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How they travelled

How emigrants travelled from Britain

Emigrants were mostly poor, so they could not afford comfortable accommodation. This section looks at some of the hardships of travel by sailing ship or early steamer. It also describes how conditions improved greatly for the last wave of emigrants by sea.

Long months at sea

Many Scots and others emigrated to New Zealand. This was an epic voyage, since sailing ships may have taken three months to arrive. So as to take advantage of the winds in the middle of the ocean, the ship would often not sight land during its entire voyage half way round the world. Food stayed fresh only for a few days. There were sometimes pigs or chickens kept on board and killed during the voyage. Otherwise, any meat had to be salted to preserve it. To go with it there were hard ships` biscuits, often full of insects called weevils. The water to wash it down was not very clean, especially after being stored in casks for weeks. 

Given these conditions, those who found their way to New Zealand must have been a tough, determined lot. They sound the sort of pioneers any developing country would be glad of. However, this did not stop the New Zealand Government in the 1870s encouraging shipping companies to operate steam ships in order to attract `a better class of emigrant`!


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