Te Puia geothermal geysers

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Te Puia geothermal geysers
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New Zealand's north island is home to the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which has been active for the past 2 million years.  At the heart of the Taupo Volcanic Zone are the geysers of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley in the city of Rotorua.  The geysers and hot springs themselves are located within Te Puia, which is a 70-hectare historic site operated by the indigenous Māori people.  As Te Puia is home to the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, Pōhutu geyser, I decided to spend a few hours checking out these natural wonders.

The entrance fee is $50 NZD, with free guided tours departing on the hour.  The tour took us through the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, which was established in the 1920s to foster all aspects of Māori culture.

Hand-made tools and ornamentation are at the heart of the culture, and the Māori students use a variety of elements to create these crafts.

Basket and fish net weaving as well as tattooing are also a significant part of the Māori culture, and it was a great experience interacting with the students and professionals while witnessing their talent.  After visiting the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, we headed to the geysers and geothermal pools.

Since it had been raining for the past few weeks, Pōhutu geyser was pretty much spilling nonstop, which was great because we didn't have to stand and wait for the best photo op eruption.

Yes, you do need to endure the odor of sulfur in order to enjoy the scene, but the nonstop blasting was definitely a site to behold and only occurs during periods of torrential rain, which is what we had been experiencing the week before.

 The tour concludes at the kiwi bird sanctuary exhibit.  Since kiwis are nocturnal, the lights are out and photography isn't allowed, but it was fun seeing the endangered birds interact.  Among other highlights are the thermal mud flats and the traditional architecture.

Bottom line

Te Puia is a great stop if you're even in the north island.  The indigenous Māori people are very friendly and treat you like family.  At just over an hour drive away from Hobbiton, you can definitely hit up both Te Puia and Hobbiton on the same day.  And rain doesn't always kill vacations, as it definitely contributed to the intensity of Pōhutu geyser and the endless waterfalls of Milford Sound.


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