Tag Archives: new zealand

One Billboard Outside Wellington, New Zealand.

Where does the clock strike midnight first on the planet?…

…Or in fact any minute, or hour, or day, or a New Year, or whatever other unit of time: where, in time, on this orb of ours, does it comes first?

Well, not a lot of people know this but it is… on Kiritimati, aka Christmas Island (the eastern-most of the atolls that make up Kiribati, the island nation) bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – half-way between Australia and North America. So, how come? Well, Kiribati happens to have the earliest time zone on the planet – UTC+14:00. So its inhabitants (and anyone visiting the islands) are the ones who first hear a clock strike 12, or the year change from one to the next, and so on; 14 hours earlier than in London, for example (UTC+0)

Why am I telling you this? Well, we needed to get to a spot in the world with the ‘best view of the future’. Why? I’ll get to that in a bit…

So, we needed to get ourselves, ideally, to Christmas Island, with its unquestioned best viewing location for looking to the future – where if you look to the east from its easternmost beach you literally see tomorrow out over the ocean (right?!)! However, Christmas Island isn’t the easiest of places to get to at the best of times, but during a pandemic-lockdown – ouch. So we had to look for the next-best thing…

And we didn’t need to look too far, relatively – just a little to the west and down a bit: to New Zealand, a country close to my heart. Once there, we needed to get ourselves to somewhere on the eastern coastline, and we opted for a place called Castlepoint – precisely here.

So, what is all this looking-to-the-future business? Actually – very much our business. For here at K, we’re pretty darn future-oriented. We have to be – to combat the cyberthreats of tomorrow: always needing to be one step ahead of the cyber-baddies, who are (alas) the embodiment of ‘future-oriented’. I mean look: we have our Safer Tomorrow platform; there’s our Earth 2050 project; there’s our Tomorrow Unlocked; there’s our latest company slogan – Bring on the Future. Heck, we’d trademark the word ‘future’ if we could! So, yes – you get it. ‘Future’ is our business. Accordingly, we needed the best spot in the world for literally looking into the future, which we figured would also be the best spot for future-oriented musing-reflection-meditation. Bring on New Zealand!…

But contemplating the technological progress of tomorrow, and even the future of humankind from the breathtakingly beautiful eastern seaboard of NZ might not come easy to everyone. Plus, of course, there’s getting there in person – hardly practical, right? Well, if you can’t take Castlepoint to Muhammad and everyone else in the world concerned about the future, we’ll just have to take Muhammad and everyone else to Castlepoint! Which is just what we did…

For the whole of February at Castlepoint there’ll be our unique billboard of the future, plus a livestream thereof accessible through your browser anywhere on the planet. As you can see, the right-hand side of the billboard is an empty frame – through which you can get a good look at the future, a rather picturesque one at that. And the left-hand side is a large digital screen with constantly changing predictions about the future of humankind and technology. So keep viewing, keep reading, and be ready for the future!…

Ok. You get that we’re all about the future. But why is it so important?

Read on…


You though it (NZ) was all over? Nope. More! Whoah! Or, to be more precise – Whoakaari!

Here we are on White Island, known in the local dialect as Whakaari. We got here on a chopper. Whoakaari! Piloted by a really cool woman! Whoakaari!

Oh my gorgeous! Just look at the views we got up there. Almost as if it was all carefully painted, trimmed, and then Photoshopped!…

Read on: Curious fact alert!…

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  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024

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Rotoruan Redwoods at Hell’s Gate.

If you were hoping that was the end of my Rotorua trips, volcanoes and geothermal stories, then you’re in for disappointment. I still have lots to tell – your popcorn stocks may well run out before I’m done!

It’s time now to enjoy a ride around the lake, including a trip on a helicopter.

Let’s go clockwise. The first stop on the list is Hamurana Springs. Here there are mineral springs and a magnificent sequoia plantation.

Read on: Mind the black swan…

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A very large rift on a mountain top.

Get your popcorn now and take your seats in the front row – I’m about to continue my stories of New Zealand!

Next on my agenda is the Tarawera volcano. This is perhaps one of the most unusual volcanoes I’ve ever seen: its top split by a huge volcanic rift, in which some 10 distinct craters can be identified. I guess there must have been quite spectacular fireworks when the volcano erupted 130 years ago…

Read on: why volcanoes are so much better than mountains?…

NZ Infernal Volcanic Features.

Continuing my tales about Waimangu and Tarawera. This is a story of volcanic miracles and the amazing events that unfolded here in days of old. Just to remind you of the chain of events, my last story ended next to a crater filled with boiling chemical-laden water.  And here it is:

Turn your back on this, and you’re right in front of the place where the largest known geyser on Earth erupted in the 1900s –  the Waimangu. Every 36 hours, this geyser shot out a water jet reaching up to 400m; each eruption lasting several hours.

Read on: What an amazing phenomenon!…

The local volcano with global implications.

Boys and girls! Can you guess what my biggest concern is now after my return from New Zealand?

It’s that I’ve already done 8 posts and I haven’t even got to the halfway point of my trip! Given the catastrophic time constraints I’ve been under of late, there’s not even the slightest glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel. Quite unexpectedly, though, I have half an hour of free time, so I can post some nice photos and a few more tales.

It’s been quite a few days since my NZ stories started, plenty of time for everyone to do some work, right? Come, come now children, be honest! :) If you’ve been leading an idle life, then… well, you know, karma and all that. Sorry, that’s getting a bit negative. Can’t be done with negativity. Let’s switch to complete and utter stunning visual positivity:

This was the most positive picture of all. After that things got a bit more scary.

Read on: Black Australian swans – lots of them!…

Kerosene Creek – NZ-style.

The attentive reader of my ‘reports’ from New Zealand must have noticed that most of the place names here are of Maori origin. All of them mean something in the Maori language; for instance, Rotorua apparently translates as “the second large lake”.

However, there are exceptions.

For example, the names of the large cities were given by the British colonists. Or, take the Lady Knox geyser – the Maori didn’t have any other name for it, nor was it a geyser back then. There are some other English place names too, such as Kerosene Creek. There are a few recommendations on the Internet. This is where we headed.

Well, what can I say? This was another highly photogenic locale in New Zealand.


And there are hardly any people:

Read on: 16 NZD per visitor…

New Zealand’s hottest volcanic attractions.

Waiotapu is not just about the geysers; there’s a whole lot more here that hisses, lets off steam and releases multi-colored bubbles. It’s probably the brightest geothermal attraction in the whole of New Zealand… well, except for the gigantic Terawera and Tongariro craters (which I’ll tell you about a little bit later).

So here are Waiotapu’s thermal attractions:

The pools and reservoirs here come in all shapes, sizes, colors and temperatures. Some are just huge holes with something hissing and reeking of sulfur deep within them:

Others are just still lakes with graphite-colored water, which boils and bubbles in places. At some locations the PH values of the water is stated. No one felt like taking a dip.

While taking in the elegant shapes of the local sights, I was reminded of some similar places on the Kamchatka peninsula, such as the Uzon volcanic area. However, while all the lakes, mud pools and springs in Kamchatka are certainly a curious sight, their layout is quite natural chaotic and disorderly. Here, in contrast, they are all neat, round and elegant, as though there were carefully drawn by somebody, scooped out, painted and then given a final clean before being unveiled.

My favorite pastime is to manage the hot springs while they do their job :)

The green lake:

Oh! An Amanita! Among all the local novelties and all of New Zealand’s endemic plants, it’s very nice to meet a mushroom I’ve known since childhood.

Check out the mineral deposits. Looks like a miniature version of Huanglong in China :)

The Champagne Pool – that’s what this one is called:

A couple more geothermal curiosities:

It was a very pleasant walk. All along the way there are paths, signposts and benches to sit on and take a rest.

All around is a thick wall of green forest that looks fairly impenetrable. The multi-colored volcanic bubble features look all the better against this green backdrop.

The sky reflected in the green water:

To complete the walk, here’s a mud pool, with its contents bubbling and gurgling away in small patches.

That’s all I have on Waiotapu. For a comparison, here’s are our impressions of the place when we visited back in the winter of 2013.


The scent of a geyser.

Hi there!

The Rotorua area of New Zealand turned out to have a high concentration of volcanic tourist attractions. There are a dozen or so places in the vicinity (within a 30-minute drive) that I’d recommend visiting. So, where to start? If you don’t know where to start, start from the beginning. © I’ll take this advice, and… start with a question.

What geysers have you already seen, and which was your favorite?

That’s a very simple question to get us started.

While you think, let me give you the bigger picture.

There are four geyser regions in the world: YellowstoneIcelandthe Valley of Geysers on Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia and New Zealand. The hot springs in Atakama, Chile, are sometimes also included in this list. Also, they say there is a geyser areas in Mexico and Japan, but these are relatively unknown.

A geyser is an absolutely stunning sight: a column of hot water erupting from the ground and reaching several dozens meters into the air. Everybody really should see one at least once in their lifetime.

In Rotorua there’s a place called Te Puia – well, to be exact, the full name is Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao (source: Wikipedia). This is home to a geyser named Pohutu that erupts on a regular basis, roughly every 90 minutes.

Read on: A splendid hotel…

Rotorua in all its volcanic glory.

Now, boys and girls, tell me what you know about volcanic eruptions?

For example, what types of volcanic eruptions are there? Ah, I see you don’t know. There are actually several types. If you’re interested, check them out here. And how strong can they be? “Very strong!” – that’s the right answer. But scientists wearing lab coats and equipped with microscopes have identified 8 types of volcanic eruptions classified according to magnitude; this is called the Volcanic Explosivity Index.

I especially like the “Description” column in the “Classification” table. It says eruptions can be effusive, gentle, explosive, catastrophic, cataclysmic, paroxysmic, colossal, super-colossal and mega-colossal.

These terms are ideal for adding some diversity into your work slang and an opportunity to flaunt your knowledge: “Vesuvius and Pompeii – that was just a paroxysmic paroxysmic eruption!” (the repeated use of “paroxysmic” is tautologically quite legitimate here).

However, paroxysmic eruptions are not that, well…, paroxysmic in relation to the Earth’s entire ecosystem – they only affect their immediate environment. However, super- and mega-colossal eruptions (levels 7 and 8) are altogether more serious. They can lead to a global dimming of the sun and global cooling for several years. During the history of humankind, this has only happened once – if anyone is interested, you can read about the eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia in 1815.

What am I getting at?

I and my fellow traveler A.B. are travelling southward along New Zealand’s North Island, towards Lake Rotorua. A little bit of Internet research reveals that this lake is the crater of an ancient volcano which made a real bang some 240,000 years ago. Its eruption was (supposedly) 100 times more powerful than that of Vesuvius.

Back then the islands that make up New Zealand weren’t inhabited, so there weren’t any witnesses of that super-colossal bang (luckily for them).

And today, 240,000 years later, A.B. and I have once again made it to the very place where that colossal volcanic bang occurred.

What can I say? Today there’s almost no trace of that ancient event. We visited the very place where the sub-plate mass burst into the atmosphere. No doubt it was a super-catastrophic ashes-magma-sound-and-light show. I’m not sure there were any surviving witnesses of any appreciable organic matter. It appears none of our simian ancestors were around to leave any carvings documenting the event in the local caves, but who knows?

//1. By the way, it can be very cautiously stated that by that time the simian/human model had already transformed into a human/simian one, and reached the level of a prototype release of a light Homo-sapiens-type model. Don’t quote me on that, though.

//2. I really hope that the entire team of developers who worked on the “simian/pseudo-human” project got decent bonuses…and that they’re still have a celebratory drink! I mean, what other explanation can there be for them not getting back to their workplaces and correcting the obvious errors? (Or is there a problem with our observation methodology here?)

//3. I really, really hope that today’s political tumult is not evidence to support statement 2, i.e., that they have finally spent all their bonus money and are now back in a grumpy mood nursing a hangover. Maybe they need some hair of the dog?

OK, that’s enough speculation. We’ve arrived. This is Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.

Read on: Unpleasant costs of volcanism …