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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 second day

The second morning we returned to Wai-O-Tapu to see Lady Knox Geyser. It is a few kilometres off the main area and it has its own entrance. The ticket to Wai-O-Tapu is valid also here, but because we started tour in the evening we needed the staff at main entrance to stamp our tickets to be valid next morning.

Then we visited Waimangu, Te-Puia, returned shortly to Rotorua and finally headed to Waitomo.

Lady Knox Geyser

To our disappointment we have learned this geyser is man made. Originally it was hot pool, but then it was discovered by prisoners working in the area who decided to wash their clothes in it. To their surprise water exploded when they used soap.

After the first shock they decided it is rather entertaining thing to man especially because TV was not devised yet. So they started to return with loads of soap and they started to put rocks around to form a funnel to maximize the effect.

And that's the reason why it looks like a volcano, completely different from all other geysers. And that's the reason it erupts every day at 10:15, with only slight difference - ecologically formulated "soap" is used nowadays.

Well, proper geyser should not look like a volcano.

An audience of this spectacle needs to sit somewhere.

After short explanation what's going on (shortened above) the "geyser director" inserted couple of blocks of "soap" and it started to boil shortly after.
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And finally it was working fully. I have long series of photos, they are interesting to see them "animated", but it is hard to show here.
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Waimangu - volcanic valley

Our next stop was at Waimangu. It is huge area, long about 4km, but there is bus service so it is not necessary to walk for 8km if you don't want to.

From entrance it does not seem anything interesting is happening here, just ordinary hills with lush vegetation. But after short walk it starts.


Frying Pan Flat
Is very nice lake with hot water. It is the biggest hot water spring. When we were there it was covered with unbelievable vapours. They were not providing complete cover, they were just isolated shapes, moving in the wind. They really looked like ghosts. I usually don't think video camera is useful, but following photos did not capture whole experience. Additionally, as I realized later, without polarizing filter they were not captured in way my polarizing glasses showed them.

Frying Pan Flat at Waimangu


Frying Pan Flat at Waimangu

Detail of stream flowing from Frying Pan Flat.


Inferno Crater
It is pity the water was low and it was covered by thick mist when we were there. It is much nicer than my photo shows (according the photos I have seen).

Inferno Crater at Waimangu

Mt Haszard Trail
There are more trails in this area and everybody can decide what they want to see. I have decided to go up hill to Mt Haszard Trail. I wanted to see Inferno Crater from top after being disappointed with a view we got. But that was big mistake. There is nothing to see up there, just vegetation (not bad, but we did not come here to see vegetation). There is one place you can see Lake Rotomahana in distance, but we will get there anyway. It was not possible to see the Inferno Crater. And because we returned by shuttle (to save time) we missed other geothermal sights along the other way. So go up there only if you have enough time and can walk whole distance.

Lake Rotomahana and Mt Tarawera in distance (this volcano changed this place to current "configuration" in 1886).
Lake Rotomahana

Marble Terrace
This terrace was amazing. Carpet of colourful rock covering big area. It is rather recent creation, there are still tree trunks sticking out of it. It is just next to road, so Shuttle watching is possible :-)


Detail of Marble Terrace.
Detail of Marble Terrace at Waimangu

Another detail of Marble Terrace.
Detail of Marble Terrace at Waimangu


Shuttle returning along the Marble Terrace.

At Warbrick Terrace
Just short walk from Marble Terrace is Warbrick Terrace. White rocks, colourful algae in stream, boiling water and steam.

Warbrick Terrace at Waimangu




Te Puia

Te Puia and Māori village Whakarewarewa are part of Rotorua. It is smaller compared to previous places, but hey, it's part of the city!

One of the main attractions is Pohutu Geyser. It is proper geyser in sense it is not man made, but mostly you can see it erupting, you just need to spend here less than hour. Even if you were at other side of park you can return because it is erupting for about 20 minutes. We were lucky, we needed to wait only about 10 min. But not lucky enough to have blue sky as background. As the result I don't have a photo with nice contrasting water jetting from it. Only white steam on white background.

Actually there are 2 geysers at once: Pohutu and Prince of Wales Feathers. Proper BUY ONE GET ONE FREE :-)


Waiting until geysers start to erupt is not wasted time. You can enjoy intricate details of the terrace formed by geysers. It looks like being part of a cave, just light is much better. Especially lower part just over the stream.

Sleeping Pohutu Geyser.
Sleeping Pohutu Geyser at Te Puia

Detail of hanging part of Pohutu Geyser terrace at Te Puia

Detail of hanging part of Pohutu Geyser terrace at Te Puia

And finally some panorama.
Terrace of Pohutu Geyser at Te Puia

I am not going to show many photos of village here. We did not attend a performance in the evening, because we were at similar performance in Chrischurch before. There is also kiwi house here. We could see one kiwi, it was much closer than those in Christchurch, but behind the glass.


Kuirau Park in Rotorua

There are hot pools also directly in Rotorua. More precisely in Kuirau Park. Some pools are alive and some are dead. Difference is obvious. Hot pools have blue water, dead ones are dark.