One of the geothermal areas that we always tried to take visitors to when we lived in this region was Waimangu. It’s such a peaceful, beautiful place with (you’ve guessed it) a violent history. You can read about it on their website, stories about a geyser that reached heights of 600 m, explosions that demolished a new hotel and killed the family of the guide.
These days it’s a lot more upmarket, with a bus to return you after a long walk down the valley. But the essentials are just the same. The large, very hot “Frying Pan Lake”, bubbling away at its edges, the impossibly blue “Inferno” crater surrounded by white silica sand, the colours as you follow the stream down and finally distant views of Mt Tarawera.
Here are some images from my visit a few weeks ago:
The high temperatures encourage the growth of all sorts of interesting microorganisms:
A short walk takes you up to this crater, called the “Inferno” crater. The water is very hot and very acidic (a pH of around 2).
Finally you reach a point where there is a view across Lake Rotomahana towards Mt Tarawera. Check it out on Google maps. It will then become perfectly clear how this geothermal area could have been created following the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.
(Remember, this mountain is just one of the little volcanoes in this region of supervolcanoes.)