The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 7 (December 1, 1932)
Te Aroha — The Town Beneath The Mountain. — Springtime in The Waikato
Orchards massed with pink and white bloom, golden kowhai beside the creeks, pastures green as powdered emeralds, woolly lambs skipping all over the hillsides—what a picture of peace and plenty, as one gazes from the window of the express, speeding through the farm lands of the Waikato! It is always a delightful trip, but loveliest of all when the mantle of Spring lies over the land, and the trees are gowning themselves in their new robes of green, and every farm-house garden and orchard is massed with springtide bloom.
From a Train Window.
And then the tawny, russet beauty of the Pokeno marsh lands and swamps—here is one of the most picturesque and fascinating train-pictures to be seen in all New Zealand. Spring time is the best time to see it, before the willows and osiers beside the line are in thick leaf. In spring, when the tiny leaves are just unfurling, it is like gazing through a thin green curtain out to a landscape all brown and orange and gold, with silver strips of water, and sometimes the whirr of a duck rising from the little reedy islands, or a glimpse of a red-billed pukeko (swamphen) stalking delicately on stilt-legs through the shallow pools.
Over the mossy wastes of the great Piako and Eureka swamp lands, and down again into the farm country of Motumaoho and Morrinsville Junction—how beautiful it all is under the golden sunshine! The long, straight run down from Morrinsville to Te Aroha is full of beauty, for the acacias are in full bloom, and the gold-green willows make a perfect frame for the smooth waters of the Waihou River. Then, before you know it, Te Aroha mountain is frowning down on you, and you come with a rush into the pretty little township snugly set at its feet.
Charm of Te Aroha.
There is a quaint, unusual charm about Te Aroha that sets it apart from all other towns of the Waikato. It seems to have been pushed to the very edge of the plains and into the shadow of the hills. There is something very Swiss and fascinating about the way the houses perch themselves high on the slopes of the mountain, and the rugged spurs sweep down into people's back yards. Groves of immense pines march gravely up to Bald Spur (1,000 feet), and another couple of thousand feet higher is the trig.
Te Aroha owes its origin to the gold discoveries of the “eighties,” and the curative properties of its mineral waters have long since given it prominence among the health resorts of Auckland Province. Over twenty acres have been page 43 laid out by the Government in the formation of a delightful domain at the foot of Te Aroha Mountain, where the bath-houses have been built. The baths are a delight; Te Aroha possesses over twenty mineral springs, of the Vichy water type, and “drinking the waters” is part of the routine to which every good visitor conforms.
But to those who do not need to take such matters seriously, it is Mount Te Aroha itself that will make strongest appeal. The slopes form part of the Tourist Domain, and are covered with native bush, which serves as a sanctuary for the tui, bell-bird, native pigeon, and other feathered forest folk. The climb to the summit is moderately stiff, but is not, strictly speaking, anything of a mountain climb. The track for the first 1,000 feet up to the Bald Spur is easy and well graded. It winds up from the gardens through the splendid pine grove to the native bush higher up. From open spaces beside the track, one gets magnificent glimpses of the Waikato Plains, and of the homes and farm-lands at the foot of the mountain. Beyond Bald Spur lies the thick native bush—and here you begin to do a little climbing. The track grows steeper and steeper, and you occasionally help yourself up with the aid of handy roots and branches. Drooping crepe ferns and kidney ferns make a fringe of green lace on trunk and bough; gold and green mosses brighten bare rock faces, and from out the dense thicket of the bush comes the long trill of a tui's song.
A Wonderful Panorama.
A few more steep pinches, and at last the summit, and the trig, with triumphant fluttering of red and white drapings left by some previous climbers. The view is wonderful. Down in the mists of the east we catch a glimpse of Tauranga, the Mount, and Mayor Island. Nearer at hand is Waihi Beach, with the white lines of ocean breakers edging the deep blue of the ocean. Over on the horizon rise the tumbled masses of the Coromandel Ranges, crowned with Castle Rock, a noble landmark visible from Auckland itself. The silver glint of the Firth of Thames, the level expanse of the Hauraki Plains, catch the eye as the circling panorama is completed. And at the foot, stretching out to the western horizon are the splendid stretches of Waikato farmlands, cut with long, level roads, brightened with the steel-grey glint of the Waihou, winding its way out to sea. Pasture-lands, homes, groves of trees, distant mountains, and blue, blue sea—a wonderful and fascinating picture, from three thousand feet up in the sky!