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An unusual natural landmark in Te Aroha town is Mokena Geyser. It is an artificial geyser – thermal soda spring that erupts from its artificial structure every 30 – 40 minutes.
Map of the site
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The history of the hot springs in the present-day Te Aroha spa town started with Māori people. They used the hot springs for everyday needs (comfortable!) and also for relaxation and healing.
In 1882 these springs were donated to the public by a Māori chief Mokena Te Hau and since 1889 there developed a spa town Te Aroha – the first popular spa town in New Zealand.
As the number of visitors increased, the demand for the hot water increased and one after another the boreholes were made.
Mokena Geyser is one such borehole – 105 m deep, made in 1936. It is named to honor the Māori chief.
Today Te Aroha still is a popular spa town. Locals and visitors love to walk and bike in the surroundings and quite a few notice also the unusual fountain in the corner of Te Aroha Domain – the spa park.
Hot water springs of Te Aroha are seeping through the fractures in the Hauraki fault of Kaimai Ranges – andesite rocks. Most likely, these springs are fed by atmospheric water that penetrates the ground until reaching the volcanic heat. As the water is heated up, it rises upwards and is enriched with sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, and iron salts.
Mokena Geyser is one of such springs, although this is an artificial spring – a borehole. It is rich in carbon dioxide and this gas plays a key role in its mechanics. While the true geysers are powered by steam, Mokena Geyser is powered by carbon dioxide.
This geyser erupts every 30 – 40 minutes, beating 1.5 – 4 m high. Water is quite hot – 75 – 85° C.
Around the borehole is a stepped structure, turning it into a kind of park fountain. The stone steps are gradually covered with aragonite that is cleaned away every 6 months to prevent the clogging of the system.
This is not the only erupting borehole in this area: nearby are other similar boreholes – e.g. Wilson Street Bore (sealed) and Domain Trust Bore.
Often it is said that Mokena Geyser is the only natural soda geyser in the world. This is not true: first, it is not a true natural geyser but a borehole made by man. Second – it is not the only one – in several places of the world, there are similar “geysers” – boreholes where the eruptions are powered by carbon dioxide.
- Ashley D. Cody, Ron F. Keam, Jesse Lebe, Bridget Lynne, Katherine Luketina. Sinter-forming springs and geysers of the Waikato region, July 2021. Accessed on February 19, 2022.
- The chemistry of waters of Te Aroha
geothermal system, October 2012. Accessed on February 19, 2022.
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