I just took a look at the last post, and I was far from right when I said Wai-O-Tapu was the last place we visited on the North Island. I don’t even know why I’ve said that. Notwithstanding, here is the rebuttal:
First of all, a supposedly big thing that I’ve left out of the previous post was the major “act” that comes with the ticket to Wai-O-Tapu – the Lady Knox.
See, Lady Knox is a geyser that erupts daily at 10:15am. So it’s crucial that you get there on time. Which means go park your car – because like a lot of things in New Zealand the Thermal Wonderland is in the middle of nowhere – walk about 10 minutes to the main building where the entrance to the park is; buy yourself a ticket for the whole shebang; go back to your car and drive about 15 minutes back where you came from, and park again, this time in the direct vicinity of the geyser. And yes, after that part is done, you have to drive back to the previous parking and go to through the same building where you got your tickets in order to start the round I told you about last week.
But back to Lady Knox. We got to it and sat at one of the amphitheatre-style benches around it. The geyser itself was still a quietly fuming pile of very white sediment on a backdrop of great thick pine forest.
It was 10am.
So we waited quietly as people filled the steps, and we had our cameras, of course, ready. At 10:15 you could see people already propping them up at the tiny volcano and waiting. A man was looking for someone or just hadn’t decided where exactly to sit so he was standing in the middle of the crowd, causing a very anxious spectator to shout “Sit your ass down!” at him. He did. We waited. Nikola had started filming and narrating where we are and what are we waiting for. It was 10:18 or something like that. I had also started filming, but the SD card of my tiny camera was almost full. By 10.23 I had had the time to stop filming absolutely nothing happening and delete the empty attempts to capture this natural phenomenon from the start.
At some point I considered the option of there being a hidden camera and someone laughing their asses off at all the people whose arms are going numb holding up the cameras. A few moments after I expressed that a very welcoming “Kia ora!” came from one side of the geyser, and we saw an employee of the park step closer to it with a mic in his hand.
He was the one who let us in on the “secret” that the geyser does not erupt at 10:15 (usually) by accident. It did strange for a natural occurrence to be so punctual but, hey, who knows, there are strangest things out there.
The story was really funny. It turns out the forest in the background is manmade, as quite a few forests in New Zealand apparently are. This particular one was planted by convicts a few decades ago. During a break one of them found a natural hot spring. With so many of them around, he didn’t think much of it, apart from an easy wash for their work clothes. So his comrades and him threw their clothes in with some soap to soak and left to have their lunch.
It was all very well until they heard the rumble, smelled the sulphur, and went back to the spring to find all of their clothes hanging all over the recently planted saplings around it.
And that was how the secret that the water in the hot spring reacts to certain chemicals was discovered. Since then the puddle was build up into a chimney to give the jet an extra boost and now it reaches over 20 metres on a good day.
I would post the video of the geyser in action but it’s not been edited and I’m sure 15 minutes of pending action is a little too much. So instead, here’s a substitute with some background info as well: