A Christmas Day in Hell

visiting wai o tapu thermal fields new zealandWhen George Bernard Shaw visited the Wai -O- Tapu Thermal Fields in New Zealand in 1934 he said they reminded him of hell. In 2008 we spent Christmas day hiking at the Thermal Fields which had been highly recommended by our friends Hans and Chris Neufeld. wai o tapu hiking trail Hans had even sent us a lengthy excerpt from the journal he kept during their visit to New Zealand and his thought-provoking comments and detailed descriptions guided us from one trail site to another. 

eruption of the lady knox geyser wai o tapu thermal fieldThe first thing we did was watch the explosion of the Lady Knox Geyser. Every day at 10:15 a Wai- O – Tapu staff member puts a little soap powder in the geyser and it erupts. lady knox geyserApparently this first happened nearly a hundred years ago when some inmates from a nearby prison were sent to the pool around the geyser to do the prison laundry. The soap they added to the water caused the geyser to erupt and sent all the prisoners fleeing in terror

tetonic plates new zealandAs we hiked through the 18 sq. km park colourful signs explained the natural phenomena we were seeing. New Zealand is located right where two of the earth’s tectonic plates meet and they are constantly colliding with one another. thermal park new zealandThis causes all kinds of other-worldly-like scenes- steaming lakes, shooting geysers, bubbling mud pools, colourful waterfalls, sulphuric craters. 

checking the map wai o tapuDave was our hike navigator. He kept checking out the map to be sure we were still heading in the right direction. There were many lakes in the park of various colours. lake wai o tapuThe colors of the lakes and pools depended on the kinds of mineral elements they contained. oyster bay thermal fieldsDave looks out over Oyster Bay coloured green by various ferrous salts and colloidal sulphur.

It was a hot sunny day and after several hours of hiking, we decided it was time to leave for Napier. natural grasses new zealandI took a picture of these natural grasses before we left the park. I had seen them growing all over and thought they were lovely. After our visit to hell, we drove to Grandvue Country Stay a bed and breakfast near Napier operated by Dianne and Keith Taylor.

napierDianne and Keith had run a vegetable and fruit farm for many years but retired to this lovely country property. We arrived on Christmas Day in the afternoon and were warmly welcomed and included in the Christmas family gathering. bed and breakfast hosts napierWe were introduced to Dianne and Keith’s children and grandchildren and got to sample all the wonderful Christmas baking people had brought. They even had a gift for us under the tree!

On Christmas Day in the evening, Dave and I went for a drive to see the area and came upon the Hawkes Bay Golf Course. We got out of the car to take a look and there was a sign that said golfers were welcome to use the course even if no one was working in the pro shop. They had something they called an Honesty Box. The green fee prices were posted and they requested you put your money in an envelope, write your name on the envelope and stick it into the Honesty Box and then go off and enjoy your round of golf. We decided to golf nine holes. It was a beautiful evening and we had a nice round.

dave and me napier new zealandWe may have started our Christmas Day in a hellish place but we ended it in a lovely way. 

Other posts about New Zealand………….

A Kiwi A Day

Retirement Advice in New Zealand

Taonga Treasures

The Breath of Life

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Filed under Holidays, Nature, New Zealand, Travel

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