Story: European exploration

Bidwill’s Rambles in New Zealand

Bidwill’s Rambles in New Zealand

John Carne Bidwill, a merchant based in Sydney, first came to New Zealand in early 1839 to explore the natural environment. This map, printed as the frontispiece of his book, shows the limited and somewhat distorted understanding of New Zealand’s inland geography by European explorers at the time.

Bidwill sailed from the Bay of Islands to Tauranga, where he arranged for seven Māori men to guide him into the interior and carry food. He also hired an unnamed ‘white man’ as an interpreter. The party travelled to Rotorua and then on to Taupō. From there, Bidwill decided to climb Mt Ngāuruhoe. When he reached its base the two Māori still with him chose not to go any further for fear of the volcanic mountain’s tapu (spiritual restriction), so Bidwill climbed the peak alone. He wrote about what he found:

‘The cone is entirely composed of loose cinders, and I was heartily tired of the exertion before I reached the top. Had it not been for the idea of standing where no man ever stood before, I should certainly have given up the undertaking. … The crater was the most terrific abyss I ever looked into or imagined. The rocks overhung it on all sides, and it was not possible to see above ten yards into it from the quantity of steam which it was continually discharging. … I did not stay at the top so long as I could have wished, because I heard a strange noise coming out of the crater, which I thought betokened another eruption.’

John Carne Bidwell [sic]. Rambles in New Zealand. Reprint. Christchurch: Kiwi Publishers, 1996. 43.

Using this item

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: J. C. Bidwill, Rambles in New Zealand. London: W. S. Orr, 1841

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'European exploration - William Colenso and the east coast', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 July 2024)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 24 Sep 2007