There’s something special about getting to show off your back garden to friends from out of town, especially when that “back garden” is the Rotorua Lakes Wilderness on the North Island of New Zealand. Of the 18 lakes surrounding Rotorua, Lake Tarawera is the largest by volume, if not in mileage, and a tour of its 39 square kilometers takes paddlers to natural hot springs, spectacular waterfalls and beneath the peaks of the Tarawera massif. While Mike Dawson might have grown up practically on its shores, one mission still on the bucket list was a circumnavigation of this backyard paradise. “It’s quite a big lake, and it’s going to be quite a big mission.” — Mike Dawson Joined by longtime friends and newbie kayakers, Mike headed out for a weekend mission, complete with a few mini paddling tutorials. Where this mission lacked in Type 2 fun, the inspiration to get out more, try new things and redefine where we go for our next adventure made up for it.