North island (part 2)

The next evening was a very special treat, an evening with a Maori tribe to eat their traditional food (Hangi) and to watch and take part in cultural performances. We were given a formal briefing from the chief around the protocol for the evening and after enjoying our Hangi (meat, potatoes etc cooked in a traditional style) we started the proceedings with the formal “welcome”. This is where the male warriors lay down a challenge to the guests with a fearsome weapons display whilst chanting and pulling their scary faces (pukana). Only after accepting their gift were we finally welcomed as part of their extended family… We then each went down the line (wedding reception stylee) and said “Kia Ora” (hello) whilst shaking hands and putting our noses together in the traditional greeting.
The locals then treated us to several song and dance performances before splitting us into 2 groups for the girls to learn the poi and the boys to learn the Haka. We were given half an hour to practice before heading back into the main Mari (meeting hall) to perform to each other. So much fun, everyone was on a real high afterwards.

Our group photo

Our extended family showing their Pukana

And the boys showing their Pukana at the end of the Haka

From there it was off to Rotorua for the day where we visited the Whakarewarewa thermal village, an active Maori tribe live in this village, which is situated on a geothermal site with hot pools bubbling up everywhere… Over the hundreds of years the locals have found ways of using the hot springs for cooking, cleaning, bathing and much more.

(One of the hot pools with the sulphur trail on the hill)

(the geyser which erupts every hour)

We were given a guided tour of the area before being treated to another Maori cultural show, fantastic stuff and a definite recommendation for anyone travelling through Rotorua.

Later that afternoon we headed out to Lake Taupo for the night. Some of our mates had just finished their first sky dive so we joined them in the celebratory drinks and had a fun night out dancing and drinking.
Today has been one of our favourite days in the North Island, a day and night at the Blue duck farm. Situated on the boarder of the national park this place is a wonderful wilderness retreat, so peaceful and beautiful its hard to work out how anyone could ever want to leave!

There were plenty of activities on offer, but we just stuck to the free ones for the day, starting with axe throwing!!! That’s right, axe throwing. Lobing a huge heavy axe 20ft towards a wooden target, trying to get the sharp end into the centre of the target – such a great laugh!!

(Claire throwing the axe, BTW, she was better at it than me!!)

Later we enjoyed a long walk to waterfalls, and on the way back an off road adventure with “Dan the man”, where part way through the journey someone spotted a wild boar in the distance. Not having a gun with him Dan the man decided to go hunting with just his huge bowie knife! The extremely rugged terrain was pretty tough to navigate, and even harder to follow, especially for the glamorous ladies following in flip flops, denim hot pants and bikini! Perhaps the most glamorous hunting trip ever?

Despite almost catching them unfortunately we were given the slip and returned pigless, but nevertheless enjoyed a big BBQ and a few beers in front of the open fire, where I’m sitting now writing the blog.

So that about brings us up to date (Wednesday), tomorrow we head over to the National park to enjoy NZ’s best one day walk – the Tongariro Mountain Crossing! Probably best to leave that for another blog though… So for now it’s love and best wishes to all,
Stefan and Claire

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