Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Mud of Rotorua

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

I stood in the midst of a barren lunar landscape. The whole earth seemed to be bubbling and steaming. Pools of bubbling mud were all around, and sulphurous fumes filled the air. Many of the rocks were stained yellow.

The mud of Rotorua, New Zealand
Bubbling mud

At dawn I'd watched as the boat navigated New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. Yesterday had passed circling Mount White, watching the volcano's steam and smoke rise into the air. Now the boat had docked at Mount Maunganui, home to perhaps the best beach in NZ. From my deck I could see the trails winding up The Mount as the little calls often call it. I like the Maori, Macao, which translates as ‘caught by the dawn’. Unlike Mount White, this volcano is extinct, and several historical pa sites (or villages) have been built here.

Mt White, New Zealand
Mt White

Rotorua is an active volcanic area. In the town itself, geysers and steam erupt in back yards; houses occasionally disappear. At first the stench of sulphur tainted everything, but soon I barely noticed it. The pools are of different temperatures, and so had different uses for those who lived here. Some were for coking, others for washing; one only the high priest could use. One, with a temperature around 100 C and a pH around 0.5, was used for the disposal of bodies of defeated warriors - the body would literally dissolve in a few days.

The mud of Rotorua, New Zealand
A bridge over a steaming pool

Adjacent to the pools of mud is a pine forest - the felt as so remarkably cool once I walked under the trees. The lichen on the trees is often orange, a combination of the yellow sulphur on the green plant.  Rota means lake, and there is water everywhere. The rivers and streams are crystal clear, and I could see trout and fishes swimming. I passed a pool of the palest blue, with mud bubbling at the bottom.

The mud of Rotorua
One of the many mud pools

                    Truely a magical landscape. The light of New Zealand makes it a great place for photographers - and the sulphurous tones of Rotorua, and the result is truly evocative.

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