Here’s Google Earth’s view of the area:
|Google Earth’s view of Wai-O-Tapu. North is to the left|
|brochure image, showing red, orange and yellow walks|
|the Weather Pool|
|a panoramic view of Rainbow Crater; feature (2) on the map|
|the ground is steaming everywhere!|
|Thunder Crater (3)|
|the Devil’s Ink Pots (4)|
|the vegetation seems affected by the heat|
|a panorama of the Artist’s Palette (5)|
Since I was doing only the red walk, in order to see the Lady Knox geyser erruption, once across the boardwalk I started back along the return route.
|minerals being deposited along the edge of the Champagne Pool (21)|
|Inferno Crater (22)|
|a Sulphur Cave (24)|
|Devil’s Bath (25): see the plan view map above to get a feel of the sheer scale of this large lake|
The answer, we all discovered, is: soap. The interior of the geyser has hot water trapped below cold water: dropping soap down it changes the surface tension, allowing the hot water to escape. The presenter dropped a bag of surfactant down the hole, and retreated. It took a couple of minutes, and then there was a bubbling, an overflow, then a gush.
Yes, I know it’s in dreaded portrait mode, but frankly, there’s nothing to see on either side!
It was still going strong 25 minutes after it first blew, when I left to return to the main site, to do the full walk.
Having already done the red walk earlier didn’t matter to me (apart from to my feet): it was well worth seeing again. But when I got to the Champagne Pool (21) again, this time I turned off to new sights along the orange and yellow tracks.
|up at the Panoramic View point (11) looking down over Frying Pan Flat|
|now down on that bridge previously visible from above; a panorama of Flying Pan Flat (15)|
|the Oyster Pool (16), a natural sulphurous pool|
|another Sulphur Cave (17)|
|view over Lake Ngakoro (18)|
|Sulphur Mounds (20)|
I had lunch in the Visitor Centre, and dried off. Then I drove to the last sight of the Thermal Wonderland: the hot Mud Pools.
Since the rain looked like it would stay for a while, I decided this was now the right time to drive on to Waitomo, ready for the caves tomorrow. However, since it was only 2pm, I decided to take an indirect route, so drove round Lake Taupo on the way. Some of the bends there were marked 25, and they meant it!
|from Rotorua, via Wai-O-Tapu, to Waitomo, the long way round, ~ 290km|