Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hi everyone! To catch you all up on my weekend a bunch of my friends and I went on a trip to Rotarua and Lake Taupo. Rotarua is a town about five hours south of Auckland best known for their volcanic lakes, geysers, hot water springs, mud pools, and multicolored lakes. Near Rotarua is Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s biggest lake. There are a lot of fun activities to do near Rotarua so we decided to spend the weekend there.

We left Friday afternoon and arrived in Rotarua at about 6:30 at night, just in time for the Hangi we had scheduled prior to leaving. A Hangi is a Maori tradition of singing and dancing along with cooking an entire meal in a six foot hole in the ground. In my residence, all of my kiwi friends have been telling me I have to go to a hangi while in here. I’m glad they suggested it because it was a lot of fun AND delicious. When we first got to the Hangi we watched the Maori people do an intimidating dance. Then we took a tour of their village and got to learn about their culture and how they live their lives in the community. When the educational part was over we went and watched the Maori people sing, dance and play instruments a little more until it was time to eat. We watched the food being taken out of the six foot hole in the ground and they explained how cooking the food in the ground conserves energy and is the healthiest way to cook. That night when we all decided that we haven’t been that full since we arrived in New Zealand.

When we left the Hangi we went to check into our hostile. This was my first time staying in a hostile and it turned out to be a lot of fun! My friends from Huia rented a car and left earlier Friday morning so seeing them at the hostile was the first time we had met up on the trip. The first thing we did when we opened the door to our room was claim our beds by running up to one dropping our bags and jumping on them. Soon after claiming our beds we decided to push all the beds together and have a sleepover party.

The next morning our plan was to wake up early and go see a geyser erupt followed by going to lay in mud pools, see hot springs, multicolored lakes and hot water springs. However our plan didn’t go accordingly. The shock protector fell off our van and a part was scraping against the ground. We had to bring the van to a mechanic and wait around for over two hours for it to be fixed. When the van was finally fixed we had just enough time to go see the hot water springs at the thermal village. We saw how a community uses the natural hot springs to their advantage in their everyday lives. We also learned a lot about how natural hot springs are formed. When we left the thermal village we stopped by Huka Falls a huge water fall near Lake Taupo. On our way to the campsite where we were planning on camping that night we stopped at Lake Taupo for a swim in New Zealand’s largest Lake. It was a little cold but it was a really hot day and we had a lot of fun.

After leaving Lake Taupo the trip exponentially picked up in excitement. WE WERE NOW ON OUR WAY TO MOUNT DOOM!!!! We drove about two hours from Lake Taupo to Tangariro National Park. As we drove into the park the sun was setting and we were driving though gigantic mountains listening the Lord of the Rings soundtrack (obviously). We arrived at our campsite and we were all anxiously waiting for morning to come so we could start the Tangariro Crossing. The Tangariro Crossing also known as “The Lord of the Rings Walk” (which is not a “walk” at all) is considered the best one day hike in all of New Zealand. The Crossing is 19 kilometers or about 13 miles long, with constant changing of landscape; in many areas of the crossing it looks very similar to the path Frodo takes, as it’s the exact location where the film took place. As a huge Lord of the Rings fan I was EXTREMLY excited about the walk although it was very strenuous. Most of the time we were climbing up hill and shuffling down rough terrain, at one point we walked up stars for an hour straight. Although the hike was intense it was worth every second of it and we all felt accomplished when it was over.

Hands down the Tangariro crossing was the best part of the weekend. That night driving home we all fell asleep in the car until we arrived back in Auckland. Every week I say the same thing, “Nothing can top this”. But every single weekend my expectations are exceeded. When I start to think things can’t get any better, they always do, and that for certain is my favorite part about New Zealand.

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