Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Two steam-capped geothermal sites

with 28 comments

Today marks the beginning of the fifth and last set of photographs from the great February visit to New Zealand.

The first picture is from Te Puia on February 23rd. I expected to see areas of yellow attributable to sulfur, but the pale reddish rocks farther out came as a surprise.

Geothermal Formations at Te Puia 6787

And speaking of colors, how about the green and orange that I found together along one margin of the Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu on February 24th?

Champagne Pool Margin 7332

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 7, 2015 at 5:21 AM

28 Responses

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  1. The first picture really reminds me of an impressionist painting with those soft colours and the variety of textures. The second picture is such a contrast due to its vibrant contrasting colours and simplicity of composition. Excellent as always, Steve.


    July 7, 2015 at 5:58 AM

  2. I smiled when I read these notes about Nairn’s paintings: ‘chromatic lunacy’ of Nairn, and ‘bilious as to colour, inchoate in form, and the creations of a disordered imagination.’ Your first ‘plein air’ style photo could be a tribute to Nairn’s supposedly bilious colours and disordered imagination. And pretty though it is, I wouldn’t want any champagne from the champagne pool.


    July 7, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    • Don’t you just “love” the way art critics talk? You might as well smile at such nonsense.

      It occurs to me that for nature photographers almost all pictures are plein air. And suddenly my mind jumped the rails and skipped from that kind of art through French to music and the words “I’ve got plenty o’ nottin’, and nottin’s plenty for me.”

      And none of the “champagne” from the Champagne Pool is plenty for me, as for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      • Now my mind will take an even bigger leap; that song could be the signature tune for the new Greek finance minister who, most fortuitously, has the name Euclid. Fortuitous because he will have to look for a new angle on nottin. Yikes, enough of my linguistic lunacy.


        July 7, 2015 at 8:35 AM

        • An apt song indeed! I’m thinking that a finance minister named Arithmetikos rather than Euclid might be even more helpful for today’s Greece in finding a new angle to get past the financial crisis. Speaking of apt (or inapt) names, last night we watched a science show about some of the chemical elements. When the host of the show visited a gold mining operation, one of the people who showed him around had the family name Gold.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 7, 2015 at 9:05 AM

  3. These offer such interesting colors. Is there a strong sulfur odor? I would imagine so.

    Steve Gingold

    July 7, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    • I know you’d have a great time with those colors and textures.

      Yes, a sulfurous odor permeates the air not only at these geothermal sites but also in the town of Rotorua itself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 7:35 AM

  4. The rocks in the first photo give the impression of being fluid themselves. I suppose it’s because of the way the various accretions have dripped and flowed over time. I thought the red rocks were interesting, too. Apparently they’re somehow special, since the first three pages of search results were filled with entries for the Red Rock Thermal Hotel.

    The grayish layer atop the orange in the second photo reminded me of the appropriately named stone fish. It’s interesting to see those little gray “buttons” next to the larger piece of whatever. They’re cute.


    July 7, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    • I probably should have made clear that everything orange in the second picture is under the water, and the grey formations are high enough to become little islands—or, with only a bit of imagination, stone fish.

      The formations you mentioned in the first photograph do seem to preserve a sense of flowing, which isn’t surprising when you consider the volcanic origins of these places. What are considered to have been New Zealand’s finest geothermal formations were destroyed (or at the very least least buried and made inaccessible) by a volcanic eruption in 1886:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 8:07 AM

  5. I didn’t know that New Zealand had geothermal areas. Great pictures.

    Ray Dawson

    July 7, 2015 at 12:17 PM

  6. I was amazed with the colours I saw when I visited Te Puia. Such deep rich colours. Nice shots.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 7, 2015 at 3:36 PM

  7. Truly a land of surprises around every turn. I’ve loved my visits to the geothermal areas. I can almost smell the brimstone!


    July 8, 2015 at 5:32 AM

    • I’ll take your last sentence literally, as you’re already back in New Zealand and could head for Rotorua when time and the weather permit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 8, 2015 at 5:36 AM

  8. nice shots !! they both look like modern art !


    July 8, 2015 at 12:20 PM

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