time for the last blog of New Zealand...
On Saturday evening we went to the Maori Hangi in Rotorua, the evening was absolutely brilliant: It started off with a look at how our food was prepared - in an Earth oven - a hole is dug in the ground, and a fire lit, with stone on top, so as the wood burns away, the stone become hot enough to cook with and collapse to the bottom of the hole. Then a basket with the food it placed on top, and covered with cloth and earth. They revealed the food to us then, just to get our appetites going - lamb, chicken, potato, sweet potato and stuffing all cooking together. However, we weren't allowed to eat it all right away - first came the cultural show - starting with the arrival of a Maori warrior canoe along the sacred stream, along with war chants and fire! Then into a small auditorium for a welcome ceremony, set in a replica Maori village (on the site of an old village that used to be huge and extend from the mountains to the lake). Then the performance started with demonstrations of Maori songs, dance and weapons, and even a Haka to top of the show. Then finally we got to eat - the food was amazing and all you can eat (the best way for backpackers!) - everything tasted lovely. Then we had dessert before heading out for a bush walk, seeing trees used by Maori's, an example of a village house and glowworms, before seeing the 'sacred spring' where water bubbles up into the stream from the mountains, where eels and trout were swimming.
On Sunday we planned to go to see Pohutu Geyser, but the day was a complete washout - it rained buckets all day - we did manage to brave the rain to see a Maori Anglican church (St. Faiths) complete with lots of Maori wood carvings and weavings on the walls and a stained glass window where it appears Jesus is walking on Lake Rotorua in the background. That was about all the weather would allow for.
This morning (monday) we woke early so we could have a chance of seeing the geyser before driving up to Auckland, but when we arrived we found that what used to cost $20 now cost $50!!!!! Because you have to take the guided tour and you are not allowed to go and see the natural beauty alone, somebody has to make money out of it! So we decided not to bother, and drove off earlier than planned. On the way we stopped in Hamilton for lunch (didn't seem to be much there but another town), and then on the outskirts of Auckland we drove up Mt. Eden - the highest of Auckland's 48 cone volcanoes - for good views of the city (despite the weather being appauling on the way up).
Tomorrow we drop off the car and then will explore the city, before flying on Wednesday afternoon.
Take care, keep in touch, another blog will be on its way from the states!
Yvette and Tom