Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 9, 1876
This text is also available in PDF
(1 MB) Opens in new window
Art. I.—Notes on the Lake District of the Province of Auckland.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 2nd September, 1876.]

There is no part of New Zealand which offers greater points of interest to the traveller, whether scientific or merely in search of the picturesque, than that which is popularly known as the Lake District of the Province of Auckland; and there can be no doubt that, with reasonable facilities for reaching it, it would be visited by very large numbers of persons both from this and the neighbouring Colonies. Indeed, I was much surprised to find, on glancing over the visitors' books kept at the accommodation-houses at Ohinemutu and Wairoa, how many persons, especially from Australia, had already been attracted to it by the fame of the sulphur baths at Ohinemutu, and by the wonders of Rotomahana. Having had an opportunity, during the early part of last month, of making an excursion through parts of this district, I have thought it would be interesting to the Society if I put together, in the form of a paper, a short description of that part of it which the limited time at my command enabled me to visit, and certain facts communicated to me by residents on the spot (which were partly confirmed by my own observation) in reference to the remarkable volcanic phenomena which it everywhere exhibits.

The Lake District comprises the larger lakes named Rotorua, Rotoiti, Rotokakahi, and Tarawera, and a considerable number of smaller lakes in the neighbourhood of these larger ones, of which Okataina, Okareka, Tikitapu, and others, are chiefly remarkable for the picturesque character of their scenery, whilst the Rotomahana, though somewhat deficient in this respect, surpasses them all in the interest and wonder which it excites.

– 4 –

The Lake District may be reached by four separate routes: one from Napier to Tapuaeharuru, on the Waikato, near its outlet from Lake Taupo, and from thence to Ohinemutu, diverging, if the traveller pleases, to visit the wonders of Orakeikorako; or the traveller, by this line of route, might proceed from Napier first to Tokano, on Lake Taupo, and, after enjoying the grand scenery on its southern and western shores, including magnificent views of the volcanic masses of Ruapehu and Tongariro, might proceed from thence by way of Tapuaeharuru to Ohinemutu. Another route is up the Waikato to Cambridge, and from thence by Te Wetu to Ohinemutu. The third and fourth routes would start from Tauranga, from whence Ohinemutu can be reached either by the present coach-road or by way of Maketu, which is about 30 miles to the southward of Tauranga. The direct routes from Napier through Tapuaeharuru, and from Tauranga to Ohinemutu, are both available for carriages, whilst those from Cambridge and Maketu are not so. A carriage-road has been formed from Maketu to Ohinemutu, but has been suffered to fall into disrepair, which is unfortunate for those who can only travel by a carriage, as that road presents scenery of very great beauty, whilst the district through which it passes is one of the most celebrated in the legends and history of the Maori.

I travelled from Tauranga direct to Ohinemutu, making that place the centre from which I visited other parts of the district: and I may here venture to state that, throughout my excursion, I found the accommodation, though somewhat rough, by no means uncomfortable, and received very great civility from all persons with whom I came in contact.

The road from Tauranga passes for about twelve miles over open country of considerable fertility, gradually rising to a place named Orepi, from whence it traverses a tract of forest eighteen miles through. Independently of the beauty of the scenery in the open ground, the traveller is interested by the sight of the celebrated Gate Pah, sections of some of the trenches and rifle-pits occupied by the advanced posts of the Maoris during the assault, being visible in the bank, where the road cuts through the rising ground on which the remains of their fortifications still stand. I had previously visited the Cemetery, at Tauranga, which contains the tombs of many gallant men who fell on that occasion, and I could not but contemplate with sorrow a scene fraught with recollections of the terrible disasters of that battle.

That the native population of the country round Tauranga must, in the past, have been very great, is attested by the numerous extensive fortifications which are visible on the summits of the bolder hills, and the enormous refuse-heaps seen in every direction; but although we cannot feel much regret that a race, so little permanently improvable as the Maori has shown

– 5 –

itself to be, when brought into contact with ourselves, should give place to a more civilized one, yet some sympathy must be shown for the decay of a people which, in their ruder state, exhibited a somewhat high standard of character.

The road from Orepi through the forest continues to rise for about twelve miles further, and then descends towards the open country forming the basin of Lake Rotorua. The scenery in parts of the forest is very picturesque; but I may say, parenthetically, without desiring to give offence to those under whose charge the maintenance of the road has been placed, that the picturesque character of the country would be infinitely more enjoyable to the traveller, and the road more suitable for horses and carriages, if the ruts were less than eighteen inches deep, and the roots, logs, and other fragments of trees, with which it is abundantly strewn, were removed from it.

The first impression of Rotorua, as seen from the coach-road, especially on the afternoon of a dull day, is very disappointing, owing, chiefly, to the fact, that the whole country around the lake is covered with fern, the dull, monotonous colour of which gives it a gloomy aspect. On reaching Ohinemutu, however, this impression is somewhat dispelled, the picturesque and remarkable appearance of the village giving life to the foreground, whilst, on the morning after my arrival, as the sun rose above the hills on its eastern side, lighting the landscape with rich and glowing colours, the lake presented an aspect of much beauty. It was evidently, at one time, of considerably greater size than it is at present, for the ground rises gradually all around it, terminating in terraces composed chiefly of stratified pumice sand.

The pah of Ohinemutu is situated on a small peninsula on the western side of the lake, part of it also occupying a rising ground at the back of the peninsula. Though no longer presenting its ancient distinguishing characteristics as a pah, it is still famous for its baths, and is occupied by a considerable number of the Arawa people. In former days, each dwelling was surrounded by its pole fence, and was ornamented with specimens of native carving in wood, generally of the most grotesque character, whilst larger images, erected on lofty poles, stood amongst the general line of the defensive pallisading. In these respects, however, as well as in that neatness which was formerly observed by the natives around their dwellings and enclosures, there is a great falling off; and the remains of ruined whares, fragments of cast-off clothing, broken bottles, kerosine and sardine tins, old pots and kettles, children in ragged shirts or without any at all, half-starved horses, and all kinds of mongrel dogs and squeaking pigs—the latter, as they root amongst the refuse, avoiding, with marvellous ingenuity, the

– 6 –

numberless boiling springs and steam-holes which occur over the whole surface—appear to occupy every inch of available space, the scene being completed by Maori women preparing food, naked men and boys lying in the open baths, and ancient females squatted on the warm stones used for drying the berries of the tawa. In fact, it is difficult to describe the state of filth and demoralization into which the Maori population of this and the adjacent settlement of Wairau are gradually sliding; and it is certainly to be regretted that the efforts and self-denial of the early missionaries, in their attempts to introduce civilized habits amongst these people, should have been neutralized by the drunkenness and vice into which they have lapsed, as the result of contact with brandy-sellers and Pakeha-Maoris, and from their own abandonment of habits of industry in reliance upon extraneous means of support. In keeping with this lowering of character, is the present appearance of the Rev. Mr. Spencer's once beautiful residence, at Te Temu, formerly kept in order by the members of his Maori flock, but which, in its decay and desolation, appears to keep pace with the degradation of the neighbouring Maori people.

But Ohinemutu, though no longer possessing its former characteristics as a famous Maori pah, still affords to the contemplation of the visitor objects of the very highest interest. There is not a square rod of the lower ground that is not occupied by one or more of the hot springs and fumaroles, which give it so peculiar an appearance when the whole are in high activity. This was the case on the second morning after my arrival there; and as the whares and enclosures, with the people moving about them, were only dimly visible through the dense clouds of steam which rose on all sides, the scene presented a weird appearance to which no mere description can fully do justice. I propose, in the sequel, to refer to these intermittent accessions of activity, without, however, being able to afford any explanation of them; but certainly nothing can be more striking than the difference in the appearance of the settlement when these phenomena are quiescent, and when they are in full, active operation.

I was also much interested by discovering, amongst the ancient carvings which once decorated the palisading of the pah, a couple of grotesque carved figures in the ordinary style of Maori art, but which had, to my surprise, the full complement of fingers and toes. On inspection of the carvings in the Maori House annexed to the Museum at Wellington, and of those to be seen elsewhere, it will be found that, in every case, the number of fingers and toes on the figures is limited to three; and, until I noticed the peculiarity in the figures referred to, at Ohinemutu, I had never seen any Maori carving in which the number of fingers and toes was complete. Upon this subject I do not hesitate to quote the following passage from

– 7 –

Mr. Tylor's elaborate and instructive work, entitled “Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization:”—

“Hanging and burning in effigy is a proceeding which, in civilised countries at any rate, at last comes fairly out into pure symbolism. The idea that the burning of the straw and rag body should act upon the body of the original, perhaps hardly comes into the mind of any one who assists at such a performance. But it is not easy to determine how far this is the case with the New Zealanders, whose minds are full of confusion between object and image, as we may see by their witchcraft, and who also hold strong views about their effigies, and ferociously revenge an insult to them. One very curious practice has come out of their train of thought about this matter. They were very fond of wearing round their necks little hideous figures of green jade, with their heads very much on one side, which are called tilki, and are often to be seen in museums. It seems likely that they are merely images of Tiki, the god of the dead. They are carried as memorials of dead friends, and are sometimes taken off and wept and sung over by a circle of natives; but a tiki commonly belongs, not to the memory of a single individual, but of a succession of deceased persons who have worn it in their time, so that it cannot be considered as having in it much of the nature of a portrait.* Some New Zealanders, however, who were lately in London, were asked why these tikis usually, if not always, have but three fingers on their hands, and they replied that if an image is made of a man, and any one should insult it, the affront would have to be revenged, and to avoid such a contingency the tikis were made with only three fingers, so that, not being any one's image, no one was bound to notice what happened to them.”

Although I have asked many Maoris the reason why the number of fingers in the figures is limited to three, I never received the explanation given in Mr. Tylor's book, which, however, a perusal of that work leads me to believe to be a correct one.

I have requested Captain Mair and Mr. Hamlin (the Resident Magistrate at Maketu) to endeavour to acquire these figures, with a view of having them placed in the Wellington Museum, and I have some hopes that this may be done. In other respects, the carvings which I examined there are not very high even in the scale of Maori art.

About a mile from Ohinemutu are the baths of Sulphur Point, to which numbers of persons resort for curative purposes. They appear to be effectual in various forms of cutaneous diseases, and to have given relief even in rheumatic affections. The surface of the ground, over a very large

[Footnote] * Hale, in U. S. Exploring Exp.; Philadelphia, vol. vi., 1846, p. 23. Rev. W. Yate, “Account of New Zealand” London, 1835, p.

– 8 –

area, is covered with dismal-looking ponds of discoloured water, varying much in temperature, but in every case more or less saturated with sulphurous gases. Solfataras and mud volcanoes are also numerous, the pipes and crevices in the former being lined with crystals of sulphur.

From Ohinemutu, I, in the first place, visited the geysers of Whakarewa, about two miles off, on the right bank of the Puheroa river. As compared with the small springs and fumaroles of Ohinemutu, those at Whakarewa exhibit, in much greater intensity, the effects of volcanic agency. Immediately across the ferry is a nearly circular Ngawha, or pond of boiling water, some twenty feet in diameter, the margin and interior surface of which are composed of silicious sinter, in the beautiful forms which this substance assumes in crystalization. The water of this Ngawha is of a rich mazarine blue, and as clear as crystal, and, when the steam happens to be blown gently from its surface, and the eye is thus enabled to penetrate the depths of the pond, huge masses of the same sinter, in the form of magnificent stalagmites and cascades, are seen to occupy the interior. The water of this Ngawha is rarely disturbed by ebullition, though a considerable rill constantly flows from it into the river. Beyond these are the two great geysers which form the principal feature at Whakarewa; and although I was not fortunate enough to see either of them in full play, I saw enough to afford some idea of the appearance which they would then present. Standing upon the edge of the crater of the smaller of the two, in which the water-pipe is about four feet in diameter, I saw the water gradually rise, with a roaring sound similar to that produced by the escape of steam from the discharge-pipe of a large ship, until it reached the lower surface of the basin. The ebullition then increased in intensity until the basin itself was nearly filled, and then a column of water, three or four feet in diameter, was frequently projected into the air to the height of twelve or fifteen feet, falling back into the basin in showers of steaming spray. The water then receded from the basin and slowly sunk to its former level in the pipe, where it remained in a state of ebullition, but, although I watched it for nearly half an hour, there was no repetition of the more violent effects. A still larger geyser lies in immediate vicinity to the one I have just described; but this had shown no signs of violent activity for some months, and is said to be very capricious in its action. I have little doubt, however, that long-continued and carefully-taken observations will establish as a fact (subject to the singular circumstance to which I shall hereafter refer), that the intermissions in the action of all these springs occur at regular intervals. Both of these greater geysers have formed, by deposit from their waters, rounded but irregular masses of silicious sinter, of a pure white colour and of very considerable extent, the pipes through which

– 9 –

the water rises occupying positions almost in the centre of the separate masses. Here, as in other parts of the district where similar volcanic phenomena are exhibited, there is the like variety of effects: beautifully clear springs of almost tasteless boiling water, of the richest blue colour, being found in the closest contiguity to springs of boiling mud and to steaming fissures, emitting sulphurous and other malodorous gases of the most unpleasant kind; whilst, what had once been the surrounding rocks, have been converted, by long-continued exposure to the action of these forces, into masses of many-coloured clays. The low ground on the western side of the lake, upwards of a thousand acres in extent, contains innumerable boiling ponds, and geysers, steam holes and fissures, rendering it dangerous to attempt to pass, except along established tracks, through the fern and manuka scrub with which it is covered, and, singular enough, it is found that by sinking for a few feet almost anywhere on this tract tabular masses of flinty deposit, similar to those which are now being formed by the existing boiling springs, are obtainable, indicating the enormous extent and long duration of the phenomena still exhibited within the same area. I think it not improbable, moreover, that a third stratum of this material is to be found at a still greater depth. During my stay at Ohinemutu I sounded, as well as the difficulty of doing so would permit, one of the boiling mud wells on the flat in question. This well is about four feet in diameter, and the mud in it boils furiously, but does not overflow the surface. I found the depth to be little over 20 feet, and the sinker, except in one particular spot, invariably rested on a hard but apparently flat surface. At the excepted spot there was evidently a small rugged fissure, for whenever the sinker reached it it sank a few inches and occasionally got entangled in it. I observed, also, that there was then a jerky motion in the string which I used, which led me to think that the boiling mud in the well rose through this fissure. On the surface of this well there was a greenish oily matter of which, as well as of the mud itself, I obtained a small quantity by skimming. The ground is so treacherous all round these wells that it was not without difficulty that I succeeded in sounding the one in question, and in obtaining the specimen of oil already referred to. I was informed by Mr. Wilson, the landlord of the hotel at which I stayed, that one of the clear-water ponds on this flat yields a water which removes almost every stain from soiled linen, without any injury to the fabric, and that it is, for this reason, used by all the European residents for washing purposes. In consequence of a heavy fall of rain on the previous day I was unable to visit this pond; but assuming that the water possesses the properties indicated, it would be useful to obtain a quantity of it for analysis, as in all probability its composition could easily be imitated to the great advantage of housekeepers.

– 10 –

My next visit was to the celebrated Rotomahana, and I may say that there is considerable advantage in following the same sequence which I did, inasmuch as the phenomena to be observed ascend in the scale of magnitude. The road from Ohinemutu to Wairoa, at the head of Lake Tarawera, passes over hills composed chiefly of pumice sands, and skirts the shores of Lakes Tikitapu and Rotokakahi. The former has no visible outlet, but was supposed by Dr. Hochstetter to have an underground communication with the latter. I am disposed to differ with this opinion, and to look upon Tikitapu as a mere pot-hole, because its waters are considerably higher in level than those of Rotokakahi. The area of hills which drain into it is not large, and although the water appears to accumulate in it during the rainy season, the evaporation of summer is sufficient to keep it at a certain average height. Rotokakahi is a very pretty lake, but lies exposed to the north-west wind, which blows along it with great violence. The waters of this lake flow into those of Tarawera, about two miles and a half from it, passing on their way through a small tract of level ground at the head of the latter, upon which the Maori settlement of Wairoa stands. Close to this settlement and overlooking the beautiful lake is Te Temu, formerly the residence of the Rev. Mr. Spencer, but now passing rapidly into decay. The Maoris of Wairoa furnish the canoes by which visitors, who travel thither by water, reach the Rotomahana, and I found the crew of the canoe which I hired on the occasion, to be civil and obliging. Lake Tarawera is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the colony. The descent from the flat at Wairoa to the lake is by a somewhat steep path, but at every turn it opens out views of great beauty and grandeur. Its shores, except at spots where small streams enter it, are generally precipitous, and covered with luxuriant masses of the Pohutukawa and other evergreen trees and shrubs, the former of which, when in full bloom, must give an aspect of extreme loveliness to the scene. The route to the Rotomahana leads up an arm of the lake stretching to the northward of the main waters, the splendid mass of the Tarawera mountain, which lies on the left of the route, giving a wonderful charm to the scene. Immediately after rounding the point at which the turn into this arm is taken, each person in the canoe is expected to place upon a large boulder outside the edge of the water, some fragment of fern or other article, as a votive offering to a Taniwha, said to inhabit the rugged wood-covered slopes above it. This custom was duly observed by us, and under the vigorous paddling of eight Maoris we soon reached the entrance to the small stream which runs from the Rotomahana. Here our passage was, at first, barred, but after some parley the barrier was removed, and the canoe was suffered to pass up the stream. I walked from this point to the outlet of the lake, in order to enjoy the fine view of

– 11 –

the Tarata and the hills surrounding, which is obtained from the western side. It is extremely difficult to give any description capable of conveying to the reader an idea of the remarkable character of the scene disclosed to view. Not only from the great geysers of the Tarata, the Ngahapu, and the Ruakiwi, but from every part of the ground composing the hills on the eastern side of the lake steam rises in clouds, after penetrating the superincumbent mass for depths of which we can form no conception.

The Tarata lies at the eastern end of the lake, the base of the terraces projecting into it and into the stream which runs from it to Tarawera. At the summit of the terraces lies a huge cauldron, some 80 to 100 feet in diameter, filled to the brim with boiling water, as transparent as crystal, but of a rich blue color, contrasting most exquisitely with the marvellous tracery at the edges of the basin. The water of this basin is in constant furious ebullition, a column of it being sometimes thrown up to the height of 40 feet. Unfortunately the view of these tremendous jets, as well as of the surface of the cauldron is generally obscured by clouds of steam, but when the ebullition is intense the roaring sound of the escaping steam quite sufficiently attests the power which produces these violent effects. The silicious deposit from the water has given rise to the wonderful series of terraces for which the Rotomahana is so justly celebrated. These terraces are of a pale creamy white, whilst the water flows over them, and in detail of structure are of unsurpassed delicacy and beauty. Amongst these terraces are numerous ponds filled with the water flowing from the basin above, and still retaining its beautiful blue color. As these terraces act the part of a refrigerator of the water from the great basin, which cools as it descends, one is able to enjoy the remarkable sensation of gradual changes from cool to hot in ascending, and from hot to cold in descending it, making it easy to select a bath of almost any desired bearable temperature. The favourite one, however, is about half way up the ascent, the water in it being of sufficient depth to afford the luxury of a swim. It is impossible to describe the delicate beauty of the tracery in these terraces, but they were compared by my wife, who accompanied me during my excursion, to petrified Yak lace and fleecy wool, disposed in the most tasteful folds and pendant masses. There can be no doubt that the whole presents an unparalelled scene, the steaming basin with the dark hills behind it, the rich blue water contrasting with the cream white deposit of the terraces, and with the fleecy clouds of vapour arising from it, combining to produce effects of the utmost beauty. Not far from the Tarata lies the great cauldron at the Ngahapu, its presence indicated by immense columns of vapour and by the roaring noise of a huge steam-hole close to it. In the basin, which is about 40 feet across, the water is also quite transparent, but very dark in color, owing

– 12 –

probably to the geyser being shut in between the hill and thickets of high manuka, which, almost surround it. Its position, combined with its constant and tremendous state of ebullition, creates a feeling of awe, which is not raised by a contemplation of the Tarata, but which becomes intense when the seething waters now at one point of the basin, and now at another, are projected, with a roar, into the air, creating large waves on the surface, which lash the incrusted margin.

Further to the north, and within ten feet of the lake margin, above which it does not lie more than a foot, is the Takapo geyser, an incrusted basin some ten feet across. Near this the natives have erected a commodious open bath, the degree of warmth being regulated by shutting off or turning on the waters of the basin. Upon a small tract of flat ground close to this geyser they have also established an extensive drying place for the berries of the tawa and the karaka, consisting of tubular masses of sinter laid over steam holes, which keep the stones at a considerable degree of warmth. At this point I pitched my camp, though I found it impossible to obtain a space ten feet by eight entirely free from steaming crevices. Still further to the north lies the geyser named the Ruakiwi, long held tapu or sacred, in consequence of a Maori woman having thrown her newly-born infant into the terrible cauldron. This basin lies about 30 feet above the surface of the lake at the head of a little inlet, and the stony deposit, which is peculiarly streaked with reddish and yellow colors—wanting, however, in the elegance and beauty of the Tarata—extends down to and below the surface of the lake. Above Takapo, at the height of about 80 feet from the surface of the lake is a small valley named the Roto Kanepanapana, from the rugged sides of which steam ascends in all directions, whilst the latter contains a level tract occupied by large numbers of steaming fissures, clear boiling springs, cauldrons of seething mud, and mud cones, which similate in their action the play of fire volcanoes. Singularly enough, each of these emits its own peculiar sound, the whole combining to form a discordant noise, similar to that which is heard in a huge iron foundry, when the works are in full blast.

Further to the northward is the deserted settlement of Ngawhana, the abandoned huts lying clustered round a spring of the same name, the waters of which were formerly conducted, as at Takapo, into well-constructed baths. Near this are several remarkable geysers, but the only one which deserves special mention is the Whatapoho, a terrible pit, from which hot steam and sulphurous gases are constantly emitted with a peculiarly horrid sound.

It is impossible, nor would it be interesting, to describe all the wonders to be seen in the hills on the eastern side of the lake, which may be said to

– 13 –

be penetrated in every direction with fumaroles, solfataras, and boiling springs, rendering it absolutely unsafe to trespass from the ascertained paths. The rocks of which these hills were formed have been completely decomposed into clays of various colors, from which all vestiges of their original structure have been obliterated.

There are very few traces of existing volcanic action on the southern side of the lake, although the decomposition which the rocks there have suffered indicates that they have been subjected, in times past, to action precisely similar to that which is producing more complete results amongst the rocks of the eastern hills.

On the west shore, occupying a recess or gully in the hills is the terraced fountain, usually termed the Pink Terrace, the native name of which is Otukapuarangi. Singularly enough this geyser is never in a state of ebullition, the water being considerably below boiling point, but clouds of steam perpetually arise from it. The deposit is similar to that of all the other terraces, but is of a pale pink color, and the whole structure, though by no means as remarkable or grand as the Tarata, is, nevertheless, one of extreme beauty and delicacy. The basin is from 60 to 70 feet in diameter, and from 30 to 40 feet deep, and when the steam blows away from the surface, so as to enable the eye to penetrate its recesses, its sides are seen to consist of the most magnificent stalactitic masses, one of which, rising near the centre of the basin, is of stupendous size, and wonderful in the richness of its tracery.

I have thus endeavored to give some idea of the scenes presented around the marvellous Rotomahana—scenes of magic beauty, but awful when we contemplate the forces still in action amongst them, and I will now state a few matters in connection with these phenomena, which were chiefly communicated to me, but which I was enabled, in some degree, to verify by my own observations.

Dr. Von Hochstetter, in his work on New Zealand, says of the Tarata, that he was informed by his native guide “that sometimes the whole mass water in the basin is suddenly thrown out with an immense force, and that then the empty basin is open to view to the depth of 80 feet, but that it fills again very quickly,” adding that “such eruptions only occur during violent easterly gales.” The learned doctor then proceeds to comment upon this statement on the assumption of its truth, although a little reflection and observation of the surrounding ground would have satisfied him at once that such an occurrence, if not actually impossible, never had taken place.

As a fact the basin of the Tarata is not unfrequently empty, and this takes place regularly during heavy north-easterly gales, but the water,

– 14 –

instead of being violently projected from the basin, gradually sinks, usually taking about six hours to disappear. Many of the other geysers and springs are similarly affected, whilst others again exhibit no change in their action. But independently of this more remarkable effect upon the waters of the Tarata basin, it appears to be well established that similar effects, increasing or diminishing in intensity, occur regularly as the wind passes round southerly from east to north-west, whilst in the case of the Tarata and all the other springs, their activity increases as the wind passes to the northward of east or west, reaching its maximum during warm north-east weather. It seems open to doubt whether any connexion exists between the winds and the concurrent phenomena exhibited by the springs, beyond the fact that they are both due to the same cause; but whatever may be the cause which produces the effect in question upon the geysers, it can only be ascertained, if ascertainable at all, by long continued and carefully taken observations, extended over the whole area of country presenting these remarkable phenomena. The problem thus presented for solution is one of the highest scientific interest, but without some state aid I doubt whether its solution could be attempted by any scientific body in New Zealand.

Another singular and highly interesting fact is that delicate forms of Confervœ and Algœ are to be found in almost all the rills from these boiling springs, where the waters are not sulphurous; many of the most beautiful forms being found in water sufficiently hot to blister the skin if immersed in it for a few moments. During the visit of the Challenger scientific expedition, I was especially requested by Mr. Mosley, one of the staff, to collect these particular plant forms, which are the special study of a gentleman in Dublin, to whom he wished them to be transmitted. I have availed myself of an offer made by Capt. Mair to make collections for me, and have sent him for the purpose a number of phials filled with absolute alcohol, with directions as to the mode in which the plants were to be collected. I have no doubt but that the result will be highly interesting, both as regards the forms of the plants and the degree of heat which may be found to be not antagonistic to the maintenance of vegetable life in these lower forms.

Whether singular or not, I observed that deposits of sulphur rarely took place either from water or from boiling mud. There were small incrustations of sulphur on the marginal flat of the pink terrace, but I am inclined to think that these had been formed by jets of steam, and had not been deposited from the waters, for I found that wherever steam jets occurred they appeared to be more or less associated with sulphurous gases, sulphur being deposited on the edges of the escape holes and on the under surfaces of the rock in communication with the jets.

The time at my command since my return has not permitted my doing

– 15 –

more than throwing together this short notice of a district, upon the wonders and picturesque beauties of which a volume might be written; and I can only express a hope that the time is not far distant when the means of reaching it will be more easy, for although there are many scenes in which the active forces of nature may be observed under grander aspects, there are few more calculated to excite our interest than those which are contained within the Lake District of Auckland.