not only offers a variety of volcanic landscapes but also a
number of different penguin species. Consequently, in Nov.
2007, both N and S Islands were visited over a 3 week period.
The N island presents a number of
historically active volcanoes as well as several interesting
geothermal areas which have been a focus of tourist attention
for more than a century. Rotorua provided a good initial base
for exploring these landscapes. Rotorua has its own
geothermal area with the Pohutu geyser (Fig.1), yet more
attractive geothermal areas can be visited by driving south
along the road towards lake Taupo, including Wai-O-Tapu and
the Waimangu Valley Geothermal area. Further, it is possible
to organize helicopter transport to White Island Volcano from
the waterfront of Lake Rotorua.
White Island (Fig.2a) is nearly 50km off
the coast of the N island in the Bay of Plenty. Activity
during the visit was merely fumarolic, yet an eruption is
considered overdue. A hot acidic lake fills one of the
craters (Fig.2b). Remnants of a long-abandoned sulphur-mining
operation can also be seen on the island.
On returning from White Island it was
possible to fly over the summit of Mount Tarawera Volcano
(Fig.3a), which was bisected by a part of a 17km long fissure
formed during the massive Plinian eruption of 1886. This
eruption destroyed the famous Pink and White sinter terraces
in Lake Rotomahana (Fig.3b). The Waimangu Valley Geothermal
area is also a result of this eruption. Whilst it cannot
match the famous terraces, a stroll through the area is
certainly interesting and takes one past the site of the
Waimangu geyser (Fig.3c), which was active from 1900-1904 and
was the largest geyser recorded.
area, located on the flank of Reporoa caldera, is the most
colourful in NZ.Â Various hot springs and sinter
terraces (Fig.4abc) can be seen, as can mud pools (Fig.4d),
and the Lady Knox geyser (Fig.4e) which is artificially
induced to erupt every morning by throwing soap powder into it
Further south, one finds the Tongariro massif, including the
Ngauruhoe cone (Fig. 5a, 5b) and Ruapehu volcano (Fig. 6a,
6b). These were initially overflown, and then also viewed
from the Tama Lakes trail. Major activity at Ruapehu was last
observed between 1995 and 1996, although sporadic explosive
events such as in September 2007 occasionally occur. The
active crater of Ruapehu contains a warm lake which may be
partially or completely expelled during eruptions. Ngauruhoe
cone was last active in 1975 and appears to have entered into
an unusually long period of quiescence since then.
See Photovolcanica.com for more pictures and detailed background information on White Island, Tarawera, Wai-O-Tapu, Tongariro und Ruapehu.
The S Island has little recent volcanic features to offer, yet is host to a variety of penguins and other marine wildlife.Â On the W coast near Haast it is possible to see the rare
Fiordland Crested Penguin (Fig.7a, e) on e.g. Monroe Beach.Â The even rarer Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Fig.7d) can be seen in several reserves on Otago Peninsula on the E coast.Â The E coast also provides opportunities for seeing Blue Penguins (Fig.7c) e.g. at Oamaru, and the White-flippered subspecies (Fig.7b) thereof near Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.
Apart from its wildlife, the S island is maybe not spectacular
for people who have already seen alpine landscapes, glaciers
and Fiords elsewhere. Nevertheless, the Island is more
tranquil than the more densely populated N Island and is
certainly equally worth visiting.
For more photos and information about
jump to Photovolcanica.com
Etna to Stromboli
Planets & Space
© 2008 Photos und Text