Rainbow Mountain (Maungakakaramea). Steam, lakes and location, location, location.

Many readers will already be aware that New Zealand lies along a geological (tectonic) fault line between the plates of Australia and the Pacific Ocean. Look on any map and the most obvious signs are the Southern Alps of South Island, but North Island has its fault lines and sign of geological instability.

New Plymouth hosts Mt Taranaki, volcano, whilst Tongariro National Park hosts Mt Ruapehu, a volcano that’s still smouldering, and between Lake Taupo, to Rotoraua and offshore to White Island (Whakkari) there’s extremely active areas of significant geothermal activity involving water and mud. Some of it this energy is being harvested into producing electricity (Taupo), others areas for health spa and recreation activities. And in other areas, it’s given respect, occasionally given deity status and generally left alone. In fact, New Zealand is so geologically active, there’s even an official website dedicated to monitoring and reporting it, including cameras- check out the Geonet website for more details.

Rainbow Mountain( Maungakakaramea= mountain of coloured earth) sits just outside Rotorua in the Kaingaroa Forest and has a history of geothermal activity From its base to the summit (known as Tihi-O-Rua = Perch of the owl) there are steam vents, lakes, and fantastic views. It’s an ever changing view as you ascend.

Thermal lake at the base of the Rainbow Mountain.
Thermal lake at the base of the Rainbow Mountain.
A closer look at rainbow mountain thermal lake.
A closer look at rainbow mountain thermal lake.
Steam rises from vents throughout the slopes on Rainbow Mountain.
Steam rises from vents throughout the slopes on Rainbow Mountain.

As you look out over the landscape, you can’t help yourself from just looking and appreciating the power of natural forces at work.

Looking from the slopes onto local farmland.
Looking from the slopes onto local farmland.
Looking out from Rainbow Mountain.
Looking North from the summit of Rainbow Mountain.The landscape is more convoluted than a sheet of corrugated iron!

In other areas, steam and mud just pours out of the ground, or in the case of Waikiti valley, constantly pours out of the ground at a rate of approximately 9L per second, at a temperature of 97-99 degress C. (Thats 60x faster than the average modern domestic tap!)

Thanks for reading our post. Join us next time as we continue travelling around New Zealand…

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