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Geysers and sinter springs

Photograph of sinter terrace, Orakei Korako

Why we monitor geysers and sinter springs

This indicator measures changes in the number and condition of geysers and sinter depositing springs at selected sites in the Waikato region.
Geysers and sinter springs are important indicators of the state of our geothermal systems. This is because activities near one geothermal feature or field (such as water extraction) can affect features in another field if they are part of the same geothermal system. Waikato Regional Council monitors the number, chemistry and location of geysers and sinter depositing springs in the main geothermal systems in the region to help us detect changes that may be occurring within these systems.

New Zealand is known worldwide for its outstanding geothermal attractions. Almost 80 percent of New Zealand’s geothermal systems are in the Waikato region. Geothermal systems are valued for their:

  • energy resource
  • tourism income
  • unique ecosystems
  • cultural values
  • spiritual values
  • amenity values
  • historical values.

What's happening?

Our monitoring has shown that the number of sinter depositing springs and active geysers in the Waikato region has been relatively stable since 1961.

Unfortunately past human activities have destroyed large numbers of springs and geysers. Threats to our geothermal features include:

  • geothermal power development
  • land drainage
  • road works
  • tourism
  • vegetation clearance
  • rubbish dumping
  • use of geothermal water for bathing and space heating.

>>Find out more about these data and trends

 

More information

Useful links

When this indicator is updated

This indicator is only updated if significant changes are detected, as lasting changes in geysers and sinter springs are unlikely under the current policy regime that protects significant geothermal features.

Contact at Waikato Regional Council

Geothermal Scientist - Science and Strategy Directorate 

Quality control procedures

For this indicator, monitoring of the activity of each geothermal system is carried out by visual inspection and comparison with photographic records of each spring and geyser. To ensure accuracy, photographs are taken at each feature from the same location (determined by GPS) every time. Inspections are carried out at the same time of year to avoid any seasonal influences on activity.
Monitoring includes observation of external influences (such as drilling, drainage and forestry) on the activity of any system or feature.