After our day at Hobbiton, our next stop in Rotorua was to the Tamaki village, to experience some Maori culture! I’d actually been recommended to do this by a girl I met in Brazil, so I was really excited. On the way we had to elect a “chief” who would represent our group and come up with a song to sing when we got there… ours went something along the lines of “kiwi, kiwi, kiwi, kiwi, we came on a bus, now we’re making a fuss…”. Professional song writers in the making!
After we had performed our song, we got to check out our accommodation, which was a room with about 26 beds in… but we did get 2 pillows and fresh towels – an absolute luxury after 6 months of travelling.
After dropping our bags, we stopped for some afternoon tea – ie. all the cake and tea you could ever want, before being split into two teams. Each team had to learn a Maori song, and also play a game throwing sticks in time (which was so hard!). We had to stand in a big circle and in time all throw our sticks to the person next to us, and then to the person 2 people away from us. It was pretty difficult for everyone to get right at the same time!
For the song, we start with an easy one, (to the tune of “Stupid Cupid”) and then moved on to the harder one. For me, this involved a lot of miming along and not really getting any of the words right…
Once we had cracked the song (or near enough) we headed to the main event – our welcome from the Maori people.
This involved lots of music, singing and dancing, as well as our first look at the haka!
Sorry for the lack of good pictures, I was quite near the back so it was hard to get any decent shots!
We then went round to lots of different stations, where different people would show us traditional Maori practices, from games they used to play, weapons they used to use, and ways of life.
In the game section, I decided to get involved. The game was for 4 of us to hold sticks, and they would shout left or right in Maori, and you’d have to quickly run round to the next stick… make sense?
If you didn’t catch the next stick, or “sabotaged” the person catching your stick you were out… so it got harder as each person got knocked out.
Luckily I wasn’t the first out, but on the next round, I may or may not have thrown my stick to the side and sabotaged the person catching it (accidentally of course), so I was out.
Doing the walk of shame back to the crowd!
Finally, it was time for dinner! For this we had our food prepared in a traditional “hangi” where the food is cooked in the earth.
And the food looked amazing!
After an incredible dinner, those of us staying over got to go to the hot pools with some drinks, which was so much fun. The whole Tamaki Village experience was easily one of the best things I have done in New Zealand, and an absolute must for anyone visiting!
We had chosen to spend an extra night in Rotorua, so after the Tamaki village we had the day free to do whatever we wanted – so we decided to try out luging. For those who don’t know what luging is, it’s kind of like racing go-karts down a hill – imagine Mario Kart!
When we got there, we all had to do the “scenic” route first as we had never been before. We all thought this would be pretty slow and boring, but it was actually a lot faster than we were all expecting! So of course, we moved to the advanced track next. On this one you could go really fast, and there were even some jumps, tight corners and all sorts… so much fun for racing – I was the best. And Tom even took a little tumble at the end of one of the runs hahaha.
Unfortunately no pictures for this yet- but may update with some soon!
Our last stop in Rotorua was to the geothermal park to see the Geysers – something we had been able to smell since arriving!
Fun fact, all of Rotorua is actually in a volcano, which explains all the geothermal activity that takes place there.
The main geyser, Pohutu geyser, goes off every 1/1.5hours and can go off up for 30-45mins, so when we were there it was in full flow!
Another feature were the boiling mud pools, which apparently are really good for your skin..
You can actually buy this all round New Zealand as face creams or body lotions.
Our last stop was to one of the hot pools, which are so hot you can boil an egg in them – which was kindly demonstrated to us by our guide.
Afterwards we all got to try them if we wanted… personally I chose to pass on this activity.
Next stop – Taupo!