Day 8: Thermal Wonderland

Water Everywhere

The earth is burning

Yesterday, after Hobbiton, we drove down to Rotorua, a really cute tourist town by a small lake. Entering the town it seems as if the whole place is on fire — constant smoke (which is actually steam) rising from every corner. This is due to intense geothermal activity in the entire region, which creates all kinds of cool stuff.

So we woke up, left the lovely airbnb we had in Rotorua, and drove to Waiotapu. In Waiotapu you can see bubbling mud, colored rocks, neon yellow waters and even a geyser called Lady Knox.

The soil and the rocks are colorful
This was actually the color of the water! All because of chemicals coming from deep underground

Weirdly enough, Lady Knox can be activated by demand. A park worker spills a specific material into the mouth of the geyser and a couple of minutes later it erupts.

Before
After

After admiring Lady Knox we hopped back in the car and made a short drive to Waikite Thermal Pools, where we could enjoy natural hot waters in 6 different pools, each one in a different temperature.

Two of the pools were extremely beautiful. They had natural rocks in them and were surrounded by vegetation. It was raining and cloudy for one moment and then sunny for another.

We spent the next hour there and back to the car to the next stop — Huka Falls. Surprise, surprise, water again!

Huka Falls

The waterfall is not impressive by its height or width, but by its shear power. The stream is so intense and violent that you can’t stop looking at it. That happens because 100 meter wide river suddenly becomes just 15 meters wide. Also, the water is in a bright crystal blue color, as if it belongs to a mineral water commercial. Truly unbelievable.

We hiked a two hour trail up the river to Aratiatia Dam just in time to see one of its 4 daily water releases.

A sunny 2 hour walk
The dam

Again, we witnessed how powerful water can be and were amazed by the amount of it.

15% of the country’s electricity is produced at a nearby power plant, that uses this river and the dam to create green electricity.

The dam ceremony was over and we had to go back the 2 hour trail. It started raining and got cold and this trail wasn’t that fascinating to begin with, so we were pretty miserable by the time we got to the car.

And the rain clouds are back

Luckily, we only had a short drive to our next airbnb, in Taupo, where our hosts greeted us with hot tea :-)