Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NZ 2009 Day 13 - Rotorua

First agenda, Whakarewarewa Village. Just a short drive from our hotel.

We bought the family admission package ($50.40) and made our way around the village before joining the guided tour at 12noon.
From TEHOKOWHITI-A-TU Thermal Village
this is the MEMORIAL ARCHWAY where the tour starts.

The full name of the village is TE WHAKAREWAREWATANGA O TE OPE TAUA A WAHIAO. At the start of the tour, the guide asked us to try to say the full name of the village (which all of us tried to do), without catching a breath. The short form for the village name is Waharewarewa or simply "Whaka".

From TEHOKOWHITI-A-TU Thermal Village

The bridge which is the gateway to the village. You can see children swimming in the river, asking for tourists to toss money over so they can dive for it. Our guide said we shouldn't hand them the money but let them dive for it as the former is considered as begging. On the otherhand, tossing the coin over the bridge meant they had to earn the money.

RAHUI (Protected Reserve) - has the greatest number of springs, which the local people use for daily cooking, bathing, and heating.

The HANGI (Steam boxes - Cooking from the earth) is the traditional way of cooking within the village. According to the guide, they do communal cooking wherein all of the people in the village can use the same steam box. They will just leave their food there to cook, go on their daily chores, and then come back in the afternoon to get the cooked food.

PAREKOHURU (Vigorous Ripples) - the largest and most spectacular of all Whaka's springs. It is used for cooking, preparing flax and other materials for weaving. They also cook corn on this spring. There is a nearby sweetcorn store where you can buy a corn for $2.

The overflow of the Parekohuru is channeled to fill the bath area for the village. The bath area has small pools (rectangular in shape). It is also a communal bath area. The water has oily texture and mineral deposits which gave it its healing properties said to treat ailments such as arthritis, lumbago and rheumatism. In order to bathe in these natural heated pools, tourists must follow the way villagers use the bath (stripped down to their undies, wearing towels until they get to the deep end of the pool).

GEYSER TERRACE LOOKOUT - the Pohutu and Prince of Wales Geysers can be seen from this lookout. The latter was the one that was more visible.

CATHOLIC CHURCH OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - celebrated 100 yrs in 2005. Many of the Ngati Wahiao families are catholic and some have been buried in tombs around the church.

PRE-EUROPEAN WHARE (House) - early Maori natives used native materials to build their homes. The first inhabitants of Whakarewarewa built directly on top of the geothermal area to take advantage of the heat to warm their homes.

WAHIAO WHARE TIPUNA (Ancestors House) - where most of the family celebrations are held. Located almost in the centre of the village (end of Wahiao Drive)

MUD POOL (Te Werenga) - the mud is renowned for healing (arthritis/lumbago/rheumatism) and is also rumoured to give your skin a younger appearance (if you dare put boiling mud into your skin). They have some of the mud pool products in the store (this is much safer :) ).

KAPAHAKA (Performance Venue) - We watched a local performing group doing traditional and modern songs and dances from love songs to war dance.

doing the war dance. You can see the facial expressions (which was supposedly to scare enemies)

Of course, we wouldn't be leaving without having a taste of the hangi meal (which was served in this restaurant). It has chicken, another meat, sweet potato, potato. The taste was good and tasty and the meat was soft but for $31 a meal, it might be a little bit overpriced.

We were supposed to visit nearby Te Puia but since the kids are already complaining about heat (and are not really much into the geothermal scenery), we decided to give it a pass and head directly to Buried Village and Blue Lakes.

When we got to Buried Village, the sky was not that blue anymore. We sat for a while and waited for a better weather. The kids kept themselves busy in the playground.

From Rotorua

After a while, we decided to just head back to Blue Lake where the kids could play in the water.

From Rotorua
the Blue Lake

From Rotorua
watching the ducks and the birds

The water was, as expected, cold. But we allowed the kids to change into their swimwears so they can play in the water for a while. Ira liked chasing the birds around. Kelvin tried to see if he can take the cold. But he was only able to walk up to waist-depth.

Other kids were there playing in the water. They are probably locals since they are ok with the temperature of the water (which I assume is the hottest since it was ALREADY summer).

After feeding the birds and playing in the water, we decided to head back to town. We passed by the Government Gardens since we were not able to do it early this morning (as per itinerary).

From Government Gardens
the gardener's house

From Government Gardens
the roundabout (behind is the Rose Garden)

From Government Gardens
the rose garden. Really lovely, colorful roses

From Government Gardens
it was temping to pick the flowers

From Government Gardens

From Government Gardens
Rotorua Museum

From Government Gardens
inside the museum (we just got to the entrance, not fans of museum really)

From Government Gardens

From Government Gardens
the old Bath House. It now has cabaret shows at night!

From Government Gardens

From Government Gardens

From Government Gardens

That was it for the day. We got back to the hotel, had our dinner (take out from a chinese restaurant) and headed straight to the heated pool and the geothermal spa!

heated pool. At first the kids were quite hesitant to jump in because it was hot (compared to the pool temperature they are used to back home). But it didn't take that long for them to enjoy the pool.

spa pool

DAY 14

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