Hot spots at Rotorua

This entry is supposed to be sequenced before the posted earlier today (Grottos & glow worms) but we’ve been REALLY struggling with the battery of our Nexus7 netbook and could not get it going until now.  We currently in Brisbane about to board our flight to Bali, Indonesia.
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Rotorua is located about 200km SE of Aukland on the north island.  NZ is a very young land mass that owes its existence to the “recent” collision of two tectonic plates. While all of the land masses are geologically active, the area surrounding Rotorua is particularly active.  I mean really active!  In fact, New Zealand’s huge tourism industry was born in the late 1800s just west of the town.  Tourists came from as far away as England and traveled by foot and horse to bathe in the pink and white hot water terraces on Lake Tarawera west of the town, and later for the believed healing powers of the hot water and mud in Rotorua itself.  Tragically, Mt Tarawera erupted on June 6, 1886, killing 120 and changing the surrounding landscape.  Sadly, the eruption also destroyed the iconic terraces.  But many people kept coming to experience the volcanic action of the area … including us.

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We knew we had arrived somewhere different when we noticed steam pouring out of this release pipe and a hole in the curb 50m away.

Our first outing in the area had nothing to do with geology though.  In an experiment in the earlier 1900s the NZ government tried growing many foreign species of trees to see what would produce lumber the fastest in NZ’s climate.  As you might recall from Jake’s last blog, the Kauri trees had been more or less exhausted, and other natives grew slowly too.  California Redwoods were planted adjacent to the town.  And did they grow!

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A spectacular near-city park is now filled with walking and biking trails.  Giants soar and provide cool shade for walking.  Kaia, Jake and I even were inspired to go for a run, which is a first on our journey.

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The silver fern is iconic for New Zealand and is the emblem for NZ''s beloved "All Blacks" rugby team.

After this lovely walk/run we went to check out the free campsite listed on the campermate App, worrying that there would be no room for us on a beautiful hot sunny day in their Christmas holidays in a camp on a beautiful lake with a beach.  But as Yvonne mentioned there is no such thing as “full” …. we found a lakeside spot of grass tucked between other tents … about 30 … while the government advertised 12 spots.

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cooking shelters were not common for campgrounds in NZ; we made good use of this one.

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Throughout the Pacific that we've seen, canoes use outriggers. These are 5-person racing canoes being used by a youth camp.
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The campground host tipped us off about a jumping rock 10 minutes walk away. You know us and jumping rocks ....!

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On the lake in Rotorua we found their highly touted museum that was in its first life a hot water/steam healing center.  The part of the museum dedicated to this was a bust.  But the other half, dedicated to Maori culture, was absolutely fantastic.  It explained how they made their way to NZ, how they interacted with each other throughout NZ before contact, how that all changed after contact, and a really great sense of Maori world view.

We set out SW from Rotorua to explore the multitude of geo-attractions.  First stop was some pretty loud and steamy mud pools just off the highway.

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the kids say to me "we have to put a photo of you with the camera ... because that's the way we see you all the time"
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These "burps" would go about 3 ft high. I had an amazing feeling that these pools were a direct connection into the earth.

We were then off to kerosene creek hot pool.  Kaia, Jake and I ran there along a trail from a near by car park, past a few steaming vents.  Lovely cross country running, until we got on to the part that had not been maintained … for quite some time.  Cross country bush-whacking.

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Hot pool as seen from our run.
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a more open part of our trail run
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Before arriving I wondered why they called it Kerosene Creek. When I saw the steam pouring off the gushing brook, the name significance became clear.
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This is the first hot water waterfall I've ever seen or swam in.
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Kaia & Jake usually just plunge in. Not this time ... it took them about 5 minutes to slowly sink into the pool.

The main destination for the afternoon was the thermal sights of Waiotapu.  This park is sitting right on a hot spot and has a fantastic variety of hot pools and other formations.

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bubbling hot!
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Yellow is from sulfur, pink from manganese and cobalt, green from copper and red/brown from iron.

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These are the famous "champaign pools".

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These 1cm high terraces extended for a few hundred metres.
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This is the cooling tower of a geothermal electricity plant that is within sight of Waiotapu. I wanted to set up a tour of the plant but our timing was off. This, with an another similar one not far away produce 14% of NZ's electricity. Hydro does 53% and fossil fuel the rest.
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ahhh ... the lovely smell of sulfur!
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copper minerals make this colour

I sure wish I could bring my geography classes here for a peek.  Rotorua is “ground zero” for geothermal activity all throughout NZ.  There’s lots of other hot springs and volcanic cones in sight as you move around the islands.  It kinda hits home the idea that we live on a thin crust above a whole bunch of hot stuff!

Cam

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