Travel.P #16 – Mount Doom, Kiwi Burn and great people


Great things are done when men and mountains meet.

William Blake

first experience with rock climbing

After fixing up Odin and making it ready for our next sailing trip and a great time in Mount Manganui, we left it for 2 weeks and only left Merv, to keep an eye on the boat. Marie who shared her car with us, Flo, Ced and me went on our inland trip on the North Island. The idea was to find nice rock climbing spots and go to the Kiwi Burn festival. Straight from Mount Manganui and a car packed until under the roof we left and went to several climbing spots. The nice thing I found about climbing was that you are always surrounded by a beautiful scenery, in nature and it is really challenging and there is a lot to learn. We just went to a couple spots like the River Wall at the Mangorewa George, the Whekenui at Lake Taupo and another one that I cant remember.

Flo half way up.

My first time climbing was a scary experience, also because I was climbing barefoot and slip a lot. You could climb very high and it is a hard choice to let yourself fall in the harness, because it is seemed against every logic that those spots where the rope is fixed at the rock carries your weight. Also it is scary, because I thought I will bash myself against the wall, but all I had to do was keep myself in distance to the wall with the help of my feet and legs. It is surprising how much technique and how less force is needed to rock climbing. I would say through my experience it is 80 percent technique and 20 percent force. I had 6% technique and 94% force, haha.

Your mental strength is very important as well, you will see you can do climbs and moves you never thought about and you push your boundaries. It was always a great feeling to finally climb further after figuring out for 10 to 20 minutes how you can continue. It is especially fun with friends, because they motivate you to stay, and try and try and try again until you make it or you are completely exhausted and there is really no way for your skill level. I also enjoyed spotting the others, because you create a bond of trust and respect of the other person. I especially enjoyed spotting Ced, because his skill level was inedible high and I saw some amazing moves and high climbs, but also Flo who started on an average level gained a lot and could climb really good in the end, compared to me anyway, haha.

Johns Home. The small truck on the left. On the right his navy Truck.
Flo climbing with our flag.

My favorite spot was at Whekenui, not considering the climbing more because we met John, who is a Kiwi and let us stay the night at his place. He lived in a small truck, and had a beautiful jipsy hippy set up, with a small bonfire spot, benches, and a couch and a bed in the rear part of his truck. The first time I experienced living of grid, able to summarized the lifestyle with beautiful and simplicity. He invited us for campfire, fish, more fish and cray fish, so that we added some vegetables and made a nice dinner, that we shared together under the beautiful stars over lake Taupo, embraced by cliffs to both sides, native forest behind us, beach in front of us and a small river, resulting out of a small but forceful waterfall in the forest behind us. He smoked the fish himself and caught the fish himself as well just 50 meters from his truck. He was so great and shared everything he could with us, that I was amazed by his generosity.

At his spot we went cray fishing and try to catch some fish in the cold lake water, to that we surrendered, because our legs were numb. At the climbing spot we met “Alaska”, who continued traveling with us for a while. We became friends and I still think often at this gut, who is studying in Dunedin at the moment.

Too easy life style. Climbing spot on the far left. Lake Taupo.

The next day we drove around in Johns old army car and explored the location. He told us stories about his life and his life style down in the community at the lake. How his digger was crashed by a 3 ton bolder and he lay in coma, still recovering after 5 years far from the accident. I have to mention that he was the most caring guy of the community, so that others kicked us out, because of insurance reasons. When we left he told us to not care what the others say, and meet him when ever we want. I was really happy to meet him and look up and learn from his unconditional love.

campsite north Taupo
John, Marie and me in the Army truck.

After we left, struggling to drive up the hill with the car and burning the tires half way, and finally made it after the 6th try. From there we drove together towards a nice campsite south of Lake Taupo.

Bevore our day at the climbing spot at Lake Taupo, we met Lorna, Kate and Tryn randomly at the car park of the natural hot pools of Taupo. The hot water is coming out of the volcanic mountain and flowing through pools until it finally joins with the cold Waikato River. It is free and a nice spot to spend a couple hours. You can choose your temperature by swimming further into the river to have it colder or closer to the hot spring to rise the temperature. Usually it is quite busy, so a nice chance to chat to some strangers and have fun.

Free Hot Pools!

Happy for the the girls, we left to a campsite where they were staying, where we met Clinton and another girl. After our Climb at Taupo we joined together and climbed now in a bigger group, so following with more fun and more time to hang out.

After a couple days of climbing and fun times together we went to sneak into the Kiwi Burn Festival. I have to say, after finding out about Kiwi Burn and how the vibes are, that all is about sharing and caring, no money at all, free food, and free drinks, and just a big nude community feeling, I felt a bid bad that we sneaked in, but then when I spoke to Thomas, who worked 2 weeks volunteering in the Kitchen for the festival, and still paid the ticket, told us that the head honchos of the festival where quite the dickheads, I was alright with my bad feeling about it. So yeah we parked the cars away from the festival on a parking place and went through paddocks to the festival, that was a huge mission and we nearly lost Kate and Lorna to a small cliff, because they took the whole thing a bit to serious and hid from a car on a public road, hahaha.

Next climbing spot in our bigger group.
Kiwi Burn: Lorna and me

Well, after sneaking in successful I had some magical days, in another world, where everything was good and love and peace and joy. I would count those days to the best days of my life, because it was such a great time and a completely new and surprising changing experience to me. The paddock was set up just next to a river that you could reach through a small forest. There were beautiful workshops, and even more beautiful people. Nearly everyone was nude and no one cared, so easy and relaxed. The party and the music was okay and the burn of the temple and the Minotaur was just pure magic. In the end I left with awesome experiences and a strong bound to Lorna. I personally liked the cacao ceremony, the river bid, including the forest where we could bathe in mud and had our first acro-yoga experiences. It was never to hot, and if you could just go for a dip in the river. You could get drinks for free, and food as well if you followed the program. In the end I would always try to sneak into a festival, the joy is just so much bigger, because there is no pressure that you have to see or do things, because you didn’t pay for it. I know it sound bad, but that is my opinion on it and serious, those tickets are usually a bit to expensive in my opinion.

Me on Mount Doom.

Leaving Kiwi Burn and joining the ‘normal world’ again was kinda sad and we were all exhausted from the festival. So we went to a bakery and planed there together how we could continue with our journey. From Kiwi burn we drove in three cars to a beautiful campsite next to a river, where we did some massive river floating and I did my first cliff jump, that was so cool. We had nice bonfires and fun nights with our neighbors. The drive to the campsite was through, of course, amazing scenery and seemingly untouched nature, along a river and through green hills covered in native forest.

From there we went on to another cute campsite near a river next to the Tongario National Park, where we stayed a night and did the Tongario Crossing the next day. We woke up early so that we could leave a couple cars at one end and squeeze into another car to reach the other end, the beginning of the 19,4 km long the trail. That was unbelievable nature, like on another planet. First we went up and approached slowly the stony, black gravel beginnings of Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Doom, where Frodo had to destroy ‘The one ring to rule them all’. Covered in mist I couldn’t see any trails and made my way. The climb is very steeply and difficult to loose tephra, kinda gravel erupted by the mountain, that gives way underfoot. At the top half covered in Clouds and later with a great view, I throw a ring made out of weeds into the frozen crater of Mount Doom. After finding a nice warm stone bid to sit on I had my breakfast on the edge of the mountain. My first active volcano, harder to climb than I thought, but therefor easy do descent. It is summarized by running and using gravity to surf on the tephra down the steep hill.

The Crater.

The clouds cleared up and I continued on the walk. Most of it is through raw volcanic terrain, yellow, brown, red, grey, black, white. Those are mostly the colors that accompany your sight close to you. Further away you can see the Rangipo Desert, a barren desert like environment, on its own way holding its own beauty. All the three volcanoes in the area are highly active. Active fumaroles abound on a few sections of the walk, constantly emitting steam and sulphur dioxide gas into the air, with yellow sulphur specks around the edges. The deep blue from pools were a nice spot for breaks with a good view, in my case even a short nap. The pools have different colors, depending on the volcanic materials dissolved in them. Some where turquoise, deep blue or brownish. Since I lost everyone on the track, I could enjoy the track just how I liked it. Passing the last big lake I the track wriggles itself through some native Forest down towards the Ketetahi Car Park, where I waited for the rest to arrive since half of the group were quite fast and half of the group were quite slow. I guess I was closer to slow, but still waited an hour, relaxing my feet on a small grass paddock in the sun.

Over the Clouds, YEAAH

The next time I will tell you about the rest of our road-trip and our return to Mount Manganui and to Odin where we were surprised by stolen bikes, petrol smell and empty batteries on the boat. I also will speak about our first approach of the East Cape and my horrible sea sickness, fading into the shadows of mordor on my first 24 hours on a proper journey on the boat.

Why don’t you go out today and watch the trees, the sun coming through the branches and leaves, gentle on your skin.

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