MICHAEL FOWLER’S HISTORIC HAWKE’S BAY
Napier to Taupo arduous trip
The road to Taupo from Napier, as pictured in 1896, involved crossing rivers and streams many times.
In the foreground is Kaiwaka Creek, which had to be forded (crossed) more than 20 times, and the River Esk, as it was known then, had to be forded 23 times.
There were so many crossings during the trip, it was said that even the most enthusiastic “tripper” gave up on his arithmetic in despair.
The earliest pathway of moving between Napier and Taupo was by way of Maori tracks, of which there were several which were used by tribes in the Waikato region to visit Ahuriri and gather seafood, and sometimes to wage war.
Anglican missionary William Colenso was the ﬁrst European to reportedly have walked the Taupo tracks from Tarawera to Ahuriri in 1847.
Thomas Tanner, who completed the Taupo trip in 1857 from Ahuriri by horseback, recorded coming across settlements of Maori at various stages on the tracks. In order to get provisions along the way, he made a sound he described as “cooing,” and if any Maori were near – which they often were they mysteriously appeared. He would greet them by saying “tena koe” and they would offer to cook him potatoes and sometimes pork.
Public horse-drawn transportation continued until about 1913, when a Cadillac, nine seater car was introduced – reducing the time taken to eight hours, instead of days. (Heritage Trails Hastings/Napier to Taupo)
Photo caption – JOURNEY: The Napier-Taupo road circa 1896. PHOTO/MICHAEL FOWLER COLLECTION