In between Hobbit hunting we had the pleasure of staying in the crater of a volcano, Rotoura was our base for the night after Hobbiton and the next morning I drove us out to Wai-O-Tapu thermals as Zombie wanted to see a geyser erupt. Admittedly it’s the only driving I’ve done so far because reasons but I can say I’ve driven in a foreign country within three months of passing my test 😉.
So you get your tickets from the gift shop (they’re very encouraging of gift shopping in NZ) and drive back round the corner to a car park next to the Geyser. A nice man explains the history of how this one was found and the chemical found which induces an erruption, washing soap of all things. And then he pours in some soap and off it goes!
As the tickets include it we walked round their “wonderland” which is basically a bunch of flatish land which is all thermal, so it smells a heck of a lot like sulphur and water/mud bubbles a lot. It was all pretty cool and we both enjoyed the walk (of which we’ve done a fair amount so far). The route itself probably took about two hours including photo stops and just enjoying the views. We bought some magnets on the way out and then it was back into Rotoura centre for our Māori experience at Te-Puia.
Te-Puia is run by the Māori tribe who have lived on the ground for many many generations, Cinni our guide was fantastic at bringing to life her family history and telling us about the Māori crafts. We learnt about who there was originally no mammals opinion New Zealand so they had to make their clothes out of flat reeds and that the carvings are based on their family members.
We were treated to another geyser erruption at the end of the tour as there are many thermals in the area, this one going off about every hour. After the tour we milled around and had some lunch then it was time for the daily show of the cultural welcome & Haka war dance.
Before anyone visiting a Māori Meeting House is allowed to enter they have to be greeted by the warrior of the tribe & display their intent, friendship or battle. Doing so by not flinching when the warrior dances towards them and either spitting on a leaf (in war) or lifting the leaf high (in peace). There is also an amount of ritual singing as part of the greeting and response.
Once this is through we were ushered inside and watched the most moving & wonderful performance. The ladies traditionally dance with Poi and the men do the Haka dance (lots of body slapping and tongue waggling). The purpose of the poi dancing and some stick throwing dances is to increase hand eye coordination and flexibility of the wrists, all grounding in good battle prospects. David even got up on stage with the men folk to be taught a basic Haka, he really wants to learn the full thing. I wouldn’t mind giving the poi dance a go either!
From Te-Puia we had a slightly hair-raising drive across the country to PioPio (Pee-oh Pee-oh or pewpew for short) to our motel the quaint Owls Nest. It was only so bad because paths sat nave took us on the shortest route which is usually only used by the locals who know the area, to says it was wiggly is an understatement. And it was quite wet and dark, that’s the weirdest thing getting dark at 17:30 in July! But Zombie did an astounding job and we got there safely in time for a takeaway dinner.
The next day was our other Hobbit adventure you’ve already heard about and then onto the glow worm caves of Waitomo. We couldn’t take any photos as we would disturb said glow worms but it was very beautiful as you’d expect, and the river ride under the caves was so pretty in the dark with the glowy ceilings. A drive back in the same direction, though this time skipping the wiggly road, and we were in Taupo to meet Gregg the man who Zombie fenced with that night (see previous post).
Again another morning (Wednesday this time) Gregg kindly cooked us breakfast and then took us out to his other favourite passtime: pistol shooting! Now I must say its not something I ever thought I’d do but it was actually loads of fun! We started small, just a 22 caliber to get the feel of it and then worked our way through, including a glock like you see open tv! We had a little competition at the end, our clusters were both quite tight, unfortunately mine were a bit high so scored mostly 3-7s and Zombie really got his eye in scoring 7-9s. But it was a huge amoungpt of fun, we were out there for a fair few hours! Though my shoulder didn’t enjoy waking up the next morning much from that recoil!
I leave you now with the promise of a Weta Cave tour, cable car up the hill and Rivendell walk to come.