Mary n Mel’s Adventures travel blog

Coming into Tauranga Harbor

Pretty harbor side beaches. Look like a nice beach town

A Volcano cone stands at the end of the penisular

Surfs up

Kiwi fruit capital of the world

Kiwi fruit vines strung up on poles

Pines trees are clear cut when harvested and new ones planted

Landscape along the drive

Entering the Te Puia park

Maori warrior challenging us as a new tribe

Try to say this name!

A Maori community house

Maori food storage platform

War canoe used on lakes, carved from a single tree

Pohutu Geyser sign

Pohutu geyser erupting

Other little steam vents in the area

Geyser runoff going down the stream

Mud pots bubbling up sulfur

Etched glass painting

Selfie of the geothermal area

Houses did not have screens and opened from the bottom

Mary and the volcano

Tauranga Harbor is deep and guarded by a volcano. There were big sandy beaches, for swimming on the harbor side and surfing on the ocean side of the peninsula. This section of New Zealand has the highest Maori population with some areas at 50%. The Maori have a strong warrior culture and did not just accept Europeans coming into their areas. The Maori finally sided with the English because they wanted to keep the French out. Today the Maori culture is strong with many building signs in both English and Maori. Interesting fact is that sign language is another official language of New Zealand.

Our excursion was to the Te Puia park in Rotorua about 50 miles into the interior. Te Puia Park is on Maori land and run by Maori. It was both a geothermal hot spot and a Maori cultural center. Getting off the bus we had to designate a “chief” to represent us as a neighboring tribe and go through a challenge ceremony. A warrior came out of the Mori house, with spear, fierce manner and a palm branch. He laid the palm branch on the ground in front of our Chief John. John had to pick up the branch and carry it into the Mori house as a sign of peace. Once inside the Maori group sang welcome greetings and several other songs and dances. One of them is called a HAKA. It’s a challenge ritual used to confront enemies to intimidate them. I uploaded a video to Facebook. Most of the Polynesian have a form of Haka. We saw one in Tonga also. The rugby teams for NZ, Tonga and Fiji all do a haka before each match to show their determination. Liz tells me its pretty impressive. I will need to keep a look out for it.

Next we had lunch where much of the food had been cooked in an underground pit. The chicken and the pork were delicious. There was also roasted pumpkin, sweet potato (kuman) and potatoes. There were several artifacts around the room including the etched glass picture I posted of a war canoe.

Patrick (as translated from Maori) showed us around the park. He and his family have lived in the area for many generations and enjoy hot pools in their backyards. Good for smooth skin. Pohutu geyser is the largest in the southern hemisphere. We were fortunate to be there as it was erupting. Its eruptions are several times a day for 30-45 minutes. The eruption was likely 30 feet high. A wind gust pushed a shower on us which we had to wipe away quickly to not let the mineral laden water dry on our glasses and camera. Interesting was the spray was cold. Next was the mud pots that were bubbling away with a sulfur smell.

Patrick took us back to the cultural area and tried to teach us home to say the official name of the place. It’s a big huge name. It felt like trying to learn Super-cal-fra…. from Mary Poppins. Glad it wasn’t a test.

Back on the bus we traveled through the Kiwi fruit capital of the world. Kiwi fruit are actually a grape from China. Since the name Kiwi is a revered bird in NZ, they are actually trying to change the name of the fruit to Zespri. Look for Zespri coming to your grocery store soon. The fruit grows on triangular vines and are all harvested in March. They will keep for a year if kept at freezing.

Forestry is another big industry. Large stands of pine trees are planted and take about 18-20 years to mature. An area is clear cut, shipped to China or the Philippines and replanted again for a new crop. We saw several areas on our way back to Tauranga.

Wished we had had more time to spend with the geothermal features. There were several clouds of steam along the roads as the geothermal activity is widespread. May be we will need to come back.

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