Rotorua New Zealand

Arriving in Rotorua, Lisa and I found our hotel with little effort. I was amazed at the quality of the hotel since I had booked it for a great price just the day before. We quickly unpacked our stuff and headed out on foot to check out some of the scenery in the town. As we walked over to the local grocer to pick up some bottled water and a few other things, I kept on getting a whiff of something that smelt really awful. I couldn’t figure out what it was. It wasn’t until we returned to our hotel room a little later on that I realized that it was the sulphur. The whole town smells of rotting eggs because of the hot sulphur that surrounds the town.

Lisa and I had already booked a trip to the Maori village for that night, so we relaxed for a little while back in our hotel room until we were picked up.

Once on the tour bus, our driver Mark started explaining the Maori culture and the meaning of “Kia ora” which means many things in the Maori culture, like high, good day, good health…. After doing this he then went off in a big rant of saying and explaining the meaning of “Kia ora” in 54 languages – Lisa and I were impressed.

Maori Village Entrance

Maori Village Entrance

During the ride, Mark, explained that for this Maori village tour a chief had to be picked amongst our bus to lead us into the Maori village and partake in a few of the traditional Maori greetings. One of the guys on board from Ireland near the back of the bus finally agreed to be our chief. The Maori village was about a 20 minute drive south of the Rotorua but we arrived there in no time after Mark kept us entertained.

Arriving at the Maori village our chief, Paul, led us off the bus. First our bus lined up for some pictures and then we were led into and open area were the ceremonies were to commence. A chief representing each of the busses stood in the middle of the area as Maori tribes men came out wielding their spears and other weapons. They grunted and twirled their spears trying to intimidate the chiefs. They then placed a peace offering “silver Fern” on the ground, one of the pre selected chiefs walked forward and picked it up. This concluded our acceptance ceremony in to the Maori Village; we were then all allowed to enter.

Maori Village Wood Carving

Maori Village Wood Carving

Entering the village they had several displays of weapons training, food preparation and other demonstrations to view while walking around. We then walked over to a building covered in Maori carvings and were seated inside one by one in front of a stage. The Maori performers walked out on stage and put on a show consisting of Maori stories, history and dance. It was a great show!

After the show we were lead back outside and into the dinning hut for a Hangi Meal. Tables were setup in a buffet style manner, each table consisting of about 20 people. Each table was then called up one by one to ensemble their plate at the buffet tables. The menu consisted of vegetables, salads & variety of meats (chicken, lamb & fish). It was a great meal. I loaded up on as much lamb as possible while Lisa went after the chicken. After the meal dessert was brought out. I’m not a huge desert fan but Lisa made me go up in line with her, so I grabbed a bowl of fruit and some whip cream. Lisa grabbed a unique piece of cake which we are still unsure of what it is called. Lisa was so in love with the flavour of her cake she gobbled it down like it was her last day on earth. She loved it so much so, that she made me go back up and get her some more. After the meal we were invited outside to check out how the traditional Maori meal (The Hangi) was made. The process is quite unique. They dig a hole in the ground then they build a tower consisting of wood and volcanic rock, this special rock is needed because it will not crack or crumble under extreme temperatures. Then they wait until the wood has turned into amber and all that remains are the pile of volcanic rocks. They then place the food into a basket constructed of a type of leaf that does not burn and place it amongst the rocks. They then place a wet cloth over top and quickly cover it with the earth they removed to dig the whole. After about 4 to 5 hours all the food has been steam cooked and ready to eat. All I can say is thank god for evolution and the crock-pot!!

A Maori Woman preparing a traditional Maori dish

A Maori Woman preparing a traditional Maori dish

Our ride back to the hotel was even more interesting then our ride there. Our bus driver, Mark, decided to start singing different songs of different nations or at the least the different countries that were represented on our bus. We sang the star spangled banner, O Canada, God Save the Queen and a few others. Once we ran out of songs then we started singing “The Wheels on the Bus”, this is where things got really interesting. For everything we sang, Mark did the same action. So when we sang about the wipers going back and forth, Mark put the wipers on, when we sang about the horn Mark honked the horn and when we sang about the people on the bus going up and down, so did the bus driver Mark. And for the finale the bus had to go round and round, so when we came to a roundabout we went round and round, for at least 3 minutes. The whole bus was laughing their heads off by this time as it was really funny. As we came closer to the hotel area in Rotorua, Mark began asking how people liked the trip and when it came to the question how we liked our bus driver, he opened the bus door and asked us for our real opinion. Everyone on the bus just started to laugh. If you ever go to Rotorua and visit the Maori Village, I definitely recommend the Tamaki Tour and if possible try and get Mark as the bus driver. It is definitely worth every dollar!!

Being led into a building within the Maori Village. Inside we enjoyed several ancient Maori stories and dance.

Being led into a building within the Maori Village. Inside we enjoyed several ancient Maori stories and dance.

We arrived back at our hotel room around 10:30 pm and we were both completely exhausted from the long day and crashed in about two seconds.

Day 4

We woke up around 6:30 and got ready for the day. We checked out of the Scenic Circle hotel and made our way over to our first stop, Te Puia.

Te Puia, Maori Culture and Geothermal experience is located just on the outskirts of town only about a 5 minute drive from the Rotorua “City Centre”. The park had just opened at 8:00 am and there were already a few tourist buses there when we arrived at 8:30 but not too many.

Te Puia

Te Puia

Lisa and I opted to walk Te Puia ourselves instead of waiting for the 9 a.m. tour, this way we could work on our own schedule. We walked around the beautiful park taking in all the beautiful scenery and awful smell of rotten eggs! The smell of sulphur is quite strong, it really didn’t bother us all that much until we approached one of the thermal vents which were releasing tons of gases. I could only take the smell for a minute or so before I had to move on. The park is a beautiful walk and takes about 2 hours to walk on foot. It is full of bubbling mud and water pools and has a geyser which is almost always active. The park also offers another option of a driven tour but it looks like you miss out on some of the best views, simply because they are off the main path. I would definitely recommend walking the park as you get to see so much more.

Active geyser in Te Puia

Active geyser in Te Puia

After the Te Puia thermal park Lisa and I made our way over to the Rainbow Springs Park. This park consists mostly of native animals and fish of New Zealand, mostly birds but there are a few other animals. The park is a great walk and is well laid out. At each numbered stop along the path Lisa and I simply entered the stop number into a little mp3 player we were given and a short audio clip would play explaining what we were viewing. I got a kick out of seeing the huge Rainbow Trout swimming in the ponds. The entire time I couldn’t stop thinking about having one hooked onto the end of my fishing rod. The park also is expanding and has a little game farm off to the side. It wasn’t quite finished but visitors were still encouraged to visit. The little game farm has goats, sheep, ducks and tons of more rare native birds. The park is an easy walk and took us around an hour and half to finish. I definitely recommend seeing this if you have the time.

Trout pond at Rainbow Springs

Trout pond at Rainbow Springs

After Rainbow Springs Park Lisa and I were going to make our way south to Lake Taupo to see the Huka Falls but first we had to stop and get something to eat. I had accumulated all this change in the car and we knew we were going by a McDonalds on our way out of the city, so we stopped. I’m not a huge fan of McDonalds but I was interested in seeing what was on their menu in New Zealand.

When I got my hamburger it looked a little larger but that was about it. To my surprise the meat tasted more like hamburger then back home in Canada. I was quite impressed but when I say that I mean compared to the quality of the McDonalds we have in Canada, not about the food in general.


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