Today I did just 170 kms till Roturua. I had again booked a YHA and it was quiet good, more like a hotel than a backpackers for the money paid.
Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists, with the tourism industry being by far the largest industry in the district. The city is known for its geothermal activity, with a number of geysers, notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa, and hot mud pools located in the city. This thermal activity owes itself to the Rotorua caldera on which the city lies. Rotorua is also a top adventure destination and is New Zealand’s Maori cultural heartland.
Rotorua city is renowned for its unique “rotten eggs” aroma, which is caused by the geothermal activity releasing sulphur compounds into the atmosphere. It is known as the Sulphur City for the same reason.
Another of Rotorua’s attractions is the mountain biking. Whakarewarewa (also known as the “Redwoods”) Forest has been described as ‘the Disneyland of mountain biking’ and has some of the best mountain bike trails in New Zealand. Rotorua hosted the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, in August 2006.
There is a lot of stuff to do in Roturua. Being a tourist you get spoilt for choice. In my trip in 2008 I was just transiting through Roturua for a few hours. I did a couple of places in the short span of time. I would like to suggest the following activities if you want some recommendations:
- Agrodome (I did not do this).
- One of the thermal parks (there is a free thermal park, plus either of the paid parks like Te Puia or Waimangu).
- One of the Maori experiences ( I did not do this either).
I did the Buried Village of Te Wairoa last time. This village was buried in the explosion of Mount Tarawera on 10th June 1886. This was also the day when the the youngest geothermal area in the world with an identifiable birthdate was created – The Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Its ironic that the destruction of one thing leads to the birth of another, and both of them serve as tourist attractions though – thanks to the enterprising nature of man!
A few pictures from the buried village of Te Wairoa:
And a few pictures from Te Puia, which I also did in my last trip:
Te Puia is the home of to the world-famous 30-metre (100-foot) Pohutu geyser, erupting up to 20 times each day.
This time however I decided to go and visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley which is located 14 kms south of Rotorua.
The creation of Waimangu Volcanic Valley took place in 1886 when the Rotorua region was shaken by the eruption of Mt Tarawera. The eruption destroyed the surrounding area and opened the earth along a 17km rift, splitting Mt Tarawera in two, exploding Lake Rotomahana to 20 times its size, and forming the 7 craters that make up Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
Within 15 years of the eruption, the hot springs of the Waimangu Geothermal System were established within the newly formed craters, making this the world’s youngest geothermal eco-system . Plant life returned to the devastated land 30 years after the eruption.
Some more facts about the Waimangu Volcanoic Valley:
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the site of the world’s largest recorded geyser, Waimangu Geyser, which played regularly between 1901 and 1904.
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the home of Inferno Crater, the world’s largest Crypto Geyser (geyser-like feature) and Frying Pan Lake, the world’s largest Hot Water Spring in terms of surface area.
- There are several geothermal silica terraces that are internationally classified as Category 1 in importance, including Warbrick Terrace which is growing in a right-angle shape.
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to the only example of New Zealand native forest that is naturally regenerating from complete devastation.
- As well as geysers and hot springs, New Zelealand’s Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to several rare and unusual geothermally adapted plants.
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a Scenic Reserve, owned by the people of New Zealand and administered on their behalf by the Department of Conservation.
- Lake Rotomahana is the newest, large, naturally formed lake in New Zealand. It is the deepest lake in the North Island. Lake Rotomahana and its environment have been totally protected since the lake was created in 1886.
It takes an approximate total time of two hours to walk from the reception to the jetty point at the Lake Rotomahana (taking into account the time for photography as well). the walk can be a little demanding at a few places with a steep gradient.
The first remarkable feature I saw after starting my walk was the Echo Crater and the Frying Pan lake. This lake covers 38,000 sq meters making it the world’s largest hot spring with an everage deoth of 6 meters. You can also listen to the eerie sounds coming from the lake , this is because of the hot springs and fumaroles (an opening in Earth’s crust which emits steam and gases). The lake water is acidic (average pH 3.5). The carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide gas bubbling up gives the appearance of boiling. The real boiling is occuring on the lake bed, the body of the lake is cooler because of the evaporation, convection and radiation of the heat.
The Frying Pan Lake:
The next interesting feature was the Hot Water Creek and Springs. These are formed by deposits of elements such as Antimony, Molybdenum, Arsenic and Tungsten. These minerals alomng with the blue green algae form the spectacular orange, brown, green and yellow colors:
The Inferno Lake was the next striking feature. It was a steaming blue crater lake. It is the largest geyser like feature in the world, the geyser is actually playing at the bottom of the lake and hence cannot be seen.
The last striking feature that I saw on the walk was the Warbrick terrace. It was a set of multi colored fast growing silica platforms forming over an old stream terrace.The water was a stunning blue.
I decided not to go for the Lake Rotomahana boat cruise and head back in the regular buses which ply from a couple of points in the walk taking tourists back to the reception.
I reached the YHA at around 5 PM only to head out again for a small ride around Lake Rotorua at sunset when the light is magical.
A few more Pictures from the day:
The customary sheep of the day shot heading out from Opuotere.
Cycling is a very popular activity in NZ.
The Bking tres looked anaemic in front of these.