Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mt Haszard and Waimangu - 28th Dec. 2006

Another Rotorua walk (guess where Span went for her holiday!). Again this is not actually in Rotorua, but on a side road off State Highway 5, heading to Taupo. And this is the first walk I've paid for - $28 each for the privilege. This bought us access to the valley, with it's many thermal wonders, and a really quite comprehensive leaflet outlining the key points, local flora and fauna, the route, and with a timetable for the boat (extra, didn't use) and bus (included, used to get back to the start).

Everytime we go to 'vegas and have some spare time we try to go to one of the geothermal areas. Partly this is because I am trying to find the one that I visited when I was about 8, when I stayed for the first time ever in a hotel where they put mints on the pillow at night. Unfortunately Waimangu was not the right smelly part of Rotorua, but it was a good walk.

The whole main walk is downhill, starting with some beautiful panoramas from the top. You slowly wend your way down the valley to Lake Rotomahana, where you can pay extra to go on a cruise to where the pink and white terraces used to be.

The first geothermal wonder is the Emerald Pool in the Southern Crater, which has some very orderly algae and sphagnum moss. I'm not sure this counts as geothermal as it's cold.
Next though is the Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake, as well as the Cathedral Rocks that loom over one end. Seriously large amounts of steam.

At the end of the lake you can walk right down to a hot water creek and springs, with mineral deposits creating a crazy palette.

Then there's the brilliant turquoise Inferno Crater and the Bird's Nest Terrace.

At this point we decided to head up. You can follow the main path along the floor of the valley, following the hot water stream, or you can climb the hiking trail up and over Mt Haszard. I was sure when we bought our tickets that the seller said it was only another 20 minutes, but the leaflet said an extra hour. We did it in about 40 minutes I think.

It is a very rugged track going up, and my there is a lot of up; even the down is very steep. Nice views of the Rift Valley (no, not the one in Africa) and the lake though.

And also some of these flowers.
Then it was back to the main track, with more mineral-painted terraces such as the Marble and Warbrick. Then a short nature walk to the lake and the bus back up the hill. I was pretty disappointed with the nature walk, until all of a sudden there was a crashing in the bush and a wallaby on the track. A bad time to run out of memory space, luckily it was patient with me.

There were two of the blighters, clearly hoping for some food. We callously did not indulge them.
And then we were at the lake.

All up I think the walk took us around two hours. Unfortunately Nickname Pending didn't check his watch at the start. It's a gentle downhill incline, suitable for wheeled conveniences, with the exception of the Mt Haszard part, as previously mentioned.

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