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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45

George Sound

George Sound.

The entrance here is really beautiful, and in the sheltered cove where the anchor is generally cast a magnificent waterfall, tumbling down through rocky boulders from a height of over 200 feet, attracts the attention and admiration of the excursionist. This waterfall is fed by a lake, and in order to explore this romantic spot, the tourist will have to scramble over some rough ground before he reaches the point where the volume of water begins its downward course; but when it is reached the spectacle will amply compensate the explorer for the roughness of the road. Bursting out from the peaceful bosom of the mountain lake, the roaring cataract rushes in foamy volumes over the water-worn boulders, and sinks from the sight in the dark green shades of the ferny gully beneath. For those with piscatorial tastes, George Sound affords ample scope for amusement. Here there is an abundant supply of blue-cod, sea-perch, and butterfish, and an afternoon here with the hook and line will not be spent amiss. In order that we may not lay ourselves open to a charge similar to that brought by Sheridan against Dundas, when the illustrious statesman told the latter gentleman that he was indebted "to his magination for his facts," we will again call Mr. A. page 51 Bathgate's pen into requisition, in order to describe this romantic region.

"Looking from the deck of the Rotorua as she lay at anchor," writes Mr. Bathgate, "the view was a truly grand one. It appeared as though we were lying in a land-locked lake, surrounded on every side by mountains. Looking down the sound the most extensive view was obtained. Five or six mountain spurs and ridges successively rose to view, and each one of them was robed in a distinctly different shade of colour. Several fine peaks towered over the shadowy valleys and sharp and the rugged outlines of the most distant range, on which reposed a spot or two of the whitest snow, stood out in bold relief against the now all but cloudless sky. The only remains of the thick pall which had obscured and hidden everything but a few hours before, were a few small rosy clouds, which, hanging upon the highest mountain tops, caught the rays of the setting sun. As the darkness gathered, light, thin, airy mists began to rise from the surface of the water, and the scene, though still the same in feature, was yet so different in colouring. The clear pale blue of the sky where it met the mountain tops, made their sharp outlines seem clearer and more distinct than before, and the darker colours of the mountain sides contrasted strongly with the paleness of the waning daylight above. The water, too, was dark, darker than the mountain, save where one or two white gleams of light brightened its calm surface.

"By and by the darkness deepened, and then a light appeared to grow behind a conical peak, which rose bare above the wooded heights about the waterfall, and then the moon slowly emerged and rose above the mountain. What words can describe the softened glories of George Sound by moonlight? To attempt to do so is to essay the impossible; but to have seen such a picture is to have seen one which must remain painted on the tablets of the memory in never dying colours. The blue grey of the moonlit sky, pierced by the unclouded mountain tops, low on whose wooded slopes the soft white mist gently rested, the pictured images of the nearer mountains, the deeper shadows of those farther page 52 away, and the quivering reflection of the pale moon in the dark waters, all combined to produce a scene of rare and impressive beauty."

Some magnificent scenery lies between George and Milford Sounds, and when the anchor is again weighed the tourist can prepare himself for even grander sights than he has yet beheld on his excursion. The weather about Christmas and New Year is generally beautiful, and a bright speckless sky and warm sun rays tend to give the tourist greater zest for the enjoyment of the sublime sights which meet his gaze on all hands. The Hugged Mountains with their wild serrated edges are passed, and the craggy pinnacles of Llawrenny Peaks tower above the shore to the height of 6,500 feet. The snow-covered peak of Mount Pembroke stands forth in bold relief, and the ambitious summit of Mount Tukito, reaching the altitude of 9,000, excites the admiration of the gazer. Speaking of this coast, the great navigator Captain Cook, remarked:—

"There is a narrow ridge of hills that rises directly from the sea, and is covered with wood: close behind these hills are the mountains, extending in another ridge of stupendous height, and consisting of rocks that are totally barren and naked except when they are covered with snow, which is to be seen in large patches upon many parts of them, and has probably lain there since the creation of the world; a prospect more rude, craggy, and desolate than this country affords from the sea cannot possibly be conceived, for so far inland as the eye can reach, nothing appears but the summits of rocks which stand so near together that instead of valleys there, are only fissures between them."

And now, we are approaching the entrance to the far-famed and justly-celebrated