From Gold to Gas

March 1, 2012 by Jeramie

Waiorongomai Valley holds NZ’s oldest tramline among these gold mining ruins. The tunnels and inclines were great remnants to see in person, and get a feel for how they must have transported everything. An incline (for anyone who doesn’t know… as I did not prior to this encounter) is simply 2 sets of rail tracks, going up STEEP hillsides, a cart on each are bound together via a chain or rope via the top of the incline. As such, when a cart was filled with rock and sent down the hill, it lifted the other cart to the top for loading. The tracks veer away from each other at the midpoint as to avoid each other, and voila, you have a seriously efficient way of hauling this stuff up and down. That being said, the work here was painstaking for them because the gold did not resemble the easy to acquire pebbles and such of the California 49’er type. The gold here was small and flakey, distributed throughout the bedrock, and horribly difficult to separate.

After our jaunt through the jungle checking out the mining ruins, we hit up an AWESOME hot spring, in what I believe is THE most active geothermal area in NZ, and definitely the most active I’ve ever seen. You just drive through the area (and I mean many, many square miles) and you can smell the minerals, and see rising steam everywhere you turn. But seriously, a hot spring, almost large enough to swim in, with a 6 meter wide waterfall of hot water pouring into it! The entire stream is hot water, so cool.

Last but not least we checked out the ever entertaining mud pools of this geo-thermal wonderland. We heard it was worth a look, and guaranteed to make you laugh, but I wasn’t buying it. I was wrong though, as soon as I got within distance to hear the popping and splattering, I started chuckling. Maybe I’m overdoing it, but I also found it really beautiful, one of the oddest manifestations of nature’s energy that I’ve come across.

P.S.- I have video of this amazingness, but there’s a upload cap limit on this wireless network, so I’ll have to post it later

Posted in New Zealand |

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