing the entrance to Daggs Sound, we entered Breaksea Sound, and regained the sea by Dusky Bay, in which Captain Cook remained for several weeks in 1773, and which he has described with his usual graphic accuracy. Afterwards we passed the entrances to Chalky and Preservation Inlets, and then proceeded to the Solander Islets, at the west end of Foveaux Straits. It had been reported that some seamen had been cast away there from a recent wreck; but after a careful examination, no trace of any visitors could be found on these desolate rocks, so we bore up for Invercargill, where I landed on the 3rd March. Here began an official tour of great interest through the Middle Island, where I was received by the provincial authorities and by all classes of the community with a warmth of courtesy and hospitality for which I shall ever feel grateful.
Although Milford Sound, at the extreme north of the thirteen inlets of the West Coast, surpasses the rest in stern grandeur and awful solitude, they all have many features in common. They are everywhere deep and narrow, subject to violent winds and strong tides and currents, and with few safe and sheltered anchorages. A tumbled sea of mountains looks down from above on the long swell of the Southern Ocean, breaking in clouds of snow-white foam on craggy cliffs rising abruptly from the shore, while glaciers and snowy peaks, slopes covered with noble forest trees, gloomy valleys and glittering waterfalls,—all combine to present an ever-varying succession of sublime pictures.
The official tours of a Governor may be made practically useful, for they enable him to point out, from personal knowledge and in an authoritative shape, the resources and capabilities of the several districts of the Colony over which he presides, and the advantages which they afford for immigration and for the investment of capital. I have learned from several quarters that the
published reports of my visits to all parts of New Zealand have awakened much interest in the mother country. Time will not permit me, on the present occasion, to discuss the future prospects of settlement on the Sounds of the West Coast, of which I have attempted a general description. It has been proposed to place some Norwegian emigrants on one or more of these fiords, but any scheme of this nature will require careful consideration. There are now no inhabitants whatsoever, either European or Maori;—the few families of natives seen in Dusky Bay in 1773, by Captain Cook, appear to have become extinct;—and the tales related by the old whalers of thirty years ago, concerning a tribe of wild men haunting these desolate shores, have probably as little foundation as the stories of flocks of moas having been seen, within living memory, stalking over the neighbouring mountains. Nor can I trespass on your patience any longer with remarks upon the fauna and flora of this part of New Zealand. The supply of timber seems almost inexhaustible. Ducks and other wild fowl are numerous. Whales and seals abound, as well as excellent fish of various kinds. We were tolerably successful in shooting and fishing. I may enliven this part of my address by reading Dr. Hector's animated account of one of our seal-hunts, in which, however, we were not fortunate. “On one occasion,” he states, “the chase of five seals with the steam pinnace of the ‘Clio,’ in the waters of Milford Sound, afforded a most exciting and novel sport. The seals, startled by the snorting of the little high-pressure engine, instead of taking their usual dignified plunge from the rocks into deep water, and so vanishing out of sight, went off at full speed, diving and reappearing in order to get a glimpse of the strange monster that pursued them so closely. The utmost speed that we could make barely kept us up with them, until they began to show signs of distress, and, one by one, doubled and dived under the pinnace. Two of the seals held out for a run of three miles, and succeeded at length in getting into safety among the rocks on the opposite shore of the sound. From the experience of this run, the force at which seals can go through the water would seem to be not less than six or seven miles an hour.” On the occasion to which Dr. Hector here refers, we, unfortunately, had not our rifles with us, but on subsequent days, as was stated above, I shot several large seals, in addition to a number of wild ducks and other water-fowl.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I beg to thank you for the indulgence with which you have listened to this somewhat desultory address. I am fully sensible that these imperfect remarks on rarely-visited regions of this Colony can claim little merit beyond their fidelity. My original notes were written in full sight of those wonders of nature which have left so deep and lasting an impression on the memories of all who have had the good fortune to behold them.