Tuesday 1 February 2011

Awakeri Springs to Waikite Valley


We turned away from the east coast today and headed towards the volcanic middle of North Island. As we drove round Lake Rotorua we came across Hamurana Springs, where thousands of gallons of crystal clear water emerge from the ground every minute. The stream running through the park has lots of waterfowl on it and it’s so clear they look as if they’re floating in mid-air.
We carried on round the lake, and after a stop for coffee and scones, we went to Rotorua itself. Kuirau Park is a Free Access Thermal Park on the edge of the town with lots of little boiling mud pools and hot water spouts with pathways between them.
At the end of the main street are Government Gardens, and this magnificent building which now houses a museum and art gallery.
In the afternoon, after much deliberation about what we should do, we finally decided to visit the Wiamangu Volcanic Valley. This valley was formed when a line of craters, totalling 16kms, erupted almost overnight in 1886. Part of it went off again as a geyser in 1900 which continued for 4 years, and in 1917 it went bang again reforming the lake at the bottom. Since then it’s been quiet. This is what it looked like shortly after the 1886 eruption,
And this is roughly from the same spot today.
There is a lot of sulphur in the air here, Hydrogen Suphide makes up a big part of the minerals that are dissolved in the water and the PH of this lake is about 3.5, so it’s hot acid.
The sort of thing The Joker is always trying to throw Batman into.
A bit further down the valley is Inferno Crater; more hot acid, but this time it’s blue. The level in this lake goes up and down in cycles, but nobody is quite sure why. Very encouraging.
After only just catching the shuttle bus back to the car park we drove on to the Waikite Valley Hot Pools for the night. We thought last night was heaven but this was even better.
We might have spent a bit too long submerged in warm water; Ann-Marie has gone deaf in one ear, and we’re sure we’re developing webbed feet.

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