Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rotorua, New Zealand: Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland

Yes . . . still catching up on posts from spring and summer, while we're already well into fall!

After spending our first day in Rotorua poking around the town itself, Nana and I ventured a little further afield the following morning, to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, a short drive south of town.
That's steam!

Wai-O-Tapu is only one of several geothermal valleys in the Rotorua area, but according to the lovely folks at the Malfroy Motor Lodge, it's the best. Although I don't really have much basis for comparison, I do have to say I was pretty impressed.

First, Wai-O-Tapu is home to the semi-man-made, semi-accidental Lady Knox Geyser. The story goes that inmates from a nearby prison work camp stumbled on the geyser and induced it to erupt spectacularly when they mixed soap with the hot water while washing their clothes. These days, park guides induce eruptions daily at 9:45 AM.

Second, Wai-O-Tapu is home to some spectacular and, um, sonorous mud pools. Check out the video below (e-mail readers will need to click through to the blog):

It was a lot of fun trying to get shots of erupting bubbles.

There's one! (Nana got it!)
After the mud pools, we entered the park proper - a true wonderland of steaming pits, bubbling neon pools, and strange rock formations straight out of science fiction.

Somehow, the combination of steam and ferns always feels vaguely Jurassic to me. So we both kept a sharp lookout for carnivorous dinosaurs.

The view from the bottom of the valley.

It looks like dirt, but it was actually a kind of oily liquid down at the bottom of the hole.

Tar pits in action - "The Devil's Inkpots."

I think this is the "Artist's Palette?" Some of the pools started to blur together.

The top of the "Primrose Terrace," which was weird. (See below.)

They had this wacky little boardwalk across the top of the Primrose Terrace. A little terrifying, knowing that a single misstep and the ground a few feet away on either side could seriously maim you. Granted, it could also do absolutely nothing to you - but that uncertainty is the fun, isn't it?

Just to drive the point home.

The Primrose Terrace from above. It's a really slow-moving trickle that leaves terraced mineral deposits from the hot springs upstream. 

A close-up of the Primrose Terrace.

Looking down the Primrose Terrace.

Some extreme close-ups of the Primrose Terrace.

I think this one is the "Opal Pool." It was steaming like nobody's business the day we were there.




The pits were a bit hard to photograph. Very difficult to get an appropriate sense of scale. This one could have fit a small house inside.

That ain't algae in that pool - it's a bunch of sulfur and other good stuff.

Now, that's not all for Rotorua - next up is a post on a spectacular Maori dinner show at Mitai Maori Village.

1 comment:

  1. No, next up is a post on toilets. And it is incredible.