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New Zealand

After visits to Maryborough and some other Australian towns, we presently took passage for New Zealand. If it would not look too much like showing off, I would tell the reader where New Zealand is; for he is as I was; he thinks he knows. And he thinks he knows where Hertzegovina is; and how to pronounce pariah; and how to use the word unique without exposing himself to the derision of the dictionary. But in truth, he knows none of these things. There are but four or five people in the world who possess this knowledge, and these make their living out of it. They travel from place to place, visiting literary assemblages, geographical societies, and seats of learning, and springing sudden bets that these people do not know these things. Since all people think they know them, they are an easy prey to these adventurers. Or rather they were an easy prey until the law interfered, three months ago, and a New York court decided that this kind of gambling is illegal, "because it traverses Article IV, Section 9, of the Constitution of the United States, which forbids betting on a sure thing." This decision was rendered by the full Bench of the New York Supreme Court, after a test sprung upon the court by counsel for the prosecution, which showed that none of the nine Judges was able to answer any of the four questions.
All people think that New Zealand is close to Australia or Asia, or somewhere, and that you cross to it on a bridge. But that is not so. It is not close to anything, but lies by itself, out in the water. It is nearest to Australia, but still not near. The gap between is very wide. It will be a surprise to the reader, as it was to me, to learn that the distance from Australia to New Zealand is really twelve or thirteen hundred miles, and that there is no bridge. I learned this from Professor X., of Yale University, whom I met in the steamer on the great lakes when I was crossing the continent to sail across the Pacific. I asked him about New Zealand, in order to make conversation. I supposed he would generalize a little without compromising himself, and then turn the subject to something he was acquainted with, and my object would then be attained; the ice would be broken, and we could go smoothly on, and get acquainted, and have a pleasant time. But, to my surprise, he was not only not embarrassed by my question, but seemed to welcome it, and to take a distinct interest in it. He began to talk—fluently, confidently, comfortably; and as he talked, my admiration grew and grew; for as the subject developed under his hands, I saw that he not only knew where New Zealand was, but that he was minutely familiar with every detail of its history, politics, religions, and commerce, its fauna, flora, geology, products, and climatic peculiarities. When he was done, I was lost in wonder and admiration, and said to myself, he knows everything; in the domain of human knowledge he is king.
I wanted to see him do more miracles; and so, just for the pleasure of hearing him answer, I asked him about Hertzegovina, and pariah, and unique. But he began to generalize then, and show distress. I saw that with New Zealand gone, he was a Samson shorn of his locks; he was as other men. This was a curious and interesting mystery, and I was frank with him, and asked him to explain it.
He tried to avoid it at first; but then laughed and said that after all, the matter was not worth concealment, so he would let me into the secret. In substance, this is his story:

(See Chapter 26 for the burlesque).

Bluff to Invercargill

November 5, 1895
See Chapter 31, Following the Equator

This train-express goes twenty and one-half miles an hour, schedule time; but it is fast enough, the outlook upon sea and land is so interesting, and the cars so comfortable. They are not English, and not American; they are the Swiss combination of the two. A narrow and railed porch along the side, where a person can walk up and down. A lavatory in each car.

Invercargill to Dunedin

November 6, 1895
Chapter 30, Following the Equator

November 6. A lovely summer morning; brilliant blue sky. A few miles out from Invercargill, passed through vast level green expanses snowed over with sheep. Fine to see. The green, deep and very vivid sometimes; at other times less so, but delicate and lovely. A passenger reminds me that I am in "the England of the Far South."


November 6 - 9, 1895
Chapter 30, Following the Equator

Dunedin, same date. The town justifies Michael Davitt's praises. The people are Scotch. They stopped here on their way from home to heaven—thinking they had arrived. The population is stated at 40,000, by Malcolm Ross, journalist; stated by an M. P. at 60,000. A journalist cannot lie.

Dunedin to Timaru

November 9 - 11, 1895

Later in the morning the Clemens party left Dunedin to Timaru (pop.11,000; halfway to Christchurch), perhaps stopping for tea at the Oamaru station; Livy and Clara continued on to Christchurch, N.Z. (MTDBD)


November 9, 11 & 12, 1895

November 11 Monday – Sam backtracked from Timaru to Oamaru by train, arriving in the early afternoon, and was driven around Claremont by a local, W. Evans. He got a look at the steamer Flora, in which he would sail from Christchurch to Wellington a week later. (MTDBD)


November 9-11, 1895

November 10 Sunday – In Timaru Sam was driven around the town and down to the beach, where he viewed the Elginshire, shipwrecked on May 9, 1892. He wrote, “big flowering mills; wonderful opaline clouds...a pretty town & cosy pretty homes all around it. Plenty of greenery & flowers...broom & gorse.” (MTDBD)

Oamaru to Christchurch

November 12, 1895

November 12 Tuesday – Four miles outside of Oamaru, Sam lunched with John F. Miles, probably on his sheep ranch. Afterward Sam and Carlyle G. Smythe traveled the 150 miles to Christchurch, N.Z., “the city of the plains.” (MTDBD)


November 16, 1895


November 17, 1895 & December 10-13, 1895

French Pass

November 18, 1895

New Plymouth

November 19 and December 6 & 7, 1895

November 19 Tuesday – The Clemens party arrived in New Plymouth, N.Z. where they stayed “all day”
sailing again on the Mahinapua at 10 p.m. for Auckland. On board ship they met Archbishop Redmond
and a priest. No record is given for the group’s activities in New Plymouth. (MTDBD)


November 20-26, 1895

Auckland to Gisborne and Napier

November 26-28, 1895

November 26 Tuesday – The Clemens party sailed from Auckland at 3 p.m. on the Union Co.’s Rotomahana. Shillingsburg: “They had arrived at Auckland’s western port near Onehunga, crossed through the city and departed from the northeastern shore on their way to Gisborne and Napier on the eastcoast” [At Home 161]. (MTDBD)


November 26, 1895


November 27, 1895


November 28 - December 2, 1895


December 2, 1895

Palmerston North

December 2 & 3, 1895


December 3-5 and December 7-9, 1895


December 5, 1895

Wanganui to Wellington

December 9, 1895

Wellington to Sydney

December 13-17, 1895


Cooper, Robert - Around the World with Mark Twain
Fears, David - Mark Twain Day By Day
Shillingsburg, Miriam Jones - At Home Abroad: Mark Twain in Australasia
Zacks, Richard - Chasing the Last Laugh

Course outline

Following the Equator

  • Across the Pacific
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • India
  • South Africa
  • Return to Southampton

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