Just after pulling out of Rotorua, we stopped at the incredible Waiotapu mud pools nearby. The information sign at the entrance, which was clearly written by someone both deeply knowledgeable about geothermal activity and unfamiliar with layman’s terms, reads, “Acid waters attack and dissolve adjoining ground to digest many minerals in the rock, forming viscous mud pools.” I feel like there’s a way to make “acid pools attacking” sound much cooler.
The sign goes on to describe the different aspects of geothermal activity that are creating the mud pools themselves. There are two distinct features that are the opposite ends of the geothermal mud pool spectrum. The first end of the spectrum are pools fed by deep geothermal fluids that bubble straight up and create the aptly named “Champagne Pool” on the surface. At the other end of the spectrum are pools that are fed by steam and gas that boils up to 100 meters below the earth’s surface before interacting with geothermal fluid and water to create the discolouration and mud pots. All mud pools are somewhere on this spectrum, which means the effects and colour can vary widely. And I realise and accept that I may be the only person who finds this stuff interesting. Mud: lots going on under the surface.
But the title quote for this post actually refers to our second stop of the day, Huka Falls. Huka is the Maori word for “foam,” which is very appropriate. This waterfall of the River Waikato is barrelling down the cliff face with such force that it could fill an Olympic swimming pool in 11 seconds over and over all day. It’s right outside Taupo town near Lake Taupo.
The Lake Taupo tourist information site claims Huka Falls is the “most visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand.” I am a little skeptical about this claim, not because Huka Falls isn’t very cool but because there are so many natural attractions in New Zealand that are amazing as well.
I have done no colour correction to these photos (or to any photos, come to that). The water is really that blue.
Title quote: Ernest Dieffenbach, naturalist