Saturday, August 3, 2013

Thermal Springs in New Zealand

New Zealand is littered with volcanoes; there are some still moderately active ones, and hiking trails are closed and opened in tune with activity.  The Tongariro Crossing walk that I enjoyed back in 2008 was closed due to thermal activity, but is now reopened recently.  In addition to above-ground visual evidence of thermal activity, there’s plenty of evidence of the hotbed below the top layer (see my recent post about the amazing Hot Water beach).
thermal

Started out as a misty morning, but even after the fog cleared, there was water vapor in the air – this time from hot springs!
thermal

We were taking a calm jetboat ride down the Waikato River (the return was NOT calm). 
Notice the steam rising from the river!
thermal
thermal

Plenty of spooky steam vents in the hillsides:
thermal
thermal

We ended up enjoying Orakei Korako which reminded me of the activity in Yellowstone National Park back in the States.  There were bubbling mud pools, geysers that shot in the air, silica terraces, and all sorts of mineral activity producing different colors (reds from high iron, greens from high copper, I assume?).
thermal
thermal us

After visiting the hot springs, we took a wild jetboat ride back up the river with NZ Riverjet; super fun!
(Full disclosure – this was a very different jetboat ride than I took down in Queenstown in 2008.  That ride was much more ‘intense’ and adrenaline pumping due to the closeness of the sheer rock canyon walls (as my footage showed).  This ride had more wildlife, information about the surrounding plants and birds, and more 360-degree turns.)