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February 4, 2016 / cmfletcher

Amazing New Zealand

24Village Meeting House

Whare Tipuna Ancestral Meeting House

Today we traveled from Hamilton to Napier, stopping at Rotorua and Taupo on the way. Ngaio Marsh had written a novel set in the thermal regions where there are pools of boiling mud; I wanted to see and hear one, since the sound was important to the novel. We started at Whakarewarewa (locals call it “Faca” the wh sounds like f). We went to the Living Maori Village for a tour and a show of Maori singing and culture.

The villagers really do live there,  but they open to the public from 8:30-5:30 every day except Christmas. The villagers manage the whole thing. One family lost their house because a new hot spring opened in their kitchen. There are active geysers, and lots of vents of steam that smells of rotten eggs from the sulphur.

The Maori have adapted to this challenging environment. The village has 5 or 6 cooking boxes, dug in the ground that steam the food. You can use it like a crock pot. There are also communal baths. The villagers are used to being naked and, the guide told us, are trained not to look at each other. The government asked them not to bathe while the public was admitted.

Years ago the missionaries arrived, and the chief decided that half the village would be Anglicans and half Catholics. Our guide, a woman, was an Anglican like all the girls in her family. Her brothers are Catholics because their great-great-etc. grandmother was in the Anglican group and the corresponding grand father was in the Catholic group.

The geysers were amazing, and near by was a steam pot named Korotiotio which translates as “Grumpy old man” so of course I had Fletcher pose next to it!

The performance was explained well, and much enjoyed. The singing was excellent, and they did a dance with sticks where they are singing and dancing and throwing sticks around and nobody is looking and nobody missing a beat or a catch. Hard to capture on a photo. The men did a Haka which I always have wanted to see, since we don’t get to see much rugby on US TV and so wouldn’t have seen the All Blacks perform it.

We went on to Taupo, still in the thermal region, which is a headquarters for backpackers. The first site we saw was a Superloo. You paid, but you could have a shower, and generally clean up. The lake was lovely, but we decided to press on to Napier where we were staying for the night.

Drove 130 Kilometers up and through the mountains, which was just beautiful. Our hotel is on the beachfront, and across from us is a huge children’s playground which includes a fenced in Bike park, with stoplights and everything. The kids were really enjoying it.

There are interesting stores and a line of my favorite New Zealand trees outside. It looks like one of those plastic trees they put on top of mobile phone towers, but these are real.

Busy day, I wish I had photos of the mountains we crossed, but we were too busy staying on the road, and I was trying not to notice the steep drops and the lack of guard rails. Made for an exciting few hours!


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