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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45



This charming lake is very attractive on account of the thick foliage and rich verdure along its shores. Near the entrance of the lake on the right hand side, rises a bald-faced rock, over which Maories of both sexes who happened to be attacked by the "green-eyed monster" were in the habit of throwing themselves. A short and pleasant pull takes the tourist to a small Native settlement named Taheke, where there is a wonderful carved house presided over by a venerable old chief, who, for a small consideration, allows the visitor to inspect all the ugly-looking gods and goddesses of mythological Maoridom. A most picturesque scene is to be observed from the site of the carved house. The river Okeri, rushing through a romantic gorge, meets the gaze, and page 69 a lovely stretch of country presents a fine panorama as far as the eye can reach. There are several lovely bays in this locality, and forests and orchards are to be met with on all hands. We will allow Mr. J. Chantrey Harris to describe the scenery at the lower end of the lake. That gentleman writes as follows:

"Lovelier scenery than that of the lower end of the lake can scarcely be imagined, and we will describe it as it was presented to us during our too fleeting visit. The northern shore is a high steep rocky range, covered with heavy timber to the water's edge, and indented by two bays, one of which, named Pareika, is a mere chasm, where it is said the lake has an underground outlet. The country at the foot of the lake may be described as an amphitheatre: its background dense forest, its sides high wooded ranges; that one to the south broken by a number of low hills in the foreground; whilst to the north, towers the high frowning majestic mountain range, Matawhaura, clothed with black forest, coloured here and there with crimson rata blossoms, and streaked with lovely fern growth. Through the forest in places peeped the basaltic formation of the range, and where the latter dropped a nearly perpendicular face six or seven hundred feet high into the lake, it sweeps to the right and forms the gulch-like bay Pareiki. Clear, deep, and blue, the lake, quite two and a half miles wide, formed a grand sheet of water between the enclosing shores, and dashed in tiny wavelets upon the shingly pumice-stone beach that fringes the flat land, about a couple of hundred acres in area, enclosed by the amphitheatre. And such a flat! covered with groves of cherry, peach, apple, quince, and fig-trees, luxuriating in unchecked growth and disputing possession with the indigenous ferns, ti-tree scrub, and creepers. Gigantic flax bushes 12 feet high and clumps of veritable bamboos varied the wilderness of fruit-tree growth; and the latter not only held its own, but by projecting vigour-suckers encroached on the forest behind. All the trees—the figs especially—were laden with fruit, and the dense darker foliage of the quinces contrasted pleasantly with their lighter surroundings. Never did our eyes dwell upon a scene of more varied and singular beauty, and as the page 70 day declined in a stormy sunset, the pale radiance east a livid smile upon Matawhaura's grim aspect, which, as the shadows deepened, was resolved into a black indefinable mass, that blended in deep shade with the water of the lake at its foot, whilst the advance guard of the forest trees at the back stood out spectre-like in the twilight. And so night drew her solemn curtain until up rose the moon, and, gently waving it aside, cast a glow of silver glory o'er land and water, and with touch of magic wand completely changed the scene, toning down the features of the landscape to a soft indistinctness, always excepting the grand range behind which she rose, and that, grim and dark, kept watch and ward in sullen majesty."