Sunday, February 03, 2019

New Zealand Adventure - Day 6

[Composed 1/11/2019]

So far we've experienced a number of New Zealand's natural treasures. From a volcanic island to a stunning cave, to just miles and miles of picturesque views. Today was a chance to explore yet another: a geothermic landscape.

We made our way to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland for the 10:15am blowing of the Lady Knox Geyser. When we purchased our tickets to the geyser, the lady at the counter asked if we'd ever seen Old Faithful. We have and told her so. She mentioned that some who have seen Old Faithful leave Lady Knox unimpressed. After having seen both, I can say that Lady Knox holds her own. Yes, they "seed her" to trigger an eruption, which I suppose is cheating. But on the plus side, you're able to sit quite a bit closer to Lady Knox. More than that, I enjoyed the explanation behind the discovery and operation of Lady Knox that the emcee takes you through.

From there we started our tour of Wai-O-Tapu, which like the geothermic fields of Yellowstone are quite the experience for your eyes, ears and nose. The gurgling mud, foul odors and strange palette of colors all make for a truly other worldly experience. Wai-O-Tapu lived up to its name as Thermal Wonderland and easily held its own as one of most amazing things we've seen this trip. Even Shira was was duly impressed.

After Wai-O-Tapu we got on the road and continued towards Tongariro National Park, where we would be spending the next two nights. On the way we stopped at Tokaanu Thermal Pools, which has the feel of a town pool and park. The park contains its own small geothermic walk. Unlike the massive scale of Wai-O-Tapu, this neighborhood version took us only 20 minutes to walk through. Yet, it was still a delight. There were small pots of gurgling mud, steaming pools and hints of sulfur in the air. It was the perfect bonus adventure to add to our road trip.

We pulled in to the Chateau at Tongariro National Park and my mouth was agape. Was that a friggin volcano cone overlooking our hotel? Everywhere I looked we saw amazing vistas and best of all, I knew we were going to be hiking among those very peaks the next day. Shira set her alarm for 5:00am, so we could be on the first shuttle to start the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Today had been filled with memorable sights, and tomorrow was shaping up to deliver more of the same.

All of the photos today were shot by Shira. Nice job, babe!

Google was kind enough to generate this collage for us. The pictures were taken 10½ years apart.

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