Today we headed an hour or so up the road to Rotorua, an area of New Zealand famous for its geo-thermal properties. As you drive down the highway you keep seeing the brown tourist signs saying “hot springs 440m on right” every few km.
We had decided the day before that we were going to visit Te Puia in the Whakarewarewa Valley, which seemed the cheapest and the best bet for seeing a bit of everything. It is said that “Here is where the goddesses of fire, Te Pupu and Te Hoata, breathed and created geothermal wonders” and it is apparently from their breath that te Puia was formed.
We arrived just in time to get on the guided tour and so set off walking around the Mauri village being told all about their traditions etc etc etc. We were then taken to a Kiwi enclosure (no pics i’m afraid, you weren’t allowed). Kiwi’s are nocturnal, so up until now i hadn’t seen one, because i’m in bed before dark obviously haha! It was good that i have finally seen one, couldn’t come to NZ and leave without seeing a Kiwi, it’d be like leaving OZ without seeing a Roo!
After the Kiwi’s he showed us how they would traditionaly weave a skirt and how to make rope…. not exactly fascinating but it was intresting to see that they did it all with leaves and used the mud from the mud pools as dyes.
Next up was the mud pools, not spectacular looking at the pictures but it does make a rather strange noise as it bubbles away and spits mud out. We then arrived at Pohutu Geyser (meaning big splash or explosion) which was the largest in the park and erupts the most frequently (roughly twice an hour). There were two geysers combined, the Prince of Wales geyser which is smaller and named so because it looks a little bit like the three feathers of his crest when it goes off. Pohutu was the more spectacular though and providing that you could put up with that familiar smell of Chem labs and stink bombs, created by the sulphur, it was pretty cool to watch. We took millions of photos and then went to watch a traditional mauri show full of songs and dances. Someone had to volunteer to be the chief, i have to admit i wanted to do it but didnt put my hand up. hahaha. After being invited into their meeting place by a mauri warrior we then watched as they performed a few dances and songs, the best of which was the Haka.
After all that, they posed for a few photo’s and after finally fighting my way past all the Japanese and Koreans i managed to get a few before being nearly trampled on by another family with about 10 kids.
Then spent about an hour or so wandering about looking at all the hot springs, pools of bubbling mud and extinct geysers. Although after a while they all begin to look a bit samey. I decided that to liven things up a bit i would try to perfect my ‘Mauri stare’, seemingly not quite mastering it as kate burst out laughing. hmm must try harder on that one!!!!
Still it was a pretty good afternoon and i can now say i have done my cultural bit.
We then headed into town and checked into our hostel Cactus Jacks, this hostel is the most bizarre i have ever seen, its is laid out like a western film set, you can sleep in jail, the bank, the saloon etc etc. I wanted to stay in the saloon, but it was full. I felt like a cowboy for all of ten minutes and spent a while strolling about looking like i had a problem with my legs and thinking i was the lone ranger before Kate, the mature one, suggested we went for a walk about town.