Our next port of call was Tauranga – the above is of the sunrise as was we entered Tauranga harbour, which is a beautiful place to visit.
Entering the harbour.
Maureen & I were fortunate because our daughter in law’s parents live in Tauranga and had offered to be our guides for the day, and to take us to Rotorua to see the geysers.
The drive through some beautiful countryside took about an hour, and as we drove through the town we were surprised to see steam coming from domestic gardens as well as the local parks. We were aware of the hot springs, but didn’t realise that the town had been built on top of an active thermal area.
The above illustrates how peaceful we found Rotorua to be – I think this was a busy corner.
We explained to our ‘guides’ that if possible we would like to see a geyser in full ‘squirt’. They took us to Te Puia, which is shortened name for Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao.
Te Puia is a cultural centre for the local Maori people where they train skilled artist in the old way of sculpture, building, repairing old Maori buildings etc so as not to lose the old skills and to pass on theses skills from generation to generation. Those who are interested to learn the traditional ways have to have certain skills to win scholarships so as to be trained. It is a long apprenticeship.
The local Maori people have lived in Te Puia since about 1325, because the place was a stronghold that had never been captured in battle.
This is the main meeting house in Te Puia. The construction of Maori houses represent a person with the side supports being the leg and the roof support being the arms to welcome visitors. To enter a Maori home there is a traditional way of being greeted and accepting the greeting to enter. The above house is a traditional built building, but the tourists are not expected to be aware of the traditional welcoming / acceptance ceremony so as to enter.
We were shown around the training area where the old skills are taught.
The only concession that I could see to the 21st century, was a mallet and chisel, everything was hand made from scratch.
This local Maori took time out from his work to explain to some of the group what each of his tattoos meant.
All hand made without the use of computers or machinery. Very time consuming and artistic.
Tap, tap, tap, of the mallet on to the chisel.
Ladies trained in making twine from the leaves of plants. Nothing was wasted.
Leaves of New Zealand flax were striped of the outer green by dragging a sea shell down the leaf. This is called ‘dressing’ the flax.
The outer green once removed leaves the white flax, which is used to make garments, baskets, matts, fishing nets etc the flax is extremely strong. When the Europeans arrived the Maoris traded flax ropes for European items, which eventually built in to the flax trade, first to Australia and then on to London.
I didn’t realise until I saw the flax plant that I have it growing in my garden as an ornamental plant. When I cut the long dead leaves they are very, very, strong and I have to use secateurs to cut them. I did try to pull them apart by using my hands, and all I managed to do was cut myself on the inner flax!
From being shown the old ways of life for a Maori we moved on to see the geysers.
The steam could be seen in the distance but the walk to the viewing area was only about five or six minutes.
The ‘lava’ flows in to the river – and the smell of sulphur (rotten eggs) wafts around, but is not overpowering.
I think this geyser is referred to as the Prince of Wales Feather geyser because during a royal tour in 1901 the comment was made that the water / steam erupting looked like the feathers of the Prince of Wales emblem.
Sometimes reaching 30 mtrs in height (100 feet).
A small boys delight – mud pools, but a little hot if you get too close.
I tried to capture the bubbles bursting.
At the end of our time in Te Puia we visited the building that contained a kiwi bird. The bird only comes out at night to forage for food. Inside the building it is a black as it could be and you grip a hand bar as you make your way in to the building and your eyes become used to the dark. It was very quite and the only sound was the shuffling of our group as they groped their way past viewing windows with hardly any light in the hope of seeing the bird. In the last window I saw a large fern leaf moving so stared and stared at the spot in the hope of seeing my first kiwi bird. All I saw a a very dark blob move slowly near the fern leaf. I couldn’t make the creature out and the round black shape could have been a rat for all I knew. Maybe next time . . .
Taken from the internet.
After lunch we returned, via another very scenic route, to Tauranga. It was goodbye to our guides, and for Maureen & I to board our cruise ship for our next port of call – Napier.