Topic: From Napier to Taupo and back Overland-Introductory

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Notes of a holiday trip reprinted from the Evening News, Napier, Hawke's Bay 1887


Front Cover of 1887 book Napier to Taupor

Any Napierian who may have a week (better still a fortnight) and the necessary dollars to spare- who desires to spend such spare time and dollars on a holiday trip the memory of which shall be a joy for ever ;-who wishes to "see the country," as much of it and as many varieties of it as possible within a short space of time and with a minimum of physical discomfort-especially who wishes to see the immense results of extinct volcanic work, and hot springs and geysers at their curious work to-day -who has even a moderately keen power of enjoying the picturesque and peculiar in scenery, and prefers natural objects in a state of nature to the same things labelled and glass-cased in a museum or lodged on a mantelshelf - who has eyes and knows a little how to use them ;- who * * * *-lastly, who has never made this trip before ; - such a Napierian positively could not do a wiser thing than take a seat some fine Monday morning on Griffiths' Royal Mail Coach, booked to Taupo and back.

This conclusion I arrive at after going to Taupo and back under most unfavorable circumstances,  give it first place, as the summation of my experiences. I may not make clear the grounds of this conviction in the "notes" which follow, but if not, it will be due to the imperfection of the record. I did not see all there was to be seen, did not note all I saw, and leaving out of the reckoning a heavy discount on the view from unfavourable weather, those two drawbacks duly allowed for provide a big margin for other travellers, with better eyesight and better instructed eyes.

There are many pleasurable holiday journeys possible within the same time, and at the same or less expense; but none, I am sure, which would take one through such a variety of scenery, or through such beautiful scenery, as this. There are long stretches of the route which are voted dismal by the majority of travellers, but the central section is unsurpassed for beauty anywhere in the Island. The Manawatu Gorge, for instance, has acquired a wide fame, and is accepted as a standard of the picturesque; but its beauty is tame and monotonous compared with the wooded gorges and gullies of the Waipunga river, whose course the road follows or impinges upon for a considerable distance. As for the so called dismal portion, to have traversed a pumice desert is an experience worth acquiring; but one might carry as much curiosity along as to where such an enormous quantity of pumice all came from, as would transform its monotonousness into a source of greater curiosity that would make it interesting, though it might fail- probaby would- to make the said pumice desert delightul to the naked eye.

Then the wonders of Taupo! Are they not written in all the guide books? - more or less carelessly, more or less recklessly ; exaggerations here, omissions there. The one day that a one-weeks holiday would give the Napierian wonder-seeker would not enable him or her to exhaust the caloric, sulhuric, silicic, pandemoniac curiosities in the immediate neighbourhoold of Taupo Town, and an extra week would not exhaust those within a slighly wider radius. And when all had been "done" there woud still remain the supremest pleasure of all - "Just one more" hot bath before setting out for home!

Before commencing my notes on the trip, I should like to remark, in case I should otherwise forget it, that holiday-makers from the South Island, and tourists from Melbourne, bound for the hot lakes district have not been made aware, it is evident of the attractions of the Napier-Taupo road, or they would not, as they nearly all do, travel by steamer to Auckland, and thence by rail and each turn south to reach their destination, and then go back to Auckland to take to the sea again. The best way for them to get most varied experiences and enjoyment out of their trip is to book to Napier, or at any rate to land here, and go overland to Auckland. The steamers usually reach here on Saturday or Sunday, and as the coach starts for Taupo every Monday, the two "connect" very well. A little time is allowed for making acquaintance with Napier and its surroundings - the (as we Napierians know it to be) prettiest town, with the most fertile neighborhood, the finest sheep, the biggest freezing works, the biggest extent of unsettled good land, and many other biggest things, in the colony. Napier is only a dot and a name on the maps to many millions of the Anglo-Saxon race, and this is not creditable to the race. We can't believe it is discreditable to the town. A preferable course for the Southern tourists to follow, perhaps, would be to take to terra firma at Wellington, travel along the newly-completed West Coast railway to Palmerston, and thence cross the Island to Napier. They would then see some fine scenery on the West Coast, the widely known, but too much belauded Manawatu Gorge, the big stretch of grand bush country in Hawke's Bay, now broken by hardly-won settlements, and then pass through admittedly the finest grazing country in the colony, to Napier. This journey could be easily timed so as to connect with the Monday's coach, without more than the Sunday's delay.

A small party, however, of Napierians or tourists, might find it more pleasant to travel by special coach, which the agentfor Griffiths' mail line will supply at any time. They could then fix their own rate of travelling provided - remembering that 'osses in 'osses - it were within the limits of equine endurance. They could pull up when they pleased, to enjoy bits of scenery, to scramble to points of vantage off the road, to chase a kiwi, or chat with a Maori chief or wahine (wahine for choice probably) at the native settlements on the way. One would hardly like to detain Her Majesty'd Mails for such trifles as these. Somethimes an accelerated service is stipulated for, but that must be by persons who are more anxious to "do" the trip than see the country. The regular service has its advantage, too. Everything, you feel sure, will be in readiness for it all along the road. Fresh horses and fresh eggs at the stages, and a certainty of getting through to Taupo on Tuesday evening, no matter what happens.

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From Napier to Taupo and back Overland-Introductory by Ngai Deckard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License