Early on the afternoon of July 31, 2012, Paeroa jeweller Maggie de Grauw was flying home from a holiday in Samoa when she spotted a vast brownish-grey slick on the surface of the ocean beneath the aircraft.
Life thrives against the odds in the frozen sands of Te Onetapu, one of just a handful of volcanic dune systems in the world. Formed by the sand, rock and ash ejected from volcanic activity, this windy and hostile environment is transformed every time a giant awakes.
New Zealand's geothermal areas are world renowned for their spectacular displays of colour, texture and raw power. In a new book photographer Craig Potton focuses on the jewels in our geothermal crown.
Raoul Island is a bewitched Pacific paradise which has lured to its shores a long line of would-be settlers over the past 1000 years. But the irresistible lushness of the island's interior - picturesque Tui Lake, for example - belies a wild volcanic heart that heaves with alarming frequency into earthquake and eruption.
As if to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its last major outburst, on September 18, 1995, Ruapehu sprang unexpectedly from repose to violent activity. Over the next few weeks a white plume billowed to over ten kilometres above the mountain, raining black showers of ash across most of the North Island and disrupting air and ground traffic. On the night of October 11, with most of the water from the crater lake exhausted, molten magma fountained from the crater for several hours. Shafts of lightning crackled through the base of the dense ash cloud every few seconds. Fire had come to the mountain again.
Part of the Pink and White Terraces have been rediscovered, submerged in lake sediment in the depths of Lake Rotomahana. The formation, which once drew visitors all the way from Europe, was considered the eighth natural wonder of the world and thought to be completely destroyed after the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera.