" New Zealand Holiday ... 4 . . . Rotorua "
Date & Time: Saturday 29th October 2011.
Locations : Out and about around the Rotorua region
Places visited : Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Park, Huka Falls, Lake Taupo, Rotorua town centre.
Accommodation : Lake House B & B, Lakeside Rotorua, New Zealand.
With : Ann and myself.
Weather : Overcast with a little light rain at times.
[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]
After flying back from White Island yesterday we have a day driving around the sights of Rotorua.
This antipodean region of the world is so seismically active that New Zealand is often called " The Shaky Isles "
The Taupo area includes numerous volcanoes, fortunately all quite old and none as active as White Island.
Today we travel a short distance south of Rotorua to the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Park inside the middle circle.
Be there 10 am prompt for the talk about, and eruption of, the Lady Knox Geyser.
The park ranger doubles as car park attendant and now tour guide.
The crowd is pleased at a good showing . . .
It is said that the potential for controlling the geyser was first discovered by someone doing their washing when they actually dropped soap into the hole. The chemical of the soap destroyed the surface tension between the cooler upper water and the lower, boiling water causing a dramatic release of pressure and the subsequent water spout.
It has to be said however that the geyser is fully capable of its own somewhat erratic performance every 24 to 52 hours. Today, and every day for the visitors it was artificially primed with a soap-like chemical in order to perform to the commercial 10 am timetable. Having experienced the real thing, this wonderful natural phenomena, coaxed to perform to order, seemed somewhat "belittled" by the event.
Still . . . judging by the delighted sounds and the faces of the crowds, most folk were more than pleased with the display.
We all moved across into the wider thermal park to see the 100% natural phenomena on display.
Leaving the crowds to process around the brochure-guided route, we took the anti-clockwise pathway, reading the guide book upside-down.
Well this is New Zealand after all and we are in the southern hemisphere !
The green pool was called "The Devils Bath"
We walked up past the sulphur pool with its amazing and natural green colour and looked down from the balcony
into the boiling mud cauldron known as "The Inferno Crater"
Onward and upward and we reach a flat calm volcanic pool surrounded by a low fence.
The brochure confirmed this was "The Champagne Pool" which features in all the brochures on Wai-o-Tapu.
Unfortunately the sky wasn't quite as blue as the brochures but not to worry.
The 52m wide pool is just the top of a 62m deep volcanic tube, the centre of an old volcano or volcanic vent.
The various shelves above and below the water level reflect the differing height of the water over time.
The water bubbled like champagne due to the high temperatures deep down in the pool releasing carbon dioxide which floats to the top.
The red colour was the distillate of the many chemicals found in the water:
gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, arsenic, thallium, antimony, silica to name just eight .
As the wind gently swirled around, so the surface and the colour were hidden . . .
. . . and then revealed again with dramatic effect.
As we walked around the footpaths we had a view down to another green lake in the distance.
The boardwalk would take us that direction once we had made our way through the woodland.
Not only did we have an informative paper guide-map but there were also many helpful signboards dotted around the walk.
Not all the birds were represented here in the park but we would see many of them over the next few weeks as we journey round New Zealand.
In many places the forest lichens takes on a ghostly yellow colour due to the presence of orange pigments masking the green chlorophyll.
For those of a technical persuasion, it is known as Trentepholia.
Looking down on " The Oyster Pool " (tucked in on the right behind the twigs) and " The Frying Pan Flats "
where a family of Pied Stilt birds live on the insects that prosper on the volcanic waters.
" The Sulphur Cave " . . . as we drop down to the lower levels.
The cave gently emits sulphurous gasses which colour the stones and the cave's roof.
A close up on "The Oyster Pool" so called because of its distinctive colour and shape.
Working our way back up we climb the steps up past "The Bridal Veil Falls"
Above it, 700 years worth of silica deposits known as the "Primrose Terrace" stretches away into the distance.
The surface of the valley floor is flowing with a thin layer of water and the chemicals precipitate out as that water evaporates.
The warmth of the volcanic water speeds the evaporation but they are regarded as very fragile and are protected by a discrete flow fence.
Our tour around brings us back to the Champagne Pool, or more correctly the "Artist's Palette
so called because of the multitude of colours represented across the breadth of the pool.
More volcanic vents amidst the Artists Palette.
We made our way back to the centre past several more features including this one . . . "The Devil's Home" collapsed crater.
- - - o o o - - -
Just outside the scenic reserve was another, equally impressive feature, that of a large bubbling mud pool close by the road.
Steam rises from the many small vents
and where they rise under the mud pool they agitate the silt with great effect.
Almost like eyes staring back at you !
Plop . . . and the surface explodes up . . . throwing mud into the air.
The fast speed of the camera catches the action.
The sound was intriguing too.
We walked around the edge on another well-built board walk.
. . . and were able to look down on the spectacle from above.
[ Click above to see a short 2 minute video of the thermal area and the mud pools.]
- - - o o o - - -
Taking our leave, we drove a few miles towards Lake Taupo where we had been told about another waterfall.
Looking down on Huka Falls.
Note the unusual vegetation contained within what looks like a typical English woodland.
Zooming in, there's an awful lot of water down there !
Lake Taupo is one of the larges inland lakes and its entire waters drain out through these falls.
We walk across the footbridge . . .
The scale can be judges by comparing the people in the viewing platform above the falls.
All is calm downstream as if nothing has happened.
This is New Zealand . . . home of the jet boat and home of adventure entertainment.
You pays your money . . . and the man will take you up and around for a spin.
With any luck you might get really wet !
A short distance upstream is the town of Taupo and Lake Taupo itself.
The lake is nearly 40km long and up to 30km wide in places . . . that's a lot of water to feed towards the falls.
It is said that New Zealand generates a considerable amount of power from thermal energy
and on our way back to Rotorua we passed one of the sites where they tap into the underground energy source and produce electricity.
The huge pipes are oversized to insulate the super-heated steam as it travels the short distance to the power station generators.
- - - o o o - - -
Back in Rotorua town now and on our last day we wanted to visit the local park !
Most town parks have swings and roundabouts . . . this one has hot pools as well.
The also have seats and specially created foot baths to relax the summer visitors
but I didn't fancy dipping my feat in these steaming mud pools. A large wooden fence confirmed their unsuitability.
The warm water did wonders for the plant life however and the parkland had plenty of colourful bushes and trees.
Across the pool, the Wisteria covered bridge, again a feature of the town.
Ann's photo of me as I cross the bridge.
- - - o o o - - -
Rotorua is an interesting area and fully justifies it's claim to be the most spectacular thermal area of New Zealand.
Over the centuries the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have dramatically altered the scenery. In Victorian times the area was famous for the Pink and White Terraces at Wai-o-Tapu (similar to the Primrose Terrace we saw only bigger) but they were lost in the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. They have recently been re-discovered submerged deep below the surface of one of the local volcanic lakes.
The only pictorial evidence I have of them is in the form of a wall painting, a mural on the wall of our Jacuzzi pool room
as Ann and I relaxed at the Lake House B&B that same evening.
That's the famous Victorian terraces behind the mermaid !
Thanks to Carol & Ken of Lake House B&B for an excellent stay
and to the camera which took this photo . . . eventually !
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Fuji Finepix T300, my Canon G10 or new 1100D digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . . A classic mural in the bathroom..