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Published January 11th 2016
Visit a magnificent portal to the underworld
The sudden eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886 resulted in the obliteration of several villages near Rotorua, including Te Wairoa, which is now a popular tourist attraction known as "The Buried Village". It also utterly destroyed the renowned Pink and White Terraces. Since then the Waimangu Volcanic Valley has developed into the youngest geothermal ecosystem in the world, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna which have adapted to the conditions as well as a bewildering array of unique landscape features.
Unique Geothermal Landscape Features
One of these attractions is the Inferno Crater Lake . Situated within the Waimangu Valley, the Inferno Crater Lake can be seen by taking a short detour after progressing approximately half an hour into the Waimangu Valley walk. It was discovered by surveyors who named it the "Gateway to the Inferno" as a portal to the underworld and lies at the base of Mt Hasgard, one of several craters across a 17 kilometre rift blasted southwest from Mount Tarawera when it erupted.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley Walk
The water of the Inferno Crater demonstrates a cyclic oscillation of the water level and has been noted to rise and fall approximately 12 metres. These hydrothermal system variations are associated with the Frying Pan Lake nearby and correspond to a 38 day cycle in which changes in water level are inversely proportional. The temperature in the lake ranges from 35 degrees Celsius when the water is at its lowest level to 80 degrees Celsius (95 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit) at overflow. Oxidation of hydrogen sulphide to sulphuric acid results in a pH below 3.
The Inferno Crater Lake
For several days at overflow and when the overflow has stopped, the suspension of finely divided silica in the water creates a brilliant cerulean blue hue. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley Walk boasts many attractions, but the unique nature of the Inferno Crater is perhaps worth the price of admission alone.
Prices for the Waimangu Volcanic Valley Walk:
Adults: $37.00 NZD Children aged 6-16 years: $12.00 NZD