Waimangu Volcanic Valley is located 30 minutes from Rotorua and sounds like a perfect spot to spend an early Sunday afternoon. It has a 2 hour walk from the visitor's center down through the valley to Lake Rotomahana. Buses then pick you up and return to the visitor's center. A gentle downhill walk sounds very doable with my tender knee.
The landscape leading to the valley is beautiful. After arriving at visitor's center the the panorama with Tarawera Mountain in the background is impressive. We learn that the Waimangu Valley was formed by a violent volcanic eruption on June 10, 1886. Amazing how this all evolved in ~130 years. We normally think of such a lush valley being here for centuries.
We walk through the wooded path down into the Southern Crater, working our way to the cold water Emerald Pool. Another ten minutes down the path we see steam rising and evidence of small bubbling pools, soon coming to Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake. The steam rises from the lake, which has an average temperature of 55C (131F).
We pass Cathedral Rocks and farther along there seems to be hot springs and creeks at every turn. The algae growing in some of the hot pools is an amazing bright green. The walk up a series of stairs rewards us with a view of Inferno Crater Lake, a pale blue jewel and at 80C (170F) it is even hotter than Frying Pan Lake.
Portions of the trail are under trees while others are in the hot sun. We walk between small cliffs and come to the Marble Terrace which was formed by silica rich water. 20 minutes later we are walking along a cool stream and see Lake Rotomahana in the distance. When we arrive at the lake it is ideally set in front of Tarawera Mountain and there are black swans swimming with their young. Beautiful! We enjoy the scene before taking the shuttle bus back up the hill. This has been a great afternoon.
Hi. I'm Anne. I wander around the world with William.
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