The land around Rotorua, in New Zealand, is home to a highly active geothermal zone. There we can enjoy the beauty of rare phenomena, like geysers, hot springs, incredible pools and other features. They scatter a wide array of colors that emerge from the core of the Earth.
In this article we are going to cover six areas with evocative names, such as the Hidden Valley, Hell's Gate and the Craters of the Moon. Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Whakarewarewa complete the tour (please find a map of the route at the end of this post):
Wai-O-Tapu has one of the most unique and world famous attractions: The Champagne pool.
Image by Macronix
The temperature at the top of the Champagne Pool is around 75 °C (165 °F).
Colors are formed depending on the mineral composition of the soil.
Lady Knox is another of the stars of Wai-O-Tapu. This geyser goes into action thanks to some manual stimulation, by adding soap. This was discovered in the early twentieth century, when some prisoners used it to wash clothes. Image by Sy
The surface of the Frying Pan flat is quite fragile, and a new hole giving off toxic fumes can be created if an imprudent tourist steps on it.
The sulphuric Devil's Bath.
Image by Crispyking
It doesn't smell as good as it looks...
Image by AnnieGreenSprings
You are rewarded with awesome landscapes when driving across the Thermal Explorer Highway.
To get to Orakei Korako (aka The Hidden Valley), you have to cross the river Waikato, whose waters were risen in 1961 to create an artificial lake, drowning two thirds of the geothermal area and some of the world's largest geysers. Cool.
There was an old sign that said "Map of Africa" next to this pool... maybe not anymore.
Image by Robert Paul Young
The hot water algae that live here have adapted to survive temperatures between 35 and 59 °C. A closer look highlights the alien appearance of these odd plants.
Another enchanted pond.
The Craters of the Moon, covered with steam, delights its visitors with a smelly atmosphere.
Image by Andrew Parnell
The Hell's Gate seems rather the door of paradise to me.
Image by Colincookman
Waimangu is together with Wai-O-Tapu and Orakei Korako, the third of these big areas not to miss.
Image by Birger Hoppe
Waimangu is located near where the Pink and White Terraces, labeled at that time as the Eighth Wonder of the World, were destroyed by a violent volcanic eruption in 1886.
Painting courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library
Waimangu was the name of a geyser that erupted between 1900 and 1904, reaching the (almost) stratospheric height of 460 meters (1,500 feet), the largest ever recorded. It also killed four pioneer tourists, due to a sudden blast.
Image courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library
We are back in the 21st century to admire the Inferno Crater, in the light of the HDR technique.
Image by LostManProject.com
More uncommon encounters: it looks like some unwary tourist has already got facehugged by this alien egg.
Image by Gouldy
Swimming not recommended.
Image by ~ Pil ~
Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, next to Rotorua. The Pohutu Geyser can reach up to 30 meters (100 feet) high.
Image by Alan Vernon