Ferdinand von Hochstetter
Austrian Novara Expedition
Early New Zealand Imprint
Dr. F. von Hochstetter; Dr. A. Petermann
Title: The Geology of New Zealand: In Explanation of the Geographical and Topographical Atlas of New Zealand.
Auckland: T. Delattre, 1864. An English translation by Dr. C. F. Fisher, from the Scientific Publications of the Novara Expedition, comprising important and fascinating observations and survey work by German-Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter at the onset of British settlement in the region. 8vo. 113 pages, plus table of contents, title page. Red cloth boards titled in gilt to front. Volume measures approximately 14 x 21 cm. Faint blemish to boards, otherwise very good condition, clean and bright.
An early work presenting discoveries made in New Zealand, specifically in Auckland and Nelson, during the Austrian Imperial Novara Expedition. It includes two important lectures delivered by esteemed geologist and expedition leader Ferdinand von Hochstetter. A principal member of the expedition, Hochstetter was involved in its planning from the onset. His surveys were used in the making of the first geological map of New Zealand, created the bases for future geological research.
The Novara Expedition (1857-1859) was the first large-scale scientific, around-the-world mission of the Austrian Imperial navy. Seven scientists were onboard, led by geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter and zoologist Georg von Frauenfeld. As well as the notable geological and topographical observations, important botanical research was performed. The first coca plant investigations, in New Zealand and on other islands, resulted in the first use of pure cocaine for medicinal purposes.
In 1859, during the expedition, Hochstetter was funded by the government of New Zealand to make a rapid geological survey of the islands. Over 150 years later, his work is regarded as an authoritative primary source still today. In his diaries kept on this expedition, he penned detailed descriptions which were consulted and found invaluable in 2011 when scientists set out to locate the silica terraces on Lake Rotomahana, which had been buried in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. As recent as 2017 his work has been found practical, when his survey of old Lake Rotomahana and the Pink and White Terraces was reverse engineered to provide the coordinates of the Pink, Black and White Terraces.
Following eight pages on the “Chartography of New Zealand” by renowned German cartographer August Heinrich Petermann, the volume’s content centers largely on Hochstetter’s survey of Auckland, beginning with his lecture on the region’s geology. Subjects further include its extinct volcanos, Lake Rotomahana and its hot springs [Te Tarata thermal springs], and three inlets on North Island – Whaingaroa [now known as Raglan], Aotea, and Kawhia. Approximately one quarter of the text is devoted to his geological work in the Province of Nelson.
Dating to the earliest years of British emigration, not long after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by the British Crown and various Maori chiefs, Hochstetter observed a little-populated New Zealand, providing most fascinating secondary observations.
For example, of the environs of Lake Rotomahana, Hochstetter writes:
“The Lake District… is almost exclusively inhabited by the natives, who have selected the most beautiful and fertile banks of Rotorua and Tarawera as their settlements. The Mission Station at Temu (the Rev. Mr. Spencer’s residence) is at present the only European habitation, and is the resort of many travellers and naturalists…”
“… Hot water bubbles up everywhere… wherever a hole is made… hot steams bursts forth, which we used for cooking our potatoes and meat, spreading them on ferns… native custom.”
“Some of the basins are so large that a person can swim in them… the celebrated Te Tarata spring… The natives assert that the whole water in the principal basin is sometimes ejected suddenly with vast force, and that it is possible to look into the empty basin, thirty feet deep, which fills again speedily.”
Of the extinct volcanos of Auckland, Hochstetter reminisces:
“The name Rangitoto, which signifies ‘Sky of Blood’… the reflection of streams of lava in the nightly sky… Transformed through the diligence and enterprise of the European settler into fertile cultivated districts, the Auckland volcanos are but monuments of a remarkable history of the Maori race.
On their summits were the fortified pas of the chiefs, while at the foot of the hills were distributed the huts and kumera cultivations of the slaves.
… the Maori feudal castles have decayed; the terraces and holes are the only remaining monuments of a brave people which were annihilated in the bloody, cannibal wars of Hongi… in the years 1820 and 1830, and whose deeds live only in song and tradition. ”
The Novara Expedition (1857-1859) was the first large-scale scientific, around-the-world mission of the Austrian Imperial navy. Authorized by Archduke Maximillian, the journey lasted 2 years 3 months, from 30 April 1857 until 30 August 1859. The expedition was accomplished by the frigate Novara, under the command of Kommodore Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair, with 345 officers and crew, plus 7 scientists aboard. Preparation for the research journey was made by the “Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna” and by specialized scholars under direction of the geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter and the zoologist Georg von Frauenfeld.
The first coca plant investigations, in particular on St. Paul Island, the Nicobar Islands, and on New Zealand, created the bases for future geological research. In 1865, James Hector would produce the first geological map of New Zealand, based on local surveys by Ferdinand Hochstetter at Auckland and Nelson, together with surveys made by others in various regions. The expedition’s introduction of coca plant leaves made it possible to isolate cocaine in its pure form for the first time in 1860. The collections of botanical, zoological (26,000 specimens), and cultural material brought back enriched the Austrian museums, in particular the natural-history museum. They were also studied by Johann Natterer, a scientist who collected Vienna museum specimens during 18 years in South America. The geomagnetic observations made throughout the whole expedition significantly increased the scientific knowledge in this field. The oceanographic research, in particular in the South Pacific, revolutionized oceanography and hydrography.
The results of the voyage were compiled into a 21-binder report of the Viennese Academy of Sciences, titled “Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde (1861-1876)” (“Journey of the Austrian Frigate Novara Around the Earth”). Also published were many woodcuts under the same title (in 3 volumes, by K. Scherzer 1864-1866).
Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter (1829-1884) was a German-Austrian geologist with an illustrious career in his field of expertise. In 1852 he joined the staff of the Imperial Geological Survey of Austria and was engaged until 1856 in the Bohemian Forest, and in the Fichtel Hills and Karlsbad mountains. His excellent reports earned him great acclaim, and he was subsequently selected as geologist to the Novara expedition (1857-1859), during which he made numerous valuable observations. In 1859 he was employed by the government of New Zealand to make a rapid geological survey of the islands. On his return he was appointed in 1860 professor of mineralogy and geology at the Imperial-Royal Polytechnic Institute in Vienna, and also became the tutor of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria. In 1876 he was made superintendent of the Imperial Natural History Museum. In these later years he explored portions of Turkey and eastern Russia, and he published papers on a variety of geological, paleontological and mineralogical subjects.
New Zealand’s endemic Hochstetter’s frog, Leiopelma hochstetteri, is named after him. Several other species bear his name in their scientific names, including the Takahe, Porphyrio hochstetteri, and Powelliphanta hochstetteri, a species of New Zealand’s giant carnivorous land snails. New Zealand geography also carries his legacy. Hochstetter Peak on Trinity Peninsula in Antarctica is named after Hochstetter, as are New Zealand’s Mount Hochstetter (West Coast Region) and the Hochstetter Dome and Hochstetter Icefall close to the Tasman Glacier.