After the wonderful Rock the Boat cruise we ventured south to Auckland to drop off a bunch of people in our group. Then we picked up one more person and headed to Rotorua – the land of sulphur and lots of Maori culture for the trip.
Our destination for the night? A traditional Maori Marae. A Marae is a place that holds great importance for the Maori. It is a centre for the community, not a church as many people think.
“In Māori society, the marae is a place where the culture can be celebrated, where the Māori language can be spoken, where intertribal obligations can be met, where customs can be explored and debated, where family occasions such as birthdays can be held, and where important ceremonies, such as welcoming visitors or farewelling the dead (tangihanga), can be performed.” – Wikipedia
Needless to say, this was a very special part of the trip, and our group was lucky to be able to stay overnight.
That evening, we learned all about Maori culture and listened to many interesting stories. Tattoos are very significant to the Maori. Our leader even drew tattoo designs for those in our group, based on the important parts of each person’s life – family, growth and learning, talents etc. Each tattoo meant something different.
After great food, and lots of games of UNO and Pictionary, it was time for bed. In the quiet and darkness of the Marae, we all drifted off to sleep right away. And trust me, it was the most relaxing, peaceful sleep of the trip.
The next day was full of…. sulphur! New Zealand has all kinds of pressure going on under it’s crust, very scientific stuff. All kinds of hot pools were created, which is of great benefit to the skin care industry!
So the next day myself and some of the girls went to Hells Gate Mud Spa. The guys opted to go to Hobbiton.The morning was spend soaking our skin in the mud and sulphur pools. They were very HOT, all generated by the earth!
One thing to note though is that sulphur stinks! Even after showering off I could still smell the remaining sulphur odor on my skin. And that lovely eggy, sulphury smell then seeps into your clothes, lasting even after you wash them.
But, it was all worth it to have baby soft skin.
We then headed to Taupo, a town on New Zealand’s largest lake. On the way we stopped at Whakarewarewa Village, a Maori village. The two letters “wh” in Maori are pronounced with an “F” sound. Many people call this village Whaka for short… now try pronouncing that out loud!
We watched a Haka performance and soaked up all the sulphury steam hanging in the air before driving to Taupo.
These were two amazing days on the North Island!
– Canadian Kiwi Girl