Once Dan and I thawed out in the morning, we decided to head back to Rotorua right away so that we could visit one of the places that I really wanted to see, Wai-T-tapu. This is known as the “thermal wonderland” on the brochures. I didn’t really expect it to be as spectacular as the claims said; however, I was pleasantly surprised. The area was covered with collapsed craters, pools in various colors, steam vents and even a geyser that they cause to erupt (if that is the right word) every day at 10:15 am. Fortunately, we arrived in time to watch the daily eruption. We were even there early enough to get a place in the front row!
I created a time lapse video of the geyser because I thought it was so neat
Apparently, the Lady Knox Geyser was discovered by prisoners who were forced to clear the area of trees a couple hundred years ago. They came across the geyser, which at that time was more of a hot pool, and they decided to use it to wash clothing. When the soap entered the water it caused the geyser to spurt skywards. That is how the employees at Wai-O-Tapu cause it to erupt on schedule each day. It would happen regularly anyways, but it wouldn’t be an exact science as it currently is.
After watching the geyser, we headed into the park to explore the rest of the natural wonders. The minerals in the water prevent fish from surviving. They are also responsible for the amazing colors of the water. Magma below the surface causes the water to heat up and the minerals are absorbed due to the heat. According to the flyer, the green color is caused by collodial sulphur/ferrous salts, the orange is caused by antimony, and the purple is the result of manganese oxide.
Some of the natural pools and rock formations are absolutely fascinating.
(I got a little overexcited with the pictures. I couldn’t believe the colors that were naturally occurring!)
Many of the craters had names like “Devil’s Home,” “Inferno Crater,” and “Devil’s Bath.” I could completely understand why these names came about. If I had to imagine what hell might look like, some of the places in Wai-O-Tapu would be it. With steam issuing forth and pits of boiling mud, it wouldn’t be a place that I would be anxious to live in. However, it was truly spectacular. The huge steaming pool with orange around the edges and blue/green water in the middle is known as “The Champagne Pool.” It was beautiful. Many of the pools had warnings about the temperature–the water reaches about 100 degrees Celsius. We had a nice walk around the park for a couple hours, then we headed back to town where I parallel parked on the left for my first time ever. I did such a nice job that I documented it.
After that, I said goodbye to Dan and made my way northward to Waipu.