Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Elephantine

with 21 comments

Geothermal Formation at Te Puia 6842

On February 23rd I spent a few hours at Te Puia, one of the geothermal attractions in Rotorua. Of the rock surfaces there, this one particularly fascinated me with its “eye” and its texture, both of which now strike me as elephantine.

UPDATE: I should have noted that there are four pronunciations for the word elephantine, which you’ll see listed (and can listen to by clicking the little speaker icons) at Oxford Dictionaries.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2015 at 5:31 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Very elephantine, indeed.


    June 12, 2015 at 6:55 AM

  2. Perhaps those natural processes were blazing their own trail in the rock.


    June 12, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    • I’m on the trail of Hammerstein now. I can hear him say: The rocks are ablaze with the trace of sulfur.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2015 at 7:47 AM

  3. You’re right~this does look elephantine. Neat.


    June 12, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    • I was taken with this formation, that’s for sure, but I don’t remember whether the resemblance to an elephant hit me while I was there. I think I may have noticed it when looking at the photographs later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2015 at 9:11 AM

      • Elephants will sneak up on you like that. You have to watch out. I’m also very wary of rocks alive with sulfur….


        June 12, 2015 at 9:13 AM

        • I’d be surprised by an elephant. In my neighborhood it’s the deer that come into people’s yards, as one did this morning. We’ve got plenty of squirrels that scamper about here too. I think it would take a lifetime of squirrels to equal the weight of one elephant.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 12, 2015 at 9:46 AM

  4. Nature’s beauty – infinite variety!

    Sammy D.

    June 12, 2015 at 9:13 AM

  5. Fascinating!


    June 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM

  6. Great photo. I searched through my archives and found some photos of the rainbow trout at Rotorua and a tuatara at the sanctuary there. Unfortunately I had a really lousy camera and a lot of the photos are beyond editing. Will have to showcase them another time.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 12, 2015 at 5:12 PM

  7. Wonderful close-up of this interesting phenomenon – I can almost feel the texture through your photo.

    Birder's Journey

    June 12, 2015 at 5:32 PM

  8. Elephantine is definitely the word for it, Steve. I saw it immediately. I love the textures and shapes in this shot. My daughter has told me that about 25% of people have extra abilities to see certain shades of colour due to an extra kind of retinal “cone.” I find it rather strange and perhaps slightly disturbing sometimes to think that the images I share are seen quite differently by some people. Perhaps the colour of my clothes looks quite hideous to some people! 🙂


    June 13, 2015 at 2:35 AM

    • Welcome: you’re now a member of Club Elephant. Maybe we should make you the club’s president because you saw the elephant immediately, which I’m not sure I did. For all we know, there may be people who’ll remain forever elephantless before this formation and who therefore can’t join the club.

      Thanks for the tip about the existence of some people who can see more colors than most of us. The article at


      explains the situation (though it estimates 12% of people might have that ability).

      Along the lines of what you’ve wondered about, I used to entertain the idea that the color I see as red, for example, might appear to someone else as the color that I perceive as blue. We would each be consistent in our color worlds, but the subjective sensations of colors would be different.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2015 at 6:44 AM

  9. […] added an update to yesterday’s post about the possible pronunciations of the word elephantine, of which there are at least […]

  10. Looks very much like a geologic elephant’s leg. Hopefully the ivory trade will disappear so this won’t be our only reminder of them.
    Wonderful texture.

    Steve Gingold

    June 13, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    • What I saw more as a trunk you saw as a leg, a difference that reminds me of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. We’re certainly agreed on the wonderful texture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2015 at 4:25 PM

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