Maori Geysers... no, not the Cockney sort!!

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
Trip End May 30, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Saturday, May 27, 2006

I propose to you all a challenge.

Turn to the person sitting next to you, offer them the Maori greeting 'Kia Ora' then lean forward and touch nose to nose twice. You may warn them of this first, but if its a stranger then all the better.

Have you done it? No? Come on, play the game...

This is the Hungi, the Maori greeting, and the one I have had to try out a couple of times with people I don't know. Wierd feeling, isn't it! Stangely intimate and unsettling.

I am now in Wellington at the bottom of the North Island (actually I'm not, I've nearly finished NZ but I haven't been able to get on computers anywhere!) After meeting up with my Uncle Pete in Auckland, we picked up our hire car and have spent a week travelling down through the North Island.

Its been a nice experience. Certainly different from that of the previous two months. After all that time in mainly hostels or hospedajes, I have had a luxurious 3 nights in fancy hotels and the others in motels and motor lodges, complete with en-suite bathrooms and coffee and tea. No more messing about with buses either!

When we arrived at Rotorua, in the centre of the island, we found the bizarre sight of steam rising from the streets all around the town. Peculiar smell too. This is because the town is built on land just 4 km above the Earth's underlying magma. It makes for a fascinating tour of geysers around the area, which bubble or explode, or just look strangely colourful. They also harness the town's natural thermals to flow through their central heating systems, thus heating the houses. The great thing about this is our motel used this to their advantage by providing each room with a prviate outdoor hotpool, filled from just these waters. Sitting roasting in hot water whilst being cooled but the light rains from above. Bliss.

Whilst in Rotorua we visited a Hangi (not to be confused with the afore mentioned Hungi). This is a feast that is cooked in the ground for 3 or 4 hours, creating the most succulent and juicy meat imaginable. And whilst it was prepared, a show and concert of Moari culture and customs - this means we were shouted at a lot and thrust at with various weapons, including a demonstration of that wardance (you've seen it at the rugby) the 'Huka'. It was an impressive experience. I make them sound really vicious but it was actually surprisingly tuneful.

Wellington (the capital) is another city I very much like. On the one hand it seems (and is) smaller that Auckland, but on the other because it is more compact, it seems more city like. Very odd. There was an exhibition of Lord of the Rings stuff - costumes, footage, pre-visualisation paintings, weapons, models, etc. - at the national Te Papa museum, which was really interesting, but cleverly I left myself with only half an hour before it closed to go and view it. This meant half running round a fascinating exhibition, so not exactly ideal, but at least they only charged me kids price.

I haven't managed to spot Peter Jackson yet, but I am feeling very inspired by the amount of artwork that is around, and can't quite understand why we don't promote smaller artists better back home.

So now its off to the South Island to discover what else this beautiful country has to offer...

More rain I suspect, if the last few days of Autumn have been anything to go by.
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snapz on

You're such a bloody know it all
The above says it all

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