The air smells like rotten eggs. Plumes of steam rise from road drains. Peculiar crusts of yellow, white, and red cover the rocks. Mud puddles bubble. Rocks burn your hands. The ground vibrates as a hissing geyser spews hot water 100 feet into the air.
Welcome to New Zealand’s North Island, where the earth boils beneath your feet. This hot spot is part of the Ring of Fire, a circle of volcanoes and earthquake-prone areas that surrounds the Pacific Ocean.
New Zealand sits above a crack between two enormous sections, called plates, of the earth’s outer shell. As the two plates slowly move together, the edge of one plate is pushed under the other, where it melts into hot molten rock. This molten rock heats rocks and groundwater above it, creating a thermal zone.
Underneath Rotorua lies a huge reservoir of steam and hot water heated by molten rock. The steam escapes in the air through cracks in the rocks. Scalding hot water rises to the surface through openings in the ground, forming hundreds of hot springs and geysers throughout the city.
Minerals in the boiling water coat the ground near the hot springs and geysers with different colors— white from silica, red from iron, yellow from sulfur. The sulfur fumes tarnish silver and corrode electronic equipment such as televisions and computers. The sulfur gives Rotorua its rotten egg smell. No wonder the city’s nickname is “Rotten-rua”!
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Three Birds OF NEW ZEALAND
Before humans settled in New Zealand, the lush native plants fed an incredible variety of birds. As bird species developed through time, some did not need wings because they had no natural predators. Here are three bird stars that you won’t find in the sky—the kiwi, the weka, and the little blue penguin.
The First Trip to New Zealand
A group of people in long wooden canoes set sail from East Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean about 800 years ago. For days, they voyaged southwest. Strong currents and gusts of winds pounded them. Still, they pushed on.
THE ALL BLACKS
UNLOCKING THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS
SEARCHING for HEROES
These are three stories of discovery from New Zealand.
The Island of Birds
Imagine an island untouched by humans and without any large mammals. Colorful and strange birds of all shapes and sizes swoop over lush forests and seaside hills.
RUNNING OF THE SHEEP
Lots of people have heard of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but did you know that in New Zealand, there is an annual running of the sheep? The Te Kuiti Shearing Championships Running of the Sheep is held in late March or early April. The Saturday afternoon event is part of the Great New Zealand Muster.
NEW ZEALAND: Land of the Hobbits… and So Much More
You might think that you don’t know very much about New Zealand, but chances are that you have seen it.
New Zealand – High Five
Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes. New Zealanders are passionate about protecting their land and their culture. Here are five fascinating facts to get you started.
Living Above The Boiling Earth
You know immediately that something strange is going on in the city of Rotorua.
If you travel to Te Puke (teh POOK-ee), a town on the northern coast of New Zealand, you will see strange orchards. Instead of rows of trees, these orchards have rows of short wooden frames called pergolas, on which twining vines grow. The fuzzy, brown fruit that grows on these vines is the reason Te Puke calls itself the Kiwifruit Capital of the World.