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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45


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In this age of cheap and expeditious travelling, when a voyage round the world is looked upon as an undertaking of less magnitude than a journey of a few hundred miles would have appeared to our fathers, hooks of the class of this compilation are in general demand. Guides and Hand-books innumerable are issued annually in the United Kingdom, Europe and America, having for their object the instruction of tourists in all matters pertaining to the sights and scenes of the various countries to which the attention of travellers is directed. It was this consideration that induced the Directors of the Union Steam Ship Company to undertake the publication of the "Southern Guide" some two years since, and it is with a similar object in view that they now introduce the "New Zealand Tourist" to the notice of the public. The former publication dealt chiefly with the Hot Lake country in the North Island, whilst the present work seeks to convey to the reader a general idea of the whole Colony. Until a few years back, New Zealand was a terra incognita to the great mass of mankind, and even now there are comparatively few persons living out of the Colony itself who have anything but the very faintest conception of the marvellous magnificence of this peerless land. It is true there are no historical associations nor hoary traditions connected with the history of the "Britain of the South" to bring her prominently forward, or long ere this her glorious scenery would have been made the theme of a thousand songs. It is also true that, although our country is old in Nature, she is but young in Art, and therefore we can point to no gilded domes and marble palaces like those which attract the sight-seer to the Queen of the Adriatic. The tourist who has gazed upon the exquisite carvings above the porch of St. Mark's and has seen the sunbeams dancing on the gleaming horses of Dandolo, may page vi be envied. The traveller who has had the good fortune to feast his eyes upon the gorgeous loveliness of Naples from her incomparable bay, or to view the white palaces of Genoa "la superba," or to float upon the bosom of the grand old Rhine, by

"The castled crag of Drachenfels,"

has not lived in vain. Here we have no such attractions to woo the pleasure-seeker to our shores. But we have a land, yet fresh from the hand of its Maker, formed in all the wild prodigality of natural beauty. A land of stupendous mountains, roaring cataracts, silvery cascades, fantastic volcanic formations, magnificent landscapes, noble forests, and picturesque lakes studded with

"All the fairy crowds
Of islands which together lie
As quietly as spots of sky,
Among the evening clouds."

The romantic character of our New Zealand scenery is not surpassed in any other portion of the world. This is not an individual opinion, but the general verdict of numerous experienced travellers of taste and culture who have visited the Colony. The sublime picture presented by Milford Sound, when the crimson sunset is blushing on the snow-capped summit of Mitre Peak, and the shadows of the giant hills are melting away in the mirror of liquid silver which spreads at their feet, is a sight only to be realised by actual experience. The wild magnificence of the Mount Cook country, where the Alpine ranges are crowned with thousands of fantastic spires, turrets, and battlements towering above deep valleys filled with enormous glaciers, presents a scene such as can be witnessed in no other land under the sun. And then the wonders of the White and Pink Terraces with their boiling cauldrons, and their crystal and coral cups, bowls and basins, set in stalactic filigree, worked by Mother Nature in the vanished ages, have no counterparts elsewhere. New Zealand possesses natural characteristics which are essentially her own, and this fact should make her peculiarly interesting to tourists. The great Island Continent of Australia, with her vast plains and page vii forests, her noble rivers, and her picturesque landscapes, has many attractions for the pleasure seeker. Well may her gifted poet, Henry Kendall, sing of her—

"Here are the dells of peace and plenilune,
The hills of morning and the slopes of noon;
Here are the waters dear to days of blue,
And dark green hollows of the noontide dew."

We have no desire to detract from the merits of the Sister Colonies; on the contrary, we should be gratified to find thousands of British, European and American tourists visiting Australia and Tasmania annually. But, at the same time, we deem it our duty to establish the fact that, for romantic and magnificent scenery, coupled with volcanic marvels, New Zealand is without a rival. Of course there are a few travellers to be met with now and again who are incapable of enjoying or appreciating the sublimities of Nature. Matter-of-fact individuals who see everything with the eyes of "Peter Bell"—

"A primrose by the river's brim,
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

The stupendous grandeur of our scenery would be wasted upon people of this stamp. That grand old Sage of the nineteenth century, Thomas Carlyle, has observed:—"A man will see nothing in a scene or event, but what he comes to with the power of seeing." The justice of this remark is very apparent, for unless a person has an eye for the beautiful in nature, he cannot be induced to go in search of it. Taking it for granted, however, that our reader is the possessor of a refined mind, and of an elevated taste, we beg to assure him that if he desires rich fields for æsthetic realisation, combined with ample scope for physical relaxation and enjoyment, he will find them to his heart's content by making a tour through New Zealand.

Thomas Bracken.