New Zealand's Orakei Korako Thermal Park. An Assault on the Senses
Part of the intrigue of the Orakei Korako site is that it is off the beaten track and you access it by boat. The good news is that the boat ride isn't far. In fact, you need only cross to the other side of the river but it does serve to build your anticipation.
Your first encounter as you walk up from the river bank is a desolate looking rock face covered in slime and algae.
Everything changes a little further up the path as you begin to see the source of the scalding hot water. Once you add some mineral deposits to the slime and algae the colours really pop. You also start to get the sulfides in the air which add to the ambiance and do assault the senses.
Closer inspection starts to reveal the boiling hot pools and steam vents.
The colours and details are truly beautiful on both macro and micro levels.
The idea is that you walk completely around the site on a boardwalk several kilometers long. Along the way you encounter caves, mud ponds and vents that are hidden until you are almost upon them. The stark contrast between the land impacted by the geothermal activity and surrounding tropical forest is simply stunning.
When you find yourself in the area, give yourself half a day to enjoy the Orakei Korako Thermal Park.