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We were then on the road to Rotorua, known for its geothermal activity. As we drove along we started to see more and more, what appeared to be, steam vents.

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We stopped in at the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. This thermal area is part of a larger Scenic Reserve in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is over 18 sq.km and is literally covered with collapsed craters, cold and boiling pools of mud, water, and steaming fumaroles. (The wonderland makes up just a small part of this)

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Beneath the ground is a system of streams which are heated by magma left over from earlier eruptions. The water is so hot (temperature of up to 300C) that it absorbs minerals out of the rocks through which it passes and transports them to the surface as steam where they are ultimately absorbed into the ground. The so called “rotten egg smell” of geothermal areas is associated with “hydrogen sulphide” (H2S)IMG_7373

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Devil’s Home – An example of a collapsed crater where underground acid action has caused the ground to collapse. IMG_7370

Rainbow Crater – Named after the sulphur crystals and coloured mineral veins in the kaolin clay walls of the crater. IMG_7376

Thunder Crater – A collapsed crater formed in 1967 showing how unstable the land can be. The steaming water at the bottom is responsible for the erosion.IMG_7378

Devil’s Ink Pots – A series of mud pools whose colour is due to small amounts of graphite and crude oil brought to the surface.IMG_7382

Artist’s Palette – Overflow water from the nearby spring draws with it minerals from below the surface. As the waters cool and the minerals are exposed to our atmosphere they show themselves in a variety of locations and colours depending on the water levels and wind direction.IMG_7387

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Opal Pool – A sulphurous spring on the edge sinter terrace named after its greenish yellow colour. IMG_7389

Crossing the Terrace on the Boardwalk – Sitting on the very edge of the firm ground and using specially treated timber and stainless steel pins.IMG_7392IMG_7395

The Primrose Terrace – The largest sinter terraces in New Zealand. The water from the nearby spring/pool dissolved silica which, as the water evaporates, is deposited as siliceous sinter. They are very fragile and have been forming for the last 700 years. (3 acres as of today)IMG_7390IMG_7398IMG_7399

Lake Ngakoro (The Grandfather)IMG_7401

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Bridal Veil Falls – Partially coloured by the overflow of the sulphurous spring while the green colour is attributable to microbial mats.IMG_7402

Alum Cliffs – Shallow horizontal ridges indicate ancient weathering.IMG_7407

Frying Pan Flat – An eruption crater with an unstable floor of which is littered with bubbling hot springs and fumaroles (steam vents)IMG_7409IMG_7406

Oyster Pool – Sulphurous pool named after its distinct shapeIMG_7412

Sulphur Cave – Magnificent example of undisturbed crystallized sulphur formed as hot sulphur gases have cooled in the sheltered atmosphere of the overhanging cliff.IMG_7415

Sulphur Mounds – Looking like large ant hills these mounds of sulphur were formed under water and were exposed when the area drained.IMG_7429

The Champagne Pool – 65m in diameter and 62m deep. Its surface temperature is 74C and bubbles are due to carbon dioxide. The pool was formed 700 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption. Minerals contained in the water are gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, arsenic, thallium, antimony, etc and are presently depositing on the sinter ledge. IMG_7434IMG_7440IMG_7449IMG_7454

Inferno Crater – This crater has a bottom of violently boiling mud. In recent history an earth archway linking the sides has been completely destroyed by the action of acidic steam.IMG_7470

Bird’s Nest – Crater Starlings, Swallows, and Mynahs nest in holes on the walls of this collapsed crater. The heat from below rises up to the crater walls to incubate the eggs.IMG_7475

Sulphur Cave – Sulphur crystals have formed on the cave wall avoce the vents.IMG_7478

Devil’s Bath – The colour is the result of excess water form the Champagne Pool mixing with sulphur and ferrous salts. IMG_7495

Range of colours in the area are due to different mineral elements. Green – Colloidal sulphur, ferrous salts, Orange – Antimony, Purple – Manganese oxide, White – Silica, Yellow-Primrose – Sulphur, Red-Brown – Iron Oxide, Black – Sulphur and carbon.

*Trentepohlia is the name given to the reddy-brown to bright orange colour algae seen on the vegetation in the park. Its colour is usually due to an orange pigment which hides the normally green pigment of plants known as chlorophyll.IMG_7411

A short drive and we are also able to see a really cool mud pool.IMG_7496IMG_7497IMG_7505

A little more driving and we were in Rotorua. We checked into our hostel, Rock Solid Backpackers. Aptly named as it has a climbing gym under it / next to it.

We walked around town and hit “eat street” where we had some okay Thai whilst we planned the days ahead.

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Until next time…

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