Te Puia and the journey to Waitamo – Saturday 4th February 2012


We can’t get enough of geothermals – and we have not seen a geyser yet.
The choice: Waimangu (already achieved) Waiotapu has the most impressive geyser which is regulated by washing powder being added every day at 10.15 OR Te Puia, just 5 minutes drive from our motel but more of a mx of geothermal with Maori culture. We discuss it over and over before deciding on Te Puia because the geyser is a natural phenomenon and they have a few kiwi birds, which we have not seen yet; although these are probably not best in breed for captive projects.

At Te Puia tourists are collected into groups for the guided tour. Our guide has a wonderful sonorous voice but we are impatient to see the geyser,. To our delight we Only have to wait 10 minutes before it begins to bubble. You hear it before you see anything, rumbling underground building up pressure and heat. Then it begins. Just a meter at first with clouds of billowing steam. Sadly, our guide thinks this will do and tries to round us up again but we are not moving, convinced there is more to see.

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The Pohutu geyser builds and builds. It’s hard to find a good spot to take the photograph because the clouds of steam constantly obscure the water jet. The grey steam merges with the grey sky. But soon the water is shooting up to an amazing 30 meters. We wait and watch for half an hour and still the peek continues. There seems no sign of it weakening!

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This is definitely the highlight of Te Puia. The rest of the park has examples of mud pools, pale blue lagoons, alkaline this time rather than acid, but it is not as impressive, or photogenic as Waimungo.
The kiwis? Well, there are two, a couple which they hope will breed. We got a brilliant view of them because they are fed near the window and walk this path to siphon off the insects and we arrived early enough for them to be having breakfast. But when we returned about an hour later, the female was huddled up in a corner. No problem: they sleep for 18-20 hours a day. Hmm! The male was still eating breakfast but every so often, if you watched long enough, he would march up to the female and leap at her, aggressively. Now it may be a courtship dance, but it looked like domestic violence!

By midday, we set off for Waitomo, where our newly found friends of friends live on a hill farm. Their house is set up a hill, hidden from the highway but they gave excellent instructions about how to find them. Once through the gate, our car struggled up the steep slope to the house and firmly stuck, wheels spinning through the gravel. We were greeted with laughs and a strong push to get us out of this mess. We had come up the exit slope!

The people in New Zealand have such warm hearts, despite the fact that these folk had never met us and we only phoned for hem yesterday, they welcomed us with wonderful kindness, offering to put us up for a couple of nights and giving us delicious meals. Thank you so much, lovely people.

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