Monday, April 6, 2015

NZ 5: Fire

Ok, Ok, it's finally time for the "fire" portion of the Fire and Ice post I mentioned last week. technically I'm not talking about actual fire, although that song at the end of the second Hobbit movie by Ed Sheeran is definitely playing in my head right now: "Now I see fire / Inside the mountain / I see fire / Burning the trees." 

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the music video here.

Anyway, back to this blog post. The fire I'm referring to is in the form of volcanic and geothermal activity. We got to see several volcanoes in New Zealand, including the one used to depict Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings.
But we also got to see the spectacular sight of the heat escaping from random patches in the earth. The Waikato region of the North Island has a lot of this activity. In particular, the town of Rotorua is a hot bed of geothermal activity (yes, pun intended).
The first time we saw this craziness was at the farmer's market on my birthday. It was really pretty crazy to see all this steam rising out of the ground, and then to realize the mud is so hot it's bubbling up and actually boiling in some spots.

The temperature varied from spot to spot, so some areas were just warm and perfect for a quick dip, as this crazy-looking bird demonstrates in the picture below.
A lot of the areas around Rotorua were pretty stinky. It smelled like sulfur. Also, the "lake" in Rotorua is basically a big sulfur bog. It smelled terrible. Sort of made me feel silly for booking us a hotel that was on the lake. One of the only places I've ever been where "lakeside" is not a desirable location.
The Rotorua mud is famous for it's detoxifying, purifying and healing properties and is used for various spa and beauty products.

We visited one of the big geothermal parks while we were there. It was similar to the free one with the farmer's market, but this one did have a huge geyser ... which didn't go off while we were there. haha We did see a couple of the smaller geysers, though, so that was still cool.
We didn't have time to see this, but I thought it was worth mentioning that White Island, off the coast of the North Island, is home to an active marine volcano. You can get a boat or a helicopter to take you out there. I'd imagine it's pretty spectacular to see it from the air.
That concludes my post about fire, which contains no pictures or references to actual fire.