Journey to New Zealand by E.J. Wakefield
(An extract from Adventure in New Zealand, Vol. 1, 1845)
All our equipments and preparations being at length complete, we sailed from
Plymouth on the 12th of May.
The ship was commanded by Mr. Edmund Mein Chaffers, of the Royal Navy, who had
been acting master of H. M. S. Beagle during the survey of Cape Horn and voyage
round the world, performed by Captain Fitzroy between the years. 1830 and 1836.
Besides Colonel Wakefield and myself, the following gentlemen were passengers on
board: --Doctor Ernest Dieffenbach, a native of Berlin, who had been appointed
naturalist to the Company; Mr. Charles Heaphy, the Company's draughtsman; Mr.
John Dorset, who had been promised the appointment of colonial surgeon; Nayti, a
New Zealander, who had been residing during two years in my father's house in
London, and who was to act as interpreter; Mr. Richard Lowry, the chief mate;
and Mr. George F. Robinson, the surgeon of the ship. The Rev. Montague Hawtrey,
to whom I have already adverted as the writer of the admirable essay on the
amalgamation of a civilized people with savages, was to have accompanied us as
chaplain. He had actually received his outfit allowance from the Company, but
was prevented at the last moment by unavoidable circumstances from carrying out
In the steerage were--Robert Doddrey, who had formerly visited some parts of the
coast of New Zealand in a trading schooner from Van Diemen's Land, and who was
engaged as storekeeper and additional interpreter; the second and third mates;
and Colonel Wakefield's servant, besides the steward and his cabin-boys.
Petty officers and foremast hands, among whom were a New Zealander and a native
of the Marquesas Islands, made up our total muster-roll to thirty-five souls.
The Tory sailed remarkably well. We crossed the line, in 26 deg. 50' W.
longitude, on the twenty-sixth day from Plymouth, passed the longitude of the
Cape of Good Hope on the 10th of July, and saw the high land of New Zealand on
the 16th of August, about noon. We established during the voyage a weekly
manuscript newspaper, and a debating society. These recreations, and an ample
supply of useful and interesting books, caused the time to pass cheerfully
enough. Vocabularies of the Maori or New Zealand language were also constructed
from Nayti's dictation; and lessons to him in English spelling, many a deep game
of chess, and an occasional battue of the albatrosses and other marine birds,
which abound in the high latitudes between the Cape of Good Hope and Van
Diemen's Land, beguiled the leisure time. These battues partook of shooting and
fishing; for sometimes we baited large hooks with bits of pork, and caught the
gigantic birds by the beak. I remember one day seeing twenty-eight live
albatrosses on the deck together, many of them measuring twelve feet from tip to
tip of the wings. Once on the deck, they cannot escape, as they have great
difficulty in first rising on the wing. Some of us stored the white feathers,
supposing from Nayti's account that they would be highly valuable in New
Zealand; others made tobacco-pouches of the web-feet, or pipe-stems of the wing
-bones; the naturalist made preparations of skeletons and skins, to keep his
hand in; and the sailors prepared the carcases in a dish called "sea-pie."
The land which we first sighted proved to be the western coast of the Middle
Island, not far south of Cape Farewell. A remarkable white fissure in the
mountains forms a distinguishing land-mark at a great distance.
Having fairly entered the middle of Cook's Strait by sunset, we hove to with a
fresh N. W. breeze till daylight. Once or twice during the night we found
soundings in about fifty fathoms. This was conjectured to be near the mouth of
In the morning of the 17th we proceeded to the eastward. When I came on deck we
had land in sight on both bows. Bearing away for the southern land, we soon made
out Stephens Island, and passed within five or six miles of it. As we ran along
the coast, D'Urville's Island, the Admiralty Islands, Point Lambert, and Point
Jackson were successively recognized from Cook's chart. The high rugged land of
the Middle Island, which had at a distance appeared barren and sprinkled with
rocks, proved on closer inspection to be clothed with the most luxuriant forest.
As we neared Point Jackson, the breeze died away, and we remained for a time
becalmed in the entrance of Queen Charlotte's Sound. Cape Koumaru (Koemaroo of
Cook) and the Brothers, Entry Island, and the mainland on the north coast of
Cook's Strait, were now very distinctly visible; a bright warm sun gave the most
charming appearance to the romantic shores of the Sound; and we exclaimed
against the calm which seemed likely to detain us another night at sea. Two or
three of the most impatient got into the cutter, and pulled towards Point
Jackson, to try and catch some fish; but they had not got far before a light air
sprang up, and we glided into the Sound. The tide favouring us, they had some
trouble in overtaking the ship. The scenery became more and more majestic as we
advanced into this noble estuary. Its outer mouth is nine miles wide. High
wooded mountains rise on both sides; numerous islands and projecting points dot
the expanse of still water which penetrates far into the interior; and a glimpse
of the Southern Alps is obtained in the extreme distance. We proceeded between
Long Island and Motuara. The former, a narrow ridge bare of wood, was crowned
with native fortifications; a small pa or fort was also visible on the south
point of Motuara. As we entered the Sound, we saw four canoes under sail, coming
from the westward. Before we anchored for the night in the S. E. entrance of
Ship Cove, another canoe came paddling off to us, containing eight natives. We
at first thought they hesitated about venturing near us; but it turned out that
they were only stopping to bale out their canoe, which was a very ill-
constructed affair. As they came alongside the ship, which had almost stopped
her way, the canoe was lashed to the chains, and the men scrambled on deck with
great activity. We were at first startled by the quickness with which this was
done, and by their wild, half-naked appearance. All our anticipations had not
prepared us thoroughly for this first meeting; and our friend Nayti was so quiet
and silent in his manners, that the contrast of their demeanour was striking.
They ran about shaking hands with everybody they met, and seemed to consider
their appearance as a matter of course. One of them, a tall muscular young man,
ran to assist the helmsman, and seemed proud to display some knowledge of
nautical terms and the manoeuvres of a ship. They all spoke more or less broken
English, and chattered in a sort of authoritative way about the best anchorage,
giving themselves quite the airs belonging to a pilot. They had brought on board
some fish and potatoes, which we bought for a little tobacco. Night closed in as
we let go our anchor, and they returned to their village.
August 18th. --This morning, at daylight, we had warped farther into the cove,
and anchored in 11 fathoms, muddy bottom, within 300 yards of the shore, where
we fastened a hawser to a tree; thus occupying probably the same spot as Captain
Cook, in his numerous visits to this harbour. There were a good many natives on
board already; but, eager to touch the land, I got into a small canoe with
Nayti, who paddled me ashore. The hills, which rise to the height of 1000 or
1500 feet on three sides of the cove, are covered from their tops to the water's
edge with an undulating carpet of forest. How well Cook has described the
harmony of the birds at this very spot!
Converted to electronic form by Corey Woodw@rd
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