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Geothermal wonders of Taupo and Rotorua

Added: May 30, 2010

Tags: NewZealand RTW geothermal geysir photos volcano
On 23rd and 24th of January 2010 we explored area of Rotorua, but also 2 places belonging to Taupo area. They are famous geothermal areas with many colourful pools, bubbling mud pots, smelly vapours and everything you need to see :-)

We visited Craters of the Moon, Orakei Korako, Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Te-Puia (and Whakarewarewa). Most of these places are bigger and more amazing than similar places in Iceland. It takes long time to see them all and lot of walking to see them complete.

The first day

We left Tongariro NP in the morning. It was raining more than when we hiked there. Weather was quite bad whole morning, so we stopped only shortly at Lake Taupo and then continued to our main attractions. We needed to travel more than 200km and still have enough time to see all places we wanted to see, so we could not afford long stops even in good weather.

Craters of the Moon

A name of this place sounded familiar when we sighted the first information label about it. I have checked our "illustrated manual" of places we wanted to visit. (We always do them to help us remember what we planned to see in case we need to change our plans and something needs to be dropped. Without photos it would be harder.) But Craters of the Moon was not in our documentation. Hmm, probably an omission.

So we stopped, paid entry fee and went to see it. Well, I remembered then why it was not in our plan. We did not want to stop here. It is not worth it. Not price, it is only 6NZD, but it takes 45min and for people in hurry (as we nearly always are) it is waste of time. We could spend them elsewhere.

So in the future we will probably list also places we don't want to visit in our program. Just in case the name sounds familiar when we will go around, but we will not remember reasons why it was not listed it our plan.

You can see several craters covered in weeds and engulfed in smelly vapours. I am not saying it is totally bad or ordinary, it is not, but all other places are much better.



Orakei Korako - Hidden Valley

Orakei Korako is located sideways from road between Rotorua and Lake Taupo, but it would be big mistake to avoid it. It is wonderful place.

The ticket costs about 34NZD. The car park and tourist centre is on one bank of river, geothermal area on the other. A boat trip is included in the price.

Immediately after getting off the boat you can start enjoying its wonders. There is Diamond Geyser, Rainbow Terrace, Map of Africa, Golden Fleece, Artist Palette and many more I could not remember.



Map of Africa
Orakei Korako - Map of Africa


Map of Africa from top.

We spend there quite a long time. After seeing all those colourful bands and shapes caused by different bacteria we went higher to see more sinter snow white terraces, hot pools and faults emitting fumes.

Detail of terrace, I don't know its name, because there were 3 names nearby. Most probably name is Golden Fleece Terrace.



Artist Palette.
Artist Palette in Orakei Korako

One thing fascinated me at all geothermal places. Bubbling mud. It was something I wanted to observe, I have spent quite a long time (altogether) at these places. Many of them were not only interesting due to always changing dynamics of bubbles, but they were also forming interesting patterns in the mud.



Wai-O-Tapu -Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu is another wonderful place, quite close to Rotorua. We arrived there shortly before last entry, we were lucky. It is much bigger area than Orakei Korako, so they don't allow people shortly before closing. It should take about 75 minutes to walk around. The price was 30 NZD.

It is full of big and deep craters, hot pools, heaps of sulphur and others. Their names are as colourful as they are themselves. Consider yourself: Devil's Home, Devil's Bath, Rainbow Crater, Artists Palette (yes, they have it here too) and also Champagne Pool - my favourite.

Let's start with craters
And with scary ones. There were more, but I had to select limited number of photos... still I always think I am showing too many of them, making all of them better candidates for skipping.

Devil's Home.
Devil's Home at Wai-O-Tapu

Devil's Bath. I don't get it why should devil take baths in pea soup.
Devil's Soup at Wai-O-Tapu

Rainbow Crater.
Rainbow Crater at Wai-O-Tapu

Three different views of Artist's Palette
It is not as colourful as the one at Orakei Korako, but it offers a few very nice details.

Artist's Palette at Wai-O-Tapu

Artist's Palette at Wai-O-Tapu

Artist's Palette at Wai-O-Tapu

Champagne Pool
This pool got its name thanks to its fizzy appearance. Of course, it is not filled with champagne and even it was I would probably resist urge to taste this very hot beverage. To compensate this inner conflict it probably leaves in many visitors it has nicely decorated rim.

It is pity a lot of vapours were around. It is not always so misty, I have seen photos where whole pool is nicely visible and unobstructed. While the steam can provide nice photo opportunity I wish I could take at least one photo without it.

Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Detail of rim.
Detail of rim of Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

There are many more big and also small wonders around. Big one is for example Primrose Terraces - result of overflowing water from Champagne Pool. It is huge area covered with sinter.

Oyster pool.
Oyster Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Heaps of sulphur.

Detail of Primrose Terraces.
Detail of Primrose Terraces at Wai-O-Tapu