This is ground zero for life, people. New Zealand, 1200 miles from Australia, 1500 miles from Antarctica, and 5000 miles from everything the fuck else, is an evolutionary sand box, a place that spawned enormous flightless birds* and fish that look like this:
It’s also a land of extraordinary geothermal activity. There are five active volcanic areas on the North Island of New Zealand which are host to countless geysers, bubbling mud pools, and hot springs. At Orakei Korako, one of many thermal parks around the Taupo area, it’s not hard to imagine that millions of years ago, the first monocellular creatures were spawned in sulfurous pits such as this.
Look at all the colors! The colors of the wind! Don’t you just want to paint with them?
A visitor to Orakei Korako—a slightly off-the-beaten-geothermal-activity-track—takes a one minute ferry ride across a lake then proceeds through the park, self-guided (“Stay on the path. Consider all water that you see boiling hot.”), for about an hour’s walk-worth of geothermal madness. But wait, there’s more! Caves! Ferns next to evergreens next to palm trees! Bodies of water!
This place is straight up Land of the Lost, which is to say, a must-visit.
*For more on New Zealand’s fauna, we do recommend this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert about the attempt to eradicate invasive mammals from the islands.