Tikitere, upper section - page 2

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Leaving the lower section through a red portal to the north, the scenery changes completely. Within a few steps you find yourself inside an lush park with flourishing native and imported trees and bushes. Somewhat hidden from view at some distance to the trail, the 4 metres tall cascade of Kakahi Falls appears like an enchanted sanctuary amid the jungle. With their approximately 40 °C (100 °F) warm water once warriors of the Ngāti Rangiteaorere washed the blood from their bodies after battle.

Kakahi Falls
Kakahi Falls, named after a famous warrior

The upper section of the park includes several muddy hot lakes, some of which feed the Kakahi Falls. These lakes are quite similar in appearance, and according to the tour pamphlet and the signs on location not all of them carry a name. The one closest to the site entrance is called Map of Australia. With around 40 °C (104 °F) it is one of the colder features.

Map of Australia
Map of Australia with an unnamed pool in background

Loop trails in the upper section allow different routes, therefore I list the next features mainly in a sequence from the south to the north. Here parts of the map in the tour pamphlet are somewhat misaligned, suggesting a sequence from the west to the east. Devil's Cauldron, a small bowl of viscous, sightly bubbling mud, occupies the southwestern corner of the upper section. Temperatures in it can raise as high as 120 °C (250 °F), but it may dry up in summer.

Devil's Cauldron
Devil's Cauldron with an unnamed pool in background

Northwest of Devil's Cauldron the trail passes Devil's Throad, a highly bulged cone with several gas outlets. The fumarolic activity may not be visible on warm days, but bright yellow sulfur deposits indicate the features nature.

Devil's Throad
Devil's Throad

Near Devil's Throad one of many view points for Koro Koro (The Bird's Throad) opens up. This largest hot lake on location is a cluster of hot springs whose water may reach temperatures of more than 90 °C (195 °F).

Koro Koro
The hot lake Koro Koro

From Koro Koro the trail leads along Medicine Lake and the Cooking Pool to the Hot Sulphur Lakes. They are only marginally smaller than Koro Koro, like the latter composed of several springs, and dominate the north of the thermal area.

Hot Sulphur Lakes
Hot Sulphur Lakes

Even farther north of the Hot Sulphur Lakes already from afar a huge steam plume indicates the position of a very active feature. Indeed, with 122 °C (252 °F) at the surface and 145 °C (293 °F) in a depth of one metre the Steaming Cliffs encircle the hottest spring on location. The dark pool is erupting steadily and the black mud fountains may reach heights around 3 metres (10 feet).

Steaming Cliffs
Steaming Cliffs

One of the most unusual features can be reached if you follow the loop trail at the Steaming Cliffs to the southwest. According to the tour pamphlet, with a cone 2-3 metres (7-10 feet) in height the Tikitere Mud Volcano is "the only example of a large mud volcano in a geothermal reserve in New Zealand.". This may be correct provided that the much larger Te Kopia Mud Volcano is regarded as extinct, which is uncertain. A further four mud volcanoes are known in New Zealand, located at Waimangu, Wairakei (probably extinct), Orakei Korako and Mokai. By contrast, according to T. Scott Bryan Yellowstone presumably hosts only one mud volcano cone of this dimensions, hidden in the Pocket Basin beyond the reach of tourists.

Tikitere Mud Volcano
The Tikitere Mud Volcano. The steaming feature in background right is Ruaumoko's Voice.

The Tikitere Mud Volcano spouts ejected mud usually only up to some centimetres/inches before it runs down the steep slopes of the cone like lava from a real volcano. Every few weeks, when the dome grows too high, the mud on top solidifies and gets blasted away over an area of 5 metres around by accumulated pressure inside the vent. Fortunately for all visitors, this mostly and mysteriously happens at night. Tikitere Mud Volcano sits in front of an unnamed mud lake, at whose far side the noisy and strongly steaming fumarole Ruaumoko's Voice can be spotted. It is named after the god of earthquakes and volcanoes.

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