Wanting to avoid the tourist crowds around the hub of the geothermal area, Rotorua, we headed instead to Lake Rotoiti, a small volcanic crater lake, as our base for exploration. The little boathouse we pitched up at was down a dusty track, through native bush and redwood trees, in the middle of nowhere! The cobwebby dusty interior only added to our ‘stranded on a desert island’ feeling! We do find some quirky places to stay!
Our little boathouse, hidden by the lake.
There was a silence lingering in the air that was quite magical, as we gazed out across the lake.
The owner told us that there was a hot spring pool just up the track, so we tramped through the forest to find it…
The steam emitting from pinky white rocks and plateaus, and the rotten egg smell were giveaways that we were close to the hot pool!
The owners also said we could use their kayaks (yay!), so off on the still dark waters of the lake we glided…
We were desperate to see geysers (pronounced guy-sers!) and hot bubbling mud, so set off for Te Puia, a large thermal reserve.
Here, Pohutu is the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and erupts once or twice an hour, reaching up to 30 metres! Alongside her, is the Prince of Wales Feathers geyser, so named because it looks like its namesake.
There are bubbling hot mud pools throughout the reserve, which are fascinating to watch and listen to; they reminded us of the game when you have to bop the frog on the head when it pops up!
This is what we learnt about geysers:
1. It’s a spring from which water and steam is ejected forcefully into the air at heights ranging from less than a metre (a few feet) to over one hundred metres (several hundred feet).
2. They are quite a rare phenomenon on Earth due to the precise conditions that are required for them to form. They are mainly clustered near active volcanic areas.
3. There are only around one thousand known active geysers worldwide.
4. Formation requires a particular combination of three geological aspects: water, intense heat and cracks/spaces in the ground that form a type of underground plumbing system.
5. Formed by water seeping through the ground and coming into contact with rock heated by magma at relatively shallow depths in volcanic areas. The highly pressurised boiling water rises back to the surface through porous fractured rock, fissures and vents before erupting into the air.
6. The remaining water in the geyser eventually cools back below boiling point and the eruption stops.
7. There are two types: fountain and cone geysers.
8. They don’t last forever, they can go dormant or become extinct. Geysers have been ruined by people throwing litter and debris into them.
9. Yellowstone National Park, USA, is the largest geyser field in the world and home to half of the world’s active geysers and the world’s tallest.
10. The largest geyser ever known, the Waimangu Geyser, sat in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, NZ. It began erupting in 1900 and erupted periodically until a landslide changed the local water table in 1904.
11. Eruptions similar to geysers have been seen on the surface of moons in our solar system including Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Neptune’s moon Triton.
Also close to this wierd and wonderful landscape, are the Okere Falls, where the largest commercially-rafted waterfall is. We climbed up to a look out to watch as kayaks and inflatable boats plummeted exhilaratingly into the whirlpool below. Sadly, Albie was too young for us to experience as a family.
Chris and Juls had also told us about Okere Store, so we popped in for a cheeky coffee (cheeky because we aren’t really allowed them on our budget!).
To our lovely readers, thank you for journeying with us, it means a lot to know people are thinking about us back home! Out of interest, when you read each blog post, do you wish we’d linger a little longer in each place or are you willing us on, as excited as we are about discovering someplace new?