The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 10 (January 1, 1938.)
The Kaimai Road
An Impression in Contrasts
Almost at the summit of the road over the Kaimai … that rock-ribbed and implacable blue range which bars the green plains of the Waikato from the sun-steeped and broken country of the Tauranga coast … there is a spring which must be almost the coldest in the world, and if you stop to drink from its icy waters you will think you have partaken of some potion of the old alchemists, a magic draught which changes the scene before your very eyes.
You have left Hamilton perhaps in the soft white gloom of a morning fog, with only a glimpse of the misty-opal breast of the river, with the broad, straight road running before you into white nothingness. You pass through tranquil farm lands washed with the pastel colours of the mists. The early green of English elms and weeping willows is pale and tender, the hawthorn hedges, the very grass-stems by the roadside shine with dew-drops. There are gleams of placid water by unseen farm houses; dairy cows move slowly, tranquilly, through the changing mist.
Translate the scene into music, and it would be called a pastorale. In a field close to the road an early ploughman turns a furrow which gives a curious impression of placidity and permanence, of rich damp earth, and gentle rainfall, and comfortable homes, and generous pasture. His horses' breath, like steam, mingles with the mist.
Now the morning is wearing on, and the fog blowing thinner, the sun beginning to shoot it through with gleams of blue and gold. Now you may see the crest of the Kaimai, blue and clear across the east, rising above the fog like a rock from the foam of a breaking wave.
As the fog thins, the mountain range appears an impregnable barrier. But there is no turning aside. The road leads you straight into the foothills, and up. The climb is abrupt, uncompromising. The cuttings rise in whiteslashed, zig-zagging bends, turning back one upon the other, lifting always upward through the bare foothills and the stern bush-clad height toward the overhanging rock peak which marks the pass.
It is cold, and the icy wind, fogtinged, sweeps in melancholy fashion up through the bare foothill valleys.
Below and behind, the plains have dropped back in a patchwork blanket of gentle colours. The chequered squares of the farms spread themselves in brown and green and grey and russet, tawny gold and misty emerald, ploughed earth and maize and wheat, root crops and millet, pasture and fallow, all just pale colours in the mist, crossed and recrossed by the thin dark lines of shelter belts. Tiny towns make mosaic patches; a thread of smoke rises from a miscroscopic railway. The thinning mist spreads an uneven net of iridescence.
But now the scene is gone in a flicker, for you have crossed the divide, and you look out to the Pacific coast. The cold wind is shut off; the atmosphere is calm and warm, as of summer evening. So swift has been the change that it takes some little time for you to grasp the scene which lies before your eyes.
You look down on blue and slategrey hills lowering by great gulf and gorge and wave-crest, split up by ridges of timber country where the smoke of early burns hangs pearlgrey in the sunlit air. The horizon is a ribbon of burnished silver that is half the sweep of the Bay of Plenty; between ocean and hills is the gentler country of the Tauranga coast, Mount Maunganui humped and grey, the harbour thrusting shining silver fingers among the sunlit hills.
The green grazing country goes up hill and down dale, and is threaded by twisting loops of white roads, and split by blue-shadowed defiles and watercourses, by wedges of untouched bushland.
Down at your feet … or thirty miles away … is Oropi, the old, old, Europe Road, built as a sporting gesture by hostile Maoris for the use of the Queen's fighting men; Mount Misery, where the fallow deer graze; there the gorges, those great blue clefts that split the waterless uplands between the fertile coast country and the pumice lands of Rotorua. To the interior of the island the weather is unsettled; the lakeland hills rise grey and slate and smoky blue, cloud-shadowed, stabbed with the downward-piercing shafts of rainstorms and passing sunshine.
But the country of the coast is steeped in sunshine, and on the shimmering horizon of the east the islands lie … Mayor Island, the attendant Aldermen, the Slipper, and the homely Hen and Chickens, Motiti where the maize grows, from one point an instant glimpse, far to the south-east, of White Island, the terrible.
Now the road, plunging downward, has dipped into the bushclad foothills of Lower Kaimai, and the changing scenes have vanished, and there is left only the impressions of them.
(Rly. Publicity photo.) A nice catch, with three rods during a recent week-end fishing at Waikaremoana, North Island, New Zealand. That the scenery of Lake Waikaremoana can hold its own with anything in the world is becoming increasingly well known, but its attractions as a fishermen's paradise are not so commonly realised. This action picture of a catch by Mr. G. H. Mackley (General Manager of Railways) and party tells its own story.