January 28. Lovely calm morning. Left Picton at 2:00am. The north end of the South Island has been carved and frittered into fiords and islets by glaciers, making charming scenery, mostly heavily timbered except the small islets and outer fronts of promontories. Gulls follow and scream for breakfast. Spangles dance to the sun on ripples made by the ship, not a white wave in sight, not even on rocky shores. Timbered slopes in distance bring up grand flowery pictures for the botanist and nature lovers. After charming sail over calm waters arrived at Nelson about 1:30pm., having to wait an hour for the tide. Nelson small place (7000) with background of mountains brown and dry like California foothills. Trees only along top. All the way from Picton, even where unsettled, the forest is being gradually and ruthlessly burned for grass to future drouth [drought] and floods. January 29. Cloudy. Rain last night for three hours. Start for Longford at 7:55 pm [am]. A strip of good farm land extends along coast hereabouts, between the mountains and the shore. The farmers’ homes like those of England. Glad to see Sequoia gigantea common as ornamental tree and thriving. Saw a row of fine vigorous saplings 50 or 60 feet high at the Nelson Botanical Gardens last evening. A good beginning has been made, but water supply deficient. Arrive at Motupiko, end of railway, about 10:00 pm. [am.] and start for Longford, 42 miles, arrive at 7:00am [pm.] well soaked in driving rain. Had outside seats for which we paid extra. Got corner of plant press wet and had job lasting until near midnight drying them at fire. Rode through magnificent forest in the afternoon covering mountains to top say 3000 or 4000 feet as we followed in.
Original journal dimensions: 9 x 15.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist