Travelling south from the top of the North Island by bus we overnighted in the volcanic area of Rotorua. During our brief stop we explored by bike the eggy smelling town's mud pools, large crater lake, bubbling vents and steaming ponds.
We pedaled around on a three-hour tour, guided by a very knowledgeable local who told us a little about the history of the place. We discovered more about the Maori culture of this area and the problems faced when developing a spa business in the naturally corrosive waters. As geologists we found it fascinating to see that in an area the size of a tennis court, contrasting springs could occur, some boiling hot, some cold, some acidic, some alkaline. One environmental engineering design taken up in Rotorua, which could be applied worldwide, was the creation of a floating grassland island - the world's largest. This provides a nesting habitat for birds and natural filtration of the lake waters to improve its quality.
The tour was finished off with a game of bowls, which Chris displayed a natural talent for!
Sarah takes an early lead at the front of the pelaton
The highly alkaline springs cause havoc with steel work and concrete
Wonderful carvings outside the Marae - Maori meeting house
Notice anything strange? The graves are raised - no burying of bodies at this church as its right over a hot water spring - you don't want to be digging up the place - the corpses would poach!!
One end of this small lake is fed by hot alkaline springs, at the other end it is fed by a cool fresh water spring. The fresh water is less dense so floats on the top allowing these wonderful algae to grow
Fresh meets caustic waters and the algae finishes
Looking out over Lake Taupo
The largest floating man made grassland in the world - its only a few hundred metres long
Warm (40C) lightly alkaline water - good for softening the skin
A cold, fresh water spring, warm alkaline spring and a hot acidic spring all within a few metres of each other - incredible!
Remnants of victorian era baths set in the lake shore - they were intended to be filled by a lightly alkaline spring for softening the skin but unfortunately they chose the wrong spring and instead were filled with acidic water at pH1 - oops!
The old spa hotel and reigning world bowls champions from the UK!