I left Napier at about 8:30 and rolled into Taupo and took a look around, then headed north toward Rotorua. This is the Thermal Explorer Highway, which passes through the most volcanically active area of the country.
Just north of Taupo, I stopped at Craters of the Moon to wander around in an active volcanic area, because that’s what us Thermal Explorer types do. And it really is just like a moonscape, except for the lush vegetation, volcanic activity, and breathable atmosphere. It’s not as spectacular as some of the other places, but it was only $6 to get in.
After that I drove straight to Rotorua to get a room and something to eat, then headed back toward Taupo to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland.
But first! Mud Pool. On the way into Waiotapu, there’s a sign that says simply “Mud Pool.” And if you’re a Thermal Explorer and you see a sign that says “Mud Pool,” you’re not just going to drive on by.
So I stopped. And I saw the mud. The blurping, glooping, sulphuric, volcanic mud. Here are pictures of the mud.
Then I went to Waiotapu, which really is an amazing collection of volcanic weirdness. There are vents and craters and steaming lakes and terraces and brightly colored pools and a geyser that did absolutely nothing. There’s another geyser that blows daily, but only because they prime it with soap, and that really seems like cheating. And they only fire it off in the morning, so I didn’t see it.
The mineral-rich water makes strange silica patterns.