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Ring of Fire

by - 9 Jul 2010

We can´t help it: New Zealand´s northern island stinks!!
Coming close to the island´s centre a funny smell of rotten eggs becomes more and more obtrusive. At first you might want to blame the person sitting next to you in the car until you notice that mother earth is the source of the smell. Clouds of steam are evaporating from the ground so that the entire landscape including forests, riversides and fields is fuming.
Steaming thermal landscape

At this point you know that Rotten- ehm – Rotorua, a city surrounded by all kinds of volcanic activity, can´t be far away. Rotorua is located on the so called ring of fire which also runs through places like California or Japan and crosses vertically through the centre of the northern island of NZ. Here you have the chance to observe every possible formation which a volcano can adopt.
The first destination on our exploration-tour of NZ´s volcanos was the Tongario National Park where 3 stunning volcanos can be admired. One of them, Mount Ngauruhoe, have probably all of you already seen when he starred as Mount Doom (Schicksalsberg) in Lord of the Rings as the mountain where the Hobbits had to destroy the evil ring. We did not come to admire the original movie setting, we were looking forward to trek the famous ¨Tongario Crossing¨. This trek is praised to be one of the world´s finest day treks passing beautifully coloured volcanic lakes until it reaches Tongario´s crater. Unfortunately we did not come at the right time of the year. It was very disappointing to find out that the trek was closed due to heavy snow and winds. 😦
So we continued our trip and made our way to the ¨Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland¨. Here a geyser shoots a 20 m high fountain of hot water in the air. This happens every day at 10.15am which leads to the question how come the geyser is always on time and how does he know when to switch to daylight-saving time?! The simple reason is that a warden pours some organic soap into the geyser at 10.14 which leads to the eruption a minute later. But Wai-O-Tapu has a lot more to offer than just one attraction, it truely is a volcanic wonderland with its colourful volcanic lakes, bubbling mudpools, steaming rocks and boiling waterholes.
Lady Knox Geyser Lady Knox Geyser

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu

Volcanic Mud Pool, Rotorua

Not far from Wai-O-Tapu we found a beautiful thermal bath where we spent a very relaxing evening in the outdoor pools with temperatures ranging from 35ºC to 42ºC. Here we treated our aching muscles after walking all day in the cold.
Long before European settlers arrived the Maori had already experienced the benefits of all those thermal activities around Rotorua. It was a convenient location for their settlement since they had here hot water for bathing and cooking. Today it is possible to get an idea of the traditionally prepared Maori food at a ¨Hangi¨- dinner show. While the food is being prepared in a hot earth-oven, a group of Maori warriors will yell at the guests rolling their eyes and sticking out their tongues during their war dance, the ¨Haka¨. Ok, the show is super touristy and it is obviously more entertaining than educating, food and culture are prepaired to be easily digested. But still it was good fun and it is a unique experience 🙂
Our journey on NZ´s ring of fire ended at the ¨Hot Water Beach¨ of Coromandel Peninsula where hot thermal water runs down the beach right into the ocean. We could not resist the idea of digging our own hot pot right at the beach! Once we were there we jumped into our swimmers, went to the kiosk to rent a spade and walked up to the beach. It did not take us long to find out where the hot spot might be since we were not the only ones keen on digging their own water hole. Can you think of a better way to spend a relaxing afternoon – sitting in your private hot water pool right at the beach with a five-star ocean view??
Digging a hot pool at Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Sarah geniesst ein Bad im heissen Thermalpool am Hot Water Beach

Bade- und Grabespass am Hot Water Beach

Have a look on the map to get an idea of our complete trip around NZ´s northern island:

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From → Neuseeland

One Comment
  1. The amazing things you can find on earth! Hot water running into the ocean? Surreal!

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