Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 4: Rotorua continued

Today we got to explore more of the natural wonders of Rotorua. We started out in Hells Gate.
Hells Gate is a natural park similar to yellow stone but more sulfur. The whole place was white from all the white mud. And the sulfur geysers turn the white mud yellow, so it is a landscape of white and yellow.

  There were a ton of hot mud pits that are constantly bubbling. We went on about an hour hike through them and we got to learn more about the natural history of the place. We got to see what an actual Manuka Tree looked like. Also we learned how the Maori in the area cooked there food, by putting it in baskets and lowering them into the freshwater boiling geysers. the land was constantly changing so the path had been moved several times and we were told never to leave the path.
We got to pick up and rub on our hands the while mud to see it's natural cleansing ability. It was really cool because how it holds water, it starts off as a solid but as you rub it against your hand it releases it's stored water and almost becomes watery, then as it dries it turns into an absolute white. By the end all our hand were chalk white :)
When we finished the hike they took us over to a wood carving area and talked a bit about how the Maori do their carving. Then they had us do some carving. Tasha and I chose to carve a kiwi and Dad chose a fern. Each symbol represented a value, but I just thought it fun.

We then were treated to a natural mud bath and sulfur spa. It was fun! The mud bath wasn't what I was expecting, cause yes you got into muddy water and you had to scrape your hands along the bottom of the pool to pick up the mud, then you spread it across the bottom of your face and arms. The sulfur pools made our swimsuits smell like farts again but it was hot water and I loved it!

After we changed and showered we headed to Te Pui. This was a Maori cultural center where they had a college teaching people from other tribes about their heritage, like carving and weaving. We had booked a tour but we got to the location a few hours early which was lucky because we could go through each of the areas at our own pace.
We were able to watch the geyser go off and we found these seats that were heated by the steam off the hot springs and geysers. We sat on those for a long time, even laying down and lounging until our tour was about to start. We got to the tour and shown around a little but most of the areas that we had explored before, we were only given about 5 minutes at so again, glad we came early.
It started to rain so they gave us ponchos to wear, very nice of them. Our guide explained a little about the Maori history and the different aspects of the art or carving and weaving. They had a kiwi viewing area but our group had several small children who were very loud so the Kiwi was a no show (I don't feel that bad cause we already saw one earlier) we also went out to the geyser again but it wasn't going to erupt like it did earlier, we did get to sit on the hot seats again which made us all happy. After a while our guide gave up and said they will bring us back later after the show to see if the geyser will erupt then. We were brought back to the main area and the show began.

We changed guides at this point and were brought to the main building where we were welcomed in by a warrior giving us a peace item. then they brought us into the cultural presentation hall and performed, a few dances including the Hawka, a Maori love song, a stick game, and farewell. Then they took a few of us up and taught us how to do a dance with a ball on a string. I wasn't too good, but dad was taught how to do the hawka which was fun to watch him try to do his most frightful face.
After that fun performance they brought us to where they were cooking our dinner to show how this tribe cooks food, which is in the ground. We then went to the dinning area and got to eat the food that was being cooked. This included potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato and lamb. They also had a very good selection of fish and salads along with desserts. It was a feast, so tasty, even thinking of it now makes me hungry.

After we are well fed, we got into little carts that brought us back out to the geyser in hopes that we could see it go off, well it didn't but they gave us hot chocolate and we were able to sit on the hot seats again. Honestly a great way to end the day. :)
such a good day!

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