Day 9/35

The Fridge Part II

The refrigerator has to be turned on again in the morning of course. So, the same exercise, but this time the fridge has to be pulled out a lot further, because now my whole arm has to go into the cupboard, to put the plug back into the socket. I do not want to get it out completely, because the underside could stain the carpet.

The best seems to be to let one of the corners rest in the cupboard and pivot the rest out. And that is the way it goes. I balance the fridge on the left back corner and pull out the right side completely. While doing this, it tilts now and then causing all the bottles to tinkle. That makes a hell of a noise this early in the morning. It makes me think ‘have to hurry up otherwise they come and ask what in Gods name I am doing here inside’.

Finally, the fridge sticks out far enough to get my arm in. I really have to stretch to get to the socket. A little bit further and a bit more even. I can barely reach it. Apparently I have concentrated a bit too much on the plug. Suddenly, the fridge drops away and a whole bunch of bottles clang over each other. I think ‘shit, let’s get that fridge back in quickly’.

Then I see a big piece of plastic hanging loose on the backside. It does not seem a very necessary part, so I rip it off. Now the fridge can be moved back to it’s original place. More black stuff is dripping over the edge now, but the fridge is working again. Nobody has knocked on the door, so I put all bottles back straight up and throw the plastic piece in the back of the closet. I clean the floor again and then finally everything is ok again….ppffffft. These things never go easy (-;

Changing Motels

I start looking for another hotel immediately. Driving to the fuel station, I encounter a Best Western. 118 dollars, unlimited internet, kitchen, nice people. This feels completely different. I will be cured from the big hotels for a while. Holiday Inn or Quality Inn are the very best to me, but New Zealand does not offer many of these. Motorhomes in America and Canada are usually filthy, rotten motels, but here it is just this type of motel that offers the best value for money. I book two nights, so I will be fine while I am here. I will stay here for the next couple of days because there is a lot to be seen here. The third night I can stay in Taupo.

Planning

Yesterday rain was predicted for the whole morning with sunny spells in the afternoon. This morning it is completely clouded but it is already dry. The city is saturated with the familiar sulphuric odour that rises from the drainage system.

There are many things to visit here: volcanic lakes, a number of geothermal areas, waterfalls, a covered village and Redwoods (more on that later). So what is the best thing to do? Geothermal areas are better not visited in the early morning as there will be much more steam and less to see (cold air is more steam). The high humidity as a result of the rain adds even more steam.

The best conditions are at high temperatures and low humidity. Then visibility is best. Cloudy conditions are perfect for waterfalls, nice colours and it is easy to use long shutterspeeds. (because there is less light than on a sunny day). So the waterfalls can best be visited in the morning followed by a geothermal area in the afternoon. Should it be still cloudy, then I still have the chance to visit the same area again tomorrow under sunny conditions. Besides, the Lady Knox Geyser is forced into eruption by using soap, every morning at 10.15. That one I could see tomorrow.

Waterfalls in the Forest

There are two waterfalls in the north: Okere Falls and Tutea Falls. These will be the first target for today. When I arrive, nobody else is there yet. The river has turned into a raging torrent, due to all the rain that has fallen these last few days. The waterfalls are almost covered completely by the river. Both waterfalls are in the middle of the forest and completely surrounded by vivid green foliage. Despite all the water I shoot a couple of photographs and these come out quite spectacular very unexpectedly. The wild water provides for a dynamic effect.

Violent torrents at Okere Falls.

Okere Falls, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

An Explosion of Water in the Forest at Tutea Falls.

Tutea Falls, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

There are many different species of ferns surrounding the waterfalls.

Ferns, Tutea Falls Area, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Very close to the path stands a very large fern, well over 2 meters in diameter. Because the fern is very close to the path, it is quite difficult to let it fill the photograph completely.

Large Fern, Tutea Falls Area, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Zooming out, the forest enters the scene. There is a light wind and it is quite dark as well. Therefore it is impossible to photograph the fern without moving leaves.

Large Fern, Tutea Falls Area, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

There is a very photogenic tunnel close to Tutea Falls, that I can not resist to shoot. This one is also a bit troublesome because there is very little space between the rockwall and a fence along the path. Tripod legs always seem to have an unwilling mind of their own in these tight spaces. The fence protects for a 5 meter drop straight into the river.

Large Fern, Tutea Falls Area, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

After a while, I walk back to the car only to discover that I have been here for over 2.5 hours. It is already 11 o’clock, unbelievable. I did not expect that.

A Geothermal Wonderland

I turn back immediately to the geothermal area where the Champagne Pool and the Lady Knox Geyser are: Wai-O-Tapu – Geothermal Wonderland. It starts to rain the moment I arrive. So I first eat the yesterday leftovers of Indian food. Cold it is as good as hot. Shortly after, the rain stops.

This area is comparable with some parts in Yellowstone National Park. Here, there are also mud pools, hot pools, geysers and terraces. Furthermore, a large part of this area consists of craters of around 20 meters deep. These have been created by acidic steam bubbling up. The acid dissolves the limestone whereafter the ground collapses.

This is one of these holes with the catching name ‘Devil’s Home’.

Devil's Home, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Rainbow Crater sounds a lot more happy and has a nice colouring. This photo also shows a bit more of the surrounding landscape.

Rainbow Crater, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Hot steam is escaping from Thunder Crater.

Thunder Crater, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The ground is quite unstable at places and your are warned very clearly by these signs.

Warning Unstable Ground, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The next stop is at the Devil’s Inkpots, dark pools filled with inky water.

Devil's Inkpots, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

A little further is the Artist’s Palette, a large shallow pond with various colours. These primarily yellowish hues are caused by various metallic compounds.

Artist's Palette, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

In the previous photograph you stand quite high above the pond having a nice overview. Somewhat further you walk on a wooden pathway that you can see just above the middle. From there it is very easy to shoot photographs of details.

Artist's Palette, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Somewhat hidden is the Opal Pool. Photo’s of it are not worth publishing because I have to photograph against the light and the reflections in the water can not be prevented, not even with a polarizer.

This plate explains that a faultline runs exactly under Rotorua in a north west direction splitting the north island in two. On one side there is the Australian/Indian plate and on the other side the Pacific plate. These slide against each other with volcanic eruptions and earth quakes as a consequence. Along this line are a great number of volcanoes, of which White Island is a still active volcano in the sea (last eruption in 2000) that you can visit. I keep that one for the next visit.

Faultlines and volcanoes, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

One of the biggest eye catchers is the Champagne Pool. This is an explosion crater with a depth of 62 meters and a water temperature between 175-100 degrees Celsius depending on depth. This plate explains it more visually.

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

There is a soft fizzing sound of thousands of little bubbles snapping on the surface. Especially the edge of the pool is very colourful with reddish metallic deposits containing even gold and silver. This in contrast with Yellowstone National Park where colours are primarily caused by bacterial mats.

The air is quite unattractively white and grey at the moment. Unfortunately there is also a lot of steam because the air is still cool and moist. Therefore it is better to aim for the details. It is not easy.

The following photograph has been made and processed in two completely different ways. The first try exists of 5 different exposures followed by processing in HDR Expose, using the Veiling Glare function to remove the glare caused by the ascending steam.

The second try consists of 19 photographs taken with the same exposure, whereafter moving parts (steam) are removed automatically by Photo Acute Studio. The idea here is that steam forms a unique pattern in every photograph. The software is capable of distinguishing the constant parts (rock and water) from the moving parts (steam) and to remove the moving parts from the resulting photograph. After comparison of both photographs I prefer the results of the first approach.

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Here you are warned about the high water temperature. In some places the ground fizzes just below me.

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The many patterns and colours on the crater edge are intriguing…

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The next photograph poses a different problem. This one is taken from such a short distance that depth of field is not sufficient. Here I shoot four sets of three exposures (12 photographs) where every set is focused on one specific part of the scene. For every exposure, the sharpest parts are selected automatically from four photographs and merged into one sharp photograph by Zerene Stacker. After this, the three sharp exposures are merged into one final photograph with HDR Expose. In the end we have one properly exposed, mostly sharp photograph.

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

This plate explains how various volcanic explosions have deposited extensive layers of ash in this area.

Ash Layers, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The Devil’s Cave or sometimes called the Devil’s Bath truly has the most remarkable color in the park. I have been very carefully to preserve the exact color of this water. It just looks so toxic…

Devil's Cave, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Walking to the green stuff I skipped the Sulphur Cave, but on second thought I want to shoot here as well. It needs some postprocessing to bring out its colours properly, but I really like the result.

Sulphur Cave, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Close to the exit of the park I estimate to have just enough time to go back and visit the far end of the park. I take a shortcut through the forest and capture a nice one of The Primrose Terrace flowing as a river through the valley.

The Primrose Terrace, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

In the back of the park are Frying Pan Flat and Lake Ngakoro. The first is not as photogenic as I had anticipated but the latter definitely is. There is a storm developing in the background and it is already starting to rain.

Lake Ngakoro, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

The Lake is fed by a little stream probably coming all the way from the Champagne Pool and Artist’s Palette via The Primrose Terrace ending up in a cute little falls, named after the lake.

Lake Ngakoro Falls, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Now it is really starting to rain and closing time of the park is approaching. I quickly return to the entrance and still have some time to shoot The Devil’s Cave from a different angle.

Devil's Cave, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

In the end I have been walking here for 5 hours and shot well over 900 photos. I leave the park for a short stop at the Mud Pools. This is a shallow pond where mud is flopping around on several places. Funny sight. Sometimes they go all bezerk, with mud flying al over the place. It takes some patience to capture the movement without being hit.

Mud Pools, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

At some spots the mud is thicker, pulling funny faces.

Mud Pools, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, late summer, North Island, New Zealand.

Hot Pools

I am reasonably tired from all these activities but there is still more than 3 hours of daylight left. Now what? For almost all parks here you have to pay and they all close at 17:00. An area of which I am not sure whether or not you have to pay, is only 6 kilometers down the road: Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. Let’s try that one.

Arrived here it looks more like a place where you can take a bath and to be honest I am not really feeling for that right now.

Coastal Redwoods

I return to Rotorua and decide to visit the Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest. This is a very special forest. It has been created more than 100 years ago as a trial. From all over the planet all kinds of trees have been planted here to learn which ones would grow best in the New Zealand climate and would be perfect for the wood industry. They even planted Redwoods of which only three types still exist. These are the largest trees in the world and can be compared with the Kauri.

After searching for quite a time I find the forest, but darkness is already setting in a bit. Better to keep this one for tomorrow. The trees have reached a considerable size already and are more than 100 years old now. This is really special because Redwoods are very picky about their ecosystem. They only can reproduce with the help of fire. The seeds (small pine cones) only open up after exposure to extreme heat.

Blue and Green Lakes

The same road continues to the Blue and Green Lakes. Because the sky is opening up I decide to check them out. Maybe a nice sunset around the Tarawera volcano is a possibility. Blue Lake is indeed blue and Green Lake is apparently green, but that one can not be visited. Tarawera is covered with clouds and there is a lot of wind out here. Furthermore the sky is closing up again. Time to quit. I keep Tarawera in mind for another try tomorrow.

The whole mountain is private property en it is not allowed to climb it anymore. Weird that this is really possible. Tarawera can only be visited by helicopter or jeep-safari. I am not in the mood for such a commercial trip. It is a shame because I have seen really beautiful photographs of Tarawera.

Tomorrow there will be another day…

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, New Zealand Late Summer 2011, Day 09

Download the original gpx file gpx file here.

edit