Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The most active volcanic zone in the world is in the central part of the North Island of New Zealand.  The Wai-O-Tapu thermal area has the largest area of surface thermal activity in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.  There are many thermal pools in the Rotorua area and we wanted to see the best.  This one was recommended and it was a huge WOW!

There are three walks that total 3 km however we walked 4 km because we did one stretch three times due a misunderstanding as to who was the map reader.  It turned out to be a fortunate mistake because when we erroneously took the wrong path and passed by this thermal pool too early, the sun was shining on all of it.  Later it was half shaded:

P1020272The Devils Bath color is the result of excess water from the Champagne Pool (shown later) mixing with sulphur and ferrous salts.  The color changes from green to yellow depending on the amount of reflected light and cloud cover.

P1020226The Devil’s Ink Pots’ color is due to small amounts of graphite and crude oil brought to the surface by the water forcing it’s way up.

DSC 6193The Champagne Pool is the largest in the district with a surface temperature of 74C/165F and was formed only 700 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption.  The steam has a strong sulphur smell.

DSC 6227The Sulphur Cave is undisturbed crystallized sulphur formed as hot sulphur gases have cooled in the overhanging cliff.

P1020263P1020296Opal Pool

P1020309The Champagne Pool from another side

P1020278Steve is walking towards a sinter ledge. Sinter ledges are caused by dissolving silica that evaporates.

P1020232The Artist’s Palette was the biggest wow of all. Everyone that came up to the overlook erupted in either superlatives or expletives.  This pool was caused by overflowing water from the Champagne Pool mixing with minerals from below the surface that show themselves depending on wind direction and the atmosphere.  We purposely waited for the only day that didn’t call for rain (out of 8) to come here.

P1020241P1020304Sulphur Mounds

P1020221I see a face in the boiling mud

P1020220A collapsed crater called Devil’s Home make sounds like a washing machine from way deep.

Rotorua Canon 21

This spot is popular for posing in the steam as it sometimes gets pretty thick. The third time we passed by, a group of young women were posing for pictures in various stages of undress.

Rotorua Canon 20The temperature here is 100C/212F with temperatures in some spots recorded up to 300C/572.


Bridal Veil Falls has been partially colored by the overflow from the Opal Pool while the green color is attributable to microbial mats.


 Old Grey Haired One is caused by the pigment in the hair follicles gradually dying. When there are fewer pigmented cells in a follicle, that strand will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent color.  


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