Geysers and Gliders... and things that go "moo"

Taupo Travel Blog

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See the two planes to the left of the Kiwi flag? The right one is a tow plane. The second is a glider... with Sheldon at the helm.

Up until 4:00 pm today, cows were to take center stage in today's blog... more on that later.

This morning we headed to an extraordinarily active geothermal area north of downtown Taupo.  I don't have the place's name handy, but it was another Maori name.  (I would venture a guess that 80% of the place names on the North Island are Maori in origin.  Miller, Sheldon, and I have ceased our futile and slightly embarrassing attempts to pronounce them.)  To recount the thirty or so different features we encountered would take a long time.  In sum, we saw gurling mudpots (that resemble thick paint with air bubbles being forced through it), an active geyser that shot significantly high into the crisp late autumn sky, hot water pools of brilliant hues (including blues, green, oranges, and yellows), sulfur mounds, cascades that spewed steaming water down the sides of hills, fumaroles that hissed as hot gases escaped the ground below.

Captain Sheldon Smith at your service.
.. and on and on.  I had to divorce from my mind the idea that, in reality, we were walking upon an active caldera (just like Yellowstone) with hot magma below the surface... something that had erupted violently in the distant past and could, if it took a hankering, do so again.

But the sites were beautiful and made even more so by the winter frost resting on the vegetation and the ground.  In the United States, you have to travel to one specific corner of the nation to see such geothermal activity.  In New Zealand, a heaping helping of the North Island is a geothermal playground. 

After lunch at the park, we drove through the countryside to another hot spot, pardon the pun, which was horrifically overpriced and small in comparison.

Chris captured this frosty spider web early in the morning.
  So we skipped it.  En route, though, we stumbled upon something purely Kiwi.  Driving along the rural roads, we suddenly looked around and found ourselves in the middle of a herd of milk cows.  Massive bovines were jogging down the road -- literally -- as if in training for the cow olympics.  Probably a hundred head were thundering down the narrow two lanes of the country highway.  You could hear their hoofs click rhythmically on the asphalt, as if keeping time with a drill instructor who happened to have udders and a swishy tail.

We journeyed with the cows for about 10 minutes... and a hilarious ten minutes it was.  The cows seemed udderly... er, utterly unfazed by our presence.  At one point, one particularly healthy cow jogged right up to the passenger windows and looked in at us, as if to ask why we weren't exercising, too.

A geothermal mudpot spluttering.

That in and of itself would have made our day... until, while we were walking in a park, Sheldon saw two glider planes high above the Taupo sky.  Like three crazy men, we sped through the valley in a search for the airport.  As we approached it, one of the gliders landed... and it wasn't long thereafter that Sheldon climbed into the cockpit of one of those suckers and began his ascent.

I'll let him post about that later.  He's still very giddy and high thanks to a significant infusion of adrenaline!

We're having trouble posting our pix.  We just can't find a compatible internet lounge.  So stay tuned.  More coming soon... I hope!  :)

-Chris

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See the two planes to the left of …
See the two planes to the left of…
Captain Sheldon Smith at your serv…
Captain Sheldon Smith at your ser…
Chris captured this frosty spider …
Chris captured this frosty spider…
A geothermal mudpot spluttering.
A geothermal mudpot spluttering.
Um... gee, it never crossed our mi…
Um... gee, it never crossed our m…
The famous champagne pool.
The famous champagne pool.
Moooooooooooooooooo.  Were led in…
Moooooooooooooooooo. We're led i…
Yes, thats what you think it is.
Yes, that's what you think it is.
This guy was about to stick soap i…
This guy was about to stick soap …
Chris with the Lady Knox Geyser in…
Chris with the Lady Knox Geyser i…
Sheldon, too.
Sheldon, too.
A beautiful geothermal pool.
A beautiful geothermal pool.
An emerald geothermal pool.  Yes, …
An emerald geothermal pool. Yes,…
Mooooooooooooo!  This was our esco…
Mooooooooooooo! This was our esc…
Okay, cheesy.  But funny.  You kno…
Okay, cheesy. But funny. You kn…
Taupo
photo by: carpefunk