Volcanic Valley

Happy holidays three months later! Time has flown by since last Christmas, but I remember it like a candy cane dream. Instead of waking up to the smell of pine needles scattered on the floor, my dad’s favorite jasmine tea, or Coco’s signature stinky breath, I woke up that morning in a rented campervan parked next to something that smelled like rotten eggs. Looking outside of our window, there was a sulfur spring right by the parking lot that made small, gurgly burping noises. Shaking Harold lightly from his slumber, I wanted to start exchanging presents. Having raided the dollar store the night before, we each bought $10 worth of goodies and wrapped them in a santa hat. Opening my gifts, I scored things like silly string and a glittery scarf (let’s not talk about the horrible neon scrunchies).

Off to a merry start, we went to see other red and green things in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

An ecological heaven, there were boiling pools, shooting geysers, volcanic craters, silica terraces, gemlike algae, muddy flats, and the world’s largest hot spring (aptly named Frying Pan Lake). Created after the huge eruption of Mount Tarawera, it’s a relatively new geothermal system that’s constantly changing rapidly over time.

Along the way, we ran into two visitors all the way from Holland who happened to share an incredible, personal story. Although I won’t get into the details of it, I will say that having met Nils and his mom made a touching impression on me. Their dedicated journey together in memory of a loved one speaks volumes about celebrating the people you love and remembering them for the joy they brought to your life. With the day wrapping up, Nils made sure to give us what was a very energetic lesson on longboarding in the lot. Similar to snowboarding, obstacles like cars and curbs are easy to run into so braking is key. Still, I found it really hard not to grin as we waved goodbye to their pimped out hippie camper.

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