I’ve been home in the U.S. for five months caught up in the pace of life and have missed writing about this little island I call my second home–a blip on the world map.
One of New Zealand’s best kept secrets is a shallow thermal river that runs over an old lava flow just south of Rotorua. Unfairly named Kerosene Creek, the water has a mild sulfur smell, but so does all of this volcanic region.
Tucked off the main highway, on a dirt road marked only by a wooden marker, and barely mentioned in tourist guides, this little river gurgles and steams through an easily accessible pine forest, forming little water falls and natural “hot tubs” along the way. The biggest tub is surrounded by ferns and pines. The temperature ranges depending on the time of year, of course, but having been there both in summer and winter, I’ve always found it deliciously addicting.
The water gushes with considerable force so you have to cling to the sides for stability. Underfoot, there’s thermal mud to dig your toes into, or scrub your arms with–something that enchanted me more than scooping the same mud from a perfectly labeled jar. (Okay, so to be fair, the packaged mud packs are more muddy and softer.) I even found a little grotto with a flat ledge in the rock, barely enough to sit on. Holding on to the sides, behind a curtain of water, it was a sweet spot in which to meditate in and pray.
My family, whose tolerance for heat was far less than mine took frequent breaks, drying off, dipping back in, being uncharacteristically patient, and eventually ordering me out of the creek.
If I were young again, I’d come here for a hot candle-lit, moon-lit dip. No, not alone.