Journey to Middle Earth

Whilst in New Zealand, we thought we’d make the most of it and make a journey to Rotorua to see the famous geothermal activity that thousands of tourists travel from all over the world to see. In order to get there you have to pass through someĀ  unique small towns, each known for it’s own unique quirks, the one below is Tirau known for it’s giant tin sculptures.

Once you’ve seen the giant tin dog, the giant tin sheep is a must see and only a few steps away, presenting an opportunity for the 1st of many awkward family photos.

Once we’d seen the giant tin dog, giant tin sheep, giant tin Sheppard and giant tin bird we had our fill and removed ourselves to continue on to Rotorua . When you enter Rotorua the first thing you notice is the distinct smell of rotten eggs which is actually the smell of sulphur emitting from the geothermal activity bubbling and steaming up from underground.

Once you get over the amazement of the stinky flatulent smell you start to notice steam rising up from all over the place in random parks and wells all throughout Rotorua town. To get a better idea of what this was all about we visited the Waimangu Volcanic Valley renowned for it’s thermal activity. Above is the view at the entrance to Waimangu Valley and reminds me of the backdrop for some Jurrasic park like movie, prehisoric like ferns everywhere and steam and smoke emitting randomly from all over.

Below you can see a small geyser constantly spits up boiling water from deep below. The geyser warms the water around to temperatures where only certain types of algae or bacteria grow as shown by the intense greens, yellows and brown in the water. Along with the water that is spouting from deep below are chemical, sediment and salt deposits which when conditions are right form shelves (over hundreds, thousands and millions of years) like the one you see below

Some thermal pools are not only extremely hot but also extremely acidic or sometimes alkali. The one below is crystal blue and inviting but if the temperature didn’t kill you the acidity certainly would. You can imagine how many men and woman might have come to tragic end after coming across an enticing warm steaming spa pool during a cold winters eve.

A similar pool we came across further down the trail seemingly elevated and suspended by those unique shelves that form over countless years.

Some geysers go off like clockwork, our guide was able to lead us to this one at precisely the right time. Apparently it goes off twice a day at almost precisely the same times everyday and shoots hot water 8-12 feet in the air for around 30seconds. It’s quite a spectacle.

This photos just depicts the savagery of the thermal activity and all the resilience of nature. The earth is stained bright red, yellow and glowing white from all the different mineral deposits from all the volcanic activity, even these bushes are stained and charred from the relentless smoke and steam billowing up from underground. Yet, nature still persists and these small trees and shrubs continue to grow and spread slowly and surely.

Next post, Maori Warriors!

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