Sunday, January 19, 2014


   A few kilometers south of Rotorua, there is a hydrothermal system whose surface activity began in 1886 with the eruption of Mt. Tarawera.  There have been four more eruptions since, the last taking place in 1973.  This volcanic valley is a protected Scenic Reserve with extensive geothermal features, and the only New Zealand example of a biosystem re-establishing after complete devastation by a volcanic eruption.

Visitors to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley can enjoy a two-hour hike along a well maintained path from the Welcome Center to beautiful Lake Rotomahana and/or take a boat cruise around the lake to view geothermal and volcanic features not visible from the shore.  Kathy, Michele, and I signed up for both.

As we made our way from the parking lot to the Welcome Center, we heard the chanting of the haka, the Maori war challenge dance, but it ended before we arrived at the center.  After using the restroom, however, we encountered three performers by their truck, and after pleading a bit, we got a short private performance.  Very nice of them.

There are a lot of volcanic and geothermal features to view along the trail, including volcanic craters and lakes.  You can see steaming rocks around one of these craters.

With an average temperature of 130°, this volcanic lake isn't fit for swimming, and you'd be better off steaming your fish here than trying to catch one!

We walked beside a hot water creek for quite a distance and saw some very colorful algae and mineral deposits.

There were lots of steaming pools and rocks along the way.

And we saw an occasional mini-geyser.

The water in this pool was an amazing aqua blue.

The reforestation of this area is in the second stage of three.  These are interesting trees that I've not seen before.  They look like tepees with palm fronds growing at the top.

Mt. Tarawera, the erupting culprit, dominated the horizon of Lake Rotomahana from our vantage point at the end of the hiking trail.  We had carried our lunch with us and enjoyed this view from our picnic table.  You can see one of the craters from here.

After lunch, we boarded this boat for our lake cruise.

This geyser was one of the cruise highlights.  It was quite active, and we wondered if it was somehow a staged performance.  It seemed a coincidence that the onset of gushing commenced just as our boat slowed to an idle by it.

I took a lot of photos at this place, and it was difficult to select some highlights for this blog, except for this picture of three friends enjoying the day together.

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