Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wai-o-tapu, The Sacred Waters


Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland is part of a reserve that has an enormous amount of thermal activity in this volcanic area.

In Maori Wai-o-tapu is translated as the Sacred Waters and its easy to see why they named it that.


All the pictures (as all my pictures have been) are SOOC (straight out of camera) mostly because I haven't learned to edit yet and partially because I'm lazy.

Also, this post reads like a science lesson so I excuse you from reading the comments and encourage you to just skim the pictures when you become to boards to keep your eyes open.


The area has had volcanic activity for nearly 160,000 years. Looking into this steaming fumarole what you don't get is the sound of the bubbling and gurgling. Is this a fumerole or just a steaming pool?

These shots are of the weather pool as it changes color with the weather. On the other side an underground stream with water of about 212 degrees exits the crater.


I was just commenting that in California these type of things are always really gated because people can't be trusted to keep out, or not fall in, or be responsible in high tourist areas.

Thank you B for the dramatization of falling into a collapsed crater.


The Devil's Ink Pots are actually mud pools. The colors are actually graphite and crude oil that bubbles up from under the Earth's surface.


I feel like I'm teaching a class. I should put these on slides and show it to my friends when they come over. Picture me with a pointer and glasses...and my hair in a bun.


My favorite part. Water overflows from the Champagne pool (coming up next) and cools down in this huge space. As the minerals deposit you get super cool colors and patterns.


I was really surprised to see these sea gulls here. They are at the spot where the water cools and are probably enjoying the thermal spa treatment.


They have a specially built boardwalk to cross the terrace on some of the firmer ground areas.

These ladies are waving at the gentleman next to me and have no idea I'm snapping away at them waving.


This is actually under water just behind where the ladies were standing. Its a fancy thermal hole. I believe thats the scientific terminology.

Did I mention the smell?


The steam smells of rotten eggs. Sulfur-y rotten eggs. Please take out your notebooks.

This pool was formed over 700 years ago by an eruption. The surface temperature is 165 degree and its bubbles as it releases carbon dioxide.


The different levels are results of movement during earthquakes and the water itself contains gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, arsenic and other stuffs.


It puts off this hot stinky steam that you have to stand in to get good pictures.

B are you out there?



Oh there you are.

Are those fumes toxic?


This area that we are in only touches on the activity in the area. I could see this whitish lake through the tree across a mountain.


As we walked around to the cooler side you could see how the minerals in the water changed the surface of everything around it.


This is what the rock on top looks like now. And it was hard. I only know this because I may have very gently touched it with my shoe. Maybe.


It kept trickling down until it gathered here.

How does the water get so many minerals you asked?


Oh come on, humor me.

Underground a system of streams are heated by left over magma and at temps up to 575 degrees is actually sucks the minerals out of the rocks its passes through and carries those minerals along to the surface.

See ladies, New Zealand is a home-schoolers paradise.


Bubble, bubble. Sulphur is just stinkily bubbling up here. (stinkily?)


Everywhere are cool deposits left in unusual ways.


These big mounds were left when the water was drained from the area. The white is left over silica.


A lot of the plants were coated in this orange algae. It was kinda eerie.


Back past the champagne pool.


This pool changes from bright green to bright yellow and its striking. I can only imagine what the Maori thought when they came across this for the first time.

Actually if you take a look at their website you'll see that a lot of the pools look a different color than what we saw. How neat is that!


The bubbling mud pools. These blurp and gurgle and splat all over. Its actually loud.


I had to zoom in on just one because it was so distracting trying to watch all these eruptions everywhere.

Does anyone remember the Bog of Eternal Stench from Labyrinth?


Anyone? Well the combination of the blurping mud and the smell sent me right to that scene.


Thank you for taking that tour with me. Please be prepared for a pop quiz.

Information compliments of the lovely people of the Wai-o-tapu Reserve.


  1. You make a great teacher! When you connect the slide show, let me know, I'll be there.

    I don't know if I could tolerate the stench while shooting pictures. But then again, the pictures are beautiful and amazing so I could imagine putting my hand over my nose while still gazing.

  2. So true! Luckily the smell only lasts while you are near the champagne pool.

  3. These are awesome pictures! I loved this area of Yellowstone--only it is a LOT more crowded!

  4. Wow, that's really interesting, beautiful colours, it looks like something straight from a sci-fi movie. I'll have to show the Artist, he majored in geology, I think he'll enjoy looking at these pics. Hmm, except I feel a lecture coming on afterwards. Ah, but luckily I have a great teacher, so I'll be able to hold my own. :-)

    Welcome home!

  5. You would make a great teacher ... Teaching with a sense of humor gets them every time!!!
    Thanks for the interesting lesson on just how amazing this earth of ours is!
    New Zealand is such a special place. You've given me a whole different perspective on a land of which I had many misconceptions!

    Thank you!

  6. Wow, that was amazing! Oddly enough, I was home schooled and found this to be fascinating. ;) Now, we actually have some natural springs around here, and while they're not as AWESOME as New Zealand, they do stink and are aptly named Sulfur Springs - original, no? ;)

  7. These were all such awesome photos, esp. SOOC!! I "sat" through your entire, ahem, lecture, Ms.D and it was very interesting! If you ever tire of managing restaurants, I'm sure you'd make a very good teacher. :)

  8. ugh! I could die a happy woman, I love science and all things geared toward homeschooling the boys, I was not bored for one second, I love the facts! how cool is that? the boys would probably say "fart" a million thousand times if we went there, boys are weird like that....I would say no honey its sulfur and gas...and then John would chime in with "haha, she said gas" and then "Ill show you some sulfur gas"

    ok im done now

  9. Okay, I just cleaned up my pee pee mess after reading Jana's comment.
    Ahem. Now on to my comment.
    I loved your shots of the mud pots gurgling. Those were so cool! The whole thing reminds me of Yellowstone Nat'l Park.

  10. Enjoyed all the pics!! Just beautiful.

  11. I flippin' loved the Labyrinth when I was younger! Thanks for the flashback. Oh the chills...

    "You have 13 hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your baby brother... becomes one of us... forever. ...Such a pity."

  12. What an incredible honeymoon you had. Stink and all.


Your comments make my day- thanks for visiting!

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