Great NZ Family Road Trip – Thermal Wonderland

Day 9: Taupō – Tauranga, Cloudy, 26ºC max, 16ºC min.

Without fail, everyone gathered in our house to have breakfast altogether. We made simple grilled cheese toast, had cereal, oatmeal, etc., and we were all ready to set off for some interesting activities for the day!

Garage at Quest Taupo

We gathered at the garage of our duplex houses where our cars were parked, loaded up our luggage, and briefed each other of the routes we would be taking.

Huka Village

Before leaving Taupō, we drove up to an elevated plain in the Huka Village region where a platform was built. From there, we could oversee the Lake Taupō region with a matching pictorial signage that depicted the landmarks of the area, mounted onto the handrail.

Dad and Mum at Waiotapu

Since Taupō is home to boiling mud pools, steaming vents, beautifully coloured volcanic rocks and natural thermal pools, we have planned to visit Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland today. It is touted as NZ’s most colourful volcanic area.

Little E at Waiotapu centre

Even Little E was excited about visiting the colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction!

Little pointing to Lady Knox Geyser

That was her pointing at the Lady Knox Geyser signage, telling us it erupts daily at 10:15 am. Thank God it was about 10:35 am when we reached Wai-O-Tapu. With the help of an usher who directed us towards the location where the geyser is found, it was a blessing that we were not expected to pay for the tickets to view its eruption, since it has already erupted.

Lady Know Geyser

It was a short 2 min drive towards the Lady Knox Geyser, which is located in a separate area within the reserve. By the time we reached there, it was still erupting.

A jet of water was seen reaching up to about 10m to 20m, erupting from a white cone-shaped visible spout that is covered by built-up silica. Named after Lady Constance Knox, the 2nd daughter of Uchter Knox, 15th Governor of NZ, the geyser has no Māori name (unlike almost every other thermal feature in NZ), because  it was discovered early in the 20th century.

While we were at the geyser, JMIDM had backtracked towards Taupō because they thought Mei Tsin had dropped her mobile phone in the serviced apartments. By the time they arrived at the geyser (near 11 am), it was still erupting! The bonus for arriving later is that the crowd has dispersed, allowing them an unobstructed view of the geyser.

While JMIDM were at the geyser, we waited for them at the Visitor Centre. There, Little E made a new friend (19 months old) from Czech Republic. She was enthusiastically checking out Little E’s pink floral shoes and dungaree.

After buying the tickets, we ventured through the 75 min well-maintained track to witness one of the world’s most colourful and spectacular volcanic area.

One of the interesting features that greeted us first when we entered the geothermal reserve was a series of craters and bubbling mud pools marked as the Devil’s home and ink pots. Eeeewww…

Artist Palette

Artist’s Palette

The features at Wai-O-Tapu (translated as Sacred Waters) are very interesting as different mineral elements display a huge palette of colours in the various different areas within the geothermal reserve.

Waiotapu

We were amazed by the generous sprinkling of colours throughout the nature reserve. Bodies of water the colour of jade, muddy slate, or sepia; banks and ground dripping with sulphurous, russet and citreous rainbow hues… are all set to wow their visitors.

Boiling point

The water, mud or steam which can reach temperatures over 300ºC, absorbs the minerals out of the rocks and brings them to the surface, creating the veritable feast of colours, which proved to be more intoxicating than the rotten-egg smells that wafted past our nostrils.

Champagne pool

Champagne Pool

Besides finding ourselves caught up in the munificent display of colours, we couldn’t seem to get enough of the pictorial titles of the various sights as well: Artist’s Palette, Bird’s Nest Crater, Sulphur Cave, Oyster Pool, etc.

Oyster Pool

Oyster Pool

The titles of these fascinating sights are so innovative and aptly named, they certainly add to the charm of these existing remarkable exhibit of phenomena.

Sulphur Cave

Sulphur Cave

We walked our way to the end of the reserve to be awed by an emerald lake. The colour was so refreshing, it instantly cooled us down from the summer heat.

Emerald Lake

That was JMID by the lake!

Emerald Lake

To reach the emerald lake, we walked on the platform that bridges over the Artist’s Palette, and stopped at several scenic lookouts where we took several photos.

Platform bridge over Artist's Palette

Overflow from Champagne Pool

In the pictures above and below this paragraph, can u spot the emerald lake up ahead?

Lookout

It took us some time to arrive at the lake sparkling with emerald waters, as we hiked through a woodland formed by towering slim trees and vegetation…

Forest vegetation

… and also saw pools filled with water the colour of jade, that were laced with sulphur deposits and fumaroles.

Sulphur deposits

After seeing the emerald lake, we looped back towards the Champagne Pool where the oncoming breeze enveloped us in the hot steam emitted by the colourful world-famous pool.

Besides photographs, we took videos of the phenomenon so that we could relive the experience in the future.

One of the last colours that bewildered us was the luminous lemony-green from the Devil’s Bath. A collection of fluids infused with sulphur and ferrous salts combined with the runoff from the Champagne Pool, the eruption crater lake is in itself, a stunning sight to behold.

Devil's Bath

This trip to Wai-O-Tapu, the Thermal Wonderland had us enchanted by its fascinating, gorgeous colours formed by nature. So beautiful and captivating is the power of nature, a result of God, the Creator of all things, and Artist of all things glorious.

The beauty of nature prompted me to recall the phrase “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” written by poet John Keats. While Keats certainly overstated the case, God is indeed Truth, and the Truth is beautiful. Creation itself testifies to the fact that God is an artist and a lover of what’s beautiful.

God is working to re-create in us His image. However much God cares about His physical creation, how much more would He care about the beauty of what He can do in us? We are to surrender, to die to self, and to allow the Lord to re-create and restore to us the original spiritual and moral beauty that we once possessed.

*Day 9 continues on in the next blogpost titled “Great NZ Family Road Trip – Bay of Plenty, indeed”…

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