Day 7 Friday 21 February – Rotorua

Today was our sightseeing tour of Rotorua, a city on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua, which captures the essence of New Zealand with its geothermal geysers, hot mud pools and rich heritage.

Today, we visited the Agrodome, which is set on 640 hectares and is a sheep and beef farm.

We watched the Agrodome Sheep Show, where we were introduced to 19 different breeds of sheep, watched a sheep shearing demonstration and some members from the audience milking a cow.  We took part in a hilarious live sheep auction and watched a working dog herding some ducks around the stage – they use ducks because sheep tended to jump off the stage into the audience.  After the show we went outside to watch a real demonstration of a dog herding sheep, just like in the sheepdog trials – through some posts, over a bridge and into a pen.

Then, we continued to Te Puia Thermal Reserve for a guided tour of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where we learnt more about the Maori culture and also about the famous geysers.

We entered the gateway (Waharoa), where we walked through the five portals to the sacred Maori place of Te Heketanga-a-Rangi (the Heavenly Origins).

The geothermal valley has over 500 bubbling mud pools and 65 geyser vents.  The Pohutu Geyser, meaning Big Splash, is the world famous active geyser, which erupts up to 30 metres high and we were lucky enough to see it erupting.

We visited the Nga Mokai-a-Koko Mud Pool, which is a large pool of boiling mud, that the Europeans called The Frog Pool because the plopping sound of the mud reminded them of leaping frogs.

We were taken to the Nga Manu Ahurei – the Kiwi House – and were lucky enough to see two kiwis.  Inside the building was very dark to emulate their nocturnal habitat and we were not able to take photos.  There are now only 80,000 kiwis left in New Zealand and most of those are in the North Island.  Kiwis can live for 47 years and the female can lay 3 eggs per season.

We visited the Pikirangi Maori Village, showing what village life would have been like.  We saw the Rotowhio Marae, which was the centre of their cultural life and saw the hangi, where their traditional food is cooked.

We also visited the Te Wananga Whakairo Rakau – the National Carving School, where the young people study carving from the master carvers for 3 years before earning their degree.  We walked through the carving school building and were able to watch three young men doing some carving.

From there we went to the Te Rito – the National Weaving School, where the students learn the art and skills of traditional weaving.  We watched a demonstration of fibre being taken from the flax leaves in the traditional way, with a mussel shell and we wandered through the weaving display area.

We enjoyed our visit to Te Puia, seeing the geysers, mud pools, kiwis and learning more about the Maori culture.

We came back to the hotel and had a light lunch before heading off for our next adventure.

The four of us caught a taxi from the hotel down to the Tourist Information Centre for our Rotorua Duck Tour of the spectacular Rotorua Lakes.  Our “conducktor” was Paul and our mode of transport was a World War II Amphibious Landing Craft that had been renovated to carry tourists on land and in the water. We were all given a duck-bill shaped whistle to hang around our neck and at appropriate times, like when we were passing tourists, we all had to blow the whistle, sounding like various breeds of ducks – sounds ridiculous but it was a lot fun, getting everyone in the mood for a fun afternoon!

Our first “splashdown” was at Lake Okareka where Paul drove the Duck straight into the lake, turning it into a boat.  This lake is mostly recreational and was quite dark in colour.  There are 250 homes on the lakeside and a lodge – the Lake Okareka Lodge, which costs $15,800 per night, but then, your maid and butler look after everything for you! When we got back onto dry land, Paul got out to check the wheels and also under the duck to ensure that there were no weeds attached to the duck that could be transferred to the next lake.

Our second Splashdown was at Lake Tikitapu – the Blue Lake, which was indeed very blue. There were no houses, no weeds and because of its calm waters, it was very conducive to water sports and fishing.

We drove past the Green Lake, Lake Rotokakahi, the Sacred Burial Ground for Maoris of past generations.

We also drove past Te Wairoa – the Buried Village, which was buried by the last eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.

Our third Splashdown was at Lake Tarawera, which is a good fishing lake.  We saw the majestic volcanic domes of Mt Tarewara at the far end of the lake. On 9 June 1886, the area was disturbed by an earthquake and in the early hours of the following morning, 10 June 1886, Mt Tarawera volcano erupted unexpectedly and 120 people were killed. When we got back to the shore, we had a famous New Zealand hokey-pokey ice cream.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon out in the sunshine, with a lovely cool breeze coming off the lakes, learning more about this beautiful region and we were so glad that we decided to do this optional extra tour!

When we got back to the hotel our next unexpected adventure began!  Prior to going on the duck, Dennis discovered that he didn’t have their camera and thought that he had left it in the hotel lobby and we rung the hotel to get them to hold it for us.  So, when we arrived back at the hotel, we found that they didn’t have it and that Dennis had actually left it in the taxi that took us down to catch the duck and that the lovely taxi driver had handed it in to the Police Station and left a message for us at the hotel.

We caught another taxi down to the Police Station to discover that it had closed at 5.00pm and wouldn’t reopen until Monday morning, but unfortunately, we are leaving here tomorrow morning at 8.00am.  The sign told us that for enquiries, we could go across the road to the “Lock Up”, which we did.  The policeman we spoke to was lovely, but said that they were extremely busy and asked us to come back in an hour as someone would have to go across the road to open the Police Station to retrieve the camera.  We went for a wander down to Lake Rotorua and Richard was delighted to get some photos of Lake Rotorua and also Mokoia Island.  When we returned to the Lock Up, we were buzzed in through the first door and after Maria had signed her life away with triplicate copies of forms, she was reunited with the said camera!!!  We then caught another taxi back to the hotel, with everyone ensuring they had all their belongings before exiting the taxi and heading in to the restaurant for a snack dinner, with a much-relieved Dennis!!

So, all in all, a very adventurous day in Roturua!!!

One Response to “Day 7 Friday 21 February – Rotorua”

  1. Tim says:

    Aunty Sandy, please tell me father to get his act together with the camera! (For everyone’s sake)!

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