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Friday, March 30, 2007

Lady Knox Geyser at Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua

There are two main geyser attractions at Rotorua: The Whakarewarewa Thermal Park and the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

At Whakarewarewa, among the other geysers, the star is Pohutu which means “Big Splash” in Maori. If you wish to see the greatest geyser in New Zealand, then this is the one. It erupts as many as 20 times a day and reach up to heights of 30 metres. Within this thermal park, you will see bubbling mud and hot thermal springs too. If you would like to experience Maori culture too, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute is located in the park. You will see skilled Maori carvers and flax weavers at work. There are concert performances in the evening and you can get to experience the hangi, the traditional Maori earth oven meal.

The other main geyser attraction is at the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. I chose Wai-O-Tapu because besides the geyser, I had wanted to see the colourful pools and lakes of this geothermal area.

At Wai-O-Tapu, I was all excited to see the Lady Knox Geyser because it erupts daily at about 10:15am, reaching up to heights of 20 metres. It is amazing to know that even Nature has its own bio-rhythm and “clock” and keeps rather precise time too.

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Wai-O-Tapu, Lady Knox Geyser, Photo10525
(click for larger photo)
Lady Knox Geyser minutes before she blows
Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua, May 2006

As 10:15am approached, a park warden/guide walked into the enclosed area and stood in front of the geyser. I thought it was foolish of the guide to have done that because we can never be sure of the exact moment the geyser blows. In spite of safety precautions, we should never trifle with this hot shower system. The guide went on to explain about the phenomena of geysers and this guy acted so coolly as if he had eyes behind his head to keep watch on the geyser!

It was then he revealed that someone discovered soap powder could enhance the buildup of pressure and activity which causes the geyser to erupt! This discovery could have been made by convicts who in the past were using the water for their bathing and washing. The guide proceeded to pour soap powder into the mouth of the geyser and a few moments later, Lady Knox began to regurgitate and then she finally blew up.

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Lady Knox Geyser, Photo10531
(click for larger photo)
Lady Knox Geyser blows after taking in a mouth of soap powder
Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua, May 2006

Without soap powder, Lady Knox will not be blowing at 10:15am every day. Left on its own, its cycle varies and the interval of its next eruption could be as much as 1.5 days later.

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Lady Knox Geyser, Photo10532
(click for larger photo)
Lady Knox Geyser blows at full force
Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua, May 2006

It was spectacular watching the force of water coming out from Lady Knox but I could not help feeling kind of cheated. Human kind has once again interfered with nature for the sake of tourism dollars! However, the amazing colours of the pools and lakes in Wai-O-Tapu more than made up for this disappointment.
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