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
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