The story of the world's youngest geothermal system will be told through the eyes of passionate local artists as Waimangu Volcanic Valley opens its new art trail to manuhiri, visitors.
Twelve works of art, ranging from textiles to photography, have been digitally printed onto large panels to form an interactive art trail.
They will showcase the scenic valley's flora, fauna, craters and lakes in a creative way.
Kurien (Koshy) Yohannan from Black Stallion Photography has two pieces on the art trail – the first depicts a pair of grey teal ducks enjoying Waimangu Stream, and the second shows a tomtit perched on the Lake Rotomāhana jetty.
As a self-taught, award-winning and published photographer, Yohannan said people wouldn't normally associate birdlife with a geothermal area like Waimangu, but there was a surprisingly diverse range of birds that call Waimangu home, thanks to the conservation efforts undertaken by its kaitiaki.
"Some of the species found there are extremely rare, like the Australasian bittern and royal spoonbill, and I hope my photography will inspire visitors to look out for and enjoy the birdlife as they wander through the geothermal valley."
With work published in New Zealand Geographic and The Hunters – a book documenting New Zealand's bird of prey - Yohannan said he felt humbled and honoured to have his work showcased in such an authenticated way, with many frequenting Waimangu throughout the summer months.
"This is an opportunity to continue to fly the conservation flag and celebrate the special bird species we have in Aotearoa."
Textile artist, Julia Cass-Janes, also has two works of art on the trail and is hoping the installation ignites a sense of excitement in visitors as to what the next art piece down the line will be.
Describing her artform as experimental, Cass-Janes said she had drawn her inspiration from nature, working mainly with wool fibre to create her pieces named Aerial and Mist.
"These pieces are ideally suited to Waimangu representing what the valley may look like on a misty day taking in the subdued green of the trees and the lake, compared to a sunny day.
"My work includes plenty of texture and in some cases plenty of colours, and having these digitally printed onto vinyl will be an interesting and exciting way to showcase textile art.
"To enjoy art in nature is also pretty cool and I hope people go 'wow!' when they pass each artist's work as it will all be unique in its own way."
The artwork will be digitally printed on vinyl to withstand weather and geothermal conditions.
The panels will be 2.4m x 1.2m, framed, and mounted on wooden poles at various stops on the trail that visitors can easily access and view up close.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley general manager David Blackmore said manuhiri could already explore the valley and its history through the guides, app and information boards, but the art trail will share Waimangu's story in a new way.
"The art selected for the trail is both creative and engaging and it's been interesting to see how each artist has interpreted the various aspects of Waimangu, including its history, flora and fauna and geothermal landscape.
"This is a great opportunity for manuhiri to experience something a little bit different in their own backyard.
"We're proud of our heritage and wish to commemorate our special place with this outdoor art trail for manuhiri from across Aotearoa and the world (eventually) to enjoy."
The art trail will open on 9 November 2020 and will be on display throughout summer 2020/21.