Local Heart, Global Soul

April 27, 2012

Mother Nature Giveth, Mother Nature Taketh Away…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. I’ve never seen anything like this- it’s really quite fascinating.

    Comment by gh — April 27, 2012 @ 1:29 am | Reply

    • It’s a case of living right on the edge of nature at it’s wildest… and doing so very carefully and with the utmost respect for the forces around you. It’s an amazing Maori tradition here.

      Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 4:12 am | Reply

  2. These pictures are lovely. ~Rainey

    Comment by rainey — April 27, 2012 @ 1:30 am | Reply

    • Welcome to my blog Rainey,
      … lots more photos to come, Enjoy!

      Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  3. I’m sorry it’s still raining, but it’s making your pictures even more wild and steamy:)

    Comment by The Wanderlust Gene — April 27, 2012 @ 1:42 am | Reply

    • Sometimes you just have to be adventurous and go out and be prepared to get wet LOL. It certainly enhances the “atmosphere” here… I just hate to tell you how wet the camera got, it’s a small miracle that it’s still functioning.

      Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 4:08 am | Reply

      • I’m sure:) Perhaps you need a Photographer’s Assistant, holding an umbrella above you and camera …?

        Comment by The Wanderlust Gene — April 27, 2012 @ 4:12 am | Reply

        • We stupidly didn’t go prepared, … no umbella, so I had to keep tucking my camera into my jacket… in the all our jackets were wet through too. … also my tallest assistant was busy looking after the two shortest assistants… they don’t tend to stand still for long enough to be useful, they are better suited to the job of “kid” than photographic assistant at the moment LOL.

          Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 4:14 am | Reply

      • Probably at least 80% of New Zealand’s weather comes from Australia…large land mass influencing smaller ones and all that… Winter brings some chilly Southerlys direct from Antarctica and Easterly winds are generally mild and not so many in number.
        Fortunately the Aussie meteorological forces send warm weather as well as the wet stuff… the tail end of this cyclone just dumped tons of rain on NZ, but sadly did quite a bit of damage in Oz, so we got off rather lucky when you look at the bigger picture.

        Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

  4. The pictures look very atmospheric.

    Mother Nature can be devasting, can’t she?

    Comment by sarsm — April 27, 2012 @ 8:10 am | Reply

    • Yes, but you get free heating, cooking and unlimited hot water as the other side of the coin…

      Comment by kiwidutch — April 27, 2012 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

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