Friday, May 2, 2014

Heading South -- Waitomo and Waiotapu

After a long very curvy drive, we stopped at a motel in Waitomo which is home to the famous caves that have the glow worms (glow little glow worm, glimmer glimmer).  We got there first thing in the morning before the tour buses.  You first go down into the caves on a walking tour and then all the lights are turned out and you board a small row boat and float through the river in the cave.  You look up at the ceiling and it looks like a night sky with sparkling little lights all over.  You are not allowed to take pictures though until you were on your way out which is the view above.  The caves were beautiful in and of themselves and the glow worms were mesmerizing.  

Looking out the balcony of our motel room, I spotted these Australian Shelducks way way off in the distance at dusk.  Picture was good enough to identify them at least!!

The next morning at dawn, I spotted this Eastern Rosella Parrot from the same balcony!!  First time to see a parrot in the wild  It was one I took a picture of and then blew it up later to see what it was!!

I believe this is a Eurasian Blackbird.  We have seen many of these as well as starlings, Mynahs and House Sparrows.

Next we headed to Rotorua which is famous for being built on geothermal features.  You can smell the sulfur as you drive through the town and see the steam coming up from the mud baths.  We spent little time there though as it is very built up.  Our guide book suggested heading to a place called Waiotapu which is about 23 miles south of Rotorua and home to a large thermal wonderland complete with a geyser (which we didn't see as we were too late in the day).

I did spot these Black Swans in the lake in Rotorua.  Black Swans are only found in New Zealand.  There were a lot of black ducks there as well but I suspect those are domestic as I couldn't find them in my bird book.  I have since seen Black Swans elsewhere.

Just another of the swans posing for me.

This is an Australian Magpie and we see these all over as well, perching in trees or wondering in pastures.  Very pretty in flight.  This was at the entrance to the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, a NZ park which is beautifully maintained (commercial but run by the Dept of Conservation).

There were many of these New Zealand Fantails flitting around near the entrance to the park.  They are nearly impossible to photograph as they are moving so fast among the branches.

 I always take pictures of the signs for later perusal!!

One of the many mud craters in the park, steaming and making all sorts of gurgling noises.


 This whole area south of Rotorua down to Lake Taupo is very geothermally active.  Driving down the road,  you could see steam vents.

 This was Champagne Lake.  Although it is geothermally active like Yellowstone, it looks quite different.  The colors here in this park were all created by the different minerals dissolved in the water while at Yellowstone there are all different colors because of the bacterial mats.  The limestone at the sides of the craters and lakes was very much like Yellowstone though.

Another of the mud craters.

 This was the last feature you saw in the guided walk!!  They definitely saved the best for last.  The color is created by the sulphur.

 Another view of the crater.

This is a closeup of the texture in this crater.  There are a series of walks with the shortest taking about 30 minutes.  The longest takes about 75 minutes which Warren did.


Nicole DeMore said...

That last green pool must have smelled terrible. I'm alittle jealous of your trip, you've seen so many interesting things so far.

Sue said...

Thanks for sharing your trip Beth. I've always wanted to go to New Zealand!

knutty knitter said...

Those are paradise ducks and local :)

Glad to see you are enjoying yourselves.


Bibby and Pa said...

Rotorua is a bit commercialised but Waiotapu certainly is the place to go. Re Black Swans - they are native to Australia, particularly southern and is the State emblem of Western Australia. My bird book (Field Guide to the Birds of Australia) says they have been introduced to New Zealand where large numbers now occur....keep it...Elizabeth