We said goodbye to Rotarua and headed south to our next destination in Turangi. On the way we visited Waimangu Volcanic Valley, scene of a major volcanic eruption in the 1886, a devastating geyser in 1900, and another smaller eruption in 1917. We divided into two smaller groups for the tour: one took a hike down the valley and then a boat ride on the crater lake. The other did the two segments in the opposite sequence.
Echo Crater contains Frying Pan Lake. This was the center of the 1917 eruption that killed two people. At present, the lake is the world's largest hot spring with a temperature of 131° F.
Cathedral Rocks, overlooking Frying Pan Lake, is formed of rhyolitic lava that predates the Tarawera volcano.
Frying Pan Lake feeds Hot Water Creek. This valley was the location of the Waimangu Geyser, which erupted regularly between 1900 and 1904. Eruptions could reach over 1300 feet high and included sand, mud and rocks as well as boiling water. There is a picture at the link.
Inferno Crater Lake is actually the world's largest geyser, but the geyser is under water. The surface of the lake rises and falls depending on the activity of the geyser. The maximum height of the lake is indicated by the white deposits. When it gets that high, the water, which is extremely acidic, overflows into a waterfall.
The color of the lake changes depending on where it is in the eruption cycle. The blue that we saw was breathtaking.
We saw tracks beside the lake and our guide said that they were from wallabies, another introduced animal from Australia.
The boat hung around this mini geyser to watch its eruption cycle. A small pool begins to fill and overflow shortly before the geyser burbles up. It blows the excess water out of the pool and then subsides.
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