When you’re in New Zealand you cannot help but notice that the powerful forces churning away under the earth’s crust are never far away. Much of the landscape, particularly in the North Island is volcanic. Auckland is a city of volcanic cones. Lake Taupo is a caldera, a collapsed volcano. 26,500 years ago it was one of the biggest eruptions in the world and covered the central North Island in ash up to 200 metres deep. The lake is quiet (fingers crossed) but the volcanic zone is still there in the mountains of Ruapehu, Ngauruahoe and Tongariro.Ruaphehu actually has New Zealands’s largest ski/snowboard resorts in the country. When’s the last time you can say you went skiing down a volcano?
In Rotorua you can watch mud boiling in pools and landscapes that hiss with steam while geysers tower above you and know that this has been going on for thousands of years.
New Zealanders, being New Zealanders, have found a use for this force of nature. In Rotorua, the Maori people use it to cook their hangi (underground steam-cooked feast). You can also relax in hot geothermal pools to unwind. And at Wairakei, near Taupo, the steam and heat is used to produce power, a natural source of renewable energy.