W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso



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Our large company of travelling Natives from Poverty Bay, (who, from food and water falling short,1024 had nearly all been landed long before at Pamoteao,— a bluff near Cape Palliser,—in the night when the W. wind went down, and who had thence gone on to Wellington, expecting to find the ship there), arrived at the end of a fortnight with a few supplies. It was during that journey, and while in Hawke’s Bay, that I first saw the Ruahine range, looking sublimely grand under its crest of virgin snow! This, alone, was to me a strange unusual sight; for although I had lived 10 years at the N. (Bay of Islands), and had also visited the E. Cape district, and had twice travelled from Hicks’ Bay to Poverty Bay by the coast, and from Poverty Bay through the interior back to the Bay of Islands, I had never seen snow in N. Zealand before. It was then, too, that I first heard of the natives living secluded in the interior, beyond the snowy Ruahine mountain range, in the country lying between it and the famed central volcanic mountain Tongariro.1025



In the following year, 1844, I finally left the Bay of Islands, and came to Hawke’s Bay to reside. During the summer I saw pretty nearly all the Maoris of the immediate neighbourhood, dwelling between Tangoio and Patangata, who were then numerous; and I also wished to see, or to know something more of, those dwelling in the inland Patea country, beyond the Ruahine mountain range, of whom I had formerly heard. Of them, however, I could learn but little, save that they were believed to be there, isolated completely from the outer world, and [4] that no way, or track was open, or known, by which they could be reached, except the long roundabout one by way of Taupo lake; which, it was further said, would be of itself 2–3 weeks journey. For a long time I could not hear of a guide, or of any one who really knew anything of the mountain passes, which, evidently had never been visited from this (the Eastern) side. At last I found a middle-aged maori named Mawhatu, who, when very young, had been taken away prisoner into the interior from Hawke’s Bay by a fighting party, and who had subsequently escaped from slavery. Mawhatu had therefore gone twice (in going and returning) through the mountain forests; but, as several years had elapsed since, and the journey was difficult, for some time he was very unwilling to go. The resident natives, too, especially the principal chiefs, Te Hapuku, Tareha, Puhara, Te Moananui, and others, were greatly against my going thither, believing I should never return; representing the mountain passes as being frightful, where several maoris had from time to time been lost through attempting the journey; particularly a taua (an armed party), which had left Taupo to invade Hawke’s Bay, south, a few years ago, and were all lost to a man in the dreadful passes on the snowy summits, where their bones now lay bleaching! And, also, though many years before,—a famed ancestor of theirs, named Te Rangitauira, who, in peacefully travelling from Patea, to Hawke’s Bay, (and yet not by the summits,) had also miserably perished with his people in a snow-storm.1026 However, by dint of perseverance, I succeeded in getting Mawhatu, my quasi guide, and some other stout young natives to accompany me; and we were to start soon after the snow should be completely gone,—by which time I should also have finished building my chimney, a matter of very great importance to me. The snow was late that summer before it wholly disappeared; it was still there glistening white in the mornings’ sunbeams up to the middle of January, 1845.

And here I would make a short digression, which may not prove uninteresting to Hawke’s Bay settlers in general, however improbable such may seem to not a few of the later ones among them. I have mentioned the trackless mountain forests of the Ruahine range; but, if anything different, some of the open swampy plains near the sea in Hawke’s Bay were worse,—all but impassable. I may particularly notice, in passing, the present well-known extensive grassy level plain lying between Farndon, or the sea, and Pakowhai, a long peninsula bounded by water on three sides. Words would fail me to shew the original state of that land! At this time I resided at Waitangi, a place near to what is now called Farndon,—the two large Fir trees (Pinus pinaster) and also the row of “Cabbage trees” (Cordyline australis), raised from seed and planted there by me, mark the spot. The principal native villages near me, were at Waipureku [5] (East Clive), and Taanenuiarangi, Whakatu, and Pakowhai, on the banks of the river Ngaruroro; this last village though greatly reduced and altered still remains. In those days there was no communication overland between those villages and Waitangi, and Te Awapuni, (the large maori pa, or village, near by, on the W. bank of the Waitangi creek where Karaitiana and his sub-tribe long resided,) simply because it was almost impossible to travel through the dense interlaced old jungle of “Cutting-Grass,” (Arundo conspicua,) and other swamp-loving plants, as the N.Z. Flax (Phormium) and several large Carices, which grew there. The maoris came generally in small parties, almost every day, (indeed, too often!) from those villages to the Station; everything being new and strange to them, and having nothing to do; but they invariably came and returned in their small canoes, taking advantage of the tide to paddle up and down the river. I have travelled a good deal in New Zealand, but I never knew of a worse piece of low country to get through; neither have I seen anywhere else “Cutting-Grass” of so large a size, and growing so closely together, and forming such a dense mass, so that a man, a cow, or a horse, could not be observed even in looking down from a height (as the top of a house or a long ladder, or a chimney), when among the immense tussocks. Hence, too, it was, that I lost some of my first few cattle, before the place got cleared.1027 The whole of the low delta, or tongue of land, lying between the two rivers, Ngaruroro and Waitangi, was rigidly tabooed (tapu) by the Maori owners, as a wild pig, and swamp hen (Porphyrio melanotus), and eel preserve; hence it had never been cleared or burnt off, and the sun did not shine upon the soil, which was just as wet at midsummer as in winter, with water and slippery mud in the narrow deep pig channels or ruts, and pools among the tussocks. I well recollect on two occasions, when out visiting sick natives at Pakowhai, having also domestic natives from the neighborhood with me, and having lost the tide were returning overland rather late in the day, we were actually obliged, after much fruitless effort and sorely against our wills, (being utterly unprovided with any thing,) to remain out in the swamp all night!—with wet feet, hungry, no fire, and sadly cut hands,—through not being able to find our way through the impervious jungle. I have often of late years asked myself, when contemplating from the hill (Scinde Island) the rising township of Napier, and the inland level grassy plains with their many houses, gardens and improvements, and the fast growing town of Hastings,—which of the two wonderful alterations, or changes,—the building of the town of Napier, or the great transformation in those swamps,—I considered the most surprising, and I have always given it in favour of the plains.—And this great change was brought about much earlier than I could reasonably have anticipated, through several causes operating together, viz.—my own few cattle,—the introduction of [6] grass and clover seeds, and, also, of wheat for the natives,—and through the natives around generally embracing Christianity; the chiefs taking off the tapu from the land, and so burning off the jungle,—their catching their numerous wild pigs which infested it, and their cutting and scraping the flax, for sale to the shipping and traders,—who soon after my residence came to Ahuriri to trade.1028

But to return:—Having made ready all my little preparations, and got my travelling party of six baggage-bearers together on Monday, the 3rd February, the next morning at 8 we started from Waitangi,—and after a long and wearisome journey by Okokoro (near the present Pakipaki) and the Taheke (on the E. side of Poukawa lake1029) we gained the islet in the lake Rotoatara by 8 p.m., all hands being pretty well knocked up; the whole country being so rough and wet, and the slippery maori foot-track through the dense scrub so very narrow! (from their tuning-in their feet, and, being without shoes, never deviating from it,) that it often caused me to slip, and to stumble right and left.

I noticed but few interesting plants this day; among them, however, was a Veronica with blue flowers, which grew in the water and was not unlike our English Veronica Beccabunga, or V. Anagallis; (I mention this particularly, as I fear, it has of late years quite disappeared from this district, not having seen a plant any where for more than 20 years;)—a couple of Carices which were new to me (C. C. ternaria, and breviculmis);—the scarce fern Nephrodium thelypteris, var. squamulosum, which I had hitherto only observed in two places in N. Zealand, viz. near Paihia in the Bay of Islands, and in a bog near Mount Edgecombe in the Bay of Plenty; (this also has long disappeared;) the fragrant [7] little New Zealand Mint (Mentha Cunninghamii), named by Bentham after its discoverer my dear Botanical friend Allan Cunningham,—this sweet little plant grew profusely on a grassy hillock at Te Taheke, I had not before seen it so far S.; but this year (1884) it was again detected by me in the 70-mile Bush, between Norsewood and Danneverke; and, in the same neighbourhood, in damp spots, Mazus pumilio, (or a smaller closely allied species,) and Mimulus repens, both rare plants; indeed this sub-order of Antirrhinidæ is but poorly represented in N. Zealand;—and, also, a small peculiar plant, a new species of Nertera (N. setulosa), which I obtained at Okororo, and which is very rare; I never found it save in that one spot until last year (1883) when I again met with it at Whakaruatapu between Matamau and Danneverke.

After a restless night, the next morning I found myself too unwell to rise early, but as I wished to get over the range before Sunday (so as to spend that day quietly somewhere at Patea), we started afresh at 11 o’clock, and travelling slowly on in a Westerly direction halted at sunset on the banks of the river Mangaonuku, in Te Ruataniwha plain.

Thursday morning was ushered in by heavy rain! which, to my great regret, continued to pour throughout the whole day.—My situation here was very uncomfortable, for my old tattered summer tent (as we were not near any forest and not carrying poles) had been but slightly pitched, supposing when we halted that we were only here for a few hours, and intending to leave early in the morning,—but there was nothing better. To add to one’s misery was the oft-repeated statements of my natives,—that the rivers would be flooded and so prove impassable after this downpour !—they were already getting disheartened.

A night of heavy rain was followed by a dirty-looking lowering morning, but as we hoped the rain was over we started at 9 a.m., making directly across the great plain, through the long dripping grass, every now and then stumbling across some wild pigs, which here were both numerous and large, and in some instances were quite prepared to stand and shew fight! which they invariably did whenever we came suddenly upon them without their seeing us, or we, indeed, them. On reaching the river Waipaoa,—which we did not far from the present village of Tikokino,—(there were no natives residing in those parts then,) we travelled up its stony bed, wading across it with difficulty several times, as it was nearly three feet deep and rapid withal. At 3 p.m. we reached the junction of this river with the river Maakaroro, and proceeded up the stony bed of the latter until 6 p.m., when, it being nearly dark where we were, we halted for the night in the bed of the river.—

I was gratified in finding several new and interesting plants on the banks of this river. Here the drooping Carmichælia odorata (which I had first detected in 1843, inland from Te Wairoa,) grew plentifully on the immediate banks of [8] the stream, filling the air with its fragrance;—here, also, especially on low banks subject to winter floods, was the pretty Euphrasia cuneata, nestling in graceful little clumps among the larger shrubs and trees; this plant presents a really elegant appearance in its native homes, but I fear it will prove impatient of culture in the open garden; I often tried it and failed;—on the shaded cliffy sides of the river two or three species of the peculiar Orchideous genus Corysanthes (C. C. triloba, rivularis, and macrantha,) were more plentiful than I had ever seen them, and of large size, shewing that this was their true habitat; provokingly, however, they were mostly found in the cliffs over deep water, in the angles and bendings of the stream, where they were snugly ensconced in their mossy beds, and could not readily be got at;—while here and there among the cliffs, whereever a rill of water was found trickling down its stony and mossy bed, the elegant white Oxalis (fitly named by Allan Cunningham its discoverer, catarractæ,1030) was to be found;—

“Where flows the fountain silently


It blooms a lovely flower;
White as the purest virgin snow,
It speaks like kind fidelity,
Through fortune’s sun and shower:”—

this plant, said to be the same as a species found at Cape Horn, is now the O. Magellanica of Dr. Hooker’s Hand Book. Although Sir W. Hooker, who knew the Cape Horn Plant, had published this species as a new one and under A. Cunningham’s name of O. catarractæ in his Icones Plantarum, vol. V. pl. 418, (in 1842,) giving also a highly characteristic drawing of it. I also detected this graceful plant growing very near the summit of the range, among the snow in full bloom. The whole of the N.Z. species of the genus Oxalis need revision: I believe that several valid species will be found. A. Cunningham, in 1839, (who knew only the Northern plants,) made 9 species; those I also subsequently found, and I am pretty certain of having discovered two additional ones since here at the S. Dr. Hooker, however, gives only two species as belonging to N.Z., although he allows of several varieties. Further on, in the thickets on the river’s banks, I noticed that pretty and neat species of Myrtle, Myrtus pedunculata, bearing a profusion of small edible fruit, its hard stony seeds however, are a great drawback to its use; growing with it was the very handsome Southern species (or variety, according to Dr. Hooker,) of Hoheria, (H. populnea, var. lanceolata,) which when fully in blossom is a most lovely flowering tree; here, also, it was that I discovered another species of Carmichælia (C. flagelliformis), a tall shrub of peculiar growth, with long pendent thong-like branches, bearing only few flowers. Very fine specimens of the large leaved Fagus (F. fusca, var., = “Black Birch” of the colonists,) were also here, [9] common on both sides of the stream; and the neat little species of Arthropodiuin (A. candidum), which I had first detected at Tolaga Bay in 1838, was not unfrequent in rocky spots on the river’s sides; but wholly unlike its allied species, A. cirrhatum, in never being found growing in tussocks or clumps.

Early the next morning we resumed our journey, as before keeping in the bed of the river, and every now and then wading its cold stream from side to side, so as to escape the prostrate trees, and drift wood, and boulders, and to have a little easier walking. Several times, both yesterday and to-day, we were so dissatisfied with our course, from being continually wet and very cold from the icy water, and without the rays of the sun in the deep narrow bed of the river,—and also from the little progress we were making in spite of all our continued efforts,—that we tried to force our way through the thickets and “Bush” growing on the river’s banks, but found that we could not get on that way, so had to take to the cold river again. At 3 p.m. we arrived at what appeared to be the immediate base of the upper mountain which rose steep before us; here two rivers met, each nearly of the same size, and coming from opposite directions; we tried both for a short distance but found their beds so narrow and steep, and partly choked with dead trees and shrubs, and masses of stone, that we gave up all thoughts of going any further in that way, and so prepared with a good heart to climb the face of the narrow tongue of land which lay between the two streams. It was easy to see, here, that our guide Mawhatu was at a loss; evidently he had been in the main river below before, but where to turn off from, or to leave, it, he knew not. About an hour before we had arrived at the fork, we had on a sudden a fine clear view of the summit towering high above us, yet, apparently, not very distant; it seemed a round-topped hill, and is called, by the old Maoris, Te Atua-o-mahuru.1031 This had been often pointed out to me when at Waitangi (it being one of the conspicuous peaks of the range,) as the head over which our course lay; it had now, however, a slight coating of snow on it, no doubt from the late rains. There it stood alone, uprearing its proud crest in solemn grandeur!—

—“Soaring snow-clad through its native sky,


In the wild pomp of mountain majesty.”

But the sight of that snow there on the ridge before us did not increase our comfortable feelings and thoughts.

As we were now leaving the river and entering into the dense mountain forest, I travelled with my pocket compass in my hand, having taken bearings occasionally during the day in the river, where also, we had, at times, seen for a few moments the sun peering down through the trees. It was of no use now (as it then seemed to us in our happy ignorance) to think of drawing-back, although [10] had we known clearly what was before us we should certainly have done so,—therefore we persevered and kept on steadily in as straight a course as we could until 6 p.m., when, it being nearly dark, we halted in the forest, not knowing where we were; but believing we had not much further to go to gain the wished-for summit. I immediately sent two of my companions to seek for water, which we had greatly needed for the last three hours, and fortunately they found some in a declivity in the side of the spur not very far off. This spring, I afterwards learned, is called Te Wai-o-kongenge— fit name!—1032

Our journey this day was a very fatiguing and disagreeable one all the way we had come, for it lay in the river’s bed, either in the water or along its stony and rocky banks, which gradually contracted. In some places the sides of the river were perpendicular, and in others impending, and from 100 to 250 feet high, with fine forests of Fagus on the top; the trees of which were continually falling down along with the earth into the river beneath. Here and there an immense mass of earth had slipped quietly down the upright cliffs bringing the large trees with it, standing as they originally grew; these had been arrested in their descent when about half-way down, and there they stood in the side of the cliff fair and flourishing; in two or three spots during the day I noticed a double slip or subsidence. of this nature, in which there were two tiers of living trees so standing in the side of the cliff; adding not a little of a novel and picturesque nature to the scene. I had fully intended in passing-on to take on my return a sketch of this unique landscape, but (as it will be seen) pressing circumstances prevented me.

I had carefully examined the earth and stones throughout the whole journey up this river on both sides, and also for some short distance up the two smaller ones at the fork, but I found no indications of anything save the common rocks; the limestone formation of Hawke’s Bay had long disappeared; the cliffs being composed of a yellowish argillaceous clay with red veins, reminding me of those of the Bay of Islands and of Pencarrow Head in Cook’s Straits. In one place only in the Eastern bank did I discover a few traces of fossils, not however in limestone (as is so common in Hawke’s Bay) but in a kind of dark indurated clay, resembling the clay formation of the East Cape; but though the matrix was not very hard, I could not get a single specimen perfect or nearly so; and as I knew I should return by the same course, I left them for my return journey down the river.

I noticed several pretty spots during the day: some under the fine large spreading Beeches (Fagus fusca = “Black Birch”), having the ground beneath dry and carpetted with their own deciduous leaves, and with a sheltering mossy bank and nook at hand, strongly reminded me of Milton’s wish:— [11]

—“When the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,
* * *
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look.—
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth show,
And every herb that sips the dew.”—

Other spots, where we briefly rested,—at the foot of a handsome tall Beech tree by the side of the brawling stream,—brought Gray’s stanza fresh to mind:—

“There at the foot of yonder nodding Beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.”

We passed several fine symmetrical Beeches of this species on the banks of this river both yesterday and to-day, some were of a very large size having straight clean trunks, while their foliage, etc., looked charming. The poet’s truthful description of the Beech of the N. hemisphere has often appeared to me, on many occasions when travelling through the Beech woods inland, to be just as applicable here; for instance, when he says:—



—“bursts are seen
Of beauty on the beech tree; a rich shade
Of crimson teeming life; buds sanguine hued,
As though the sunset clouds had o’er them play’d
Until they left their dye upon the cone
Tipping each slender branch with beauty all their own.”

In Botany this day in the bed of the river I did but little: near the cliff at the fork I noticed a fine plant of Dianella intermedia with its lovely turquoise blue berries; the first I had seen since I left the Bay of Islands, where, in fern lands, it is not unfrequent; I welcomed it as an old acquaintance! A Loranthus, too, I detected parasitical in a tree in the side of the stream, which was new to me, of this I took a specimen, intending to take more on my return; this species is, I think, L. tenuiflorus of Dr. Hooker. On first climbing the steep ascent and entering into the forest I was surprised to find the sweet-smelling epiphytical Orchideous plant Earina mucronata growing very profusely on the damp fallen crags, where it had also assumed a short grassy appearance. Subsequently, at Cape Turakirae, (the S. Cape of Palliser Bay,) I again detected this Orchideous plant in similar situations in stony hollows among crags; and growing with it a closely allied genus, Dendrobium, (perhaps D. Cunninghainii, but with [12] undeveloped flowers and apparently distinct,) both wearing the same low stunted cæspitose grassy appearance, but very healthy.1033 At first I thought it must be a new species, as I had never before found it off a tree, where it usually grows long. With it, also, grew plentifully, a species of Astelia bearing short leaves, which I considered new, and from its prominent markings I named it A. trinerva. This species is possibly included in A. nervosa, of Dr. Hooker, from which species, however, I think it will be found distinct. This peculiar and eminently N.Z. genus, greatly needs careful revision. Here, too, pendent from its tree, in which it grew parasitically, hung a most lovely species of Loranthus (L. flavidus,)— the elegant leaves of this plant are of a glaucous light-green colour with a dark margin, and greatly add to its unique beauty in its living state. I never found this species in any other locality; but, subsequently, (whenever I passed this way, which I did several times in the following years,) I took specimens repeatedly from this one plant; I was much pleased with this discovery. Ascending in those forests I found a new herbaceous Senecio (S. lagopus), with fine large yellow flowers and peculiar simple cordate leaves, growing plentifully. We soon left the large serrated leaved Fagus with its rough elm-like bark behind, and got among another species, F. Solandri, having small entire leaves and smooth bark; this is the common tree of those forests, its trunk is literally covered with elegant Hepaticæ and beautiful foliaceous and coralloid and other Lichens, of several genera and of many colours, and all charmingly healthy,— prominent among them are the genera Sticta, Parmelia, and Sphærophoron, with many smaller kinds. Linnæus has truly said,—“Natura maxime miranda in minimis.”1034

“Some are reddish, some brown, some grey, and some black,


And they are puckered, edged, button’d, or fringed, front and back:
Some are lying like leather close under your feet,
Some waving from trees in the forest you’ll meet.”
Miss Twamley.

Lichens are perennial; they also grow very slowly and attain to an extreme age. It has been stated by eminent Lichenologists, that some species growing on the primitive rocks of the highest mountain ranges in the World, are estimated to have attained an age of at least 1000 years; and one author mentions, “after the lapse of nearly half a century, having observed the same specimen of Sticta pulmonaria on the same spot of the same tree.” I myself have noticed in the mountain woods some that I had early marked, as having increased but very little in size during many years. This Order of plants, humble and minute though it appears to be,—[13]

“Holds a rank
Important in the plan of Him who framed
This scale of beings; holds a rank which, lost,
Would break the chain and leave behind a gap
Which Nature’s self would rue.”—

On many of these trees grew parasitically another fine Loranthus (L. tetrapetalus) in dense bushes bearing crimson flowers in profusion, so that, in some more open spots among the closely-growing trees the whole forest wore a reddish glare, especially when such was so situated on a western slope as to become heightened by the beams of the setting sun. I have noticed this on several occasions in passing through those woods; and, also, that at, or near, sunset, all flowers or leaves of a red colour, throw out, as it were, a profuse kind of red glow at that particular hour: this I have also often observed here in our Napier gardens. Another peculiarity pertaining to this species of Loranthus was its generally being found at a pretty uniform height from the ground, some 15–20 feet, seldom lower or higher. At the spot where we halted I discovered a fine bushy Compositaceous shrub of stout diffuse growth, having peculiar dark-green leaves, thick broad and serrated, reminding me at first sight, of those of the Hydrangea; this plant has been named by Dr. Hooker Olearia Colensoi.

It was now Saturday night, and, our slender supper and prayers over, we sat for a while in the deepening gloom of the forest to talk, or, rather, to ruminate moodily over our position.

“Within the solemn wood,


Solemn and silent everywhere!
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling at her evening prayer!”

Our supply of food was running short, and there was nothing eatable in those forests. We, however, supposed and hoped we had not much farther to go ere we should reach the summit; and then to descend to the native villages on the western side, of which we had heard and where we looked for food and welcome, would not take us long. One of my party1035 was distantly related through his mother with the Patea tribe, although he had not seen any of them for many years, if at all! And so, after some talk, we arranged, that he (Paora) and my quasi guide, Mawhatu, should rise at break of day and start away without any load over the mountain tops for Patea; and, if possible, get some of those natives residing there to come to see us, bringing a supply of provisions with them. We [14] had also feared that the mountain passes if still under snow would prove impassable to my baggage-bearers.

Without doubt we all slept soundly that night, being helped thereto by the constant serenading of the Weka (Ocydromus australis) and the Owl (Athene Novæ Zealandiæ)! No other sound was heard, for there was no wind, not even the plaintive sough of the night-airs; and I could not help thinking, with Cowper, that

“Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,


Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns
And only there, please highly for their sake.”

And also, at intervals, that,—“Silence in its depth speaks.”

We, who were to remain there, did not wake and get up till 10, a.m., and when we did we found ourselves completely invaded! A large blue-bottle fly inhabits that zone of forest in countless numbers, and is most audacious and teasing. Our blankets and woollen clothing had been attacked and were literally filled with its eggs; the hair of the natives’ heads had also similarly suffered. We were not long in doing all we could to save ourselves, our provisions, and our clothing from this new foe, which I, in all my travelling, had not before met with. Had it not been for these blue-bottles we should have passed a most tranquil day of rest! everything there was so delightfully cool and still, fit emblem of the Sabbath; barring the plague of the flies, it literally was a

—“calm and secure retreat


Of sacred silence, rest’s eternal seat!”

We left the tent, &c., and retreated some distance into the dry woods, and there sat on the soft thick moss, where we held Divine Service,—in all likelihood the first Christian service on that mountain. Here “a dim religious light” was shed around; and though the scene might be deficient in some of those associations which are wont to add solemnity to the hallowed fane;—yet “He who dwelleth not in temples made with hands,” is in very deed present within the solitude:— so I have often felt.

“The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them; ere he framed
The lofty vaults to gather, and roll back
The sound of anthems,—in the darkling wood,
Amidst the cool and silence he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences,
That, from the stilly twilight of the place,
And from the grey old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once [15]
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible Majesty. Ah, why
Should we, in the world’s riper years, neglect
God’s ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd and under roofs,
That our frail hands have raised!
—————–Be it ours to meditate
In these calm shades Thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of Thy works,
Learn to conform our lives.”—

We spent the day quietly, sometimes reading together (in the N.T. our only vernacular book), sometimes thinking on and talking of our two absent companions; no one caring to move about. The water too, of our little spring, taken a little higher up, was delightfully cool and good tasted,—indeed delicious. My poor companions, however, had suffered much from their long walk with naked feet over those horrid stones and so much wading! and having but little to eat, and tobacco not yet being in fashion among them, they preferred sleeping to talking; so I was left in great measure to my own resources.

“To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude; ‘tis but to hold
Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unroll’d.”

Towards evening my friends were all on the qui vive, expecting every moment to hear the absent ones returning; but, after many false alarms, and no small display of superstitious fears on their part, dark night again enshrouded us, and they went to sleep,—leaving me once more to my meditations.—

“There is a quiet spirit in these woods,
That dwells where’er the gentle land wind blows.
——————–And here, amid
The silent majesty of these deep woods
Its presence shall uplift thy thoughts from earth,
As to the sunshine and the pure, bright air
Their tops the green trees lift.”

The next morning we were awake and up very early,—to escape our foes, which commenced their persecution with the sun, and to receive our absent friends, and, it might be, visitors; for no Maori likes to be taken unawares.

Our scanty meal and prayers ended, we agreed to go on towards the summit, thinking it was near, and hoping soon to meet those whom we were so anxiously expecting. Leaving our tent and all baggage there, and taking our axe with [16] us, (my natives each only wearing a shirt,) we started. Hour after hour, how ever, passed in arduous toll before we gained the top; the primeval forest being so filled with decaying trees and prostrate limbs and tangled shrubs and herbage, that we could scarcely get through it. We had some difficulty also in finding and keeping in the track of our two companions who had preceded us; this, in an untrodden forest is curious, and deserves mention;—the guide, or foremost one, (if he is right in his course,) every now and then half breaks through the top or conspicuous side branch of a shrub or small tree, and allows it to hang down; this operation, called pawhatiwhati,1036 is of great use to those behind, and to strangers and stragglers, who, of course, look out for it, taking care not to do the same. And these marked trees so remain and are of service for several years, as I have often proved. Care, however, must be taken not to confound those broken or bent purposely by man, with those broken accidentally by big falling branches of the higher trees, or bent down by the weight of the snow in the winter. Certain thick stemmed and tough shrubs, in particular those having large leaves, are well fitted for the purpose, and are always selected, if at hand;— as various species of Panax, and of Coprosma;—for the half broken and reverted branch dries gradually and so retains its leaves on it, which, after a little experience, is easily caught by the sharp eye of the Maori. At times (in after years) when puzzled as to our course in the forests, I have both known of, and joined in, a consultation over the broken branch of a shrub;—whether it was done purposely by man, or accidentally through natural causes; and times have been with me and my party when even life depended on it! In the event of branches wrongly broken, and so having to retrace one’s steps and alter one’s course,—first, the hanging branches are plucked away, and, secondly, a handful of tops of leafy branches, or big ferns is placed on the moss athwart that erring path or opening, which serves to warn those who come after; this also remains intact for years.

There is yet another means of forming and finding a track through those mountain forests, particularly of those high up where Fagus Solandri is the common or only tree. For in those sub-alpine woods the trees sometimes grow widely apart, and there the ground is densely carpetted with an erect closely-growing perennial moss, resembling in texture a Turkey carpet. Some of those untrodden undisturbed spots have appeared to me so enchantingly beautiful, especially when extra adorned with the lovely compact Hymenophyllum ferns, that I have thought it a desecration to tread on or to disturb them. This moss if trodden on by a travelling party never afterwards rises to its former pristine state; not that it dies, or that the eye of man can detect the difference,—the difference is detected only by the touch, by the practised foot of the woodsman. [17] I was some years in learning before I succeeded in mastering it, but I eventually did so; but then I wore boots. Here, in this case, the only enemy is the wild pig; but, fortunately, he does not generally keep so high up on the mountains. [Vide vol. I. “Transactions N.Z. Institute”, lst Edition, Essay “On the Maori Races,” by the writer, p. 6:—and, 2nd Edition, p. 342.]

In our ascent we passed over two of the worst of the “passes,” and they were bad indeed! frightfully so. One in particular, as if an avalanche of half the mountain’s side had suddenly slipped down into the distant gulph below, leaving a ragged razor-back edge of loose loamy sandy soil at a very acute angle. On this, which extended for 300 yards, connecting two peaks, nothing grew, as the sand and earth was continually rolling down. The old Hawke’s Bay natives had informed me, that the bones of a taua (a fighting party) composed of some 12–20 men lay bleaching at the bottom; the taua having attempted the pass when snow lay on it, through which they were carried off their legs down to the bottom and miserably perished! Some of my companions, whose hearts beat high on arriving at the famed spot where the deadly enemies of their tribe had been lost, declared, on gazing down, that they could see some of their white bones below jutting up! which tale they told with great relish and with many embellishments on their return. The stream which ran bounding through the narrow valley beneath was so far distant, that, though we could see its waters sparkling in the sun, we could not hear it. This pass was never attempted in the winter season, nor yet immediately after heavy rains or the melting of the snow, nor in windy weather.1037 Here, on the open western summits, we lingered until 3 p.m., (the natives with me not knowing what course to take, and all fearing to go astray,—for, after gaining the high table-land to the W. of the pass, we found [18] it open, flat, and intersected with shallow snow-runs, and low bushes, and boulders so that one might easily have proceeded in almost any direction,) and though we kept up a good constant look-out,—the maoris with their keen eyes, and I with my telescope,—we failed to discover any signs of natives approaching, or of any human habitation or cultivation, or fire or smoke, in all that enormous tract of open country of several score miles in extent, that lay like a desolate wilderness panorama before us!

“Far in the distance dark and blue,


Each hill’s huge outline you might view;
Clothed with brown fern, but lonely bare,
Nor man, nor beast, nor house was there.
Yet even this nakedness has power
And aids the feeling of the hour:
There’s nothing left to fancy’s guess
You see that all is loneliness:
And silence aids,—voice sounds too rude
So stilly is the solitude.”1038

We had, however, no doubt as to our two absent companions having passed on; here were their footsteps, plain enough on the pass; one, evidently, having had a rather ugly slide downwards, before that he recovered himself. We, being thus doubly warned, kept nearer to the ridge; but the earth was much firmer to-day at noon, than it was to them on yesterday morning. Being warned, however, by the declining sun, we, unwillingly and with heavy hearts, and hungry and thirsty to boot, returned to our cheerless encampment, regaining it in silence by 6 p.m. Soon after, however, we heard voices! and our two absent companions bounded into our midst. We welcomed them heartily, but they sat down and burst into tears, crying bitterly yet quietly, in which we all more or less joined, as we knew the action was symbolic of bad tidings; and it was some time before the two newly-arrived ones could speak, they were so dreadfully exhausted. Having drank a little water and recovered themselves, they soon told their sad tale. They had had nothing to eat since they had left us, save a few small cabbage-tree tops, they had found yesterday growing among the fern lands lower down the mountain, which they had broken off and eaten raw.1039 They had travelled all day yesterday from early dawn till dark, when they lay down wearied among the fern, without even the common solace of the pipe; arising again this morning by daylight to renew their tramp. In the whole of the country through which they had travelled (and they must have travelled many miles), they could not find a living being,—neither man nor beast. They had, indeed, gained an outlying eastern village of Patea, called Te Awarua, situate on the upper Rangitikei river, but it was without inhabitant, and without cultivations or stored 19] food; the natives, evidently, had gone away some time before, they knew not whither. Paora wrote on a piece of bark with a bit of charcoal to let them know of us, and of his visit,—if, perchance, any one among them could read writing. They would not have returned, however, had it not been for me, left with their companions in the forest. Poor fellows! it was painful to look at them; they were sadly worn and torn, both in body and in mind, and in clothing, too, with their long journey over such a desolate and rugged country, and with their great exertions, and want of food. We soon got them a small supply out of our little rapidly lessening store; and, after they were refreshed, we considered our situation, and determined una voce, that as we had but little food left (a mere handful of rice), and the nearest village was at Te Rotoatara Lake, we would retrace our steps without delay, and hasten thither early to-morrow.— I have told the story of our troubles, I will also give that of our joys,—or, rather, (speaking correctly,) of mine,—for I was quite sure that my companions shared it not with me,—quite the contrary;—so I had it all to myself.



On quitting our encampment this morning and ascending through the forest, the first novelty I discovered was a handsome fern a species of Alsophila, (A. Colensoi,)—a genus new to N.Z., though plentiful in Australia; some specimens of this fern took the form of short tree-ferns, with a stem or trunk 2–3 feet high; while here and there, peeping amid the mosses, in little nooks at the bases of the larger trees, were those two pretty little plants, Callixene parviflora, and Libertia micrantha,—just as I had formerly found them on the mountains of Huiarau, on the western side of Waikaremoana, in 1841. Several new species of Coprosma were also here in great plenty and variety, especially in the more open spots; indeed, they grew so compactly together in some places, more like a clipped old Hawthorn hedge, that it was impossible to get through them, and so we had to walk on them! (This reminded me of what Dr. Hooker and the officers of the Antarctic Expedition had told me, in 1841, they had found in Auckland and Campbell Islands.) In many places those shrubs bore our weight and tread pretty well, but in some we slipped, and then it was really awkward and disagreeable, for we could not touch the earth below with our feet, and with all our exertions could scarcely extricate ourselves; fortunately they were not prickly. Here, too, grew abundantly, Forster’s original species, Coprosma fœtidissima, on which he had founded the genus, and which well deserves its doubly odorous name! I had never seen it before; and the natives with me greatly disliked its smell, calling it Hupiro, = double-strong-stench, its name in the interior. The Panax genus was also well represented here, a few new species I detected,—P. P. Sinclairii, Colensoi, and simplex. Here, but only in one spot, I discovered that beautiful fern Hypolepis millefolium; the only place in which it has yet been found in the N. Island. As we neared the summit,—which we were constantly expecting to see, and which, as we had never [20] caught a glimpse of it through the long forest, we could not help thinking we had somehow missed by taking the wrong spur; still, although we occasionally descended over undulating ground, we were gradually ascending, there was no mistake about that!—as we neared the summit, and also the end of the great forest, we fell in with many beautiful and novel shrubs of the genus Veronica (as V. V. lævis, buxifolia, tetragona, and nivalis). I was much gratified in finding V. tetragona, as I had long been in quest of it,—for I had sent a few years before a very small specimen of it (which had been given to me by Mr. Bidwell,) to Sir W. Hooker, who published a drawing of it with description in his Icones Plantarum, (tab. 580,)—before that, however, Sir William had received a barren branch of the same species from Dr. Dieffenbach, who had obtained it in Queen Charlotte’s Sound (S. Island), a drawing of that specimen with description had also been given by Sir William in that same Botanical work (tab. 547), who then supposed it to belong to a Pine, and possibly a Podocarpus, naming it P. Diefenbachii. In its barren state it very much more resembles the branch of a Pine, than it does any other known N.Z. plant. Here were, also, several species of Pimelea, (as P. P. Gnidia,1040 buxifolia, and Lyallii,)—while a large stout species of the ever-to-be-remembered genus Aciphylla was, for us, alas! far too plentiful; but of this very peculiar plant more anon. Here too in great plenty was Fagus Cliffortioides, another Beech,—a species of much lower and more diffuse growth than the other N.Z. species of that genus, which we had left behind us, in our ascent. But when at last we emerged from the forest, and the tangled shrubbery on its outskirts, on to the open dell-like land just before we gained the summit, the lovely appearance of so many and varied beautiful and novel wild plants and flowers richly repaid me the toil of the journey and the ascent,—for never before did I behold at one time in N.Z. such a profusion of Flora’s stores! in one word, I was overwhelmed with astonishment, and stood looking with all my eyes, greedily devouring and drinking-in the enchanting scene before me. I had often seen what I had considered pleasing Botanical displays in many N.Z. forests and open valleys, particularly at the Kerikeri waterfall (Bay of Islands),—before it was rudely disturbed by civilization!—and in a sweet well-remembered glen near the E. Cape,—again at Lake Waikare,— and on the mountains of Huiarau and of Ruatahuna, far away in the interior,— but all were as nothing when compared with this,—either for variety or quantity or novelty of flowers,—all, too, in sight at a single glance! Splendid Celmisias and Ranunculuses in countless number, intermixed with elegant Wahlenbergias and beautiful Veronicas, Ourisias and Euphrasias, Gentians and Dracophyllums, [21] Astelias and Calthas, Gnaplialiums and Gaultherias, and many others. Here were plants of the well-known genera of the Blue-bells, and Buttercups, Gowans and Daisies, Eyebrights and Speedwells of one’s native land, closely intermixed with the Gentians of the European Alps, and the rarer Southern and little known novelties,—Drapetes, Ourisia, Cyathodes, Abrotanella, and Raoulia.—

“Flowers tell of a season when men were not,


When earth was by angels trod;
And leaves and flowers in every spot
Burst forth at the call of God;
When Spirits singing their hymns at even,
Wandered by wood and glade;
And the Lord looked down from the highest heaven,
And blessed what He had made.”

It was observable, also, that while all those plants already named with many others were small-sized dwarf plants, pretty nearly of a uniform height, only rising a few inches above the soil, and growing together as thickly as they could stow,—more indeed, in this respect, like short turfy Grasses, or Mosses,—there were also among them several new species of the common N.Z. genera,—the known species of which in other parts were mostly to be found as tall shrubs and small trees,—but here the new species were only of a very low rambling prostrate habit, resembling large trailing Mosses, almost hidden among the low herbaceous plants already mentioned; those new plants comprised Myrsine nummularia, Pittosporum rigidum,1041 Podocarpus nivalis, Coriaria angustissima, Dracophyllum recurvum, and several elegant Alpine species of Veronica, such as,—nivalis, Lyallii, and catarractæ.

Often, indeed, did the words of the great Teacher come to memory, (uttered, perhaps, by him when reviewing a similar Floral display as to beauty in the lovely lilied meads of Palestine,)—“Consider the lilies!” And more than once I exclaimed,—

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,


And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”—

Nor could I forget what is related of Linnæus,—who, on his arrival in England, and first seeing the wild broken country covered with the common yellow Furze in full blossom, fell on his knees in ecstasy at such a sight.1042 Sure enough I am, that I then understood Linnæus’ action, and fully sympathized with him.— [22]



But how was I to carry off specimens of those precious prizes? and had I time to gather them? These mental questions completely staggered me for I realised my position well. We had left our encampment early that morning, as I have already said, thinking the crest of the mountain range was not far off, and, consequently, taking nothing with us; so we were all empty-handed and no “N.Z. Flax” (Phormium) grew there. However, as I had no time to lose, I first pulled off my jacket, or small travelling coat, and made a bag of that, and then (driven by necessity!) I added thereto my shirt, and by tying the neck, &c., got an excellent bag; while some specimens I also stowed into the crown of my hat. I worked diligently all the time I was there,—and, though I did all that I possibly could, I felt sure I left not a little untouched.1043 Fortunately the day was an exceedingly fine one, calm and warm, so that I did not suffer from want of clothing. That night I was wholly occupied with my darling specimens, putting them up, as well as I could, in a very rough kind of way, among my spare clothing, bedding, and books;1044 only getting about 2 hours sleep towards morning.

Of all the peculiar and novel plants which grew on that mountain the large new species of Aciphylla (A. Colensoi,) was the one which we were all the most likely to remember,—not only for a few weeks but for all time! It gave us an immense deal of unpleasantness trouble and pain,—often wounding us to the drawing of blood. I suppose, that each one of the party,—speaking quite within probability,—received at least 50 stabs from that one plant,—which my native companions (without boots or trowsers) justly termed, infernal! I will attempt to describe it from memory (although it is more than 25 years1045 since I last saw it in its mountain home). Imagine a living circle of 5 feet diameter (the size of the full grown plant), with all its many harsh spiny ray-like leaves radiating alike outwardly from its carrot-shaped root, forming almost a plane of living elastic spears, composed of sharp and stiff points, or fiat spikes, each several inches long, these make up the leaf, and many of them are set on each long leaf-stalk of nearly 2 feet in length; from the centre rises the strong flowering stem, an erect orange-coloured spike or stalk 5–6 feet high, containing many hundreds of small flowers, gummy (or having a varnished appearance,) and strong-scented. The general appearance of these plants, at times, reminded me of a lot of large shallow umbrellas opened and fixed upside down on the ground. Of course [23] there were hundreds of smaller plants, also forming circles, of all sizes, from 3 inches diameter upwards; while some still younger were just pushing their needle-like points (not in a circle but drawn together) through the mossy soil. These plants rarely ever intermixed their spear-shaped leaves to any great extent; they seemed as if they just touched each other with their living circle of points, and when we should put our feet as warily as possible on some tolerably clear spot between them, we were often caught on all sides as if in a man-trap, and not unfrequently roared pretty loudly from the pain, while our vain attempts to extricate ourselves often increased it. More than once each one of us was so seriously caught as not to be able to move without assistance. On one occasion in particular we all (save one—the sufferer!) had a hearty laugh over an adventure with one of these plants:—one of our party had been pricked, or stabbed, rather severely by an Aciphylla insomuch that the blood spurted out; at the sight of this he got enraged, and obtaining the long-handled axe, which another was carrying, he hastened toward the plant, vowing he would cut it up by the roots! the spear-like leaves, however, spreading-out all round like a circle of fixed bayonets,—being longer (including their big leaf stalk) than the helve of the axe and very elastic, quite kept him from doing any harm to the plant, which seemed to mock his impotent rage; so after gaining a few more pricks for his labour, he was obliged, doubly vexed though he was at our looking on and laughing, to give up the unequal combat!1046 I may here mention, that when I next came this way from Hawke’s Bay, I took two extra natives with me specially armed with long-handled axes to clear the way a little; otherwise baggage-bearers1047 could never have got over those spots which abounded with the Aciphylla. One of these little open hills bore the ancient name of Maunga Taramea (Mount Taramea1048) from the plant growing so profusely there. The genus was founded by Forster, (one of the Botanists who accompanied Cook on his 2nd. Voyage,) on a plant they found at Dusky Bay (S. Island), which, however, is very much smaller in all its parts and with fine lax leaves, though sharp enough,—hence its fit generic name, Aciphylla = needle-leaved.1049 [24]

Had our countrymen and fellow-colonists from Great Britain,— from

————— “the hills of the North,—
Where bloom the red Heather and Thistle so green;”—

had they ever required an indigenous plant in N.Z. to supply the place of their National emblem—“Old Scotland’s symbol dear”—the Thistle, this one would have nicely suited them. For such another could scarcely be found so highly adapted in every respect to bear their well-known motto,—“Nemo me impune lacessit.1050

One other curious plant I should also like to mention; a plant in every respect the very opposite of the Aciphylla,—for it was small and soft (woolly), and only one was seen! not only on that occasion but on every other, for I have never met with it since, although I have often sought it diligently; nor has it since been found in the South Island (or any where else) save once by the late Dr. Sinclair; who, according to Dr. Hooker, met with it at Tarndale, at about the same elevation (5000 feet) and in a similar situation “growing in shingle.” This little shrubby plant of only a few inches high, is a very peculiar one,—it scarcely seems like a living plant at all, being so dry and sapless and densely woolly, more like an artificial flower, or those which we may have sometimes seen projecting in alto relievo from thick floccose or rough dining-room wall papers. Every part of it, stem branches leaves and flowers, is alike covered with dense white wool, giving it a strange appearance. This plant, a species of Helichrysum, or Gnaphalium (G. Colensoi), grew on the edge of the top of the second ugly pass,—composed entirely of dry shingle of various sizes from big lumps to dust,— (which was continually falling from the cliffy height above, where the rock and stones were undergoing rapid disintegration through the incessant action of the elements,)—up this it was difficult to climb from the softness of the pile of natural “metal” and the great steepness of its incline, in which we sank to our knees at every step, and sometimes were carried down a few feet by the rolling shingle. A drawing of it is given in the Flora Novæ Zealandiæ under the name of Helichrysum leontopodium; the difference however between those two genera (Helichrysum and Gnaphalium) being so very slight and tending to separate closely-allied species, they are now combined by Dr. Hooker in his Hand Book of the N.Z. Flora. This little plant is allied to the celebrated Edel-weiss of the Swiss Alps. Near to this plant grew another, a species of Geum (G. parviflorum), which, curiously enough, was also a solitary one of that species, it not having again been detected in the North Island,—though it has been found in similar localities in the South Island, both by Dr. Sinclair and by Dr. Hector; and [25] Dr. Hooker also found it in the Auckland Islands group;1051 it is also found in S. Chili and Fuegia.

Single plants, like these two last mentioned, found alone in their natural habitat, each, too, bearing a profusion of flowers and seeds,—raise a curious question in Geographic Botany; one causing much thought and not easily answered.—

I must not omit to notice the Grasses of the mountain. Of them I found several species (more than I had expected) belonging to various genera, these have all been subsequently published by Dr. Hooker.1052 A few of them are identical with some of our esteemed English pasture grasses,—as Festuca duriuscula (Hard Fescue) and Agrostis, species, and also Hierochloe alpina; while others of them are also found in Tasmania and Australia. Some are new, and have not yet been detected any where else in New Zealand; others of them have been since found in the South Island;—one, a new species of Poa (P. Colensoi) which I brought from the summit, is common in the South Island, and is said to be among the best of the indigenous food grasses of New Zealand;1053 —and, curiously enough, one species, Catabrosa antarctica, has only been hitherto met with in the far off antarctic islet Campbell Island, where it was also found by Dr. Hooker. None, however, grew thickly1054 together forming pastures,—like the well-known native grass here on our Hawke’s Bay hills, Microlæna stipoides, and the common grasses of our meadows,—except here and there around a few snow holes, and snow water courses of gentle declivity, where a very short pale grass grew thickly, but only extending a few feet each way; it always bore a half-withered appearance, no doubt caused by the snow and the sun. Nearly all of the various species of Grasses were found in single plants or small tufts scattered among other herbage,—except the one short turfy species by the snow holes beforementioned; and one other small grass, a species of Erharta (E. Colensoi), which grew in cushion-like patches, or large tufts, scattered here and there on the tops.

There were also several new species of Mosses, Hepaticæ, and Lichens, [26] obtained on this visit, some of them being highly curious; a few I may briefly mention. On the bleak topmost crags I found two species of Andræa, (a peculiar genus of Moss,) nearly the colour of the dark rocks on which they grew; this is a small genus common in arctic and antarctic lands, and these were the first specimens of that genus discovered in New Zealand,—one of them was also a new species; neither of them have since been detected in this country, although both have been found in Fuegia and the South American Andes. I also found there, on those exposed stony summits, Usnea melaxantha, a remarkable and rare black Lichen of the Andes and of arctic and antarctic latitudes.—Growing with this was another curious plant, a fine species of Stereocaulon (S. Colensoi1055), both plants being highly indicative of rigour and exposure.

“This is the highest point.—
How bleak and bare it is! Nothing but mosses
Grow on these rooks.—
—Yet are they not forgotten;
Beneficent Nature sends the mists to feed them.”

Numerous species of the beautiful Order of Hepaticæ I also managed to secure and bring away; the drawings of several of them with magnified dissections have also been given by Dr. Hooker in his Flora Novæ Zealandiæ; these, however, must be seen and studied in order to appreciate them; for, minute and insignificant as many of them appear to be at first sight, and to the untrained eye, no Natural Order of Plants more richly repay investigation, or more fully exhibit the wondrous and lovely variety skill and economy of Nature.

God made them all,
And what He deigns to make should ne’er be deem’d
Unworthy of our study and our love.
The man
Whom Nature’s works can charm, with God Himself
Holds converse.”

The view from the top on the Eastern and Northern sides was very extensive,—extending from Cape Kidnappers to Table Cape, and thence to Mount Tongariro and further. The whole of Hawke’s Bay with all the interior plains appeared like an immense panorama spread out beneath us,—but much too distant low and fiat, and too dull in its colours,—of rusty fern, and dingy Raupo (Typha), and pale cutting-grasses, and dry withered plains, with a lead-coloured misty-looking sea in the distance,—to present anything of a pleasing appearance. In the view from the summits looking towards the East I was greatly disappointed.

Two kinds of birds which we saw peculiar to that region deserve a passing [27] notice. One was the pretty little blue-grey mountain duck, or teal, the Whiio of the natives (Hymenolaimus melacorrhynces). This bird is common in most of the retired mountain streams of N. Zealand, and is a graceful quiet harmless creature; we met with it on almost every turn of the river, but always swimming. I often stopped to admire their graceful movements, as they allowed me to get pretty close up to them, owing to their innocence of Man! in all probability never before having been disturbed by him in their native haunts. Their flight is but short, and they often dive. It was a pleasing sound in the night silence to hear their plaintive sibilant whistle—Whiio (the Maori word drawn out), hence their name. From the sound of their cry, by night, it seemed as if they were being carried down by the current; and I fancied it was done by them to keep up their companionship with each other in the dense darkness. The other bird was a small brown one of the size of a lark, but with a white head,—which, together with its mute familiar habit, gave it a strange appearance. This bird was only noticed in the thickets near the top of the range, where, on our sitting down or resting, several would soon come closely around us, looking inquisitively, and noiselessly hopping from spray to spray. It was wholly new to me; and the natives with me did not know its name. I often, in my subsequent visits met with this little bird, but only in that one particular locality. I never once heard its note. We named it Upokotea, and Pokotea,—from its white head. I could not prevail on myself to kill any of them to carry away as specimens.

Two other small animals captured during this journey may also be briefly mentioned. One was a very singular Spider, which I obtained in the lower forests, living in nooks and crannies in the earth at the foot of trees and shrubs; it was of a thick oblong shape, and black colour, much more arched in its back than spiders generally are, with several curious sharp jutting points in its back and sides, making it appear more like a beetle than a spider, and giving it a very strange appearance, altogether different from any species of Spider I had ever before seen: of this species I got several specimens. The other was a peculiar little molluscous animal, of the Linnæan genus Limax,—a kind of slug about 1½ inches long, possessing a small external dorsal shell, and therefore probably belonging to the genus Testacella of Cuvier,—which, however, has its shell near its posterior extremity. This pretty little animal I found on moss on a living Beech tree, very near the summit of the range. I only obtained one specimen, which, I regret to say, I lost, and never after met with another.—

The remainder is now very briefly told.—

Tuesday, Feby. 11. At an early hour this morning we struck tent, ate our scanty breakfast, packed up, and commenced our journey back to the Station. We travelled on all day (as we had agreed to do,) in moody silence, until 7 p.m., when we halted for the night at a little wooded place on the banks of the Waipaoa river called Motu-o-wai, and not far from the present village of Tikokino— [28] formerly well-known, but now that isolated wood of white pine trees is washed away! We were very tired and hungry, and sore with so much walking over boulders and stones in the bed of the river, and with the incessant wading; 108 times1056 did we wade in this day’s march across the main stream, in some places the current was so strong and the water so deep that we could scarcely keep our footing; the water, too, in the upper portion of the river, was icy cold. We lay down that night without much ceremony, and early the next morning we resumed our journey, reaching the western banks of the Lake Rotoatara at 1 p.m. Here we bawled to the pa on the island for a canoe, and made small fires of herbage (there being no wood) as signals, but were neither heard nor seen (the wind being against us). At sunset, however, we were fortunately observed; and crossing over to the island we got food and slept there. The next morning, public prayers and breakfast over, we started pretty early for the Mission Station, where we arrived at 8 p.m., very weary,—but, I trust thankful to God for His many mercies.— And thus ends my first attempt to cross the Ruahine mountain range.

“Nil sine magno
Vita labore dedit mortalibus.”1057 Hor.



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