Nothing to write about MONDAY, because the weather got worse and I spent the whole day at the Library catching up on the internet world ($3 a day). It didn’t get better on TUESDAY, but I thought I need to do something while I was still there, so I booked Hangi at one of the Maori villages around Rotorua. I was told that Mitai is less commercialized than Tamaki, but I think wherever you go, you’d get the same ‘packet’: warriors in a waka, Maori songs, games and stories performed by not so Maori looking young Maoris with painted tattoos and then a hangi feast at the end of the evening. All in all I enjoyed it, even though I felt like a tourist again. I heard that the family from Mitai was responsible for all the Maori performances during the World Cup ceremonies and before the matches, so they must be good in what they do. And they were a little cheaper than Tamaki, $81.50 booking from Funky Green.
Hangi getting ready. The volcanic stones from the river were heat up with burning wood and then meat and vegetables were being cooked on them for three hours.
Performance with a welcome ceremony – a very serious part, everything was in Maori and everyone from the audience was quiet and seemed to hold their breath. When the ceremony was over, the chief stood up and said, ‘Hello, we do speak English.’ And with that he made us laugh and relaxed. Then he explained Maori traditions, weapons, games, tattoos and haka as grand finale. I recorded just the last couple minutes.
After that we went to a big marquee and the meal was waiting for us on three long tables. It was unlimited buffet. It did smell and taste different and everything was delicious.
When we finished eating, they took us in small groups for a short bush walk and our guide showed us a silver fern, a weta, glow worms glowing by the path we were walking along and a secred spring with rainbow trout. And that was the end of the essential Maori experience. I think I liked the walk most from that evening.
I left Rotorua on WEDNESDAY, but I had my bus to Tauranga after 5 p.m., so there was at least one more thing I wanted to do before leaving the city. Even though I checked out from the hostel, I could still leave my bag there free of charge. I went to Polynesian Spa. I had seven pools with different water temperatures to soak in, a beautiful volcanic landscape in front of my eyes and unlimited time to use. All that for $21.50. I spent about 1.5 hr and it was still great when it rained. I was lucky to get back to the hostel before a real down pour. I waited at the hostel until it stopped raining and decided to wait at the library, which was close to the bus stop, for my bus.
Thoughts on Rotorua. I’m sure there’s lots to do there, but I don’t think I would want to live there. Maybe the city is too big, maybe the main shopping street with cafes and restaurants, Tutanekai St isn’t pretty enough, maybe I was there in wrong time, when the weather was bad and I didn’t see Rotorua from its better side, but I don’t feel I need to come back there. I loved staying at Funky Green and the owner loved Poland, so maybe that would be the only reason why I’d visit the city again. And the drivers put me off. It happened only once that a driver stopped and let me cross the street. Otherwise, I had to be really sure there was no car around, so I could walk safely.