Location: Rotorua, NZ
Today was the trip from Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves. ·Waitomo caves is famous for glow worms. ·They look like little points fo light on the ceiling of the cave. ·Everyone that I know that has experienced the cave finds it really "cool". ·The stop is a nice pause in the 5.5-hour trip between the two locations. ·
Other than the caves, the two things that stand out are the countryside we drive through and the driver. ·The driver provided a four plus hour running commentary on the geography, history of New Zealand, the landmarks we passed, industry in New Zealand, provided language lessons, and even drove the bus. ·I am always amazed at the bus drivers in this country. ·They really "make" the experience value added. ·
The countryside is also amazing. ·It does not matter what the weather is in this country it is always beautiful. ·Sunny days give you great vistas of mountains and valleys, rainy days five you fog shrouded hillsides. ·Those days in-between give you endless rainbows. ·
As I was told today, the most recent counts:
- 4.5 million people (1.377 million in Auckland alone)
- 30 million sheep
- 1.7 million deer
- 8 million cows·
The name for Rotorua that won the T-shirt contest is Rotogas. ·I actually prefer the runner up "Pull my finger." ·As you can guess Rotorua smells. I love to watch the faces of students as the experience the hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg) smell ·for the first time. ·They really dislike it. ·After a few hours they don't even notice it. ·I suppose talking about the health benefits of H2S would be too much to ask (reduces inflammation and decreases Asthma symptoms). ·
Mitai is the name of a local Maori family or Iwi. The family have put together a village environment and created a dinner and cultural performance to entertain visitors and provide an introduction to traditional Maori culture.
Some Maori words
- Kia ora – hello
- Ka pai – very good, well done
- Wahi tapu – a sacred place
- Aroha – love, caring for others
- Kai – food, to eat
- Hangi – food cooked in an earth oven
- Tikanga Maori – the Maori way of doing things
- Haere ra – farewell
As they describe their experience:
Our cultural performance is real, raw and earthy. It is a fascinating performance full of emotion and power.
In the tranquil natural bush setting, our performers take you back in time when the ancient Maori customs and traditions were part of everyday life. Through songs and dances plus tales and legends told, you will learn a great deal about our fascinating past.
You will hear tales about the way we interacted with the European settlers many generations ago, our music, carving, the usefulness of plants and ta moko (tattooing). Tattoos are just one of the ways that demonstrate the strong ties that Maori people have with their cultural heritage and we will explain why.
The displays of weaponry and combat that are shown during the performance will fascinate you. Coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance and the spine tingling haka finale, this is an interactive, and unforgettable experience for absolutely everyone to enjoy.
Mitai are proud to offer you an authentic hangi meal that is cooked in the earth oven known as 'the hangi pit'.
Your menu includes a hot selection of succulent New Zealand Lamb & Chicken, Potatoes (Rewai), Sweet Potato (Kumara) and stuffing (a combination of Bread, Mixed Herbs, Corn, Carrots & Peas). Side dishes include scalloped potatoes baked with a cheese topping and
freshly baked Garlic Bread. A range of salads is on offer including Corn salad, Cauliflower with Sesame Seeds, Rice, Ranchslaw and Freshly Tossed Garden Salad. Your hangi meal is complemented with rich brown gravy and thick mint sauce. Desserts include tropical Fruit Salad, chocolate Log, and Trifle with Cream. Full bar facilities are available and Chilled Spring Water straight from Fairy Spring is served to your table
Hand carved by the Mitai family, the waka (ancient war canoe) paddles by, leaving you spellbound. See warriors by night in traditional dress traveling down the Wai-O-Whiro Stream as was done many years ago
I just know that I like it