New Zealand North: Rotorua, Maori Experience

NZ: Day 15

Back to Rotorua

Kia Ora! We were packed up and back aboard the Green Kiwi bus the following morning- everyone still drunk on both adrenaline and alcohol from the incredible caving exerts and the booze-fest that followed.

Even as we drove through the green New Zealand countryside it still baffled me that there was an entirely different world beneath us; Mazes that stretched for hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

We stopped off for breakfast and continued the 2 hour drive through to Rotorua.
We reached Rotorua at about 2pm and were once again staying at Base Hostel, $28 NZ. The majority of the rest of the bus went to the Luging. Although we were tempted to follow, we already had our fun on the luge a week earlier and wanted to explore some of the Volcanic Parks and Geysers that Rotorua is famed for.
Just to reiterate, Rotorua stinks and it didn’t take us long to sniff out the volcanic park- well it was opposite the hostel.
We took a walk for about an hour around the Kuirau Park, a hotbed for geothermal mud pools, steaming lakes and small geysers. Its worth a walk and interesting to see such intense thermal activity right at the heart of the town.

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After an hour our so, we had enough of the sulfuric fumes and retreated back to the hostel.
We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool as we waited for the rest of the group to return. After a bit of downtime, and with everyone now back together, we were ready to set off for our evening activity: Tamaki Maori Village Experience, $88. 

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Maori Experience

The excursion had come highly recommended by fellow Kiwi Experience goers- most notably for the traditional food that is served as part of the experience.
We were picked up in a mini-bus in the early evening, by our enthusiastic driver who had also brought along his typical sense of Kiwi humor. After gearing us up for the evening he told us that we had to nominate a group leader, who would take our ‘tribe’ into the Maori village.
We were unanimous in nominating Willie, who in true Scottish tradition had opted to wear a kilt to the event; Its fair to say he was absolutely bricking it and was completely regretting his decision to go ahead and wear the tartan dress.
Once we arrived, we stood in a crescent around a dust bowl, while each of the nominated group leaders from the various mini-bus loads had to step forward.
Then, the cries from the jungle blurted out out came the Maori warriors, collaborating in threatening dance routines to fend off the ‘intruders’. The lead warriors confronted the nominated group leaders with a series of facial taunts and ridiculous expressions- We had been instructed before hand not to laugh at these, but some of them warranted a few sniggers; Willie managed to keep a stern face though. Once the warriors had deemed us not to be a threat, the leaders exchanged nose kisses and we were welcomed in to the village…

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Inside the village we were shown a number of traditional techniques such as sculpting, making, the role of the woman, a few native games and finally the famous war dance- the Haka. I was nominated, alongside 4 others to perform the routine with the tribesmen; We were all totally useless at it.

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Once we all had a go at the cultural activities, we were all gathered to show the revealing of our food, which had been cooking in underground hearths the whole time. The food was removed and traditionally accepted and we were shown into a large hut, where we would be taught further into the history of the Maori culture;

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Following a short film presentation, we were treated to a concert, as the Maori actors played out traditional poems, myth, stories, song, dance and ended proceedings with the Haka. Yes, all the Maori people are actors- many of whom had fake tattoos painted on to their bodies- but there was a real sense of pride in the Maori traditions and culture that they were keen to convey.

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Finally, we were guided into the food hall and feasted on the Earth-cooked Hangi feast; The food was great and there was plenty of it; It was served in a buffet style and was essentially a Kiwi take on a traditional British Roast Dinner. This was accompanied by more traditional music and, once dessert had been served and devoured, the Haka to bring our evening to a close.
With everyone a stone heavier, we were led back to our minivans and taken back to the hostel by our whacky driver- not before about 10 whirls around a roundabout, followed by sharp breaking, excessive speeding, a singalong and continuous jokes- just another little thing to take from the evening.
As far as cultural experiences go this had it all and shouldn’t be missed!

Base Hostel: $28 /15 NZ p/n                           **

Kuirau Park: Free                                                **

Tamaki Maori Village Experience: $88.     ****

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