New Zealand With Kids - Day Five, Rotorua

Monday, 7 February 2011

Our second day in Rotorua, we had a teensy sleep in and woke to torrential rain. This didn’t stop us from heading to Te Puia (pron. teh poi-a) – a large, geothermal cultural centre featuring grounds bubbling with hot springs, geysers and wonderful Maori history, along with traditional weaving and carving schools.

Once again, this kind of touristic joy is expensive. At around NZ$120 for a family of four, this includes the opportunity to wander the grounds and see a cultural show (around 45 mins duration).

We bought plastic rain ponchos (at a pricey $4 a pop) and went straight to the meeting house for the cultural performance. Visitors remove their shoes, take a seat and become quickly mesmerised by the most glorious musical experience - one of my very favourite NZ experiences and well worth the cost.

Children are invited to sit up close on the carpet, and all become easily awestruck by the show, even the really little kids.

Men and women in traditional Maori dress sing magnificent songs, throw sticks, swing poi balls on ropes and share some cool dance moves.

The men then do a haka, which was just magnificent to witness in person - a lifelong dream. Even better was when women and girls from the audience (Ella took part) were invited on stage to learn how to twirl poi and the men to perform the haka.

Ella, far right, learns how to poi it

the spine-chilling haka
But the major event for me was the romantic song Pokarekare Ana - the most famous love song in New Zealand – that brought me to a sobbing heap (much to the amusement of 80+ Asian tourists). Absolutely stunning. If flying to New Zealand meant only experiencing this single concert… well, that would have been enough for me.

Afterwards, it was back into the hammering rain, a quick pitstop at the café...

...and through the little village with traditional huts and a hangi pit for cooking food.

We found the blue pool and the geyser which didn’t blow, despite our waiting in the teeming rain. Amazingly, the mud pits and thermal pools were breathtakingly beautiful, despite the persistent rainfall.

We also visited the fascinating weaving and wood carving schools, where students worked on some pretty amazing pieces of art.

After Te Puia, we went back to the hotel to change our sodden shoes and pants. Husband and the kids then went to the world famous Polynesian Spa for a swim and a dip in the mineral waters (around NZ$32 for three) while I went to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History (around NZ$12 for an adult). It was good. Not great but good. One entire wing was closed off for development and the exhibitions were tiny and really only of interest to adults.

It’s possible to tour beneath the building and see original bathing rooms as the museum is sited on an old bath house, one of the first (19th Century) tourist attractions in NZ when wealthy people from all over the world would come to recuperate in the waters. Again, interesting but not sure it's worth several room displays.

Honestly, the gift shop was probably the most enjoyable thing about this museum, where they sold a wonderful range of books, jewellery and mud face masks and bath salts. There were also some gorgeous reproductions of European sculpture scattered throughout the rooms.

Afterwards, it was back to the hotel for a dinner of BBQ chicken from the supermarket and vegies cooked in coffee cups in the microwave. Budgeting ingenuity.

And the rain continued to come lashing down.

New Zealand with Kids - Day Four, Rotorua
New Zealand with Kids - Day Six, Lake Taupo, Palmerston North, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Seven, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Eight, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Nine, Inter Islander ferry, Picton, Blenheim, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Ten, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Eleven, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Twelve, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Thirteen, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Fourteen, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka


Megan Blandford said...

Stunning. Pity about the rain, but I think on holidays you have to just grin and bear it as much as possible, otherwise you miss out on these beautiful sights.

Tania McCartney said...

Totally agree with you, Megs - the rain did not stop the McCartneys!! And isn't it still stunning, despite the downpour?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...