Mitai Maori Village and Polynesian Spa

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.


Explanation of their tattoos

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.

Wai-O-Tapu and Rainbow Mountain

SUNDAY, 16th October

Guess what woke me up? Rain. I had been planning to go to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, but when I heard the rain, I thought there was no point calling for the shuttle. I stayed in bed and googled addresses of Baptist churches in Rotorua. When I finally got up, the rained stopped. On the way to the bathroom a very well organized German (she was my definition of ‘German’ = ‘Ordnung muss sein’ type) asked me if it was me who wanted to go to Wai-O-Tapu, because she wanted to rent a car together with four more people and it would be cheaper than the shuttle and we’d have the car for the whole day and we could go anywhere else we wanted and it would be still cheap. She already had one guy and probably two more girls. So, of course, I joined in. By the time I took a shower and quickly had breakfast, she already organized people and rented the car.

So, this way we were on our way to Waiotapu – the German, Mexican, two French Canadian and me, trying to be by the Lady Knox geyser at 10:15 a.m. to see her erupting. We thought we’d miss it, because first we had to buy tickets to the Park at the Visitor Centre ($29 pp with the voucher we got from the hostel), then drive for a little while to the geyser. But we made it!

The eruption wasn’t exactly at 10:15 to the minute, but very close. She was a bit late.

Then we had to go back to the Visitor Centre, where we had bought the tickets at and it entered the park, which was full of bubbling and stinky colourful craters and bright green lakes and pools.

The jewel of Wai-O-Tapu, Artist’s Palete

My favourite was Champagne Pool with bubbles like champagne and when the wind blew in your direction you could feel the hot steam on your face from the pool.

We left the park at about 1 p.m. and decided to drop off the Mexican back to the hostel, because he had to catch the bus in the afternoon and we went back on the road. Non of us wanted to spen more money on more thermal parks in the area, so e actually almost went back to Wai-O-Tapu to climb up the Rainbow Mountain (743m). It was raining when we left the hostel, but the sun came back when we reached the foot of the mountain. There was a car park, which you could miss if you drive too fast. We left our car there. The walk wasn’t that difficult for the most of the time, but it was very muddy. After about 15 min we saw this beautiful lake.

We almost reached the top of the mountain

and then the path became pretty steep and I thought I won’t make it. But I made it! Yay! and the view was worth of my last breath.

Te Ruapehu was hiding behind the clouds. We thought it’s going to rain again, we even heard thunders, but it went in a different direction and we had the sun on the way back too.

The German went together with one of the Canadian girls to give the car back and the other Canadian showed me how to make carrot soup. We chipped in and had amazing dinner after a very tiring day.

When I finished washing up, it was already time to go to the FG’s owner to see the All Blacks being awesome again. THEY ARE IN THE FINAL!!!!!!! G. was so happy that he said the all beer in the hostel fridge was for free that night and he didn’t care if we drank it all. We didn’t, but it was nice of him. 😀

Rotorua Museum and Lake Rotorua

SATURDAY, 15th October

I had made some plans about what I wanted to do while I was in Rotorua and one of the top points was a visit to Rotorua Museum.

Why? In the Museum, there’s a cinema and you can watch a short documentary about the eruption of Mt Tarawera and I knew that young Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords is in it. He looked like from the cover of his solo album, Video Kid: Prototype. Unfortunately, his character didn’t end up well. The film was very interesting and expect some shakes when the earthquake starts in the movie. 😉 Oh, and Tem Morrison makes an appearance there too. He’s from Rotorua, by the way, as well as Anna Coddington.

Mt Tarawera is a volcano near Rotorua which erupted quite recently on 3 February 1886. About 120 people died and you can visit Buried Village with excavated houses. The geography of that region had known by then was changed. The biggest lost were White and Pink Terraces. In the Museum, there was a gallery with paintings of them and you could try to imagine the beauty of 8th wonder of the world.

Apart from that, there was a great exhibition about Maori tribe living on those lands, Te Arawa, a very moving documentary and an exhibition about the 28th Maori Battalion fighting in the WWII, rooms of an old Bath House, which the Museum used to be and a temporary exhibition about rugby with an interesting short film Warbrick (2009). And a photography exhibition The Vault.

On the top of the Museum there was a view point and I could see hot pools by the Lake Rotorua. I also saw that it had been raining.

Government Garden:

The weather was changing from one minute to another. I took a walk by the lake after the visit at the Museum. First, Sulphur Point with stinking, smoking, bubbling and hissing pools. Sometimes I thought I was in a kitchen listening to a boiling soup.

Then there was a bird sanctuary with gulls, black swans atc. In the middle of the lake there was Mokoia Island

And it started to rain harder and harder, so I gave up on Kuirau Park, had kebab on the way back to the hostel and dropped off when I got there. I woke up after about 2 hours, right on time to go to the Funky Green’s owner who lives next door to watch semi-finals. I was again sorry to see Wales losing playing such a good game. French rugby was boring, but the Welsh was so exciting. It was hard to watch their missed kicks.

Anyways, I got to know then the first team playing in the Bronze Final.

from Napier to Rotorua

FRIDAY, 14th October

Slowly, I’m heading back north to Auckland. I feel like time is speeding up. It’s the middle of my three month stay in New Zealand and after the World Cup, before I blink, I’ll be back in Auckland again waiting for my plane. So… I’ll take the advise from Doctor Who and try not to blink.

The people at the hostel in Napier were very into job hunting and I took some contacts to recruitment agencies. Probably they’re looking for seasonal workers, but there’s no harm in calling them and asking about long term jobs.

I took the last look at the beach in Napier, the sky was even clearer than the day before and I could see more land on the north. It made the Bay even bigger. I didn’t take any pictures, because my sister called me and I gave her to listen to the sound of the Ocean.

My bus was supposed to leave at 1:15 p.m., but I think we were waiting for another bus with some passengers getting on ours, so we were late about 20 min. I was sitting at the very back of the bus together with a young boy and a girl, about 14 years old. They were listening to music and playing games on their mobiles. After a while a young Maori kid, about 7, came to us, greeted me raising his eyebrows like the kid from Two Cars, One Night (at 4:20 and 7:00), I did the same, but when he saw I have nothing to play with he turned to the boy next to me and used his charm to take over his mobile. When he got bored, he went to the girl and tried the games on her mobile. Because he talked like the kids from Taika’s movies, I felt like I was in one of them.

We had 20 min. stop in Taupo and one hour later, about 5:20 p.m., I was in Rotorua. I heard the city stinks like rotten eggs, because of the geysers. It does and it made me feel sick at the beginning but you can get used to it and it’s really not that strong and all the time. It depends on where the wind blows from and you really haven’t been to Ostrołęka, a town 80 km from my home town where there is a cellulose factory.

I’m staying at Funky Green (BBH) recommended by J.&R. from Wellington. This place is very good and cosy, and ironically in a smelly city, the hostel has fresh air and you can breath easily in bedrooms. There are some Scots staying in my room, but about 80% of the guests is German and it’s typical in New Zealand. Sometimes I think that there are more Germans in New Zealand than New Zealanders. It makes me wonder why Flight of the Conchords didn’t have any shows in Germany when they were touring Europe last year. Was it because:

a) Germans are ignorant towards the New Zealand music scene and FOTC aren’t popular enough in Germany to give a show there? Or
b) FOTC have enough of the Germans roaming around their country, and going to Germany would feel like going back to New Zealand full of Germans?

I’ll have to ask Jemaine.

Some very cool posters at the hostel. Someone loves Kraków! 😀