I’ve been staring at my screen for quite sometime now not knowing how to virtually describe what my past weekend has been like. Stick with me. This is going to be a very long post.
The school postponed our wine tasting trip due to weather. I must say that the constant downpour makes me miss California’s warm sun, but nonetheless we didn’t let mother nature ruin our weekend.
Five of us including myself decided to explore the North Island and camp for the night. We had two other friends with us, Morten and Signe, but they drove separately in their car. Adam and Cody rented a Nissan sedan on Friday and at 3:00 am Saturday morning, we packed our things and headed up North towards Lake Taupo. The first fifteen minutes consisted of Cody turning into the wrong lane (keep in mind they drive on the opposite side here) and the two boys bickering whether we should stick to the plan or just wing it. We girls sat in the back listening, taking pictures, and giggling over the situation we were in. How would I describe it? Outrageous? Exuberant? Exciting? I really don’t know. Adam was the only one in the group that actually got some sleep.
We drove for about four hours, but the trip seemed a lot shorter. The views were gorgeous, plus we finally saw some sheep!! I’ve never seen so many different terrains within a short amount of time. We saw everything from rolling hills to a snow storm. Each turn had something completely new and different. We girls were lucky to have the boys driving so that we could look outside, take pictures, and sleep.
We stopped in Taupo for a quick breakfast at Dixie’s Browns. Did you know they call breakfast there “breaky”. They all knew we were Americans when we used the wrong terminology. Once we all had full tummies we decided to find a natural hot spring. Now this is where the trip really takes off.
We drove to the hot springs which was located in this park just six minutes from the restaurant. It was about 40 to 45 degrees outside and pouring rain. Real…heavy…rain. We sat in our cars contemplating if we should follow through with our plan. We all looked at each other and though, “eh we’re already here, lets do it”. We all change into our bathing suits and booked it down the hill in the freezing rain. Imagine five half-naked Americans running in the rain to find a tiny dirty hot spring that wasn’t even lukewarm. I definitely wished I had my GoPro for this moment. Somehow we still ended up climbing into the “hot spring”. We sat there laughing, shivering, and then we finally realized that if we stayed for another minute we were all going to get pneumonia. We ran back as fast as we could and as we sat drying off in the heated car we wondered…now what.
Twenty minutes later, Morten and Signe found an actual operating resort-like hot spring not too far away that was only $25 for the whole day. We figured going there would be for the best since we all need to get warm and dry before finding a campsite. By this point, I don’t think it was even noon yet. We drove to the Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa and relaxed in their pools till about 2:30 pm.
Once we all felt refreshed and warm, we set out for camp near Mt. Pureora. Luckily it finally stopped raining which made setting up for camp much easier. Unfortunately, starting a fire proved to be very difficult. Everything was soaking wet, good thing Adam had a small ax to break apart trees and planks. It took us about two hours to get a fire going only to have it die down before we all wanted it too.
The girls felt pretty useless watching the boys huff and puff too keep the fire going so we decided to make ourselves useful. Paige tagged in with the boys while Jessi and I worked on putting the tent up. After we all had a bite to eat we settled in our tent, opened a bottle of wine, and played cards. Even though it was probably close to freezing outside, the tent stayed pretty toasty. Five people in a three person tent plus some wine kept us all warm for the night. We all really needed a good night’s rest.
We woke up around nine, packed up our things, and sought out to find some trails. We did a small thirty minute walk near our campsite but realized we wanted to do something a little more strenuous. We got back into our car and went right on the fork for about six miles. At the end of the road we found a trail that easily became one of the most exquisite hikes I’ve ever done.
Apparently it rarely snows on Mt. Pureora so we were incredibly lucky to be there at that moment. The hike left me speechless multiple times; mostly because the boys kept throwing snowballs and scaring us from behind trees. I felt like I was hiking through Jurassic Park but with snow everywhere. Impeccable, fluffy, sparkling white snow. Every step and every corner took my breath away. The snow shined in the sun and left moss hanging delicately incased in icicles. Absolutely gorgeous.
The hike wasn’t difficult but there were times where we had to climb over or through fallen trees that broke our path. However, everything we went through was worth seeing the view at the top. We hiked for about an hour and a half before we reached the top. Absolutely worth it.
The drive took us about five hours and we got back close to midnight. We stopped halfway to look out at the stars. It wasn’t the clearest night but we could see the Milky Way and the Southern Cross. It was so gorgeous I started to tear up.What made this trip so spectacular was we didn’t plan on finding/doing the things we did.When I applied to study abroad, I had a deep feeling that New Zealand was where I was supposed to be. Funny how the Universe places you exactly where you need to be.
The weekend could not have been any better. I don’t think I’ve been this happy in a really long time. Can I stay here forever?
Stay Curious. Discover. Create.