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1993 Scenic Thermal Wonders

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The 1993 Scenic Thermal Wonders issue depicted the spectacular thermal attractions of the North Island's volcanic region.

Issue information

It is hard to visualise two million cubic metres of molten rock and ash erupting and causing a lake to be completely obliterated. Moreover, steaming craters stretching some 16 kilometres appearing where the lake, Lake Rotomahana, had been - the legacy of the 10 June 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption. The awesome strength of natural forces unleashed in a manner difficult to imagine, let alone understand. But there, in one night, more than 100 people were killed and the destruction of natural features, already famous beyond our shores was of a scale unprecedented in this young country.

A scar of such magnitude cannot heal overnight and the evidence can still be seen and wondered at to this day. The Pink and White Terraces, fortunately captured by the artists of the time as one of the natural glories of the world, were lost overnight. The brilliance of their fan-shaped staircases formed over unknown centuries, the spectacular colour captured in silica, all gone in hours.

But all was not lost and Rotorua still attracts visitors from the four corners of the globe anxious to see for themselves these places of bubbling hot springs, boiling mud, erupting geysers, steaming pools and rocks, and eerily cratered volcanic landscapes, the natural thermal wonders of the Rotorua region, Taupo and Tongariro National Park.

After the first non-Māori to see Rotorua - a Danish trader, Philip Tapsell - in 1830 it was not until the 1870s that white settlers began to arrive in any numbers due to tribal warfare between the Arawa and Waikato Māori and later the Land Wars which made it unsafe. They encountered thermal activity for the first time in their lives and were both astonished and delighted with what they saw. Word of the wonders spread as to the reputation of the hot mineral-laden pools as places to cure all manner of ills, both real and imagined. Tourists from the other end of the earth made their way to New Zealand to experience the healing capabilities of the spas.

Product listing for 1993 Scenic Thermal Wonders

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Champagne Pool' gummed stamp.

Aptly named, this 2000 square metre pool constantly fizzes with a myriad of tiny carbon dioxide bubbles - like a huge glass of champagne. With stunning colour formations, the Champagne Pool and other colourful thermal wonders known as Primrose Terrace, or the Artist's Palette can be discovered at the Waiotapu Thermal Reserve just south of Rotorua. The temperature in the pool varies between 70 and 75 degrees Celsius and bubbles when sand is thrown into it.

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Boiling Mud, Rotorua' gummed stamp.

There is something fascinating, almost hypnotic about boiling mud pools. They are created by subterranean steam rising and altering the composition of surface rock turning it into grey clay and boiling mud. Hell's Gate at Tikitere, north of Rotorua provides some of the most impressive 'porridgy plopping' mud activity. Some graphite pools are hotter than boiling water. This occurs because suspended graphite in these pools is heated by steam to temperatures of 115 degrees Celsius or higher.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Emerald Pool' gummed stamp.

The 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption produced a number of craters in the Waimangu Valley, some of which remain active. One that is not active, the Southern Crater, has a beautiful small cold water pool on its floor. The Emerald Pool with its brilliant greens and blues, courtesy of high concentrations of pumice, obsidian and silica, give this small hot pool its name. One of the lesser known attractions of the Rotorua-Taupo thermal region, it is nonetheless one of the most beautiful, and easily accessible through the Waimangu Thermal Valley.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Hakereteke Falls' gummed stamp.

Less well known than some of Rotorua's attractions, these delightful thermal falls are situated on Hakereteke Stream which is also known as Kerosene Creek, not far from the Waiotapu Thermal Area. It is one of the few waterfalls in the Rotorua-Taupo thermal area which spills warm water. As a result, below the falls is a very warm pool popular with bathers. While the pool is excellent for quiet soaking, the presence of Amoeba meningitis makes it unsafe for diving or any other activity that allows water into the nasal cavity.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Warbrick Terrace' gummed stamp.

Named after a noted guide of the region, Alf Warbrick, the terrace can be found about 1.5 kilometres from Lake Rotomahana in Waimangu Valley. Hot springs flow over the terrace depositing glistening silica as the water cools. Streaked with many colours, caused by minerals and algae, the terrace is predominantly white.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Pohutu Geyser' gummed stamp.

One of the best examples of geyser activity, Whakarewarewa's Pohutu Geyser sends a jet of water 18-40 metres high during its many irregular eruptions. One explanation for geysers is that they erupt when an underground column of water is heated beyond boiling point and bursts into steam, violently ejecting the water contained above the 'flash' point. But variations in atmospheric pressure also play a part - the gases bubble and overflow when the pressure is low, or reduced suddenly, similar to when the cork is pulled in a champagne bottle.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.30
Presentation Pack The beautifully presented and informative 1993 Scenic Thermal wonders Presenataion Pack is an ideal gift for an overseas friend or visitor to New Zealand, especially if they've been to Rotorua and seen the region's spectacular thermal activity close up. $7.90

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 May 1993
Designer: Alan Hollows, New Zealand PostLimited.
Printer: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin by Lithography.
Stamp size: 35mm x 35mm
Sheet size: 50 stamps per sheet; One stamp per miniature sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 16 x 16
Paper type: Harrison 
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale from 5 May 1994.