Musings of a morbid mind

The general ravings of Scott Baldwin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Worlds Newest Geo-Thermal Formation

Like Aussies, the Kiwi's are a very proud people, and also, very much like Aussies, have to keep bragging about their country in terms that demonstrate how desperate they are to feel like they actually have some relevance on the international stage. The amount of times I've seen "World's largest/biggest/deepest/newest/oldest/best/only", written on a plaque or on an information sheet in the last 2 days is phenomenal, and every time I see it, I can't help picturing Crocodile Dundee saying "That's not a knifeā€¦ this is a knife".

Frying pan lake
So today I got up  at the ridiculous hour of 6:45am (which due to the time difference still feels a bit like 4:45am to me), and drove out to Waimangu. This is the site of the "world's newest" thermal activity. It was created by an eruption in 1886 that ripped open many kilometres of the surrounding landscape, and created 21 craters. One of which forms the "world's largest" hot spring, "Frying pan lake", although we were discouraged from bathing in it, partly because it had an average temperature of 55 degrees Celsius, but mainly because it had a Ph of about 3.

Because I had stopped regularly along the walk I almost missed the highlight of the tour and had to run (something someone of my age shouldn't be forced to do) the last kilometer of the walking trail to catch my cruise inside an active volcano. It sounds very "Journey to the centre of the earth", but the cruise was on the lake that formed inside the largest of the craters created by the 1886 eruption. The lake is called Lake Rotomahana, which in Mouldy means "warm lake". The Mouldies have an astonishing sense of the literal. The crater is considered still active, and there is plenty of geo-thermal activity on the islands and surrounding shores, including some fairly regular geysers (although one of the other passengers seemed to think he had a magic button that caused the geyser to go off so that tourists wouldn't go home disappointed). Waimangu is also a demonstration of how fast nature can recover. The 1886 eruption desolated the surrounding land for many years, but now a luscious primary forest has been re-established without almost no human intervention, along with the accompanying animal life. Absolutely mind blowing.


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