Mudpits so Stinky

Back to New Zealand's hydrothermal region, the northcentral part of the North Island. Since I was a child I have wanted to experience a mud pit. When I was about 5 my mother brought home a geological text about New Zealand and I was absolutely captivated by boiling pits of mud. I saw black and white photos of active volcanoes and geysers shooting off into the sky. I knew I had to go and see this with my very own eyes.

Seeing photos of mudpits doesn't do them justice. It is the sounds and smells that overwhelm you once you are front of one.

This particular lovely was quite large, I'd say about 40 m across and right under my balcony in my hotel room in Rotorua. I think every tourist that visits New Zealand goes to Rotorua. It is like the Las Vegas of Kiwiland.

The sounds emanating from a mud pit cover quite the range. Farts, belches, hiccups, squeels, blorps, pops, burbles, everything. Oh and sounds like a woodwind orchestra sometimes. Now the smell. That seems to be more constant and it is generally intense. A hot sulphurus assault would be the best way to desribe it I think.

I'm told a good mud pit has a life span of years or decades and then it is gradually overgrown by lush forest. New ones also pop up and grow gradually. I saw some that were mature, with mud that was drier. Then I saw some that were very liquidy. Some of the mud volcanoes can fling the mud several centimetres in the air, making dramatic grey fountains.

I'm thrilled that I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and to see these marvels of nature first hand.


  1. My brother-in-law once wrote part of a symphony about Yellowstone National Park, the only section of which he finished was "The Mudpits". It had a lot of bubbly and poppy bits, though thankfully he left out the farts. I'd love to see a mudpit; somehow, when we were at Yellowstone Jerry and I missed them. I gather that they're nothing like as impressive as the NZ ones.


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