03 April 2016
Lynnette and I spent Sunday afternoon exploring the Geothermal Valley at the Te Puia Cultural Center. We saw geysers and mud pools, a Kiwi Bird house and explored the gift shop.
It rained off and on and was very hot and humid when the rain stopped. The geyser was quite active while we were there so we had a pretty good show for awhile. There were two other geysers that had been quite active at one time but are now dormant, they believe, due to drilling done during the expansion of the city of Rotorua. Steam rises from the ground all around you and you hear the blurp, blurp of mud bubbles breaking as you walk this other worldly landscape.
We were excited to see the Kiwi bird. They are unusual looking to say the least! Flightless, they came close to extinction when the islands were settled and predators introduced. Their feathers look like fur! They are nocturnal so their enclosure is quite dark and your view somewhat obscured.
We went back to the room for a short rest before being picked up for the Te Po tour. There were 4 other people in our little van and we became our own little tour group, making friends and sticking together for the evening.
Our tour guide’s family has worked at Te Puia for 3 generations. He told us about the Maori culture and way of thinking. One thing that surprised me was learning that they keep the history and traditions of the islands of their origin. The traditions have adapted to their new environment however. An example of this is the tattoo. Their peoples tattooed the chest but it is cold in New Zealand and so the custom adapted and the tattoos moved to the arms and the face. We toured the carving and weaving schools which was very interesting.
The show demonstrated the native dances and humiliated mostly willing audience members by getting them up on stage to give it a try.
The dinner or hangi was prepared in the traditional way by cooking it for a long time in the ground on hot stones. There was also lots of food from other cultures so that the tourists all have something to eat and not to complain. The food was very good.