New Zealand is a country that’s relatively new. Not necessarily politically, but geologically. That’s an odd thought. When we talk about a country being new, we mean the government was just formed. But that’s not true of New Zealand. Because of the crazy amount of volcanoes and geothermal activity, the country is constantly reforming itself into something new. The middle part of the country–between Rotorua and Taupo– is especially evident of this. It’s literally teeming at the seams. Mountains block the horizon on all sides, volcanoes loom over every day life, plumages of steam escape from the ground like a tea pot finally boiling. The middle part of New Zealand is as unique an area as I’ve ever seen. Mike and I spent the bulk of this day in Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Much like New Zealand itself, Waimangu is an infant in life terms; it wasn’t created until Mount Tarawera’s eruption leveled the area. Because of that, it carries the tag of “the world’s newest geothermic system”. The valley itself is spectacular: steam hisses from rips in the ground, boiling lakes line the hillside, Mount Tarawera itself rises over the valley as a reminder of what once happened and could happen again. The entire park offers a six-kilometer hiking trail and a forty-five minute boat ride around Lake Rotomahana. The hike itself was like exploring a different planet. Frying Pan Lake was the first stop and highlight of the walk. Seen from a distance it looks like a normal lake in the U.S. on summer mornings: it appeared as if a thin layer of water was evaporating up from the early morning sun. But as we got closer, it became very evident that this was something entirely different. The heat causing the steam wasn’t coming from an external source like the sun, but rather internally. The water was literally boiling from a heat source deep below the surface. The closer we got, the more heat we could feel emanating from it.