Ah another amazing day! Started off the day with a hot mud bath and spa! We got picked up from our hostel and taken to Hell's Gate, the natural geysers and hot springs. There are a lot of them in Rotorua, as there is a lot of geothermal activity there. We were the only people on that first bus, so were the only people for our first hour or so at the hot pools! We started off by walking around all the pools and geysers. All of them had different names and were used for different things by hte Maori people of the area. There was one lake which was so acidic that you would be completely dissolved in 3 days if you bathed in it for a few minutes! The maori used this lake to dispose of bones and also diluted the liquid to use on sceptic wounds and as insect repellents! The sun was peeking out and we had a really nice - though rather eggy - walk around the pools, just us as no one else was there! We made our way back towards the centre, and saw a few people then. We stopped off to do some carvings on wood, like how the Maoris did. I carved out a Kiwi which symbolises determination and Arthur carved a Silver Fern, representing loyalty. The man then sanded and stained them for us, and we got to take them home (didn't have to pay extra to do it or anything either!)
It was then time for our spa! We changed into our swimmers and hopped into the 40 degrees mud bath, you are only allowed to spend 20 minutes in there. This mud opens your pores 100% and so draws out all the toxins, we scrubbed it all over us! After our 20 minutes was up, we had to jump into a compulsory COLD shower. It was horrible! But we had to wash all the mud off and close up our pores again, I did not enjoy that bit! We then jumped into the hot spas at a similar temperature to the mud bath, but I wasn't able to stay in it for too long as I got over-heated (the mud I could have stayed in longer as the mud doesn't retain much heat, only the water around it does). But we enjoyed relaxing in there for a bit, and then got out, showered and had a bite to eat and were then dropped back to our hostel. We then had naps as we were so tired from the past couple of days, and were nice and relaxed from our spa!
This evening we went to Tamaki Maori Village, which is a living Maori village. We were picked up by our driver Arohoua, and taken to the village. A 'chief' from our bus was picked and when we arrived he had to accept a peace offering from the warriors, who did a bit of a performance before and after. There was also another bus load of people there, and we saw that one of our friends from one of our kiwi buses, was the chief from the other bus! After that we went into the village and stopped off at several of the hosues adn were told about what they did etc. There was this ladder test that boys had to do to get their speed and agility up. The male visitors were allowed to have a go to win a photograph for a girl with one of the warriors! Arthur did it and we had our photo taken. We spent the evening with Sharon and Laurence (our friends) and enjoyed the show of singing and dancing which they put on, and we got to see them perfom the 'Haka' which was pretty cool, seeing it done up close! We were then treated to an amazing dinner, which had been cooked for us that day under the ground on the hot rocks. The two chiefs had to uncover the food and take it out. We had chicken and lamb and lots of veggies, it was very tasty! There was also lots of pudding, steamed pudding and pavlova! We were then bid a farewell and they got the 'chiefs' and some other male volunteers to perform the Haka again. We were then taken back to our hostels, with a very entertaining bus journey home singing lots of songs!
Had a very fun day, and it was really interesting learning about the Maori culture and seeing it up close. It's a vast difference over here, to Australia. In New Zealand the Maori culture is celebrated, and people are proud of the heritage, and there isn't any vast division between the two cultures, and all the Maoris we have met have been so welcoming and friendly. In Australia the Aborigine culture has people very divided, and it's sad to see the state that a lot of the Aboriginies are living in, the ones who have no place in either their own culture or western culture. We are off on our final leg of our journey tomorrow which is sad, but have had a really good day!