You might think that living normal life in an active geothermal area like Whakarewarewa would be an amazingly easy lifestyle because Mother Nature does your cooking and provides all your hot water and heating for you.
However, apart from the possible perils of falling into a pool of boiling water (thankfully a risk vastly reduced by some very solid fencing materials) there are some more unusual difficulties to be faced.
Take gardening for instance… my first reaction was “great, a warm micro climate and no frosts, most be fantastic to garden here“ … but it’s not.
I forgot that if the ground is capable of cooking your dinner, it’s also perfectly capable of indiscriminatingly cooking the roots of any living thing planted into it too.
Our guide tells us that gardening has been a real problem that the local residents have been unable to provide a good solution for… not just for decades now, but for centuries. Seeds would cook and die before getting a chance to germinate and roots of plants bought in from outside the area burned in the hot soil. The only solution was to make gardens in areas away from the geothermal activity and to transport fruits and vegetables into the village.
Over the decades various types of gardens were put to the test, and one by one were found to be no match for Mother Nature’s heat. Finally in December 2011, after multiple unsuccessful experimental attempts the same year, the Whakarewarewa village community produced their very first successful crops.
(I wrote the word “layering” in my travel diary notes so I think that’s why they have achieved success but I’ve in the meantime completely forgotten what was layered …yes, Duh… apologies.). Clearly by the look of these crops they have done something right… we are told that all of the veggies we see in front of us now, started life as seeds just three months ago.
This is a real break-through for the community… to be able to grow a simple veggie crop directly on top of one of the earth’s hot spots… Now, I think that that is very cool indeed.