5. Lou-Zealand

15 Feb

The morning after our reunion, Rachelle, Louis, and I kicked off our adventures with a long hike to the top of a waterfall.





Life on the edge


We decided that for Louis’s last days in NZ, we would try and take him to the parts of the country he hadn’t seen yet… Like the place in LotR where Gollum is trying to catch a fish (allegedly).


Wairere Falls


While we hiked, we practiced all the French words we knew like “chauffeur” and “schmeigal.” We did a little trivia and tried to figure out which states were part of the 13 original colonies, and then after the hike, we participated in one of my favorite pastimes — talking to Helen on the phone. 

Rachelle was all hiked out by the end of the day, so Louis and I went on another hike to see the treetops in a scenic reserve. And since the third time’s a charm (so were the first and second times), we decided to go on ANOTHER hike to one more waterfall. When we made it there, no one else was around.  So, we took an actual bath with actual soap. It was idyllic, if not a bit chilly. At one point, one of our beloved collector’s items (water bottle) fell into the water, and I laughed so hard that I cried.

The thing about Wharatoa Falls (our bathing spot) was that there was a bunch of dense brush around it, and the trail took us waaayyy longer than Scott (the guidebook) suggested (Scott must be a very fast walker). So, we actually ended up walking back in the dark, and this became another moment where I was incredibly grateful that there weren’t any scary critters in NZ. It would’ve also been a prime moment to see a Kiwi. We didn’t, but it would have been cool. 



Notice the soap


On the walk back to our car, Louis said “Warming!” at the end of some conversation. It took me a couple of seconds but I realized he hadn’t said “warning” but was literally “warming” back up (getting hot and sweaty) because the hike back to the car was hard. I relayed that sentiment back to Rachelle, and it soon became a thing.   It should be an expression, it makes sense.  Whenever one of us started to get hot, we’d yell “WARMING!”

When we finally got back to the car, we blasted Nelly Furtado (naturally), and she sang us into the campground at 10:30pm. It was a gorgeous campground (thanks DoC)!



WARMING up to each other.


The next day, we had some breakfast and decided to have a domestic day where we went to the bank, the grocery store, and picked up a new blow-up Kiwi friend, Uncle Bill (Unk Beel in French). We called him Beel for short.



Rachelle+ Beel= Racheel



Time for a candid.


During the trip to the store, we stocked up for Valentine’s Day, which was fast approaching. We bought chocolate that was most definitely going to melt before we could eat it and champagne. 

We also bought a second lunch to eat in the park for a second time.  We’d found some new sort of Indian food to eat (precooked packaged noodles and a separate, yummy Indian sauce). Spicing things up!



A car chef creation


After our second lunch, we needed some coffee, STAT, but the room temperature instant coffee just wasn’t cutting it.  Since it was a domestic day anyway, we spent some time driving around looking for a good coffee shop (and wifi).

While Rachelle and Louis chilled in the coffee shop, I walked around the shopping center and tried an oyster and some salmon wings. The latter of which I’d never heard of but was exactly as described.

When we were all ready to get a move on, we headed off to a Jurassic Park walk (without the dinosaurs…that we know of) with more iced coffees in hand. And let me just say: YUM AND WOW.


98 degrees Celsius…208 Fahrenheit.



That’s hot.



Jurassic Park sans velociraptors


Most of the hot springs here were faaaar too hot to sit in, but we took a short walk to another creek that was safe (although really hot, and took some getting used to).  I made a video for Bel telling her how hot I was– a callback to when #HenWasCooked. We grabbed some drinks and then went to see some bubbling mud.  Bubbling, plopping, noisy mud..  So.much.fun.

We were WARMING, when we got back to the car though. 

That night, I played musical porta-potties (so disgusting), remembered how “that possum and I were not involved” the night we went Kiwi searching, and mused over the possibility of working on an actual Kiwi farm when I come back (visa ‘til 2020, ya’ll!). It was a pretty eventful night, looking back on it, because I also learned how the South Island does get cold, and Louis told me his hitchhiking stories and tips (like hitchhiking in NZ was a game, and that when you have a tent, you up your game), which inspired me to travel and hitchhike more.  I was also more inspired than ever to learn French, and Rachelle told that National Geographic elephant story that we share together from Thailand. Traveling with her is amazing for so many different reasons, but one of the reasons is that she serves as a shared memory bank. Thank you for that.

Before bed, the three of us also met a New Zealander traveling around her own country; she had locked herself out of her van (with a citronella candle burning inside). It was awesome to see how the whole campground banded together to help her get back inside.



Mission accomplished


The next day, we were all warming, but before finding a swimming hole, we ate Watties (with the bodies.  an offshoot of Heinz! almost good, but not quite, Watties.) outside of a BP. Our favorite were the raviolis in a pouch with creamy mushroom or pumpkin. A biker gang pulled through, and we had fun watching them while also filling up our water bottles and emptying the trash from good ol’ bach.

Afterwards, we headed to the largest waterfall where people commercially raft (IN THE WORLD); however, we didn’t want to get pummeled by the potential raftage, so we decided to go further down the river to find a swimming spot.



I spy with my little eye something green…



Swimming hole.


The next day was our last full day with Louis and his last night in the tent.  And nothing says a last full day in New Zealand like exercise.  So the three of us found a park where we could all do an exercise routine. And even better? The park had a lake and a FREE SHOWER (and an entire eco system living on it’s curtain).  Also a rooster, so it was the triple-threat of parks.


Why did the rooster cross the road? Trick question. It wasn’t crossing; it was just standing there.


As the day came to a close, we cried.  When the tears dried, we headed to the airport in Auckland to drop Louis off. We said our goodbyes, and then Rachelle and I moped around and walked around random parking lots saying, “I hear New Zealand is beautiful.”  We did this for so long that we ended up leaving Auckland at rush hour of all hours. On the drive, we would both sneak quick looks in the rear view mirror expecting to see Louis. We reminisced about our good times. Rachelle even said that she loved him so much, she’d let him eat crackers in bed, which is a beautiful compliment — especially when your home is a car.



Au revoir, Louis!



One Response to “5. Lou-Zealand”

  1. deekerson March 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm #

    Maybe I missed it, but where is Louis from?

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