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Andrea and Dan's Round The World Adventures 2003/2004
Rotorua, New Zealand
Monday, Jan 12, 2004


We got up early again the following day and drove approx 30km back towards Taupo so that we could see the 'Lady Knox' geyser erupt on cue at 10.15am, as it does every day. The reason for its reliable regularity is thanks to the clever use of soap powder! This is poured into the top of the geyser - previously stuffed with rags to build up the pressure - which serves to decrease the surface viscosity of the water and hence triggers an eruption.

We viewed this event, within the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, together with hundreds of other tourists who all turned up with their cameras poised ready to get a shot of the moment the geyser started performing. Having gained the obligatory shot or two, most people rushed off to get to the front of the queue to look around the rest of the reserve.

Having enjoyed a coffee before heading out onto the 3km walking track around the rest of the thermal attractions, we were pleased to see that the crowds had abated somewhat and we were able to take a leisurely stroll without feeling any pressurse to move on too quickly. Once again we were given a thorough guide map which informed us about each of the collapsed craters, cold and boiling pools of mud and water, and steaming fumaroles that we came across by following a well laid out walking track.

Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) is associated with volcanic activity dating back about 160,000 years and is located right on the edge of the largest volcanic caldera (depression) within he active Taupo Volcanic Zone. And now for the science bit...beneath the ground is a system of streams which are heated by magma left over from earlier eruptions. The water is so hot (temps of up to 300 degrees have beeen recorded) that it absorbs minerals out of the rocks through which it passes and subsequently conveys them to the surface as steam where they are ultimately absorbed into the ground. The sulphur smell of geothermal areas is actually associated with hydrogen sulphide and the resulting wide range of colours in the area are all natural and are due to different mineral elements.

Despite already visiting our fair share of geothermal reserves, Dan and I were still fascinated by all the sights and felt that this was definitely a 'must-see' attraction. It was so good that I ran out of film half way through! Among the many thermal 'exhibits' were, 'Thunder Crater', 'Devil's Ink Pots', 'Opal Pool', 'Frying Pan Flat', 'Inferno Crater', 'Sulphur Cave' and 'Oyster Pool'.

Probably the most spectacular sight was 'The Champagne Pool'. This contains several minerals which are deposited on the surrounding bright orange sinter ledge and this makes for an amazing sight around the edge of the steaming lake.

Driving out of the reserve we pulled onto a short loop road which took us to the biggest and most impressive mud pools we'd seen yet. Dan captured some great film of the bubbling pools which hissed and exploded quite spectacularly.

After a quick bite for lunch and another Starbucks frapuccino (which is turning into my staple diet) we headed off to the 'Agrodome' to try a bit of zorbing. This can probably be best described as rolling down a hill inside a huge beach ball! As it was such a hot day we were advised to try the 'washing machine' option - once safely trapped inside the zorb a cold water hose is trained on you and turned on for several seconds. Choosing to do our first run in the same zorb, Dan and I clambered in, got hosed down (which was actually very welcome in the stuffy surroundings) and then had to stand up ready for take off...

As the gate was released, we both managed just a few steps of running before abrubtly collapsing in a heap. We then proceeded to thunder down the hill whilst sliding around, completely helplessly, on our backsides - it was hilarious and unlike anything I've ever done before.

Soaked to the skin, but desperate to have another go, we were driven back up to the top of the hill where we opted to try the zig-zag run. Due to the fact that the zorb kept switching direction as it zig-zagged down the hill, we had to go down separately. Both of us agreed that this option was even more fun. As I slid around all over the place, becoming increasingly disorientated, I couldn't stop giggling like an idiot all the way down. Our only complaint was that the experience was over so quickly!

Andrea and Dan