Really, really interesting history lesson in an idyllic location.
We were really fortunate with the weather as well – blue skies, warm sunshine – we needed both sunglasses and suncream.
The Treaty House, Waitangi
But back to the history… The Maori guide was extremely knowledgeable, fascinating and chatty. He described the arrival of the first Europeans and the reception they received from the Maoris. And then how the two sides managed to make working (and sometimes domestic!) relationships. And the many ups and downs along the way, including the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
It really helped explain the origins of the peoples of New Zealand.
Then an excellent Maori cultural ceremony including taking our shoes off to enter the Maori meeting house.
Finally a leisurely lunch in the spectacular and extensive lush green lawns.
The War Canoe, Waitangi
Carving on the waka house, Waitangi
Saturday 26th April 2014
When we arrived in Auckland many moons ago, all we really saw was the airport hotel. Last night we had a room (in the Quality Hotel, Parnell, Auckland) with a really spectacular view of Auckland by night. We have one day left to explore this huge city of 1.4 million inhabitants.
We started our last day with a fascinating morning in Auckland’s War Memorial Museum. The New Zealand museums really are excellent. Unexpectedly we spent a very happy hour looking at about 100 superb wildlife photos which made the final of the BBC Wildlife Magazine annual photography competition. We didn’t always agree with the judges’ choice of category winner but deciding on our choices for winners was half the fun.
We then spent another couple of hours looking at the exhibitions on Maori culture and the military history of New Zealand. There was so much more that we didn’t have time for . . .
Then a fantastic trip up (initially to the 52nd then the 60th floor) of the famous Auckland Sky Tower (a really lovely treat from Sian, Sian and Michael). The views were panoramic (photo at the top of this post) and gave us a much better idea of the geography of the city, including its volcanic hills, bays and the port.
Tomorrow we fly out of Auckland airport, but only as far as Fiji!
However I suspect that it will be the end of the blog entries for a little while . . .
Anne here . . .
Wednesday 23rd April
I felt a bit unsure about going to a Maori cultural show in case it was a bit patronising but the Whakarewarewa Maori Living Village in Rotorua is a fantastic introduction to the Maori culture. The village has about 25 to 30 Maori families living on the site. Parts of the village are a bit scruffy but the Maori guide, Manawa, was excellent, with fascinating anecdotes and lots of information about the history of the eight Maori tribes and their customs. We had a traditional hangi pie lunch in the village cafe. Then we watched a Maori performance, including audience participation and the Haka.
The Maori chose this place for the village because of the geothermal pools. Our lunch was geothermally steamed in a oven box in the ground. The villagers have steaming hot water for all their washing, heating and cooking needs.
Even after two days, I am still totally amazed by the steaming pools, geysers, mud holes and craters in the ground. The local park in Rotorua has areas fenced off because of huge steam plumes coming out of the ground.
We ended the day with a ride on the Sky Gondola with fantastic views over Rotorua and Lake Rotorua. Followed by another spa bath under the stars!
Anne here . . .
We had come across the concept of Kiwiana (iconic New Zealand items) before, but Chris and Belinda decided that we needed as many examples as possible to enhance our New Zealand experience. So they found or bought for us:
- Paua shells off the beach
A model of a Pukeko bird for Paul
A bookmark with feijoas and other fruit on for me
L&P fizzy pop
Round Jaffa sweets, orange coated balls with a chocolate filling
Chocolate Pineapple chunks (also sweets)
Hokey Pokey ice cream (vanilla with honeycomb bits).
We loved them all.