Kawerau ”“ It’s Hot

The Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau is probably best-known for its pulp and paper mill, but it also enjoys nice hot summer temperatures.

The township of Kawerau was founded in 1953 to service the forestry industry in the Bay of Plenty. It’s a well-planned town located at the southern end of the Rangitaiki Plains, running along the western edge of the bustling Tarawera River, with the Norske Skogg Tasman pulp and paper mill nearby.

The town is overlooked by Mt. Edgecumbe (Mt. Putauaki), a dormant volcano, that residents can see changing colour as the sunlight varies during the day ”“ sometimes strongly green from the grass covering, at other times carrying a brooding reddish hue as the volcanic scoria scatters the sun’s rays. The Putauaki volcano built up from eruptions beginning about 7500 years ago and became dormant about 2500 years ago, [Nairn, I.A., “New Zealand’s Volcanoes: Okataina,” GNS Science. ]

Its location on the volcanic plateau means that Kawerau gets its fair share of shallow earthquakes, and geothermal activity can be seen right in the middle of the town. The moonscape at Prideaux Park was an exciting place to visit in my younger days. The energy released by all this activity has its uses, with several geothermal bores supplying energy for the pulp and paper mill, and the community is proud to offer free access to its thermally heated public swimming pool.

The 38 ºC heated pool is most popular on frosty winter mornings, and it’s fortunate that it’s cooled during the summer months, when the mercury jumps up the thermometer. The National Climate Centre’s summary for November 2007 shows Kawerau sharing second equal place with Culverden for the highest temperature during November. The 32 ºC recorded on the 25th and 26th of November was just behind Blenheim Airport’s 32.8 ºC but several other places such as Blenheim Research, Awatere Valley (Marlborough), Hanmer Forest and Alexandra were nipping at Kawerau’s heels with thirty degree temperatures. Kawerau’s temperature peaks were equal to its highest November readings since recording began there in 1954.

Kawerau is handy to the Rotorua lakes if you feel like a dip or some fishing, and the coast is not too far away. The town values its location, and the community website lists a number of attractions.

An awe-inspiring visit to the Lake Tarawera outlet is recommended if you’re lurking about near Kawerau on a baking-hot summer’s day. You’ll need a permit to get there as you have to drive through forestry roads where fire management and co-ordination of big rigs is a matter of importance. Don’t forget to wind the windows up when an approaching vehicle brings a cloud of dust your way. The fine powder gets everywhere!

If possible, capture a local who can tell you some of the interesting stories about the place. If not, you’ll still be stunned by the precariously perched rocks on the track up to the outlet ”“ not a place I’d want to be tutuing about in during a decent shake! Once you get to the very top, the sight of the lake’s waters disappearing at a great rate of knots into holes in the ground is mind-boggling. Having seen that you get a fresh perspective on the torrents emerging from the cliff face below at various levels as the waters emerge from cracks and seams in the rock.

All this talk of the volcanic plateau makes me holidayish. Put the billy on, Sis!

2 Responses to “Kawerau ”“ It’s Hot”

  1. Flying Deldas says:

    WOW! I’m off to Kawerau. What a good write up for the old home town. Don’t suppose you are interested in the role of Pubic Relations Officer for CarolsRow? No pay but lots of perks!!
    PS I have got the kettle on but sadly feel you were only joking?

  2. Ken says:

    Yes, just joshing, I’m afraid. But I’m twitching….
    There’s plenty on my list of interesting things to do in the BOP, so …
    Soon, soon.

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