Waiotapu

Part Three: Continuing south, we stopped at the geothermal park Waiotapu, which means “sacred waters”.

Some of the elements were aptly named (e.g. Devil’s Inkpot, Sulphur Cave), while some merely sported aspirational nomenclature (e.g. Bridal Veil Falls, Artist’s Palette, the Champagne Pool).

Here’s where my upbringing in the Intermountain Western U.S. makes a brief appearance: my parents were simply wonderful about taking us kids on hikes and camping trips to Yellowstone and all over Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. We haven’t taken our kids to Yellowstone yet (every time I think about it, I get a flashback of dusty heat), so they had nothing to compare Waiotapu to except pictures they’ve seen and my stories.

Our visit began with a geyser, which erupts every morning at 10:15 sharp. The Lady Knox Geyser is not quite man-made, but it is man-aided: they pour a little surfactant into the hot pool, which breaks up the cool water on top and allows the hot water below to erupt. Apparently this phenomenon was discovered by prisoners doing their washing.

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The sulfur smell overwhelmed K and me at this point. The warm, moist cloud of rotten egg stench penetrated my coat and my eyes are streaming now, just remembering the lovely Champagne Pool.

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