Smells, locals and birds

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
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Trip End Dec 18, 2011


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Where I stayed
Rerewhakaaitu Recreation Reserve

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stinky would be the best way to describe Rotorua. Due to its location on a thermal hotspot it has a rather eggy smell about it which at some points was rather overwhelming.  Nevertheless we had a really good couple of days in the area, although Kevin told me about a million times the story of when he was in a similar smelly place in Sicily which got a little tedious!   

Other than our hour in the Maori section of Te Papa in Wellington we hadn't really happened upon much to do with Maori culture, as we’ve been mainly throwing ourselves off cliffs or walking through wilderness.  We decided therefore to go to a Maori Village (check out the name - Tewhakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao!) where we could experience a history of the Maori people living in the area and how they use the thermal activity to their advantage, and also get a performance of some of their most popular dances, including the Haka.  As a bonus from the village you get a great view of a big Geyser which otherwise would have cost us $50 each to see!! Although our guide had a few too many rehearsed 'jokes’ and ‘funny comments’ which she delivered with little commitment and started to grate on us, we enjoyed the tour.  It was interesting how they use the steam holes as natural ovens and channel thermal pools to make outdoor baths for the people living in the village.  The cultural dancing was also interesting to watch and we got some entertainment out of the usual audience participation! 

After the village we went to the Kiwi Experience on Siobhan’s recommendation.  We were going to go Zorbing but we went to have a look and it seemed a bit tame and not such great value for money after some of the (hard core) activities we have done in the South Island.  The Kiwi Experience is a tour through the labs where they raise kiwi’s, most to put back into the wild, to ensure that they are not killed by introduced mammal predators when they are very young.  This tour was followed by a look at some real life kiwi’s! They are very odd looking creatures and move around constantly pecking the ground looking for some food.  Although it’s hard to put a finger on what makes them look so odd, the fact that they don’t have ‘arms/wings’ is definitely something to do with it.  That and the very long beak. If you remember to ask, Kevin does a great impression!  They have more kiwi’s you can go and see after dark so after going into town to do part of the lakeside loop, we went back again.  One of them was being illusive but we still got to see 3 more – the female one was particularly active running circuits around her living area.  Kevin took it upon himself to do the impression again once we got into the car park – brilliant!

The next morning we pulled the hiking boots back on for a quick trip up Rainbow Mountain (Maungakakaramea). Unfortunately the weather wasn't very clear so the views weren't spectacular but it was a nice walk all the same. Classing ourselves as almost pro-walkers now knocking off peaks before lunch!
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