Rotorua, North Island....New Zealand (Part 2)

How much can you fit into a day? Plenty if you're committed...or should that read we should be committed?
We tried to fit in four attractions in one day!
But when there is so much to see and do then its full steam ahead...

Which leads me quite nicely into our next attraction...HELL’S GATE?
Hell's Gate is Rotorua's most active geothermal park featuring boiling hot pools and erupting waters with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees celsius; steaming fumaroles; hot water lakes; sulphur crystals and deposits; New Zealand's largest active mud volcano; Southern Hemisphere's largest hot water fall and even examples of land coral.
The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw upon visiting in the early 1900's, gave it the English name "Hellsgate" as he gazed upon the land,  as he believed he had arrived at the gates to Hell.

So let's enter Hell's Gate....

Here's an information board to give you lots more detail if you have the time or the inclination for more...
just click and zoom in....

As you can imagine it can be a dangerous place to walk around and you are seriously advised to keep to the footpath. I didn't need telling twice, but we went one step further (hehe...sorry no pun intended it just popped up) anyway we decided to employ a guide and he did a fantastic job of giving so much more detail than what was written on the little plaques.
I had such a giggle when I read this signpost...
Just in case you can't see it clearly, it reads
Warning...persons who throw litter or stones into the thermal pools may be asked to retrieve them!

TV crews come to this place to film for advertisements ~ as you can imagine it's perfect!

After we'd finish our tour there was an opportunity to try our hand at some traditional carving...
I wasn't to be trusted with a knife...although it wasn't a knife as such; more a curved chisel but we found a volunteer very near!

 You choose a design out of the four that have been pre drawn for you depending on the which you like or is more appropriate to you.

Then away you go...

I watched the master at work...oh yes hubby wasn't bad either ;D
After all that hard work we were in need of some relaxation....
so what more could you want than to visit a spa.

Well yes but I have to admit I wasn't initially sure about the Mud spa....but after stepping into the warm just knew it was doing good ;D
Plus we had such a giggle. 
It was my hubby's first spa!

Fantastic...but be aware you do have a certain aroma for a few days after your visit and you might want to keep up wind of people just in case!

So enough relaxing for now....we still had things to to see!
How about some white water rafting? 
It is one of the big 5 of New Zealand after all....

Can you see me? ;D
Phewph...back to the Lake House to get ready for tonight's event....drum roll please...
We're to visit the Mitai Maori Village for a cultural evening plus Hangi meal.
Our hosts had organised and booked the evening event with courtesy transport too.

Kia ora (Hello in Maori)

(Do you think my hubby was taking it all too seriously? hehe)

This was a fantastic introduction into the Maori culture and heritage.

Firstly, we were shown the traditional ground cooking Hangi Feast where our meal had been cooking over hot stones in a pit for hours...succulent New Zealand lamb and chicken, potatoes (riwai), sweet potato (kumara) and stuffing (a combination of bread, mixed herbs, corn, carrots and peas).

 We also had side dishes of scalloped potatoes baked with a cheese topping, freshly baked garlic bread and a range of salads, plus a fantastic rich brown gravy and thick mint sauce.
After such a busy day I have to say this truly was a feast!
Oh yes...and there were desserts too. Tropical fresh fruit salad, chocolate log, pavlova (which was delish) plus trifle with cream. And a bar!

The cultural experience was set in tranquil natural bush setting where we were taken back in time when the ancient Maori customs and traditions were part of everyday life. Through songs and dances plus tales and legends told, we learnt a great deal about the fascinating past.
We heard tales of how the Maori people interacted with the European settlers many generations ago, music, carvings and ta moko (tattooing).
Tattoos are just one of the ways that demonstrate the strong ties that Maori people have with their cultural heritage. The displays of weaponry and combat that were shown during the performance are captivating.
As well as the poi dance and of course the haka finale!
We also were privileged to see the hand carved ancient war canoe (the waka) being paddled down the Wai-o-whiro stream by warriors in traditional dress which was brilliant.

We also took part in a torchlight bush walk to the crystal clear water of the sacred Fairy Spring flowing directly from the earth, which was full of eels and trout.
The Fairy Spring releases over twenty four million litres of pure spring water every day!
Then we were asked to switch off our torches which plunged us into complete darkness....
this highlighted the glow worms!
We also added on an additional stroll through the bush observing the flora and wildlife at night including the new walk-through outdoor kiwi enclosure. No glass partitions in-between so you are really close to them although I have to say they are very good at hiding in the dark! I had to see a kiwi before my New Zealand experience was was on my tick list....and this was the best way to ensure that I did.
I actually saw two, but unfortunately I couldn't use a camera or even a phone to capture them and we had to be so quiet because the kiwis have exceptional hearing.
The Mitai village was a very special place to visit that I can fully recommend visitors to experience.

So we will leave Rotorua and drive further south to our next destination....
I'll hopefully meet up with you again for more of our New Zealand experience.

In the meantime...I hope you're having a great week ~ enjoy!