Friday, November 27, 2015
Day 124 - Thermal Danger and Beauty a.k.a. the Second Casualty
Best breakfast ever. As my father promised, we got an enormous and stunningly elegant breakfast with muesli, fruit, yoghurt, banana pancakes, bacon, nice fruit juice and tea. We had breakfast with a view of Lake Taupo that was not unlike the view of Lake Constance from our home.
Unfortunately.....the internet connection was so good as it hasn’t been the last few days, so I decided to update my apps, and didn’t store my phone in the bag at first. After some minutes we wondered what had bumped on our car roof and realized that I put my phone again onto the roof of our car, for no reason, and it fell on the street at 50 kph. Its front screen was completely broken; you could even see the hardware beneath... But the system still worked - lucky me.
We did a short stop at the Lake Taupo shore (the mood wasn’t too good, of course) which was very beautiful, with black swans swimming. The next bigger stop was the Waka waterfalls which actually was only one, but very turquoise and huge and fast-flowing. We came at a good moment too watch a jet boat riding through the rapids below the waterfall.
Even more impressive were the thermal areas we then went to. We went to a place called Waimangu (wai means water, and simply every village around here begins with wai). We drove to the parking lot and were recommended to hike down and drive up. Actually, I have walked this hike already, thirteen years ago, with my little sister in the stroller. How I miss them, and how I wish for them to relive all this again, too. From the hiking trails different hot lakes could be seen, which were brown or turquoise. The brown one changes its color up to emerald green, depending on wind and temperature. The turquoise one changes its water level for about eight meters every five to seven weeks. But the most impressive lake was probably the “frying pan lake”. You could see the different wind streams due to lots of steam on the water surface, it looked like magic! In some corners the water was boiling, or spreading out of geysers.
The "Frying Pan" lake
Talking about geysers, we learned that four tourists were killed when a really huge geyser exploded that was active for three or four years around 1905, as an aftermath to the big eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1897 which buried the world-famous sinter terraces and some Maori villages under 20 meters of mud and changed the shape of Lake Tarawera. The geyser was the biggest on earth, unbelievably powerful.
Because we are real Swiss (please notice the ironical meaning) we made an extra hike over a mountain top through a jungle that looks like in the dinosaur ages: lots of fern trees. This was really sweaty and we were happy having had some things left from our breakfast yesterday. Shortly before we reached the final bus stop at the big lake, we had a look at the small sinter terraces that are left. They are created by hot water carrying the chalk which cools down on its way and leaves the chalk behind while dropping down the river, mostly in white, sometimes rose or orange.
At the lake I was filled with delight because of hundreds of frogs quaking. The driver who brought us back to the top started a small conversation with my dad. I really like how open the people are, here and there.
Our second stop was Waikite thermal valley where we stopped at a camp site – but not for camping. Here you can swim and soak in thermal hot pools which are fed by a boiling creek. You can hardly see the creek itself, because the whole area is filled with steam! Great picture opportunity.
Later we arrived in Rotorua, where we ate our supermarket dinner in front of a wooden building which was erected as a bathing building at the end of the 19th century. I also discovered a tiny tree of which I learned that it was planted in 1997 to celebrate the 10-year jubilee of the partnership between Rotorua and the city of......Beppu, Japan! No wonder, when you find hot springs and steaming vents there everywhere, too. But we had to leave soon, because we were freeeeeezing. Our motel was not far away, at the junction of two streets in the middle of nowhere really, and that is what gave it its name: Junction Motel :-)