Maori's, Thermal Activity and River Boarding

Trip Start Jan 20, 2007
Trip End May 06, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, March 25, 2007

After leaving Whitianga we stopped at the Karangahake Scenic Reserve where we explored a stunning native bush-clad gorge. We walked following the river, crossing over 2 swing bridges and going through a 1km long tunnel used in the old gold mining days. And then later stopped briefly at Matamata- home of Hobbiton! So had a quick wander round the 'Hobbit Village'.

On the road to Rotorua we could smell it before we could see it! Also known as 'Rottenrua' or 'Sulphur City' it stinks of rotten eggs due to the geothermal activity going on. Theres loads of magma near the surface of the Earths crust as its very thin here so it all gets very hot and theres steam rising from the ground in many places. We went to Te Puia Thermal Park which was smelly but fascinating. Loads of geysers exploding up and some mud pools bubbling away. Also a Kiwi Bird House to view some of these odd looking birds that are the national symbol.

We got treated to a cultural evening and traditional Maori welcome, where we learned a little about the history of the Maori people and their culture and customs. We explored a re-creation of a traditional village from the 1600's and had to kind of pretend we were a tribe so we could witness a traditional challenge (which determines if you enter as a friend or foe). We nominated Paddy as he was a massive 7 foot hairy Irish man. Next we're honoured with a concert involving lots of songs, Poi dance (swirling pom-pom things), weaponry and the Haka (the scary one where they go blaaargh and poke out their tongues all covered in warpaint). So a pretty fascinating evening.

While here we also went to 'Hells Gate' River Boarding which was awesome!! There was only the 4 of us and we each had a kind of hard plastic body board and flippers on to swim down the river and go through all the rapids. Quite turbulant we got turned over and flipped round loads but great fun (except when going over a rock and banging my knee!) We also did a bit of surfing on the river where theres a waterfall bit we went down, you swim back into the bottom of it in the frothy part and if you balance it right you can hang there surfing the wave! Pretty cool until it kind of swallowed me so my head was stuck underneath for what felt like an eternity with my arse sticking out in the air before it spat me back out again.
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