Our hosts had breakfast for us, then we headed out for the day. The town of Tokoroa where we are staying is a bit further away from the center of activity than we had estimated. Took us a good 45 minutes to drive to Rotorua. We found the “i-site” or information center easily. They were just opening up so we were pleased not to wait long. A knowledgeable young woman who had come to this county only 3 years ago from China was the one figuring out all our tours. She was wonderful. We managed to book things for today and the following 3 days. A good thing as things were booking up and we had to adjust some of our plans. But we left her fully booked.
Off we went then in search of the place called Te Puia. It is the Maori cultural center. We walked around a bit by ourselves, going through the recreated Maori village and seeing one of their ocean going boats, until it was time for the cultural show. It was well done, with a warrior coming out to greet the visiting “tribe”. A gracious Brit was picked from the crowd to be our “chief”. He had to pick up the offered peace leaf then press noses twice. After the official greeting was complete we entered the house for a show which included songs and dances, including the haka, the warrior dance.
We then hooked up with a center guide to take us around the remainder of the center. We went through the arts and crafts center where they have a school to teach the old crafts. It included stone cutting of nephrite jade, wood carving and of most interest to me, weaving. It was nothing like the weaving I do, instead using New Zealand flax and hand working it. Fascinating. I watched carefully and asked questions in the hope of being able to try that at home.
We walked past a Maori stone that was meant to bring good fortune if you rubbed water on it. Of course I had to do that. Then it was into the kiwi house, where, in the dark and behind glass, was a kiwi. They are nocturnal and fairly rare these days so we were happy with even that small glimpse.
Then it was a wander out to see the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere along with a bubbling mud pool. One of the best parts of that was the 9 year old boy who we first met in the weaving studio. His cousin was leading our group so he began to tag along. We were charmed! He stuck with us and made sure Dian didn’t have any issues with the walk and wanted to make sure we got to the best spots for pictures.
Time was moving on and so did we. A quick bite to eat in the car and we were off to the next scheduled adventure. Ziplining!! Woohoo! Dian agreed to give it a go so off to the place we went. We had to complete some paperwork then got fitted with jackets, harnesses and helmets. There were 7 of us in the group, from Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and the States and two fabulous young women to take us out to the forest. The main reason they have the zip lining is to fund the conservation of the forest, which they are bringing back to its natural habitat. They drove us by van to the start where we began our ascent into the forest. It was an enjoyable hike, during which the women stopped to tell us about the plants and trees and birds. There were robins (not like ours) and a tiny bird, some sort of tit. One of the guides asked if one of us would like to feed them, so I said certainly! The next thing I knew there was a wriggling, small worm like creature in my palm. Yikes! Startled me seeing it as I expected some sort of food pellet. Well, I’ll be darned if one of those birds didn’t flit right down and snatch it up.
Soon after that we reached the first platform for the lines. The last time I did this was a year and a half ago in South Africa. That was fun, but this was rather exhilarating. We were higher up in the forest canopy and the lines were longer, giving one a great view plus time to muck around a bit spinning, going off backwards like a free fall and even upside down. Plus there was a long swing bridge to cross and later on a short one. The entire group had a wonderful time, zipping along plus getting to know each other.
Eventually the fun came to an end, we took off the gear and they drove us back. By then it was getting late and we were hungry. Driving through town to find a restaurant was a challenge as many seemed closed on Sunday night. We finally saw a cafe, the Fat Dog, that was open and looked popular. I ordered a veggie burger and was amazed at what showed up. A real mouthful!!
And then it was the long drive back to the house to rest for tomorrow’s adventures.