Isn't life great? Last weekend was the best. I made an impulse decision to join my friend, Maria, on her trip to meet her crazy Italian friend, Rocco, in Rotorua. This guy is an adventure seeker. He jumped on top of a train and rode it for 23.5 hours across the Australian Outback. A real amazing person - No worries mentality, happy all the time, makes the most of every situation, "such is life". I can't wait to tell you what he does later on in the weekend. But for now, we start in Rotorua. We arrived late in the night and camped at a picnic shelter on the side of the road. In the morning, we had a champion breakfast of peanut butter + banana and then met up with Rocco's traveling friends Dinko (from Croatia) and Julie (from France). Also wonderful people. So with car of four languages, we started off the day by visiting Ohinemutu, a Maori village near Rotorua. We got to walk around a see some real Maori marae, but didn't get to go inside. They were so beautiful.
Rotorua is huge for geothermal activity. In this village, you would find random geysers on the side of the road and sometimes the sidewalk would be decaying and oozing steam from the boiling sulfur water beneath it. I was walking barefoot on the street and sometimes the pavement would be too hot to stand on!
Next in Rotorua, we saw the Waiotapu Mud Pools! Those were really funny. It was a big grey pond of mud and all over there would be spots where mud would be bubbling and spurting into the air with flarpy sound effects. Also, all this geothermal activity makes the whole region smell like hardboiled eggs or sulfur water that comes out of a well that's been dug too deep.
After that, we explored the hot/cold hot spring. My first hot spring! On one side there was hot, hot water that we hung out in for a while. Then we went in the middle where you can feel the hot water from the one stream on your arms and the cold water from another stream on your legs. You can move around to find your favorite hot/cold combination.
Picture from left to right: Maori elder, Julie, Rocco, Dinko, me
On Saturday, we did the famous Tongariro Crossing. This day walk is 17 km (~10.5 miles) and it took us about 7 hours. I saw some of the most beautiful things that I've ever experienced in my whole life. This is the hike where you can summit Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom, for you Lord of the Rings fans) but that takes an extra 3-5 hours. We decided against it, but Rocco, who will only be in NZ for a short time, wanted to do it. He said he would catch up with us later. And he did; he met up with us before we had even finished the Crossing! Apparently, when he reached the top, he found a frisbee and preceded to SURF DOWN THE VOLCANO ON THAT FRISBEE and arrive at the bottom in about 10 mins. Keep in mind, this usually takes normal humans about 2 hours to get down. Here are some views from the hike:
Cole, Maria, me, and Jordan. Americans!
Me and Maria and Mt. Doom
We were SO tired after this hike. We camped near the lake and there were so many stars. I mean, there are lots of stars at home, we have an incredible sky, but there are SO MANY stars here. !♥
On our last day of this dream weekend, we visited the Tokaanu Geothermal Pools. Here we saw more geysers and experienced more prehistoric vibes. We brought along some eggs, put them in a clean sock, tied the sock to a stick, and stuck the eggs in the boiling geothermal geyser. We let them cook for 10 mins and boom! NZ geyser eggs - so delicious. Well, they tasted normal, but how many people can say they've eaten an egg cooked in a geyser?
pardon my tired eyes sinking into my head...
Our last stop of the trip was the Taranaki Falls. This was just a short 2 hour hike so we brought lunch and hung out by the waterfall and played ukulele and sang. I'm teaching Maria the Maori song, Purea Nei, so maybe I'll record us one of these days.
What a refreshing weekend. I hope I carry this relaxed NZ mentality back home with me.
SO MUCH LOVE,