Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Road Trip To Rotorua - Part 1

Last week, on account of it being school holidays, we took a road trip down to Rotorua.

It was great.

As Southern Kiwis, it can be hard to not compare the scenery with what we grew up with.  Our holidays were in wonderful places like Central Otago and involved exploring the delights of the Caitlins.   One of our most favourite places in the world has always been Queenstown.  It is a special place with stunning scenery, a cool tourist 'buzz', multitudes of exciting options for the more adventurous, and of course, the wineries.  We have always looked for a version of that wherever we have gone, and as we move further away from the South, the more we compare places in the hopes that we can find something similar.
View of Rotorua and the Lake From the Skyline Gondolas
Much like the view from Queenstowns Gondola
BUT minus the snow capped mountains.

So, it with much pleasure I can announce that we have found our 'Queenstown of the North'.  Sure, it is missing the snow capped mountains but that is replaced with amazing geothermal wonders.

Some people might complain about the lingering smell of sulphur, but I disagree.  We got used to it, and it made sense to experience that when you consider all the geothermal activity everywhere.  It would be like an ice cream without sprinkles if it wasn't there.  Just not the same.

This post is just a quickie and is simply based on the most amazing Geothermal Area of Wai-O-Tapu.  More on other explorations as time allows!!

Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland was a fabulous place to visit - a mere 25 or so minutes south towards Taupo, and well worth the trip and entry fee.  From the Lady Knox Geyser, huge volcanic craters, steaming and bubbling pools, amazing colours created from all the chemicals and of course mud pools, there is plenty to do, see and experience.   On a plus side, I found the gift shop to be reasonably well priced for a tourist attraction - and although I refrained from buying some of the gorgeous merchandise - I was sorely tempted.

Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland Map

Lady Knox Geyser

One of the Sulphur Pools
Lady Knox Geyser as it 'erupted' 
One of the interesting craters 

Champagne Pools!

These were amazing - the heat and steam coming off them gave it a very surreal and 'otherworldly' atmosphere.  Highly recommend the time to take in this very special place!

Squirt Enjoying the Champagne Pool
Quite Out of this World 

Without the sunnies on - still amazing 

With the sunnies on - it looked just like this - AMAZING

At times the steam was so intense you lost your way 

One View of the Champagne Pools - they were amazing!!
And then there was MUD - lots of MUD 

The very very large mud pools - well more like mud ponds, were a wonderful sight and sound sensation.  You could hear the bubbling and boiling mud as it splattered and splashed.  To some degree it was quite mesmerising, and a whole lot larger than I would have imagined.  Simply stunning. 

While we were visiting the park there were a number of geo scientists gathering the arsenic from the area to study the organisms that live in the various chemicals.  They were quite happy to talk to us and were very tolerant about answering Squirts many many questions about why, what, who, how and are you sure its safe....  It was an added bonus and a highlight for us all!

Various Shots of some of the many things you got to see as you trekked your way around the park.




Overall I would rate Wai-O-Tapu a good 4.5 out of 5.  I found it good value, and considering how big the park is - it was an easy walk.  Recommend strudy shoes and not to rush.  There are hidden gems and stunning vistas that overlook large areas of beautiful NZ bush.  The tracks are well maintained and while safety is important, you were still able to get up close and personal with this special place.  There is a distinct feel of Tapu and Maori spirituality that lingers and this adds to the beauty and magic.  

NZ Native Bird the Fantail 
Such a cheeky and adorable little bird - quite special.  She was flitting around
us at the start of our park journey, catching insects and showing off.  Its Maori name
is Piwakawaka, and in Maori mythology it is known as a messenger,
bringing death or news of death from the gods.  

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