Entries from the Urewera notebook of Katherine Mansfield, dates include Thursday through Monday, 1907
“On The Journey To Waiotapu.
“In the distance these hills; to the right, almost violet; to the left, grey with rain. Behind, a great mound of pewter colour and silver. Then as we journey, a little line of brilliant green trees and a mound of yellow grass. We stop at a little swamp to feed the horses, and there is only the sound of a frog.
“Intense stillness, almost terrible. Then the mountains are more pronounced. They are still more beautiful, and by and by a little puff of white steam … and by twists and turns in the road we pass several steam holes. Perfect stillness, and a strange red tinge on the cliffs.
“We pass one oily green lake—fantastic blossoming. The air is heavy with sulphur and steam…. By and by we go to see mud volcanos—mount the steps all slimy and green, and peer in. It bulges out of the hole in great blobs of loathsome colour like a terribly grisly sore upon the earth. In a little whirling pool below, a thin coating of petroleum—black with jet—Rain began to fall—She is disgusted and outraged.
“Coming back—the terrible road—the long, long distance—and finally soaking wetness and hunger. Bed and wetness again. The morning is fine but hot—The nearer they get to the town, the more she hates it. Perhaps it is the smell …”
“The loathsome trip.”page 298
“She is so tired that she sits in the town grounds all morning. That evening—horrid.”
“Letters…. The quiet afternoon—fearful rain—up to the ankles—the wet camp—the fear of having to move— She thinks Rotorua is loathsome and ugly—that little Hell.”
“The early start— It seems at each mile post her heart leaps. But as they leave it, the town is very beautiful and Whaha—full of white mist—strangely fanciful …
“Oh, it is too hot where they lunch. She feels so ill—so tired—her headache is most violent—she can barely open her eyes but must lean back, though the jolting of the cart pains her….
“They meet a Maori again, walking along, powerful and strong. She shouted, ‘Tenakoe (good day!).’ …”
“All Sunday the further she went from Rotorua, the happier she became. Towards evening they came to a great mountain— It was very rugged and old and grim, an ancient fighting pah. Here the Maoris had fought, and at the top of this pah a spring bubbled … Then rounding the corner, they saw the Wairakei River, turbulent, and wildly rushing below them …
“They camp in a paddock down by the river—a wonderful spot…. Before them a wide sheet of swift, smooth water—and a poplar tree, and a long straight line of pines…. Just there—on the bank ahead of them—a manuka tree in full blossom leans toward the water. The paddock is full of manuka …
“After dinner … they go through the gates—always there is a thundering sound from afar off—down the sandy path, and into a little pine cavern. page 299 The floor is brown with needles—great boulders come in their path—The manuka has grown over the path—With heads bent, hands out, they battle through and then suddenly a clearing of burnt manuka—and they both cry aloud—There is the river—savage, fierce, rushing, tumbling—whirling suddenly the life from the still, placid floor of water behind—like waves of the sea—like fierce wolves—the noise is thunder—And right before them the lovely mountain outlined against a vivid orange sky—The colour is so intense that it is reflected on their faces—in their hair; the very rock which they climb is hot with the colour. The sunset changes—becomes mauve—and in the waning light, all the stretch of burnt manuka is like a thin mauve mist around them. A bird—large and silent—flies from the river right into the flowering sky. There is no other sound except the voice of the passionate river.
“She climbs on a great black rock and sits huddled up there alone—fiercely—almost brutally thinking—like Wapi. Behind them the sky was faintly heliotrope—and then suddenly from behind a cloud a little silver moon shone through—the sudden exquisite note in the night—The sky changes—glowed again—and the river sounded more thundering—more deafening. They walked back slowly—lost the way—and found it—took up a handful of pine needles and smelt it greedily; and then in the distant paddock the tent shone like a golden poppy—Outside the stars and the utter spell—magic mist moving—mist over the whole world—Lying—her arm over her head—she can see faintly—like a grey thought—the moon and the mist. They are hardly distinguishable. She is not tired now—only happy. She can see the poplar tree mirrored in the water. The grass is wet. There is the faintest sound of crickets. As she touches her hair, a wave of cold air strikes her. Damp cold fingers about her heart.
“The sun comes. The poplar is green, now. Oh, it shines on everything—a little grove of forest. Across page 300 the river the mist becomes white, rises from the mountain ahead. There are the pines—and there just on the bank—the flowering bank—is a moat of white colour against the blue water. A lark sings—The water bubbles. She can just see ahead the gleam of the rapids—The mist seems rising and falling …
“Sunshine—had there ever been such sunshine—They walked over the wet road through the pine trees. The sun gleamed—golden locusts cornered in the bushes—Through her thin blouse she felt its scorching touch and was glad.”