We got up early and had a nice cooked breakfast overlooking the lake which was lovely – especially as the weather was beaut finally!! Matt got chased around by the black swan which was HILARIOUS until an old man chased it away with a wheelbarrow hahaha.
We had booked the Maori night for that night, so we had the whole day to chill and explore what Rotorua had to offer! We looked around the town, for a while and got coffee and sat in the sun.
The town is quite big, with some good shops and gorgeous scenery – however it stinks of rotten egg. Its something to do with all the geothermal activity, but it full on hums. There are loads of hot pools everywhere and all the hotels and motels are based around these, all advertising spas and private pools. We found a really nice park called Kuirau Park, which is right in the centre, but it was so quiet so we had a really nice picnic, played Frisbee and took advantage of the free foot hot pools. There was some hilarious birds there too that had massive feet that looked like they should be webbed…I kept putting bread near Matt’s feet so they would go a peck around him because they were freaking him out haha…turns out they are a native bird called Pūkeko.
After a few hours at the park, we went to Lake Rotorua which was beautiful!
At 5.30pm it was time for Maori Night! When we arrived at the office, they handed us an itinerary of the night and it looked amazing! There were some warnings on there that you aren’t allowed to laugh when they come at you and do an intimidating dance and flare their eyeballs and stick out their tongue, so this was a challenge trying not to laugh when you are forbidden. It also said in the itinerary that each bus load of people had to choose someone to be their chief…I was praying it would be Matt because it would be hilarious, especially because they would have to sing on the bus on the way home! But unfortunately a really tall, moustached American volunteered before the question had already been finished. He was a proper geek and loved this job role. He had to greet all the other chiefs by pressing noses twice – Matt was convinced our chief was gonna go in for a snog with an old man.
When we got to the entrance of the Tamaki Maori village we all had to stand in a circle while the Maoris performed an intimidating dance and gave a peace offering of a leaf to one chosen chief. Once they had performed their cultural welcoming dance, we all piled into their village, which is a replica of the authentic pre-European Maori village. It was really well set out, with a number of stations that were replicas of traditional Maori huts, that you go to and they teach you about a certain aspect of their culture, for example; education, clothing, weaponry, games, dances and the meaning of their facial tattoos and other cultural traditions.
We came to one station where they teach the Haka, and Matt was chosen to perform (probably due to me pushing him forward into the man), and it was amazing haha. They explained the reason they had this dance is to scare away any opponents – however it usually had the opposite effect, and made enemies want to fight them. So that is why they widen their eyes as much as possible, stick their tongues out, and make really loud noises from deep down, while carrying out violent actions.
After exploring all the stations, they take you to the area where they make hangi (meaning ‘feast’). This is where selected foods are cooked on hot rocks under the earth, which is apparently a really healthy way of cooking as it just cooks in all its juices… and on the menu today was chicken, lamb and vegetables!
The food was INCREDIBLE!!! Honestly it was amazing, there was kumara (NZ sweet potatoes) and other veg, lamb, chicken and fish. After two helpings of that, they bashed out loads of pavlova’s and steamed pudding and custard.
When we had again eaten far too much, there was a group singsong of ‘you are my sunshine’ then it was home time. It was such a good evening!
When we had been dropped back at Timmy, it was time to head to Taupo. This was only about 1 ½ hours drive, and we had already located a free campsite. The toilet was rank again, another long drop haha but I guess that’s why its free!
The next morning we went to Huka falls, which was right next to our camp site. This was a waterfall running from Lake Taupo at 20,000litres per second, and it generates 15% of New Zealand’s electricity. It was such an amazing colour blue and looked so clear that you could just dive in!
We then headed over to the Prawn Park…where you go and catch your own prawns and cook them. Matt was buzzing for the prawn park and showed me how to sort out the bait on the rod and all the technical malarkey. We were excited for a massive prawn dish for dinner and Matt said he would catch hundreds, as you could take as many home as you want…turns out it was harder than they let on! After 2 hours of trying, we had both caught nothing, so we went to explore the rest of the park, which is definitely aimed at 5 year olds, but that didn’t stop us getting involved. We then went back to fishing as we knew we could pay $50 and catch NOTHING. We found heated seats by the lake that had your very own hot foot spa…so we were sorted for a few hours! I just propped my rod up next to me with the rod for a while until it started going mental due to a very strong prawn. I pulled it up and there was a prawn on the end! It had its head stuck in the hook and looked horrible, I was scared of it and started yelling to put it back in the water, but Matt sorted it out and put it in the bucket. He kept picking it up and wafting it in my face, and then he dropped it on the floor…this poor prawn! Anyway we called it a day and put our very expensive and prized prawn in some ice…we didn’t even end up eating it haha.
We went for a walk to lake Taupo and got a 30 centre (which are actually 60c in NZ!).
We had a nice chilli and then watched the 3rd Lord of the Rings and had an early night, as I wasn’t feeling very well.
This morning we went to Wairakei Terraces Thermal Hot Pools, which we found half price on the Internet. When we arrived, it was so posh and luxurious…nothing like what we have been used to the past few weeks, and the snobby woman on reception clearly felt the same and was being all patronising! The pools were amazing! There was a warm one that was 36 degrees, then another at 38 degrees, and then the boiling one that was 44 degrees. We chilled out in these for ages, completely loving life! All that was missing was a cocktail! It is meant to be really good for the skin and hair, because its all natural…the woman told us not to shower after and to leave the water on us, as it was really good for you…however I think she just said that because the showers were broken, and now 5 hours later my hair looks like a full on birds nest and feels like a hay bale. But our skin looks and feels great!
We are now on the road down to Wellington, and we just spotted some snow-capped mountains! I have never seen them before, and they are incredible. There was a view a minute ago that looked like it was from a magazine; it was a long glistening river, running down a valley of luscious green hills, symmetrical lines of trees, with snow-capped mountains lining the sky…description sounds gay, but it was absolutely beautiful.