Maoris and Mud Pools in New Zealand

newzealand2

Rotorua, the adventure capital of New Zealand’s North Island, is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Here, adventurous backpackers can do it all: Bungee jumping, skydiving, luging, abseiling, mountain biking, jet boating and Shweebing along a human-powered mono-rail racetrack.

If that isn’t enough for your body or your wallet, you can also try caving with glow worms, rafting the highest commercial waterfall or Zorbing downhill in a giant plastic hamster ball.

Though Rotorua tends to draw those who like adrenaline-soaked activities, the town that shuts down before 10 p.m. certainly has a slower-paced, cultural side.

Te Puia is one of many places where visitors can learn about the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people. Maoris comprise 14 per cent of the country’s population, so their traditions, practices, art and dance play a big role in contemporary Kiwi society.

I pay the admission price and pass through a circle of wood carvings before I get to one of Te Puia’s many ceremonial houses. There I learn a bit about the Kapa Haka, a dance traditionally performed by Maori men before entering battle.

Eyes bulge, face muscles contort and pink tongues extend in this cultural act of manhood. It’s part throat exam, part ferocious dance of war. (The All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team, perform it for devout sports fans before every match.)

Though Maori women in this part of New Zealand aren’t allowed to perform the Kapa Haka, they do have their own form of dance. It’s called Poi and it’s a performance where balls on a string are tossed rhythmically around like Yo-yos.

As I discover, Poi isn’t as easy as it looks. Though I try to master the traditional Maori dance, I struggle with my hand-eye co-ordination. While Maori ladies twirl the Poi balls with the ease and enthusiasm of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the strings of my own Poi get tangled like a set of cheap earphone cords. Apparently I need a lot of practice. I clumsily follow along as my instructor sings a classic Maori tune, which, to my ears, sounds remarkably like The Temptations track My Girl.

Not far from the Maori performance, Mother Nature holds her own theatrical event. Like clockwork, the famous Pohutu Geyser explodes:?Water spits and steam swirls like a bubbling witches cauldron. A hot bed of geothermal activity, this area has active geysers, mud pools and boiling waters dating back to some 40,000 years ago.

Newzealand1

The scenery is breathtaking but so is the stench. The air is thick with a smell like rotten eggs, and I struggle to breathe through the rank sulphur. It’s no wonder Rotorua is nicknamed “Rotten-rua.”

Though these natural Jacuzzis may look like nice places for a dip, I’m reminded that many of these pools are over 100 degrees in temperature, hot enough to coddle an egg — or poach a human.

Have you explored New Zealand? What are your must visits?

Save and share!

9 comments ↓

#1 Audie on 05.20.10 at 9:51 am

The southern island adventure city is Queensland and I had a blast visiting there when I studied abroad in New Zealand. It has great bungy jumping off the Kawarau Bridge and amazing skiing in the nearby mountians. My favorite part of Queenstown? Fergburger which is by far the best hamburger I've had in my life (which is saying a lot considering I currently live in Texas) I highly reccomend it!

#2 Nancie (Ladyexpat) on 05.22.10 at 6:01 pm

I visited Rotorua back in the '80's and loved every moment. I remember watching the geysers….magical.

#3 Matt on 05.26.10 at 12:00 am

I love New Zealand, yet was totally turned off by Rotorua – and not only from the horrid smell found within a 30 km radius of the place!

While New Zealand as a whole is overrun by businesses looking to take advantage of tourists, many of them are in Rotorua. Most of the Maori cultural performances are fake, put on, and belong in Disney World. Anyone visiting expecting a real 'taste' of Maori culture will be extremely turned off. We toured a thermal area south of Rotorua and paid NZ$31 for the privilege of giving ourselves a self guided tour. Unbelievable, really.

Come to New Zealand, but skip Rotorua!

Glad I found your blog though – I'm excited to follow you on your travels.

#4 ShannonOD on 05.26.10 at 6:37 am

New Zealand has been on my travel list for quite some time and this only inspires the wanderlust even more! Sounds like a really neat experience to try your hand at the Poi!

#5 Traveling Canucks on 05.27.10 at 11:31 am

New Zealand is such a cool place… I agree with Rotorua as a must visit. Abel Tasman is a great place for hikes and the glaciers of Franz Joseph and Fox are an awesome place to learn ice climbing.

#6 Mahmoud Shah on 06.29.10 at 4:54 am

I did go to Rotorua but I came away disappointed. I felt there were many places that were more impressive to visit in New Zealand.

http://moodtotravel.blogspot.com/search/label/R

#7 Mahmoud Shah on 06.29.10 at 11:54 am

I did go to Rotorua but I came away disappointed. I felt there were many places that were more impressive to visit in New Zealand.

http://moodtotravel.blogspot.c

#8 Cheap Flights to Auckland on 06.04.12 at 3:40 am

Argue not concerning God,…re-examine all that you have been told at
church or school or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your soul…

#9 Cheap Flights to Auckland on 06.04.12 at 10:40 am

Argue not concerning God,…re-examine all that you have been told at
church or school or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your soul…

Leave a Comment