Trip Start Feb 20, 2013
16Trip End Jul 05, 2013
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After the caves and a light lunch, we were off to the Agrodome in Rotorua, just under 2 hours to the east of Waitomo. The Agrodome is a big farm, mostly filled with sheep (go figure). We toured the farm and saw many different animals, like sheep, goats, cows, and ostriches. We were even given the chance to feed some of the animals, but I was too busy taking pictures...and staying a safe distance away! The tour guide showed us how their dogs herd the sheep and also how to sheer a sheep. The last part of the tour included a chance to see an old woolen mill and explanation as to how the wool is processed into clothing. Thankfully, my allergies did not act up the entire time I was there!
Our last stop of the day was just 15 minutes south of the Agrodome to Te Puia, New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. It is home to the national schools of carving and weaving. When we arrived at the Marae (welcoming place), we went through a Maori welcoming ceremony that involved chanting and a presenting of leaves to show peace. We then were brought into the Marae where there was a performance of Maori songs. Even though I couldn't understand the words, it was very neat to watch the performers. It was a good introduction to the Maori culture. After the performance, we went to see a very large mud pool and the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. The geyser, called the Pohutu Geyser (meaning big splash or explosion), can reach up to 100 feet! It was so cool to see it erupt and it lasted for a while. Our final part of the tour took us to the carving and weaving schools. I saw many different carvings and different styles of weaving.
After the long day, I was ready to be home, but the day trip was amazing. I am so glad I got to see so many different parts of New Zealand. Hopefully, my next trip will be to Hobbiton - home of The Shire in Lord of the Rings. I'm not sure when I'll be going, but it will definitely be one of the many highlights of my time here.