Friday 27th February
Our third New Zealand port in as many days. Today we are going on a whole day tour that will take us to the geothermal area of New Zealand. We are travelling over to Rotorua which is over an hour away. It was a lovely drive passing endless kiwi plantation and large forests. As we got nearer to Rotorua we started to see steam rising up from bushes and sometimes from people's gardens. We drove along Lake Rotorua to our first stop which was Rainbow Springs. This is a conservation centre full of native trees, ferns and streams. This is just one of the springs that feed Lake Rotorua. Trout from the lake come up the streams to the centres ponds as they are fed by the visitors, so we saw some very large rainbow trout. The centre also has a breeding programme for kiwi birds. They breed them here to release them back into the wild. We were allowed to go into a darkened room to see them but we had to be very quiet and couldn't take photos. We then went down to the pier to get on the Lakeland Queen which is a paddleboat. We had lunch on board as it cruised around Lake Rotorua. A lovely lunch and some beautiful views all around out of the large windows of the boat. We then had another drive to get us to Wai-O-Tapu. We stopped at a large hot mud pool and was fascinated to see the mud plopping away. We then went on to the Wai-O-Tapu thermal area. It is a very large area of craters, hot mud pools and hot springs. Beneath the ground is a system of streams heated by magma. The water gets so hot that it absorbs minerals out of the rocks and takes them to the surface as steam. Different colours can be seen depending on the minerals. On some of the rocks it looked like some had sprinkled powder paint. One of the crater pools called Devil's Bath was coloured a really bright green. The photo shows the Champagne Pool. It is the largest spring in the area and the surface of the pool is bubbling all the time. You can see the steam that rises up from the water and also the wonderful orange and yellow mineral deposits. The yellow is sulphur and the orange antimony. It took well over an hour to walk around the walkways that took you passed all the different features. There is a strong sulphur smell here of it course but you soon get used to it. An absolutely amazing place.