THE VOLCANIC REGION OF PUMICE HILLS, LOOKING TOWARDS TONGARIRO AND THE RUAPAHU.
THE Tongariro is the great centre of volcanic action in New Zealand; beyond it, rises the lofty mountain of Ruapahu, and, extending southwards, are other snowy ranges. The altitude of these two remarkable mountains is very considerable, and probably exceeds ten thousand feet: they are covered with perpetual snow, that on the Ruapahu especially, extending very far down its sides; the heat and steam arising from the crater of Tongariro, cause much of the snow there to melt, which, running down the fissures of the mountain, descends in dark and troubled torrents to the lakes beneath.
The accompanying plate represents a scene between Taupo and Otawhao, not many miles from the native village of Tutukamauna; it was thus described in my journal at the moment: "Nov. 4th. A splendid sunrise ushered in a cloudless day. There was ice this morning as thick as a half-crown on the loose hills of pumice that bordered the stream at the foot of the hill of Tutukamauna: All day we travelled through a grassy but wild-looking country: pumice was everywhere thickly scattered about, and the whole region was exceedingly desolate. The views of the Ruapahu and Tongariro from this point were magnificent; the broad unsullied snows of the former stood out like a pearly cloud against the blue sky; the high snowy ranges of the Ruatahina mountains stretched away towards the south, and the scene was one of vastness and solitary grandeur.
The little stream that winds along between the abrupt pumice hills, is a tributary of the Waipapa: the trees on its margin are the ti, a species of dracæna, or dragon-tree (Dracæna Australis).
My native guides, Rihia, and E Pera, are seen pursuing the path over the rise of one of these miniature volcanic hills; they have their toko tokos, or travelling sticks, and each bears upon his back a pikau, or bundle, containing my slender stock of baggage, and a supply of sketching materials; with tobacco for presenting to the natives in return for their hospitality, where we had occasion to halt for food."