If you know me, you’ll know that I cry. A lot. Grief, happiness, surprise, you name it; it’s 95% certain that I’ll be moved to tears.
The second time I cried in New Zealand (the first being when I saw the marina in Auckland city for the first time), was when I went to Maungawhau; more commonly known as Mount Eden.
Maungawhau is a volcanic head just 45 minutes by foot from the city centre. It’s the highest natural point in Auckland, and it was a very important Pa to Maoris. I had done some research before I left home about Auckland, and Maungawhau was always mentioned; I also learned that it’s volcanic crater is sacred ground, and should not be entered. Usually I’m all about google images, but this time I didn’t think to check out a picture of the crater, and in hindsight I’m so glad I didn’t – what I witnessed was completely unexpected.
It was a sunny day (surprise, surprise), and I left my hostel bright and early to catch the bus to the Mt. Eden suburb of Auckland. Google maps has been one of my greatest companions on this trip (besides Samwise), by the way. To think I’d have to use a regular map like they did in 1801 (2009).
Anyways, I found Maungawhau and started the climb to the summit. The ground was nice and dry, so I wasn’t slipping around like I did on Maungauika, since I hadn’t bought new shoes yet (sorry again, Grandma). This was the first time that I could hear the Hobbit song from Lord Of The Rings playing in my head. I felt like I was transported to the shire.
Up I went, looking for this “crater”, thinking it was going to be just a little roped off area with tourists lined up wanting to get as close as possible without crossing the line.
NOT EVEN CLOSE.
NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.
BOY, WAS I WRONG.
There is was: the sacred volcanic crater of Maungawhau. I closed my eyes and cried; here I was, lucky enough to witness something so magical and absolutely grand. I felt as light as a feather in that moment. I could feel this palpable energy running through my body, and the tears wouldn’t stop coming.
Until I saw a man sitting. In. The. Crater. Smoking a cigarette.
So listen, I’m all about having a good time. But, this guy was harshing my vibe big time. Not only was he disrespecting Maori culture by entering sacred ground uninvited, he was smoking, AND disrupting the environment inside the crater by creating footpaths. I should also mention that there are signs surrounding the crater, urging visitors to not enter the crater. With pictures.
So, I walked, and I waited. I took some beautiful pictures, and met two guys slacklining just off the path. I tried to forget about this guy, but I couldn’t do it.
I approached him and called out, “Hey! Just so you know, the crater is sacred ground and you’re not actually supposed to be in there!”
He replyed with a laugh, and a “oh well”.
Hahahahahahahaha. Okay, buddy.
I found one of the signs and I called the number listed and reported him. Call me a narc, but I honestly felt 100% percent better after doing it. Justice served.
I took one last look at the crater, and started my decent. Whistling the hobbit song as I went. New Zealand: 1, Kassandra: 1. You got me good, Maungawhau. I’ve got your back.