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Rotorua – Sulfer Town

February 19, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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They say a trip to New Zealand isn’t done right if you’re not doing it the “kiwi” way. With this being said Tyler and I decided to rent a car and drive our way through this beautiful country stopping in each place just long enough to experience the main activities and move onto the next little town filled with new adventures. We haven’t gone completely kiwi with a bed in our backseat, but we have enjoyed driving through the gorgeous scenery everyday to get to where we’re going. Driving on the opposite side of the road in a right side drivers seat vehicle we didn’t know how far we would make it, but thankfully Tyler picked it up with no problem and has become quite the pro! As for me… I’ve just decided to stick to the left side passenger seat. =)

Our first stop in New Zealand was a small town a couple of hours outside of Auckland called Rotorura. This little town is known to be one of the most beautiful places in the north island of New Zealand with all of the many incredible geysers and geothermal parks. During our visit we explored through two geothermal parks, visited the famous Pohutu Geyser, and relaxed at the end of the day in the well known hot mineral baths.

Our day in Rotorura began with a visit to the beautiful but stinky Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland where we saw colorful crater lakes and mud pools. By no means are we geology enthusiasts, but the geothermal activity certainly gave us a fascinating insight into the inner mechanisms of the Earth. Wai-o-tapu is known to be the most colorful and largest geothermal ground in the area. The colors of the deposits vary with the different minerals involved in the natural process. For instance green and yellow are sulphur, orange is antimony, purple is manganese oxide, white is silica, red is iron, and black is carbon. My favorite crater lake was the “Artist’s palette” which contained all of the different colors making it actually look like a palette of paint. Another interesting area here was the “Champagne pool”, which is a 65m wide 60m deep lake formed by a hydrothermal eruption rimmed in white and reddish orange mineral deposits. The carbon dioxide present in the lake caused little bubbles throughout looking like a freshly poured glass of champagne. Wai-o-tapu also contained the largest mud pool of the area. In the mud pool large sections would form together and cause the mud to be thrown up by steam, making it look like it was just beginning to boil at all times.

Orakei Korako was the second geothermal area we visited known to be one of the finest geothermal areas in the world. While this area wasn’t as colorful it was more beautiful than Wai-o-tapu in a different way. After a ferry ride over to the area you are presented with wide spread white silica terraces and led up to the different hot springs, geysers, and mud pools through a flora bush walk. The beauty of the entrance alone was stunning. Orakei also contains twenty-three geysers, the greatest number of active geysers with the most interesting and variable changes in the area. Our favorite part of Orakei was the thermal Ruatapu cave (known as the scared hole) extending 120 feet down to a hot pool at the bottom. The cave was unlike anything else we saw, and the eery looking steam coming out from the basin just added to the uniqueness of it, but sorry no pictures it was too dark.

Throughout the day we saw many beautiful geysers, but none of them came close to the Pohutu Geyser we saw at the cultural area, Te Puia. The Pohutu Geyser is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere and erupts up to twenty times a day reaching around one hundred feet high. Watching the complete process of the eruption from beginning to end was just magnificent. At the Te Puia cultural center we also were able to visit a Maori carving school for boys, and a Maroi weaving school for girls, which was really neat seeing the teachers and students in action.

At the end of the day we decided we wanted to experience the hot mineral baths everyone had been raving about. We went to the well known Polynesian Spa where you could pay a small fee and use their hot baths, which were more like what we would call a pool. Each pool was a different size and temperature to suit your preference, and in the cold breeze of the evening they were all really nice. It was definitely a great way to relax after our busy day!

After the mineral pools we realized we hadn’t eaten all day and we were starving and decided to go to eat at a local funky cafe called “Fat Dogs”. After being gone over a month we decided it was time we had a good old fashion American cheeseburger! Boy was it a good decision…. Look at the size of this thing! It was just as delicious as it looks too.

Rotorura was a beautiful area, very interesting and unique to visit. It was without doubt a wonderful place to start our adventures in the incredibly beautiful country of New Zealand. Next Stop… Queenstown!



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5 thoughts on “Rotorua – Sulfer Town

    • That saying a lot coming from the guy who sneaks into every hotel in Fayetteville on the weekends just so he can use their hot tubs.
      Love you too,

  1. I feel like you are photo-shopped into some of your pics.. haha! That is unreal.. and I must say, in one paragraph you could have fooled me as a geology enthusiasts! Miss you both!

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