There are a large number of geothermal areas in and around Rotorua and a number of parks where you can wander around and get close to the steaming waters and bubbling muds. Wai-O-Tapu is one of the best known but recommendation sent us to Orakei Korako. Seeing the earth "breathing" as you drive through and around the Rotorua area and seeing geysers up close at the Maori evening is stunning enough but to see it up close is awe-inspiring. For me personally it shows the absolute magnificence of our planet and how lucky we are to be guests here. To get to the park itself you need to take a very short boat ride, once there though you are free to walk around, as long as you stick to the pathways of course. Unfortunately whilst we were in New Zealand someone had fallen off a pathway at one of the geothermal parks and suffered 3rd degree burns. The water does look very inviting though, it's not bubbling just steaming so you wouldn't think it was too hot. it's also crystal clear and off course full of minerals which are good for the body but we managed to resist the temptation mainly because it was so beautiful.
We hadn't been warned about how strenuous a walk it was though and my knee was still playing up from the fall yesterday. It also rained on and off although the huge downpour held off until we were safely back in the cafe enjoying hot drinks. Even so, the wet walkways and constant up and down took its toll. We were both determined to battle on and did manage to see everything including the geothermal cave, one of only two known in the world from which the area gets its name. Orakei Korako translates as The Place of Adorning because the cave is where Maori women would go to bathe and adorn themselves. Other sites include The Golden Fleece, known as The Cloud in Maori a large fault scarp covered in a white crystal coating. At the top of this terrace sits the Artist's Palette which is very aptly named due to the vivid colours. Others areas include The Map of Africa, the Diamond geyser so named because of the effect when the sun is shining on it as it erupts, the Sapphire geyser, you can probably guess how it got its name and the Hochstetter Pool which was once a geyser. I have posted some pictures but they really do not do this wonderful place full justice.
Thoroughly soaked and a little weary we made our way back to the boat for the trip back across the lake and the previously mentioned hot drinks. We had hoped to make our way back to Taupo again but realistically knew that we didn't have time to get there, wander round and get back before dark, so we drove back to the camp and headed out for something to eat, back to Lone Star again and another early night. Tomorrow is the trip further north to Orewa ready for the big finale, not just for us but for France and New Zealand of course.