Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/186

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118
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

of a rocky wall. It was constantly boiling furiously, and it often burst into fountains from two to six feet high, and sometimes ten or twelve feet high. The pool was deep and beautifully clear, and probably it would be a powerful geyser were its opening smaller.

The show geyser of the vale was the Great Wairakei, shooting from the base of steaming cliffs reddened by oxidized iron. The Great Wairakei is one of the hot-water regulators of Maoriland. It always plays from one minute to two minutes at intervals of nine or ten minutes; and, so the guide told me, "if your watch is not keeping correct time, you can almost regulate it by the Great Wairakei."

The mouth of the geyser was so large that we could see its waters rising. When they had risen three or four feet above their extreme ebb, the gusher burst into action and played from twenty-five to thirty feet high. Like all geysers, it had built a terrace with its siliceous sediment, and had formed its own peculiar crystals.

At the mouth of the Great Wairakei we left a record of our visit. In the smooth spaces between the ripples of the terrace we wrote our names in lead, and we were assured that they would be visible for a year or two before a siliceous coating obliterated them.

There are not many geysers one would care to enter just for the novelty of the venture. In Wairakei, however, the regularity of the majority of the geysers enables such an act to be done with reasonable safety. At the Dragon's Mouth the guide, according to custom,