The topic of my essay is how water impacts the planet and our daily lives. Just kidding. But really, today water ruled in many ways.

There was the rain that threatened to make the famous Tongariro Crossing impossible (it ultimately succeeded, so I could not “summit”—I love using that as a verb, as if I’m at base camp on Everest). I was secretly relieved to not have to hike seven hours, even though it’s supposed to be one of the best “tramps” on the planet.

Instead I went to these low-key, Maori-operated thermal baths. For $10 I had a private room with a super-hot bath and heated floor. It felt like a Maori mikvah:

Small mineral bath

And just in case you think it’s all thermal meditation and kawakawa lollipops over here, there actually are things to worry about, and I did manage to worry well:


Then I went to the public part of the thermal complex:

Big thermal pool

Once well-coated in magic mineral water, I hiked nearby and saw mud insistently bubbling up from Middle Earth (aren’t you glad this will be my only Lord of the Rings reference?):

Mud bubbling out of the ground

And there were these scalding hot pools:


A short drive later I was back on the mountain, where the rain had let up at lower elevations and I could hike a bit more. I saw this wet web:


And this rusty (in a good, natural way) river:

Rust stream

And these trippy silica flats:

sulfur flats

And this:


I walked along this path and thought deep thoughts:

Tree path

I came back to the cabin and went out for dinner: kumara pizza. I’m going to miss kumara badly:

Kumara pizza

Now it’s morning and it’s pouring and I’m on my little porch with coffee, yay. Tonight is my last night in New Zealand and I’m headed to Raglan, a small beach town near Auckland. Signing off with mad props to the god of water, who always has his way:

sea god

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