Day 28-31: Last memories of New Zealand

We spent our last four days mostly on driving. We had to return Hippie to Auckland and jump on the ferry and then catch the plane back to Sydney. Thankfully we had enough time to break it up a little and stop here and there to rest and see interesting places.

More importantly we could not leave Aoteaora (Maori name for NZ) without seeing Haka dance. When we arrived a month ago we assumed that Maori cultural performances were popular all over NZ and we’d have many occasions to see them. It turned out that it was actually quite hard to get a touch of Maori culture. We checked with our guide book and it turned out that Rotorua on the North Island was the capital for it. We’ve already been there at the beginning of our trip, but we missed the chance to visit Maori villages. On the way back, we had to stop and visit Whakarewarewa Village.

It is a fascinating place. Built on bubbling, steaming hot sulfur pools, the village had it all. There has been a Maori tribe living there for hundreds of years and there are still 26 families residing there. They use the hot pools for cooking and bathing, no need for kitchen and tub in their homes. Their food is cooked in water high in minerals and surprisingly doesn’t taste of sulfur. They nurture their bodies with minerals from inside and out. Hot mineral bath twice a day is a habit of all villagers, kids dip in even during the day to warm up after ice-cold river for ‘penny-diving’ (diving for pennies that tourists toss to the river from bridge at the entrance to the village). Boiling and steaming food and bathing in minerals is not a bad lifestyle at all! But most importantly we managed to see traditional Maori dance and singing! Of all the dances Haka was obviously the most impressive one. Four well-built Maori hitting their massive legs into the ground, shouting and making faces really makes an impression.

From Rotorua we went straight North to Auckland stopping for the night in the suburbs. The day after we waved our Hippie goodbye and were transported back to the airport.

We will be back though! There’s still so much to see and do. All the great walks await on north and south. We’re not saying goodbye to Aoteaora just yet. We’re just saying SEE YA! Sweetas!!

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