Friday, 4 January 2008

Craters of the Moon

North of Taupo on SH1 (State Highway 1) to Rotorua is the Wairaki Thermal Valley with a geothermal power project producing about 5% of the Country's electricity. Not far away is an interesting and unexploited thermal area called Craters of the Moon. We went to see it on Wednesday afternoon. Although not as visually interesting as the Waiotapu area a few kilometres away which I went to in 2005 it is nevertheless pretty spectacular. It is run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and is less touristy that other commercially exploited areas. The area sprang up in the 1950s when the power station lowered underground water levels, reducing the pressure of the heated water and causing more vigorous boiling and steam. New mud pools and steam vents appeared and one can wander amongst them on board walks. The ground can be extremely hot - hot enough if you stray from the path and sink into a soft area to cause very severe burning.

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