Where the earth boils.
“Haere mai ki te Wao Tapu nui ä Tane, Nau mai haere mai.”
The huge vehicule I am seated in has barely enough room on this narrow road hanging on a cliff edge. Each turn is an neverending breath of hope, terrified that an other drinving monster crosses our path. Below, the cold ocean hits the grey and steep rocks, for away, the storm hides the blue horizon. Black clouds come together releasing buckets of white rain. The sun manages to slip through this hell, letting us discover a wonderful autumn orange color. Every time this huge transport advences, it wakes sea eagles, mosting on the cliff, in an beautiful flying ballet. Their songs resonnate.
Chaos leaves place to a luxurious valley. This way of crossing the North Island reassure me in this : nature won over humans. Two unique roads allow to cross the 400km between Wellington and Rotorua. Between them, large fields going on forever, free from humans, where you can guess rainbows and flocks of birds. The snowy pics are amperors of this breathtaking painting, covered with green pine or acacious forests. Six hours journey without any wifi or signal. Patience is a quality I lack.
The two Islands are situated on the “Circum Pacific” where pacific and Australian tectonic plates meet, where each year more than 20 000 earthquakes are recorded. The North Island has the most geothermal activity, and Rotorua area is well know for its geysers, beautiful lakes and cosy spas.
The smell of sulfur is everywhere, and the sound of boiling can be heard in every crevass, every tiny hole. At the entrance of each path, signs warm us about the danger of boiling paddles at more than 90°C, not great for a swim. Each bend after a few bubbling much bath, an enormous smoke cloud gives the water, the hot and humid steam carried by the wind, burns the skin. My imagination soars, it is like a dream.
The legend tells that a long time ago, a youg maiden has been devored by the lake dragon Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe. Triggiring the wrath of the gods who then put the lake on fire. Carried by the sound of its name, Wai-O-Tapu is perpetually evolving, as alive. The atmosphere and the color of the water changes every day. Sometimes soft as a stream, or tulmutuous as pits spitting hot screams from the depths of the earth, the place flushed with anger is astonishing. Colors appear and mix in a spectacular living painting: Arsenic, Antimoine, Manganèse, Silice, Sulfur, Irond Oxyde, et Carbon, color the landscape.
The forest is eaten away by sulfur. A thin orange film following the unbearable smell, flies around in the whole area, our lungs battle. The grey shy is back and it is time for us to turn back to inhale the fresh air of Wellington again, the windy city.