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On Walkabout On: The Final Descent of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley

After descending from the ridgeline of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, a quick look up the side of the valley provides a glimpse of how high and steep the trail had descended down into the valley:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The sides of the valley were literally alive with hot boiling steam:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The hot steam and minerals provides plenty of nutrients for the variety of unique plant life that flourishes on the sides of the cliff:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Eventually the valley opens up a bit with more grass land with better views of a wider creek running through the valley:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Eventually the trail comes to an area of volcanic terraces that are extremely scenic.  Minerals boiling up to the surface of this area has created uniquely shaped cliffs. Here is a view of the terrace from further up the trail:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Further down the trail it once again forks. Walkers have the option of continuing down the valley towards Lake Rotomahana or hiking up into a small valley with some extremely unique sights. The valley is filled with little geysers and brilliantly colored mineral pools:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The little side valley was definitely worth the extra half hour of time it took to explore with its unique scenery. Plus it is the only place along the trail that has a restroom and picnic area. With such beautiful scenery it was a perfect place for my wife and I to eat the lunch we brought with us.

After finishing our lunch we walked back out of the side valley and headed towards the lake. The valley had widened quite a bit now and was filled with more and more grassland the closer to the lake we came:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

From the shores of Lake Rotomahana there are beautiful views of Mt. Tarawera:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Here is a closer view of what the crater of Mt. Tarawera looks like:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Unlike most volcanoes the crater for Mt. Tarawera is on the side of the mountain.

At the end of the trail there was a marker that explained more about the history of Mt. Tarawera and how a unique geological wonder called the Pink & White Terraces was destroyed by the  1886 eruption:

Picture from Waimangu Volcanic Valley

It is hard to imagine that at one time this incredible valley had even more unusual and beautiful geological wonders than it does now.

The views over the lake is the end of the trail through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.  From here my wife and I took the shuttle bus back up the valley to the visitor’s center. The walk through the valley took about four hours and was definitely a highlight of our trip to New Zealand. The unique geology in this area really needs to be seen to be believed and my wife and I were definitely glad we had a chance to see it.

Nest Posting: Experience Maori Culture at Te Puia Thermal Valley

Prior Posting: Waimangu Volcanic Valley – Part 1

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