Thursday, 31 January 2013

New Zealand Adventure - Hells Gate

Today we went to Hells Gate thermal area. This was the most disgusting smelling of all the thermal areas we have visited. The features were mainly of the boiling mud pool type along with fumaroles.

Mud Volcano
Hot water waterfall 

Hells gate has a spa attached to it. We got a taste for mud treatments at the mud foot-bath. Lovely!

The children also got to try out Maori wood carving. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Zealand Adventure - Hot Springs & Geysers

We continued with the thermal theme today and visited two more thermal parks - Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Firstly we arrived in time for the Lady Knox geyser to erupt at Wai-O-Tapu.

We then walked all around the thermal area where there were some amazing coloured springs, mud pools, steam vents and craters.

Walking through stinking steam

After lunch and a short drive we came to Waimangu Volcanc Valley. This had a totally different feel to it compared with Wai-O-Tapu. Much less touristy. We took a 4km hike downhill past the worlds biggest thermal spring, a hot water river and lots of beautiful coloured algae.

Kids very impressed with this huge fern

Frying Pan Lake

Hot water river with algae

Inferno Crater

Tomorrow we will visit one more thermal area before the drive back to Auckland.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

New Zealand Adventure - Thermal Explorer Highway

Today we travelled along the Thermal Explorer Highway between Taupo and Rotorua. First stop was Huka Falls. 220,000 litres of water rush over these falls every second!

Next up was Craters of the Moon thermal area. Like the name says this area has lots of steaming craters; some tiny, some huge.

To find out how all the volcanoes, geysers and thermal areas in New Zealand work we visited the Volcanic Activity Centre. Here the children got to put together the Earth's plates, touch a variety of volcanic rocks, use the microscopes and interactive displays. The was also some great footage of eruptions and earthquakes in the Taupo area.

Onwards we went to Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park. Here we took a quick boat ride across the lake to the mineral terraces. Here we found hot springs, geysers, mud pots, and colourful thermophiles.

Wild stick insect

Finally we arrived in sulphur stinking Rotorua. Check tomorrow for more thermal activity.

Monday, 28 January 2013

New Zealand Adventure - Lake Taupo

Today we headed north from Wellington to Taupo. Again we had great views across Tongariro National Park's volcanoes. We could even see the currently active steam vent on Mt. Tongariro.

Mt. Ruapehu from the other side

We drove around Lake Taupo to the town of the same name. The lake shore beaches are made entirely of pumice from the eruption around 1800 years ago, the lake sits in the eruption crater. The children had a great time chucking pumice stones into the lake to see that yes they really do float.

Pumice beach at Lake Taupo

After the fairly long drive we rewarded ourselves with a visit to DeBretts Spa. Here we soaked in the 40C thermal pools, played in the water playground and rode the super fast dragon water slide.

After dinner there was still time to play at the holiday park's playground and jumping pillow. Tomorrow we go in search of waterfalls,  hot springs and mud pots.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

New Zealand Adventure - Zealandia

Today we went to the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington. Here all non native mammals have been removed and the land surrounded by a predator proof fence. Native birds, trees and reptiles have been reintroduced and are beginning to breed in safety. The project hopes that in 500 years time the forest will be restored to it's original state. We spent time walking the tracks and spotting native wildlife.

Dam valve building




Dad and a huge pair of binoculars

Crossing the suspension bridge

A host of weta in the disused gold mine