Early travel guide to New Zealand…Hints of the future?

16 Aug

From the New Guide to the Lakes and Hot Springs and a Month in Hot Water, by Thorpe Talbot, MDCCLXXXII (1882).

Just a couple of quick citations from the introduction of this great book that show that the more things change in tourism, the more they stay the same.

On the marvels of modern transport:

“It is said that Dr. Johnson used to say that the best and pleasantest way to travel is to sit at your own fireside and read how other people have done it.  If the dictionary hero ever did say that, the only excuses one can offer for him are, that he lived in an age that, in this advanced one, may be politely described as unus equus; that the worthy Doctor hadn’t heard of the Pink and White Terraces, Lakes, and Hot Springs of New Zealand and that it took almost a lifetime then to do a journey that can now be easily performed in less than half-a-year!!”

On the merits of tours or F.I.T travel and early use of direct booking:

“There is a system of travelling with ‘through tickets’ at present very popular; but I would not recommend it.  It is much better to make the tour independently – without being hurried through upon a routine plan and compelled by agents to press on regardless of weather and one’s own health and inclinations. Moreover, it is quite easy to make the trip at as low rates as those incurred by the ‘through ticket’. ”

And, of course, the appeal of Maori tourism:

“Instead of daubing themselves with the hideous war pigments, performing the savage war dance, and smacking their lips over the prospect of devouring our flesh, and converting our bones into fish-hooks and whistles, as was their custom of old, they came to us with generous kits full of potatoes and crayfish…

At these times we engaged in many friendly hand-shakings and social chats, and felt half inclined at times to follow the example of our native guides and indulge in an occasional nose-rubbing.”

Indeed.

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