Lying within a geologically active volcanic zone of New Zealand's North Island, Rotorua could be easily recognized through its smell of rotten eggs and clouds of steam all over the city.
I dragged myself back to the parking lot with shoes being caked in mud and two-layer pants smelling not so pleasantly. My then-roomate Katy didn't look any less pathetic as she carried her wet and stinky shoes throughout the seven-hour trail.
Ambury regional park is a huge working farm in the southern end of Auckland. It's out of the way but not too remote, rural and restful, and packed with activities to entertain a large group.
Last erupting 600 years ago, Rangitoto is the youngest, largest and best preserved volcanic island among dozens of cones and craters in the Auckland region.
Huka falls track was a soothing color palette in the mist of those cloudy late-summer days. Being one of the most visited natural attractions in New Zealand, the one-hour bushwalk to Huka Falls was surprisingly relaxing and quiet although it was still in the peak season.
The whole track spans over 19km across breath-taking volcanic terrains, and from the highest point no one could resist a photo opportunity with the world famous Emerald Lake that has long become an icon of the crossing.
As we approached the ski resort, a fairytale-like landscape opened up in front of us with lovely wooden cottages, icy stream and brownish mountains against the backdrop of clear blue sky.