In a continuation of yesterday’s post, we have entered the geothermal village of Whakarewarewa…
Yes, it’s pelting down rain, but our legs are warm as the steam from surrounding vents swirl clouds of warm vapour around us.
Pools of boiling water, mud or stem vents are fenced off for obvious safety reasons, even for locals, these are not areas to be accidently straying into in the dark on a walk home after a few too many at the local pub, or for small children or hapless tourists to be falling into.
One of the first houses we see inside the village looks to be in a rather sorry state of repair… our guide tells us that it was in pristine state not too long ago but is now awaiting demolition.
(I did take photos but the rain on the lens messed up the photos and I’m probably incredibly lucky it didn’t mess up the camera as well) . Apparently some months ago a new steam vent opened up below the floor of the house’s kitchen and adjoining laundry… with increasing damage as the vent grew, the walls becoming quickly so damp that that they became structurally unsound and the house needed swift evacuation.
Mother Nature provided all the free heating and hot water, but whilst she gives she also takes away… this house is now directly over a hot-spot in a crack on this ultra thin section of the earth’s crust and now no building can ever be built here again.
It’s a reminder of the very simple reality that all the residents of the village face, but they will pragmatically move when Nature moves and they see it as a natural trade off for the lifestyle they have here.
A local lady is standing under an umbrella within the safety fence of a pool filled with boiling water… at first I assume she’s fishing and then of course realise that fish can’t live in boiling water. Going closer I see that she has some flax woven together, tied onto a rope and is tossing it in and out of the boiling water pool.
The water and the minerals in it are curing the flax, changing it’s colour and the heat of the water is slowly curling up the flax into tubes that, once they have been dunked often enough to make the perfect shape, will be used to make traditional Maori grass skirts, used when dancing and on ceremonial occasions.
Let’s look though some of the steamy clouds of warm air at what’s around us…