Day 69 – River Valley, New Zealand

This morning we left Taupo and drove south towards River Valley. We made a stop inside Tongariro National Park where I decided to go on the 2-hour walk to Taranaki Falls.

On the trail, I was accompanied by Melanie, a PA from Massachusetts, and we spent a majority of the time referencing LOTR scenes while looking at the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. The walk consisted of wooded areas, open fields, and picturesque glimpses of “Mount Doom” in the background.

It took us the full two hours to complete the trail because we kept wanting to stop and take pictures and really soak in the moments. On the way back, it was getting so cold and I was getting really hungry, as it was past lunchtime. I grabbed a hot panini from the cafe before we left and headed to River Valley.

The road to River Valley was long and winding. I had to pop some ginger tablets to counteract the motion sickness. I also brought some peppermint essential oil that works really well. When we arrived at the River Valley Lodge, we unloaded all the bags from the bus into a van and walked down the hill to our accommodation.

There is no phone signal or wifi at River Valley Lodge, so the thirty or so passengers all spent the evening inside by the fire after the delicious roast dinner. For dinner, they served us roasted vegetables, potatoes, cabbage and cheese and tender beef with gravy. It was also the first time that I’ve tried Yorkshire pudding, which is basically like a lightly fried biscuit from England.

I went back to my room around 11pm and fell asleep until nearly 4am when the fire alarm went off. Initially, I thought it was a bad prank, but the six of us in the room emptied and headed back into the main area to see what was going on. We were all dazed, confused, and properly pissed. It only took about five minutes to get sorted out, and then we all immediately climbed back into our warm beds.

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