A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand Geothermal

Rotorua- Wai-o-Tapu, Lady Knox Geyser, Waimangu, Wai-o-Tapu 2nd, Mitai Maori show

Friday 29th January 2016 Geothermal Parks, Rotorua

Wai-O-Tapu http://www.waiotapu.co.nz
Our breakfast was dropped off and we picked up some discount tickets for Waiotapu, and then set off. The route was amazing; all volcanic hillocks and steaming vents from the vegetation. As we drove we saw New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool. We turned off to Wai-O-Tapu, which was easy to find, arriving about 9:15. The cashier said we could easily do the Short Route before going to see the geyser, then come back after. Part of an 18sq.km reserve administered by the department of conservation (although Wai-O-Tapu itself is owned by a Maori tribe) it has the largest area of thermal activity in the Taupo volcanic zone. Scattered with collapsed craters, boiling pools of mud and deep hydrothermal springs the reserve provides a wealth of colourful phenomenon to discover. There are 25 individual examples of geothermal activity in the reserve on a 3km track (2 hr walk). A relatively minimalist set up in comparison to more touristy venues, the reserve stays true to the organic nature of the terrain and keeps intrusion to a minimum.
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1. Devil’s Home 2. Rainbow Crater 3. Thunder Crater 4. Devil’s Ink Pots 5. Artist’s Palette 6. Opal Pool 7. Boardwalk across Terrace 8. Primrose Terrace
9. Jean Batten Geyser (then we cut over to) 21. Champagne Pool 22. Inferno Crater 23. Birds Nest Crater 24. Sulphur Crater 25. Devil’s Bath
Our return trip saw 10. Sacred Track 11. Panoramic View 12. Bridal Veil Falls 13. Wai-O-Tapu Geyser 14. Alum Cliffs 15. Frying Pan Flat 16. Oyster Pool
17. Sulphur Cave 18. Lake Ngakoro Waterfall 19. Native Bush Walk 20. Sulphur Mounds

Coming out of the shop area, we crossed a small bridge to first see the Weather Pool on the left. This pool has a variety of colours, depending on the weather (hence the name!). Today it was sunny, so the pool was a nice grey-blue. Next to it an underground stream of 100 °C exited the ground from the crater area above.
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Weather Pool; stream; Devil’s Home; Rainbow Crater
We then entered the crater area, with a number of craters up to 50m diameter and 20m deep. Quite a number contained hot water springs and pretty much all of them had plentiful sulphur crystals at their entrance. They were quite recently formed (within 100 years or so) from the action of acidic steam from the super-heated underground water dissolving the ground and causing it to collapse. The first named crater was Devils Home, a collapsed crater where underground acid erosion has eaten away at the earth, causing it to collapse in on itself. The rough sides of the crater are tinged with a yellow-greenish hue from cooling sulphuric volcanic vapours and ferrous salts escaping into the atmosphere. A little further was Rainbow Crater, named for the sulphur and mineral deposits in its kaolin mud walls. The viscous mud bubbled at its base. Opposite was an area of fumaroles, where steam escaped the ground vents, with crystal deposits everywhere. Thunder Crater was one of the larger craters, formed in 1968 when the land collapsed. The steaming water at the bottom showed how hot the area was. The Devil’s Ink Pots depicted clearly the unstable nature of this volcanic environment. Boiling pots of black mud, their water levels fluctuate with the rainfall. Coloured inky black by particles of crude oil and graphite brought to the surface with the escaping steam, they bore a resemblance to a witch’s cauldron and smelt like a sickly sulphur potion.
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Thunder Crater; Devil’s Ink Pots; Artists Palette; Artists Palette
From this area we walked through a short area of scrub/ bush to arrive in front of the Artist’s Palette, which had an excellent viewing platform. Overflowing water from the Champagne Pool brought minerals from the ground with it. Due to the cooling and atmospheric processes (plus the different water layers) the various mineral colours swirled around the pool, creating a very pretty effect. A small geyser erupted from the left side of the pool. Continuing towards the boardwalk, a very brief detour took us to the Opal Pool. This was clearly named for its yellow-green colour and was a spring sitting on the edge of a sinter terrace (which we could see going on down). Sinter terraces are created when hot springs overflow to create rocks made of fine grained silica. We could see across to the pretty Primrose Terraces, now the largest in NZ since Mt Tarawera destroyed the famous Pink and White ones in 1886 at Waimangu. The terraces have been forming over 700 years and cover 1.5 hectares. Apparently there is a small geyser at their edge, the Jean Batten, named after the first aviatrix to fly from Australia to London in 1935, but it has not erupted for some time now.
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Small geyser; Opal Pools; Primrose Terraces; Jean Batten geyser
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We then crossed the long Boardwalk across to the crowning glory of the reserve; the Champagne Pool. At 65 m in diameter and 62 m deep it is the largest natural spring in the area. Formed over 700 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption (we could still see the rocks at the top on the bank) it continues to be fed from a system of underground streams. Water entering the spring from below is up to 230 °C. As it rises it gradually cools to a tepid 74 °C, where it then evaporates into the cool air above. The high temperatures at depth encourage the transfer of minerals from the rock to the water. Gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, antimony, arsenic and thallium are all absorbed and brought to the surface where they are deposited at the edge of the spring on a sinter ledge. This ledge is one of the phenomenon that make the reserve so distinctive, the minerals that collect on the ledge react to give it a bright orange hue.
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Contrasted against the sulphuric green water of the spring and the surrounding white siliceous terrace, the orange ledge and evaporating vapour give a glimpse into the first primitive environments on our earth. We followed the steaming pool around to a flat area with small streams, wading birds, and a small bridge to our final area of the morning. This was a series of much bigger craters, Inferno Crater, Birds Nest Crater (due to the presence of starlings, swallows and mynahs making nests at the warm top of it) and Sulphur Cave. This last had substantial beautiful crystalline deposits along the walls and a small chlorine pond at the bottom. The myriad holes in it are in the process of forming new collapses. Finally we reached the hugely impressive Devil’s Bath. Fed partly by run off from the Champagne Pool, the Devil’s Bath is a toxic mix of sulphur and ferrous salts that combine with the minerals from the Champagne pool to create a day-glo yellow or green anomaly. Changes in colour, yellow to green depend on the amount of reflected light and cloud cover. Today it was a mix of the two.
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Inferno Crater; Birds Nest Crater; Sulphur Cave; Devil’s Bath

GEOTHERMAL COLOUR CHART
Green = colloidal sulphur / ferrous salts
Orange = antimony
Purple = manganese oxide
White = silica
Yellow =sulphur
Red/Brown = iron oxide

Although there are no fish in the waters of Wai-O-Tapu, due to the high level of minerals and toxic gases, there are inhabitants in the surrounding vegetation. All the native flora and fauna are protected and appear undisturbed by the daily flow of visitors. The surrounding manuka scrub is extremely flammable, as are some of the mineral deposits, and fire is an ever present risk. Manuka is one of the few native plants not eaten by grazing animals, and provides year round habitat for birds and mammals. The most common sight amongst the geothermal activity are the Pied Stilt birds who feed on insects hovering over the flat areas of water. They appear undeterred by the less than fragrant air and acidic waters in which they wade, even choosing to take a nap stood in the toxic bath. The Pied Stilt or poaka (also Black- winged or white-head stilt) is common at wetlands throughout New Zealand, often alongside oystercatchers. Pied stilts tend to be shy and fly away when approached. It is a medium-large wader with very long pink legs and a long, fine, black bill. The body is mainly white with black back, wings, head and neck. In flight the white body and black on the back of the neck are conspicuous. Juvenile birds look similar to adults but the head and neck are mottled fawn or brown and there is no black band. The wings are not quite as black as in the mature bird. They are believed to have been in New Zealand since the early 19th century, with the main growth in population from about 1870-1940. Pied stilts live in all kinds of wetlands from brackish estuaries and saltmarshes to freshwater lakes, swamps and braided rivers. They feed in shallow water or mud and roost in shallow water or on banks or sandbanks. After the breeding season, birds migrate from inland locations towards more northerly coastal locations. Their main foods are invertebrates and worms on land, and aquatic insects and larvae when feeding in ponds, swamps and estuaries. Pied stilts primarily catch their food by sight, but when wading they also probe and feel for food.
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As we left it had become very busy, so we were glad we'd got our tickets. Then we had to cross back to the car, drive out of the car park, down the road (now in convoy of course), down a side road and into another park, leave the car and cross the road. Walking down a short track we came to the amphitheatre built so everyone could watch the Lady Knox geyser (in NZ pronounced guy-ser as gee-zer is a dodgy bloke). We were early and had great front seats. Whilst we waited we watched the clever birds- they knew exactly how close they could get to it without being scalded by the hot earth. And, yes, the geyser, when it did erupt, was very impressive. The park (somewhat controversially) seed the geyser with a surfactant to lower the surface tension between two liquids in the geyser and cause the geyser to erupt. The geyser is named for Lady Constance Knox, daughter of Uchter Knox (15th Governor of New Zealand). The geyser (which has now Maori name because it was discovered by Europeans) was only discovered in 1901 when the prisoners at Waiotapu open prison realised they could wash their clothes in hot water by adding soap to it. Over the years they added rocks to the base and these are now white and cone shaped from the silica that has deposited here.
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When the geyser had finished everyone began racing back to their cars to go back to the main park, so we thought, hang on, effectively it is an open ticket, so let's go to Waimangu, spend time there and return to Waiotapu afterwards when everyone else has left! So a short
drive to an almost empty Waimangu. After a coffee and cake we headed into the park.
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Detail of terraces (Wai-O- Tapu)

Waimangu Volcanic Valley
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1. Panorama 2. Southern Crater 3. The Saddle 4. Emerald Pool 5. Eruption deposits 6. Panorama 7. Frying Pan Lake view
8. Frying Pan lake and Echo Crater 9. 1973 Trinity Terrace eruption site 10. Crystal Wall 11. Cathedral Rocks 12. Waimangu geyser
13. Hot water creek 14. Nga Puia o te Papa 15. White Cross 16. Te Ara Mokoroa terrace 17. Overflow channel 18. Inferno Crater lake
Mt Haszard Trail: A. Echo Crater B. Hut site C. Rift Valley craters D. Fairy Crater E. Eastern Valley F. Black Crater G. Lower Rift valley
19. Bird Nest terrace 20. Clamshell Spring 21. Silica stalactites 22. Buried soils 23. Kaolin slope 24. Hot-cold stream 25. Soil layers 26. Hot Springs
27. Marble terraces and buttresses 28. Warbrick terraces 29. Nature trail 30. Tarawera volcano and lake view 31. Picnic area 32. Lake Rotomahana

We set off around the side of the visitor centre to a wide terrace with gave an amazing view of the area, forest to lake. The large information sign explained the history of Waimangu, the youngest of the thermal systems in the area. Created overnight on 10 June 1886, by Mount Tarawera, Waimangu is the only hydrothermal system in the world wholly formed in historic times as a result of a volcanic eruption. Three dates dominate Waimangu: 1886- the Mt Tarawera (Ruawahia dome) eruption, 1900-04- the world’s largest geyser active here, 1917- Frying Pan Flat eruption. The 1886 eruption ran along 16km of craters and sent a plume up 11km, destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces and 7 Maori villages, as well as increasing the size of the lake by over double.
From this interesting terrace we continued to walk along the track down to the Southern Crater, a 50m crater formed in the 1886 eruption, but not active. A mud pool is at the end. Along the Saddle, a narrow ridge of land, we then could see the Emerald Pool (pic left below) at the centre of the Southern Crater. As this is a cold water pool (made from rainfall) it had lots of vegetation, including the native red floating fern Azolla. Unusually it is the plant canopy that creates its colour. On down the track we could see deposits (5) from the 1915 Echo Crater eruption, including clay, rocks and even boulders. The red discolouration was caused by the ground still being heated from below.
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We came out on a high walk with a small viewing point that overlooked the whole of Echo Crater (pic right above). This crater was created in 1886 and was the site of the enormous geyser of 1900-4. In 1917 Echo Crater violently exploded and doubled in size. The new crater filled with water to create Frying Pan Lake (pic left below), as we saw. Walking on down to the large viewing terrace we could hear the weird sounds of the fumaroles and vents in the cliffs. Frying Pan lake, the largest hot spring in the world is acidic (pH3.5) while the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide bubbling through gave the impression of boiling water, although the temperature is only 55 °C. To the edge was a bubbling area (9), the site of the 1973 eruption of Trinity Terraces. The 15 min eruption sprayed this mud over a 100m area. Looking ahead were the Crystal Wall (with crystals of sulphur and alum which are fragile and dissolve in rain) and the Cathedral Rocks (pic right below). Originally these were called Gibraltar due to their shape, but the 1917 eruption changed them into steaming pinnacles instead. It is composed of rhyolitic lava some 60,000 years old (so older than Mt. Tarawera). We saw the site of the amazing Waimangu (=Blackwater) Geyser- when it was active it erupted up to 400m, throwing debris into the air every 36 hours.
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Following the path we left the lake and could see the stream that was the lake overflow point (13), running at 110l per sec at 50 °C. It was very pretty along its edges as minerals were deposited- antimony, molybdenum, arsenic and tungsten- along with blue green algae, to make orange, brown, green, yellow and blue. These cleared as we walked along the stream into a series of hot bubbling springs with coloured miniature silica formations called Nga Puia o te Papa (Mother Earth’s Springs). A white cross at the bottom marked where 4 silly tourists in 1903 stood in a place they were told not to and got wiped out by the Waimangu Geyser. We reached the Te Ara Mokoroa Terrace (middle picture), created by Spring N that suddenly appeared in 1975. The overflow channel (17) of Inferno Crater (pic right)was quietly running today. The next area was Inferno Crater and its accompanying lake. This steaming pale blue jewel is in a 1886 crater blown into the side of Mt Haszard. The lake has a strange rhythm. Every few days it becomes smaller by 8m, depositing silica along a tide mark, then expands (hence the overflow channel). Frying Pan and Inferno Lakes are clearly interconnected; as Inferno overflows, Frying Pan’s discharge decreases and vice versa, but the mechanism is not fully understood yet. It is highly acidic, pH2.1 and can reach 80 °C. It actually has one of the largest geysers in the world, but as this is wholly underwater we couldn’t see it!
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As we were planning the Haszard walk, we made a detour along the lower path to Birds Nest Terrace (a mini silica terrace formed by 3 boiling springs are filled with delicate looking multi-coloured algae), Clamshell Spring (silica rich water from this spring made a clamshell shaped terrace with rare
thermophilic bacteria) and Silica Stalactites- see pic left (clamshell is in centre). Then a short 5 mins back to take the Mt. Haszard High Walk. The path led steeply up so at the top we had a great view of Echo Crater and Rainbow Mountain (180,000yr old volcano). The 1902 Geyser Hut was in poor repair on the walk before it led us to a magnificent view of the Rift Valley and its line of Craters. In front was the shallow Raupo Pond Crater (1886) and further on Lake Rotomahana.
On past the Fairy Crater (1886) where we had a great view of the spectacular lava buffs forming its wall, and on to the Eastern Valley panorama. Rounding the corner along the Black Crater Saddle we were able to look UP to Black Crater with its massive lava outcrops and steaming pink-red walls. The 1886 eruption caused this older crater to break somewhat into two depressions in the centre. Then we walked down to reconnect with the lower path.
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Fairy crater; Black crater; Eastern Valley; Hot spring
We headed back somewhat to see the hot and cold steam where cold Haumi meets Hot Water Creek (24), the white Kaolin slope (23) and the stratified Buried Soils of 25 (the white band is pumice from the enormous Taupo eruption [see Taupo later], while the black band is the 1886 eruption). Back on our path were hot streams across our path, bubbling along until we reached the Marble Terraces/ Buttresses. These amazing terraces are made of the same material as the fabled Pink and White terraces with silica depositing out of solution into a series of successive terraces. The water comes from Iodine Pool (obviously it was a yellow-brown) at 97 °C (pic left) and flows across the terraces in waves. Then we arrived at the toilets/ bus stop at Rainbow Crater. Just on was Warbrick Terrace, a set of fast growing silica platforms in ripples over an old stream. Algae have formed a dam, so the ripples run at two different angles! The name is after a famous Maori, Alfred Warbrick, who came from the local tribe, Ngati Rangitihi. He was born on the shore of old Lake Rotomahana, guided and led rescues after the 1886 eruption and was the first Maori rugby player.
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Marble Terrace Warbrick Terrace
We followed a 20 min walk through the grasses (mainly the rare toetoe plant) to the lake and our cruise (highlights below).
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Our cruise around the lake was interesting, with the captain pointing out features on the way. From our seats at the back of the boat we could see where the hot stream entered the lake in a shallow delta (1), with lots of vegetation and birds. As we cruised around we could see the rock walls (2) made of yellow volcanic rock called ignimbrite, exposed by a fault line (grey deposit line) created in 1886. We motored across to Patiti Island (3). The island is made of rock 18,000 years old, the remnant of a lava plug. Before the 1886 eruption it was a hill next to the much smaller lake. In the distance, at the end of the lake we could see Mt. Tarawera (4), created by 4 separate eruptions, the last creating a deep chasm.
All the hills in this area are secondary lava domes of Tarawera. Water may seep in small amounts from the mountain to the lake, but its level (5) is basically the result of rainfall and evaporation (with changes up to 9m noted). We headed through a narrow opening into a small bay, Star Hill Crater (6), created in 1886. Originally separate to the lake, it is now joined underwater to a depth of 20m. The microclimate around the bay has led to a small reserve (7). The area Te Ariki (8) was the site of a Maori village before the eruption. Next to this area was the site of the famous White Terraces (9), a world wonder until it was presumed destroyed in the eruption. Recently it has been discovered that substantial amounts of it still exist under the water. In its day it rose 30m above the lake in a series of ascending white silica terraces made from a boiling cauldron running down from the top. Opposite this site was the evidence of the eruption base surge deposit (10), where we could see the debris which had blocked the outflow of water and created Lake Rotomahana. Continuing around closer to the bank we passed the former site of the Pink Terraces (11), similar to the White Terraces but with minerals adding to the colour. Again, they are probably still there, below the water. On the cliffs opposite (12) we saw the stratified mud layers created in the 1886 eruption at Pink Terrace Bay. From here the cliffs began to show their name, Steaming Cliffs with hot water springs, geysers, and steaming vents. It is not sensible for people to walk here, but plenty of birds were evident (13) as far as Fumarole Bay (14). This bay was particularly active, with rock temperatures ranging 40-70 °C. Just a few cms below the surface is 100 °C and the large fumarole at the end has steam erupting at 101.5 °C. A hydrothermal eruption in this bay in 1951 sent a wave across the lake that destroyed much of the thermophilic life becoming established. On round were the Donne Cliffs, very colourful in reds (iron oxide) and yellows, followed by a fracture line (16), before we disembarked. We caught the bus back to the cafe and had a quick quiche lunch before leaving.
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Patiti Island from Star Hill; Bay Star Hill Crater Bay; Mt. Tarawera
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Steaming Cliffs; Fumarole Bay; Donne Cliffs

Wai-O-Tapu (again)
Perfect timing! As we left Waimangu the heavens opened, but by the time we reached Waiotapu it was totally dry. The car park was now nearly empty, so we had a picnic before heading in to do the Long Route with very few people about. We went past the Devils Pool and Inferno Crater to pick up the Long Walk at the Champagne Pool. Walking along the Sacred Track, a bush-rhodo covered walk with great views of the sinter terraces, we walked down quite a few steps and ended at the Bridal Falls. Not exactly a waterfall, as the water from the sinter terraces was depositing silica and coloured minerals down the rocks, creating a shimmering effect. It was one of the few areas where we saw green microbial mats. We could see the water flowing down a small stream to lake Ngakoro. From the falls we went right past Wai-O-Tapu geyser (tiny) to emerge at a small acidic pool with pretty cliffs, Alum Cliffs, whose weathered rocks belie its recent creation (700 years). Walking around brought us to Frying Pan Flat, a huge eruption crater filled with pools of various sizes, bubbling hot springs, fumaroles and a family of Pied Stilts. Walking along the edge we saw Oyster Pool (named for its shape) on the right and a large Sulphur cave (one of the more spectacular we saw) on the left. We could hear Ngakoro waterfall not far away, and used the viewing platform to look over. Walking up the native Bush Walk we passed Echo Lake and found some interesting Sulphur Mounds. Although these looked very much like a series of termite mounds, they were actually inorganic, created in the 1950s. All the staff were very friendly, asking if we were enjoying it and what our favourite parts were. When the second man learnt I'd liked Devil’s Pond he explained about the waters colours and how different ph values affected it- Steve got interested in the chemistry of course!
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Detail of Bridal Veil Falls

The word geothermal originates from ancient Greek and when translated literally means ‘earth heat’. On a basic level the theory is that heat from within the earth escapes to the surface cultivating a mineral rich volcanic environment. Deep beneath the ground lies a system of streams which are constantly heated by the volcanic remnants of eruptions long ago. As the water is heated it absorbs minerals from the surrounding volcanic rock and transports them to the surface as steam where they are eventually reabsorbed into the ground. It is this chemical reaction that produces the primordial stench or ‘hydrogen sulphide’ associated with geothermal activity.
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Sacred Track to panoramic view; Bridal Veil Falls; Alum Cliffs
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Oyster Pool in Frying Pan Flat; Sulphur Cave; Sulphur Mounds

Back to Rotorua and Maori Show
We had a bit of time before dinner so it was a brief chill and patio spa before the minibus collected us from reception at 6pm and delivered us to Mitai Maori Village http://www.mitai.co.nz, 196 Fairy Springs Rd. Mitai aims to give an authentic introduction to Maori culture, and we were not disappointed!
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The bus arrived outside the building and we were all sat at tables so the compère could talk. I believe he was the founder of the show, having had a dream of presenting a Maori choreographed by him for a long time. It was well done, and apparently as authentic as was possible. Having spent about 15 minutes saying hello in a load of languages, the social comments he made were much more interesting. He particularly mentioned how tattooing is viewed; his feeling was that visible tattoos (part of Maori culture) are viewing poorly both in securing a job and in social situations such as drinking in a pub. With this in mind, apparently a lot of Maori now get temporary tattoos, to satisfy their culture, but to keep them safe at other times by removing them. Our host was of the Mitai family, part of one of the local Rotoruan tribes (iwi). We left in groups to see
● The hangi meal being produced outside (the hangi is the oven- like depression)
● A typical everyday Maori canoe (waka)
● Down to watch the chief and his men (in traditional dress and holding flaming torches) paddle the war canoe down the Wai-o-whiro stream whilst chanting
● Into the show tent to watch the cultural performance with a presenter explaining the action. We saw displays of weaponry and practise war games by men and women, the poi dance (mainly women), the Haka (of course), learnt about carvings (the only way to record their history and stories as they had no written script), tattoo art (ta moko), and had lots of singing (waiata) and chanting. Very well done.
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Then it was back to the main hall for dinner (kai)- the hangi meat with lots of side dishes.
After dinner we again went in groups to look around the native bush grounds of Rainbow Springs- a bit loud for most creatures but we did manage to see a Katipo spider (surprising as they are not common), trout, glow worms, silver fern (great in the moonlight) and even a huge Jumping Spider (Holoplatys). In the sacred Fairy Springs we saw some eels and huge brown trout. Our guide tried to talk about bush medicine, mainly centred on local plants, but with so few dangerous creatures it was mostly related to wound anaesthetic and mending (principally with flax, manuka, koromiko or kawakawa). The knowledge of rongoa (healing) was considered tapu (sacred) and would be passed on by a tohunga (healer/ medicine person/ magic user) to an apprentice in the whare wananga (house of learning). Then, a late return and an early bed!
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Tattoo- traditionally a tattoo would be made using a chisel to make the grooves in the skin in which the ink would be put. The Maori bought the art of tattooing from their Polynesian homeland, but adapted it to their own demands. Maori consider the head as sacred, so most tattoos go there (although women traditionally only use their lower jaw for tattoos). As it was very painful, the tattoo would be added to slowly through someone’s life. Tattoos are tapu (sacred) and no person’s tattoo is the same, being highly complex and individual. Only people of rank were allowed tattoos and these would often include elements of their family history and exploits. Quite early on Europeans discovered that Maori would tattoo the heads of rival warriors they had killed and a thriving trade for European museums opened up. This is now controversial and our host was clear that the Maori wanted the heads back.
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Tunnel-web spider, Trapdoor spider
Only 10% of NZ spiders are mygalomorphs. Most are large and stocky, with bodies up to 3 cms, and related to tarantulas. Mygalomorphs strike downwards at their prey, and their fangs move up and down.
Tunnel-web spiders are found throughout New Zealand. Living in logs and under stones, it builds silken tunnels along which it can quickly reach
prey or run from predators. Although closely related to the venomous Australian funnel-web, tunnel-webs are harmless. Common trapdoor spider lives in a silken tube with a hinged trapdoor. It waits with its front legs poking out from the lid, and detects vibrations from insects walking near. When the insect is within striking distance, the trapdoor flies open, the spider leaps from the burrow and pulls the prey down the tube. The remains of victims are left next to the trapdoor.

History before Europeans
Arriving in Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud)
According to Maori, the first explorer to reach New Zealand was Kupe, c1280 AD. Using the stars and ocean currents as his navigational guides, he crossed the Pacific on his waka hourua (voyaging canoe) from his ancestral Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki (now thought to be in the Marquesas). It is thought that Kupe made landfall at Hokianga Harbour in Northland, around 1000 years ago. Hawaiki is on no map, but it is believed Maori came from an island in Polynesia. There are distinct similarities between the Maori language/ culture and those of Polynesia including the Cook Islands, Hawaii, and Tahiti.
Tribal Waka
More waka hourua followed Kupe over the next few hundred years, landing at various parts of New Zealand. It is probable the migration was planned, as many waka hourua made return journeys to Hawaiki. Today, iwi (tribes) can trace their origins and whakapapa (genealogy) back to individual waka hourua. The seven waka that arrived to Aotearoa were called Tainui, Te Arawa, Matatua, Kurahaupo, Tokomaru, Aotea and Takitimu.
Hunters, gatherers and growers
Maori were expert hunters and fishermen. They wove fishing nets from harakeke (flax), and carved fishhooks from bone and stone. They hunted native birds, including moa, the world’s largest bird, with a range of traps and snares. At first this meant a plentiful supply of food and it is noticeable that subsistence farming and inter-tribal warfare only grew once the moa was extinct c1500AD (at Maori hands). Maori cultivated land and grew introduced vegetables from Polynesia, including the kumara (sweet potato) and native vegetables, roots and berries. Woven flax baskets were used to carry food, which was often stored in a pataka, a storehouse raised on stilts. As large game became extinct, Māori culture underwent major change, with regional differences. Where it was possible to grow taro and kūmara, horticulture became important. This was not possible in the south of South Island, but wild plants such as fernroot and cabbage trees were harvested and cultivated for food. Warfare increased in importance, reflecting increased competition for land and resources. In this period, fortified pā became more common, although there is debate about the actual frequency of warfare.
Tribal warfare
Maori inter-tribal warfare was common. Maori warriors were strong and fearless, able to skillfully yield a variety of traditional weapons, including the spear-like taiaha and club-like mere. Today, these weapons may be seen in Maori ceremonies, such as the wero (challenge). To protect themselves from other iwi, Maori would construct pa (fortified village) in strategic locations. Pa were constructed with a series of stockades and trenches and many historic pa sites can be found throughout the country. As elsewhere in the Pacific, cannibalism was part of warfare. Leadership was based on a system of chieftainship, often but not always hereditary, although chiefs (male or female) needed to demonstrate leadership abilities to avoid being superseded by more dynamic individuals. The most important units of Māori society were the whānau (extended family), the hapū (group of whānau) and the iwi or tribe (groups of hapū). Related hapū would trade goods and co-operate on major projects, but conflict between hapū was relatively common. Traditional Māori society preserved history orally through story and song; experts could recite tribal genealogies (whakapapa) back for hundreds of years. Arts included whaikōrero (oratory), song, dance forms including haka, as well as weaving, highly developed wood carving, and tā moko (tattoo).
Moriori
While Maori lived throughout the North and South Islands, the Moriori, another Polynesian tribe from an earlier migration to South Island of New Zealand had moved (or were forced out) to the Chatham Islands c1500AD, 900 km east of Christchurch. In the late 18th century, there were about 2000 Moriori living on the Chathams. In 1835, the peaceful Moriori were attacked, enslaved, and nearly exterminated by mainland Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama Māori. In the 1901 census, only 35 Moriori were recorded although the numbers subsequently increased. The last full-blooded Moriori died in 1933.
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Early Europeans
Early visitor from the Netherlands
The first European to sight New Zealand was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. He was on an expedition to discover a great Southern continent believed to be rich in minerals. In 1642, Tasman sighted a ‘large high-lying land’ (West Coast of South Island) and annexed the country for Holland under the name of ‘Staten Landt’ (later changed to ‘New Zealand’ by Dutch mapmakers to honour Zeeland, Tasman’s birthplace). Sailing up the West Coast, Tasman’s first contact with Maori was at the top of South Island at Golden Bay. Two waka (canoes) full of Maori men sighted Tasman’s boat. Tasman sent out his men in a small boat, but due to various misunderstandings it was rammed by a waka. Tasman’s sailors heard the Maori sounding trumpets, so they replied (in friendship) with their own blast. The Maori however, saw this as a call to fight and responded in kind. In the resulting skirmish, four of Tasman’s men were killed. Tasman never set foot on New Zealand, and after sailing up the West Coast, went on to some Pacific Islands, and back to Batavia (Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). His mission to New Zealand was considered unsuccessful by his employers, the Dutch East India Company, having found ‘no treasures or matters of great profit’. However, he managed to give his name to...Tasmania (OK, off Australia), Tasman Glacier (NZ), Mt.Tasman (NZ), Tasman River (NZ).
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Enter Britain
Captain James Cook, sent to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus, was also tasked with the search for the great southern continent. Cook’s cabin boy, Young Nick, sighted a piece of land (now called Young Nick’s Head) near Gisborne in 1769. Cook successfully circumnavigated and mapped the country, and led two more expeditions to New Zealand before being killed in Hawaii in 1779.
Early European settlers
Prior to 1840, it was mainly whalers, sealers, and missionaries who came to New Zealand. These settlers had considerable contact with Maori, especially in coastal areas. Maori and Pakeha (Europeans) traded extensively, and some Europeans lived among Maori. The contribution of guns to Maori intertribal warfare, along with European diseases, led to a steep decline in the Maori population at this time. Around this time, there were 125,000 Maori and 2000 settlers in New Zealand. Sealers and whalers were the first Europeans settlers, followed by missionaries. Merchants arrived to trade natural resources such as flax and timber from Maori in exchange for clothing, guns and other products. As more immigrants settled permanently in New Zealand, they weren’t always fair in their dealings with Maori over land. A number of Maori chiefs sought protection from King William IV, and recognition of their special trade and missionary contacts with Britain. They feared a takeover by nations like France, and wanted to stop the lawlessness of Europeans in their country.
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Black billed gull New Zealand's only endemic gull is the most threatened gull species in the world, and it's rapidly declining. Found: braided rivers South Island; scattered North Island coast and Lake Rotorua The black-billed gull has the unfortunate status of being the most threatened gull species in the world. Stronghold populations of this endemic species have rapidly declined by as much as 80%, resulting in its threat status being upgraded from Nationally Endangered to Nationally Critical in 2013.
The dabchick, or weweia is a specialised waterbird endemic to New Zealand. They are extinct in South Island but they can be found around Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua. The dabchick is a specialised waterbird of the grebe family. Grebes have long necks and are noted for their ability to change their buoyancy. The dabchick has dark plumage with a line of distinctive fine, silvery feathers on its head. The breast and neck have a chestnut tinge, and the underparts are dusky to silvery white. The New Zealand dabchick is a silent bird, except for an occasional wee-ee-ee call, which gave rise to its Maori name Weweia. Dabchicks are known for head-bobbing up and down, side to side, or back and forth. Their diet consists of aquatic insects and their larvae, and small molluscs such as freshwater snails. Occasionally bigger prey such as fish and freshwater crayfish are taken. Dabchicks dive for their food and can reach depths of 4 m. They can hold their breath for around 40 seconds. Starting around July, dabchicks pairs build their nests out of waterlogged vegetation. Usually nests are anchored to emergent aquatic vegetation like raupö or sedges, or tree branches that trail into the water. Because the nest is attached to something it doesn’t have much buoyancy, so dabchick nests are easily swamped by even a small rise in water levels – including boat wash. As nests are close to shore, the eggs are vulnerable to Norway rats that live near water and are good swimmers.
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Posted by PetersF 01:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rotorua island north geyser lady geothermal maori wai-o-tapu knox waimangu mitai

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