After Wai-O-Tapu, I travelled to Waimangu Volcanic Valley, fourteen kilometres south of Rotorua. I walked four kilometres to the jetty, down the slope past volcanic craters which blew out over a century earlier.
Passing toetoe grass, tea trees and black fern trees along with hot stream, fumes rose like mist, from obscure cracks in the path, from lakes and pools. The crater-lake reflected sparkling ripples before swallowed by another rush of steam.
Frying Pan Lake orchestrated a multitude of thermal sounds: bubbles rose and popped, pulsating a staccato beat; mud plopped; and other bubbly sounds kept their own beat. On the last leg of the hike, the nature walk, two pukeko birds eyed me as I inched near. Dropping a green pallet of poo, they took off into the burrows of toetoe and fern interwoven in the marsh.
Further along the trail a multitude of fantails flew about like boats without rudders, until I realized their oscillating fluttering had a purpose. Among a swarm of white floating insects, their back and forth flying was about catching a meal.
On Lake Rotomakarire I took a boat ride. Introduced species, West Australian black swans and Canada geese dominated the trout loaded lake. Craters skirted the edge. The velvet water stretched around a small rocky island, once the cone of an active volcano before the giant mountain erupted a century earlier.
In hindsight, Wai-o-tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley were two of the most remarkable locations I’ve ever visited in the world. If ever you visit New Zealand, don’t miss Rotorua.