Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ko Rotorua mīharo .Na ka maha tētehi waiariki ( Rotorua was amazing . So many geothermal vents)...............

Off we go at an earlier time than when we went to the Waitomo caves because we are under the impression that there are areas that you can drive and see thermal vents and mud pots and that kind of cool stuff. But, misconceptions get you in trouble sometimes and so we found out. I was grateful to Lori or the heads up on the driving skills of the Kiwis, especially on the roads outside of the city centres; but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there were no super crazies and the roads were all set up to protect us with rails if we were on ridges and such. The roads are particularly  narrow and that in itself sometimes is a wee scary.

We enter the rolling hills that are just the weathered away areas of volcano and get into the steeper sided hills with huge monolithic pieces of granite sticking out and reaching to the sky. The views are spectacular every direction you turn, but , remember I told you that the roads are narrow and so the opportunity to pull over and take a photo is non existent. We didn't eat  before we left and our petrol is getting on the short side , so in Huntly we stop at gas station that has a ( you guessed it ) coffee and pie shop next to it. This shop, Shands claims to have been in business since 1914. well, I have never had a pie and they make lattes , so I am game.

The boys get egg, cheese and bacon pies and I got what I thought was a steak and cheese pie. Alas, there was no cheese and I really didn't like the consistency of the " gravy" that held all the steak together. The crust was really good, but I guess I am just not a pie person.

Once in Rotorua, the best thing to do is check at the visitor's centre to get the lay of the land. So, apparently, you have to tour everything. Now by tour , I don't mean : me going and checking things out myself. They are all guided etc. Ok, let me check out a few places for some legends books and think about how to do this.

I didn't find many story books but I found a geothermal tour book and a coffee shop, so we will check them both out. It seems that there is a great driving network to see the geothermal sights and so that is what we are considering. Most include Lake Rotorua   : here's your history.

The lake was formed from the crater of a large volcano in the Taupo Volacon Zone . Its last major eruption was about 240,000 years ago. After the eruption, the magma chamber  underneath the volcano collapsed. The circular depression left behind is the Rotorua Caldera, which is the site of the lake. Lake Rotorua is the second largest lake  in the North island by surface area, and covers 79.8 km2  With a mean depth of only 10 metres it is considerably smaller than nearby Lake Tarawera n terms of volume of water. It is located in the Bay of Plenty region.

As we are getting ready to leave and I am focused on the difference between Vegemite and a local version, Nathan spotted a tiny brochure that says Maori experience: bring this and receive a discount. Now, we had already discussed that we were ok with not seeing another show , since we saw a pretty good one at the museum, but we are so close to the living village ; what will it hurt to ask?

To get into the thermally active and living village, it will be $30.00 but we can roam around to our heart's content and see the show. Good bargain.... so we buy our tickets and head into the arch welcoming us......Whakarewarewa  certainly lives up to its name. the smell of sulfur an the drip of spray in the air is everywhere. Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people have lived here for generations and we are literally walking the streets of their village and among their homes. That is a little disconcerting as you almost feel intrusive at times,  so that is always on our minds . I was amazing however and the cultural show was very energetic. We ALL sang and danced and learned very quickly that this girl could not be a Polynesian dancer unless it was a comedy show.  Our visit to Rotorua ended at the lake and the quiet, mellow feeling of just looking out over the water, watching black swans and remembering the legend we had just heard.

Tutanekai lived on Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, where of an evening he and his friend Tiki used to play – the one on a “horn”, the other on a “pipe”. The sound of this music could be heard across Lake Rotorua at Owhata and it charmed the beautiful and noble-born Hinemoa who lived there. When Tutanekai visited the mainland with his people, he met Hinemoa and they fell in love. The young man had perforce to return to his village, but the lovers arranged that every night he would play and that Hinemoa would follow the sound of his music to join him.
Tutanekai kept up a nightly serenade but Hinemoa's people, suspecting something was afoot, had hidden all the canoes. The maiden, however, was not to be deterred and, selecting six large, dry, empty gourds as floats, she decided to swim to the island. Guided by the strains of her loved one's music, Hinemoa safely reached the other shore and landed near a hot spring, Waikimihia, in which she warmed and refreshed herself – the pool is on Mokoia Island to this day. Just at that moment Tutanekai sent his servant for water. This man disturbed the girl who, pretending to be a man, spoke in a gruff voice and, when she learnt his errand, begged for a drink from the calabash which she smashed as soon as she had had her fill. The servant then went back and reported to Tutanekai what had happened. He was ordered back again and again, each time with the same result, until all the calabashes were broken. The now irate young man himself went down to the pool and to his joy discovered Hinemoa. Like all good stories, the legend has a conventional ending – they lived happily ever after.

Once back in Auckland, we decide to enter a different cultural world and as we ate dinner, we joined the crowd watching the Rugby team as it went for an international record 18 consecutive wins. The opponent was the Aussie Wallabys and they  were not about to let that happen. Final score 12-12 and the streak was ended.............. but a good time was had by all ; I mean it wasn't a loss .... right? Tomorrow we take the ferry to Rangitoto - Te Rangi-i-totongia-a-Tama-te-kapua  and climb it. By the way, for those that are interested. The volcanoes here are shield volcanoes and I will be adding them and their stories to my repertoire this year! Off to bed so I will be ready for the climb....

Me tōku aroha tino nui
(With all my love)

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