Thursday, May 15, 2008

White Island

So I got up early this morning and got my second New Zealand rental car. This one is from Budget, and only has 18k km on it (compared to my other rental which had 200k). Almost brand new! It is however a stick. And let's just say that stick + right hand drive + hiking boots + only a rough idea how to get to Whakatane is quite a combo. Also interesting side note: Whakatane is pronounced fuc-a-tawny. Anyway, I then boarded a boat for the 90 minute trip out to White Island - New Zealand's most active volcano. The seas were also a bit rough: But they gave us some protective gear for our trek on the island:
And after a quick attempt to land in Shark Bay (tide was too low):
We headed for the main wharf where the zodiac tried to time it's trips in between the big sets of breakers and the crew hung onto the railings for dear life:
Once safely on dry land, we got to see a lot of sulphur formations up close. They're all brilliant yellow. Note also the hot spring bubbling on the middle left of the picture:
And there were some big mud pots too:
Some of the formations were huge - this one was 20m at least - and constantly covered by steam:

This is a lake in the crater at the heart of the volcano. It's about 50 C and has a negative PH! Also lots of steam coming off it:
The fumarole in the upper left is about 3 m, the biggest one on the island and conveniently situated near all this scenic yellow foreground:
Finally we wrapped up the day looking at the old sulphur mine and processing factory. The abandoned machinery weathering away is quite scenic:
Doh - this is why I need an SLR - I thought the gear was in focus, not the stupid wall. Oh well.
Uhh and apparently these wharf railings aren't the original - they're only 5 years old. Scary stuff all these volcanic gasses!

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