As mentioned in my last post, I would split my trip to Auckland in two, as there are a number of photos. As part of our trip, we hired a car as we knew we wanted to visit a number of places, namely Rotorua. Rotorua is an interesting town, one that I have been 3 times now and still find interesting. I have a real love for Maori culture; not sure why but I do. I have a real love for their music, well most types of Islander/Polynesian music – the harmonies!
Rotorua is famous for having hot mud baths, geysers, natural hot springs and show casing Maori culture. It is about 2 hrs and 45 mins south east of Auckland, so you do need some sort of transport to get there. I have on previous occasions got myself on a bus tour, which also take in other sights along the way; this makes for a very long day.
So after getting up and having breakfast at our new favourite brekkie place, The Bread and Butter Bakery we hit the road. Our GPS decided that the scenic route was the way to go so we really saw the countryside. I get a little impatient when these sort of things happen; if I have somewhere to go I want to get there. My sisters on the other hand were more than happy to just meander along. Because of this we didn’t get to see anything of Rotorua other than Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village. But first we had lunch, which again was a very nice meal from a local cafe.
Once we got there, we just made it to tack on a tour that had just begun. The tour costs $40NZD, which isn’t too bad, you get a guided tour along with a cultural show. First we were taken over the bridge where a lot of children were swimming in the water below. These are also known as penny divers. The village has been a tourist attraction since the 19th century and children have been diving for coins that are thrown into the below river by visitors since then. We threw a few coins in on our way out to a couple of young boys that were still there.
The town is built on a geothermal landscape and you can see steam coming up everywhere. You can also see where the landscape has collapsed. Our guide advised that it is normal for houses to slowly sink. When this happens they just abandon the house as it is too dangerous to bring in any excavation equipment ect, so it is just left there.
We were told about the history of the town and how it competes with a tourist park across the road. I have been to both, but like this one better due to the village.
Next along the trail was the Tribal Meeting Hall. This is not a church but purely a hall for meetings and you have to be invited to enter it. I would have loved to have seen inside of it.
We were told the story that the villagers are either Anglicans or Catholics and at the time when the missionaries came, the village leader just split the town down the middle. You lot are Catholics and you lot are Anglicans.. I thought that was very diplomatic. lol
On that note, when the villagers pass away, they are buried above the ground and not in it.
The next place we visited was some thermal springs and we were told about how sulphur sometimes gets into them water due to a collapse so they have to be careful with these.
You can tell the sulphur by the yellow. What I didn’t get a photo of is the baths. Just behind me are communal baths and every evening everyone pretty much goes down and strips and bathes; women, men and children all in together. They collect water from the springs and also add in cold water as it is too hot.
Another thing we were told about and shown were the wooden boxes you see around the place. These are actually used to cook food in. You put in food in containers, or foil in the morning and when you come back in the afternoon the food is cooked. If a stone is on the top, it means it is being used. They also hang food like corn cobs in mesh bags and hang these in the springs. I put my hand in the water and it is very hot. It gets hotter the deeper you go. The water also has a lovely feel to it (the minerals) and all the locals had gorgeous skin.
We were then taken past some bubbling springs and then we were taken through the village shops. From there we went up to the cultural show which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got a small snippet of it on my phone.
In the show you get to see dancing, songs being sung and the Haka. After the show we then visited the shops and I purchased a pair of earrings. I fell in love with a set of earrings with a matching pendant, both in Jade, but at $480 mmm no thanks. The earrings were from this set at least. We then also took a walk around the village, visiting the Geyser and watching it blow. There were these lovely little sculpture things all through the village, not sure what they represent but I did love them.
We then drove back to our humble abode, again via the scenic route. We did hit traffic about 66kms out of Auckland and I mean traffic! Geesh what is it and Auckland traffic? We stopped right next to an off ramp and I could see a few people going that way, so as I was driving I made the decision to follow them. Luckily they were going where I was hoping they were going and we bypassed a huge bit of the snarl and when we joined back onto the freeway, we were only in the traffic for about 5 minutes. I have no idea as to what caused it but we decided then that we were not going to drive anywhere the next day, Monday.
We were going to go up north to The Bay of Islands and go and see where the Waitangi Treaty was signed. Again I have been there before and it is really interesting, but we didn’t want to chance the traffic.
So on Monday we went shopping and just had a lazy day around the house. I probably spent way too much but I got the most gorgeous quilted jacket for winter (when it eventually arrives!). Ponsonby has the best shops. I also picked up some very nice bracelets and some Thunder Pants and some socks.
We then packed that evening, watched some TV, got to bed early as we had to get up at 5.30. We drove to the airport (again via the scenic route), dropped the car off and then went through customs and caught our planes home. Cath and I to Sydney, Trish to Melbourne.
We had a great weekend, and have decided that next year’s trip will be to Hobart, unless of course we change our minds by then!
Until next time.