Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 31, 2013

Rotorua – Waiotapu

Waiotapu means sacred waters in Mâori. Out of the many geothermal areas in Rotorua, we decided to visit Waiotapu as it was highly recommended amongst all the others. We booked a shuttle that picked us up from our hotel at around 9 am and headed towards Waiotapu which is about 26 kilometres or so from the city centre.

In case you are interested

In case you are interested

The New Zealand Department of Conversation notes that the Waiotapu thermal area covers 18 kilometres and occupies the site of what was formerly the largest mud volcano in New Zealand. As we approached Waiotapu, the driver of the shuttle informed us that Waiotapu geothermal park (where we were headed) forms a very small part of a huge area that has active geothermal activity. However, for its unpredictable nature, it is off-limit to general public to ensure their safety.

At the Waiotapu, we were expecting to view The Lady Knox Geyser, the Champagne pool, steaming grounds, hot and cold pools, terrace formations, mud pools and beautifully coloured landscapes. Yes, we did it all in our two and half hours walk around the park and also a quick trip to the Lady Knox Geyser.

The Lady Knox Geyser is a natural geyser and like any geyser can erupt at any time of the day. However, at 10:15 am each day, a presentation is made by a guide in an amphitheatre surrounding the geyser where he explains the history and the mechanics of the geyser and the eruption. Apparently, this geyser was identified by locals who thought they will use the warm water coming out for washing clothes till the time there was a sudden eruption.

Following that, he puts some sort of environment friendly chemical into the geyser and geyser erupts to heights of around 10 to 20 metres.  Prior to inserting that chemical, smoke was coming out of the geyser. As soon as the chemical was poured in, there were bubbles and suddenly a stream of water gushes out and falls back down inside the mouth of the geyser.

Lady Knox Geyser

Lady Knox Geyser

True, we didn’t witness a natural eruption but then the speech and the artificial eruption was quite spectacular. I mean, I would not have time to sit and wait in front of geyser waiting for it to erupt. I was surprised to know that such geysers exist only in Yellowstone National park US, Iceland and Kamchatka.  Also, I learnt that the word geyser actually originated from Iceland.

Lady Knox eruption

Lady Knox eruption

The geothermal park is a natural collection of steaming ground, hot and cold pools and mud pools. I find the amazing play of different colours, steam, rugged tracks, green bushes, rock formation extremely attractive. Somehow there is a very scary yet brilliant aspect attached to such places. I wonder how they would look at night.

These parks are very well maintained and hence the entry fees are relatively steep. While I don’t think we had to pay to do the Tongariro Crossing but we had to buy tickets to visit Waiotapu. As you purchase the tickets you are given a detailed map and it is difficult to lose your way even you are on your own. We were definitely not on our own.

The Champagne Pool is spectacular and gets its name because it actually resembles a big glass of bubbling champagne. Apparently, this is filled with an estimated volume of 50,000 m3 of geothermal fluid. It looks like a colourful boiling inferno and as soon as we reached the pool our vision was blurred and the steam engulfed us. Despite the smell of sulphur dioxide, you simply admire the different colour inside the pool and somehow the steam provides an instant relaxation.

To me the Champagne Pool was undoubtedly the highlight of our trip. I was awe-struck with the view and can talk about it over and over again. I wish we had more time so that we could have waited a little longer in front of the pool.

 

As we walked past the champagne pool (only to come back again sometime later), we witnessed the different mud pools which were bubbling too and were huge. Interestingly, the mud on these had interesting shapes and designs.

Out of all the subjects I studied in school, I scored the least in Geography.  I never found it interesting and unfortunately despite probably with their best efforts the teachers failed. I like the subject now and thankfully now I don’t have to stick to a syllabus.

I leave you with a lot of photos.

A typical hot pool

A typical hot pool

Champagne Pool

Champagne Pool

Champagne Pool

Champagne Pool

Mud formations

Mud formations

Bushes around lakes

Bushes around lakes

Crater

Crater

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Responses

  1. You’ve done armchair travellers like me a great favour with these last three posts, Tanmoy. Can’t thank you enough.


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