Tuesday, 7 February 2012
New Zealand Day Twelve – Te Puia, Blue and Green Lakes, Redwood Forest, Rotorua
The car had a morning off today as our next destination - the site of an ancient Maori village, Te Puia - was only a short walk from our motel. The original Maori name of the site is much longer and means “Gathering Place of the War Parties of Whiao”. The original village is long gone but Maori huts and the traditional meeting house have been carefully reconstructed. At the meeting house we watched a Maori welcome and Haka, the famous war dance in the meeting house. We also saw the geothermal fields, some of which the Maoris used for cooking and washing and another geyser that erupts every hour or so. Watching steam and water shoot at least ten feet into the air was awesome. We could feel the heat and hear the hiss of water as it hit the rocks and tumbled into the Puarenga Stream.
Best of all, however, was seeing a couple of kiwis, though we weren’t allowed to photograph them. They were bigger than I imagined; more the size of a chicken and, as our rather boring guide told us (at least four times), they are nocturnal but sleep for about 20 hours a day. Their beaks were quite long, which is good for digging in the earth and of course being flightless birds, they had no wings.
Also at this site is a carving and weaving school, to teach young Maoris their traditional skills. It was fascinating to watch how long reed-like leaves were turned into Maori skirts, both by drying and stripping them down to the fibres. It is incredible to think that once someone must have worked out how to do this. Such creativity of thought and intelligence to see beyond just a plant..
We returned to our motel for lunch and then drove to the blue and green lakes, which are next to each other. There was a viewing platform between the two and it was clear to see that one really was very blue while the other was green. Disappointingly, this contrast didn’t come out very clearly on my photos.
From there we went to the Redwood Forest for a 3.4km walk. It was interesting to compare the area where the redwoods were to native forest. The tall redwoods grew in earth barren of any other vegetation while Manuka and other New Zealand trees were surrounded by ferns and bush and as always we walked to the background vibration of cicadas and call of Tui birds. I appreciated the efficiency and organisation of the forest with its well-signposted walks the way mountain bikes are only permitted on the far side and kept separate from walkers.
Finally we made a quick trip into Rotorua to stock up on more fruit and bread for lunch, then went to a Thai restaurant for dinner.