Sitting atop the sinter terraces known as Geyser Flat is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere – or as we call it, Pohutu. This world-famous celebrity with an explosive personality is one of the most photographed attractions in all of Rotorua.
The legendary Pohutu Geyser was recently ranked in the world’s top 5 geysers by Lonely Planet, and when you are up close and personal to this natural wonder you will understand why. Erupting to a height of 30m (100 feet) up to 20 times a day, Pohutu is not only a spectacular sight, but also the most reliable geyser on earth.
Eruptions can last from a few minutes to several days, and in one rare case between 2000 and 2001, Pohutu Geyser erupted for over 250 days.
In the past, private and commercial groups tapping into the valley’s geothermal resources put Pohutu Geyser at risk of losing its power. Fortunately, a programme to close bores in the area has ensured this mighty force of nature remains as awe-inspiring as ever.
In our culture, geysers such as Pohutu are viewed as gifts from the gods. Local belief is that Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley in which Pohutu Geyser lives, was formed when two sisters, Te Pupu and Te Hoata (known as the Goddesses of Fire), travelled beneath the earth while searching for their brother. As they got closer to him, the sisters would lift their heads above the surface – creating geysers and other geothermal hotspots along the way.
Pohutu Geyser is a complex spring with an intricate plumbing system, which releases water in a cyclic manner.
The process begins when rainwater starts to boil and create steam, due to intense heat from molten rock underground. Pressure builds inside Pohutu’s underground chamber until it eventually forces its way upwards through the geyser vent and shoots water and steam up to 30 metres (100 feet) in the air.
Once Pohutu Geyser has calmed down, the chamber fills with water again and the process starts over. Pohutu Geyser is one of Whakarewarewa thermal valley’s major attractions, so make sure you pay a visit to Te Puia when you are in Rotorua.
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