Jeff vs the Volcano Pt I

Once upon a time there was a guy named Jeff…

That’s actually Tom Hanks not Jeff, but hilariously enough there was a lady in NZ who kept saying Jeff looks like him. Hmmm, insult or compliment?? Lol

So on Day 6 of our adventure, we explore the volcanoes. We also visit a Maori village and Jeff gets named Chief. I’ll let him tell that story in Part 2 (it’s a highlight of the trip for sure). But first, we get to see the majesty of two volcanoes!

Before I go any further, let me just say people warned me about the smell. They told me, if you go to a town on the east coast of NZ that has hot springs, it stinks like hell. Well, they underplayed that card!

We left the mountains behind and headed to Taupo. This one wasn’t smelly. It was actually stunning.

That’s a hill in the middle of the lake. The lake is in the crater of the volcano. Yes, that blue in the back of the pic is the lake. Actually can’t see the end of it, it’s that big. The whole area, including where I took this pic, is literally a volcano.๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Once we got to the lake crater we go exploring

Jeff always in my damn shot ๐Ÿ˜ก

Those are black swans y’all!!๐Ÿ˜

So the rocks that are surrounding the crater are volcanic rocks of course, and surprisingly many weigh close to nothing!

Oops, I was supposed to say they weighed a lot! In any case, welcome to the Gun Show ladies ๐Ÿ˜‰

After collecting a few of these rocks (which, btw, made it through customs, whoohoo) we take off to our next destination: Rotorua!

We stayed at the Ibis hotel, which was nice. Considering the fact that pretty much all the hotels and motels were booked that weekend, it was a miracle they had an opening.

Before I go any further, let me just say, DO NOT listen to little brothers. Especially if they have a Gypsy soul. He convinced me before we left to plan only half of our trip, including lodging, so that we could play it by ear the rest of the time. DO NOT DO THAT PEOPLE! At the very least, secure lodging. The Gypsy would’ve been fine sleeping in the car, windows rolled up, sweating a stinky pond. Or windows down, freezing our arses off a la Dumb and Dumber

Ok, so the smart sister books the hotel and off we go! The drive was a little insane, curves and cliffs abound! And remember, driving on the “wrong” side!

We gawk at the beauty that is Rotorua. Until we step out of the car. Y’all, the closest way to describe it is putrid, rotten eggs. Mind you, the scientific ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ”ฌpart of me understood it was the sulphur…

But still!!!๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ

Upside is that there were some shops in this town, it was pretty good size. Especially compared to the other places we stayed. In one town, there were no gas stations, closest one was 20 miles out! And they had no police station! That blew Jeff away. Closest one was “three towns or so away.” Wow.

As we checked the city on the volcano, we noticed something pretty cool. They had bean bags everywhere. I mean, people straight up lounging in bean bags at the corners of the streets!

Guess who has to get in on the action ๐Ÿ™„

They love their Maori culture, beautiful sculptures on every corner.

My spiritual statue, Rubbing Belly Queen

Before the night is through we soak in one of the acclaimed Polynesian geothermal hot springs. Omg!!!!!

There was a spring called the Priest bath.

Jeff loved it and swore it worked! Lol

Don’t drown princess ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿป

This really is Part I of our Rotorua day. Believe it or not the best is still to come of this day! Posting a teaser pic, let’s just say Hanks never did a Haka!

Yes, this fool was elected “Chief.” TAKE ME…TOTHE VOLCANO!

Mount Doom…dom, dom, dom…

One does not simply walk into Mordor. ~ Boromir

Well we did. And little did we know it was no joke!

On Day 4, Jeff and I set out for Mount Ngauruhoe aka Mount Doom with little hiking experience. I mean, does Enchanted Rock really count compared to a big-ass 8-hour-mountain-hike straight up??

So, we grab a map and in 2-D, in cartoon format, looks do-able, right?

Here’s what we see from the road and it’s not as cute as the tiny triangles on the map dammit!

I mean, you can’t even see the top of it!!

The town we were staying in was so small that there was one cafe, one gas station (which was the only one around for miles) and two lodges. We stayed at Park Hotel, which we highly recommend.

Back to the mountain…Jeff and I had to drive to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. In our (basically new) Keens and backpack, we were off!

So what do you pack if you’re new to backpacking and planning to climb one of the highest mountains in NZ for 8 hours? Here’s what I had:

1. First aid kit

2. Sunblock, Off, chapstick

3. Water (12 ounces, yeah I know)

4. Jerky (for the brother)

5. Lifestraw

Hey, you never know right? Would’ve made the brother test it first, of course.

So as you can see, we had no damn clue what we were doing. Nevertheless, we persisted!

Looks like they’re missing Lifestraw in their essential gear list. IJS.

And we’re off!

Jeff looks tired already, I look lost. And we’re only 5 min in.

This hike was no damn joke! It was STRAIGHT UPHILL FOR THREE HOURS!!! I kept asking if we were even at the base of the mountain, it was about 2 hours of forest first. Everything hurt, even breathing. Who the hell came up with this bright idea anyway?!

Twelve ounces of water went quick. I was seriously feeling like Frodo and Sam with those chapped-ass lips.

Yeah that’s how Jeff and I felt about an hour inBut if they could make it for 3 movies with 5 drops of water, I could hold out!We kept passing streams and Jeff wouldn’t use the Life Straw. ๐Ÿ˜ก

Oh yeah, and we ran across this, just to keep us on our toes ๐Ÿ™„

That was a looooong 700meters, every sound was death (at least to me), Jeff was having a blast. ๐Ÿ™„

But when we got up what a sight!

Before we could get any further up, I mentioned to Jeff, “that’s weird, we’re the only ones going up, haven’t seen even one other person going up. Everyone is in a hurry to get down.” Still, we tuck away the old survival instincts and keep trucking up.

Until a guide hurrying down yells out “bad weather coming, I’d turn around if I were you!” And then, literally out of nowhere, we see this…

Temps dropped literally 15-20 degrees and everything went dark. Finally the spidey senses kicked in and we didn’t linger any longer. Adios Mount Doom!

This is an active volcano, and yes, that is a thermal geyser on the sides. And yes, that’s hell and fury descending on the summit. Yikes.

Rock and pool/is nice and cool/so juicy sweet!/only wish/to catch a fish/so juicy sweet!

The next day was rainy and cold but we were determined to continue to explore Middle Earth. We found Tawhai Falls aka Gollum’s Pool, and it was beautiful. We could see exactly where the Smรฉagol splashed in the serene setting…

Look at all that water for the Life Straw!

Yep that’s Jeff almost biting the bullet! Hahhaa, the dork

Day 4/5 was a success despite the weather. And Boromir was ๐Ÿ’ฏ, one doesn’t simply walk in to Mordor, at least not without a (useless) Life Straw! Note: if you hike with me in the near future, and we’re near a stream, you know what what I’ll be pushing ๐Ÿ˜‰