Monday, November 1, 2010

Waikite Valley, NZ: Passive Bathing

We were just looking for a inexpensive campground on our way to the next thermal tourist venue. We arrived early since it was a short 30 km south of Rotorua. And what we found was a hot pool wonderland.  By early afternoon we were soaking those bike saddle sores away.

John experiencing the "Living Waters"
Owned by the local district government, Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is an oasis.  Multiple constructed pools are within steps of our campsite along a steaming creek.  A couple were of standard swimming pool design, but the rest were concrete tubs of various shapes and sizes nestled among tropical plants and surrounded by the green pasture lands.

Water temperature is checked each hour to maintain the optimal bathing environment.
The pools are drained each night at 8:30pm, and then gradually refilled with fresh water overnight.  We were settling in for the night when we heard the rushing of water as they opened the valves and the flood filled the creek adjacent to our tent.  The monitoring of tub temperature does not start until 9am the next morning, but campers are allowed to enter before then -- they are warned that the water might be hot, and not immerse the head.  But that was the limit of warning -- perhaps the Kiwis understand the concept of personal responsibility a bit better and leave the pools open instead of fearing litigation.

Hot water is conveyed down a series of cascades to cool it before it fills the pools and tubs.

A trail leads uphill from the pools to the source of the hot water.

Te Manaroa Spring, where the waters are perpetually boiling.

Another miracle of water bubbling from the ground.

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