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Volcanoes, thermic mud baths and geysers heat up New Zealand’s North Island

New Zealand's North Island has long been shadowed by the adventurous South, with its fjords, mountains and dramatic settings, boasting every watersport known to man. But the North is well worth visiting, too – so much so that the Reporter decided to dedicate a series to the forgotten island. This is the second part of New Zealand's Lost Island.

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Rotorua, New Zealand — A park ranger stands in front of a large audience sitting in an open amfi theatre-like space in one of New Zealand’s national parks. (You’ll find it by searching for “Rotorua” on Google Maps.)

Everyone is looking at a volcano, a small one. Or at least it looks like a small volcano, a small mountain formed like a cone. There is an opening at the top. In reality it is a hot spring, one of many in this area.

“I’m going to trigger it to blow,” says the park ranger and pours soap into the opening.

The park ranger at a Rotorua hot spring, New Zealand. Photo:

The park ranger at a Rotorua hot spring, New Zealand. Photo:


The effect is not immediate. First it starts, naturally, to bubble foam out of the crater. Some in the audience start to laugh. Then the column of water rises. Then it blows and the weirdly looking thing turns into a natural fountain, boasting a pillar of steam and water of about 20 meters. Everyone start taking photos.

RELATED All parts in the series [the-series]

The hot spring is triggered to blow by the use of soap. Photo:

The hot spring is triggered to blow by the use of soap. Photo:


This all went down around Rotorua a few hours drive south of Auckland, New Zealand. This area is famed for its many hot springs and geothermal activity. A smell of minerals and hot air covers much of the surroundings at one of the parks.

Rotorua also features fishing trips, hikes and all kinds of nature adventures. On its official website, the region also boasts the option for visitors to experience Maori culture. There are other joys to be had here as well. A Dutch girl in a Rotorua hostel, featuring a Lava Bar for its guests, proudly shows photos of herself diving into a volcanic mud bath – rendering her her mud in her hair, trousers and eyes. Seeing the photos, I quickly decide a mud bath is not quite my idea of a prime attraction.

Instead, I go for a short hike around one of Rotorua’s geothermal lakes. The volcanic activity beneath has turned this pond to a virtual melting pot. The colours are amazing. Nature photographers should be able to catch quite a few good shots here. The smell, though, is horrible, much like rotten eggs.

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Next: New Zealand’s most perfect volcano

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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.