February 3. Long 44 mile stage ride to Springfield, thence to Christchurch by rail. Arrive 6:30pm at Coker’s Hotel. Scarce a tree seen all day except those planted on the Canterbury Plains. Pines and cypresses mostly from Europe and California. Saw millions of these in long windbreak belts and in groves. All the hills, mountains and valleys between Beasley [Bealey] and Springfield treeless, grassy and rather dry and barren, given up to sheep. Strange contrast to Buller and Otira valleys whose forest exuberance is glorious. The Canterbury plains are in part very fertile, in part great cobbly washes from the mountains. February 4. All our party vaccinated 10 [m] l apiece, so as to secure entrance to Australia. Hope the thing will take. Went to Cook’s office to learn about times of steamer sailings etc., and to Botanical Gardens where my heart was gladdened by sight of Sequoia gigantea, the finest I think I have ever seen away from home. Perfect spiry [spiny?] cones, several dozen I think. A few of Sequoia sempervirens also, but these seem to suffer from drouht [drought]. Umbellularia[ sp.] and Madrono [Madrona, Arbutus menziesii], fine specimens doing well. Also Pinus insignis and Cupressus macrocarpa and even a Manzanita tree, Arc-galuca [Arctostaphylos glauca] to represent Californian, Japanese and European trees, and shrubs well represented and a block of generous size is devoted to the flora of New Zealand which to me is most interesting. A fine stream, the Avon, flows through the garden.
Original journal dimensions: 9 x 15.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist