I didn’t think that anything could come close to being as glorious as yesterday’s experience in the Waitomo Caves. I was wrong. The Waimangu Valley Geothermal Site was equally magnificent, but in a very different way. This valley is the only geothermal system on the planet that was created by a volcano–the Tarawera eruption of 1886.
The result was Lake Rotomohana. Our group was divided in two, with half cruising the lake first while the other half hiked, and then we switched. Our boat was the only one on the lake that morning, and with only 18 passengers, it was easy to get an unobstructed view of all the geothermal phenomenon. Before the volcano erupted, what is now Patiti Island was part of a small hill. It became a lava plug, cooled, and is now home to cormorants.
The steam vents fascinated me, so I kept snapping away.
The hike gave us the opportunity to get close to craters and geysers.
The lake water is acidic. It looks like it is boiling because of the gases (carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide) bubbling up to the surface.
Here is our smiling guide Chas, holding a silver fern, one of New Zealand’s symbols. Do you think he usually carries a Winnie the Pooh back pack in front? Something to look for in future installments.
More bubbles, then time to head back for lunch.
Pretty amazing, right?
Once again, our guides came up with a great lunch venue. The Princess Gate Hotel has it all: an owner that welcomed us with a brief history of the hotel, fantastic food, wonderful ambiance, and a location close to the most beautiful section of Rotorua.
After lunch, we had time to stroll through the gardens, and ogle the beautiful buildings.