Friday, March 06, 2020

New Zealand Roadtrip: Auckland to Rotorua and Visiting Whakarewarewa, a Maori Village

Whakarewarewa "Maori" Village
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty Region, North Island, New Zealand
Travel Period: May 2018


In Maori culture, sticking out the tongue means showing your strength, but really, I cannot help but laugh, haha.

I did my NZ road trip together with my sister and Myrhh. We rented one of those green juicy campers for a 6-day road trip on North Island and the northern part of South Island. We started in Auckland where my sister lives and drove all the way to Christchurch, In Christchurch, we took the plane back to Auckland.


The Whakarewarewa village is a geothermal spot.

So this is the first leg of our road trip journey, going to Rotorua. We have a very open and spontaneous agenda but a must-have for us on this Rotorua stop is a visit to a Maori village.

We did some googling of course and the Whakarewarewa village came on the first spot. The name was a bit of a tongue-twisting exercise at first but then it gets to you and you know where the tone needs to stay. Basically you say it Whaka-rewa-rewa.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]


Here we are in the camper van on the road to Rotorua. The pick up of the juicy camper van went quite smoothly. We initially thought of having 2 drivers but because I have a Dutch driver's license, they require that I get an international one, which they can issue on the spot but will take time and additional fees. We decided to have my sister drive instead. In hindsight, it was not the best decision because you definitely need a backup driver for long trips!

Lesson learned. When I do another road trip like this, (with the Dutchman I guess), we'll make sure that both of us can drive. It makes life easy.



Our route: Auckland to Rotorua (Whakarewarewa Village).


While on the road we were snacking on some of the chocolate macadamia's I received as a gift from Dolly. I love macadamias.

Trivia: Did you know that New Zealand drives on the left side of the lane?


We learned that Rotorua has big Maori settlements and there are native villages open for tourists to visit, explore and even witness a Maori dance. The cherry on top of the icing is that Rotorua is also known for its geothermal activity and the Maori village we are visiting -- Whakarewarewa village sits on a geothermal park and is home to the Pohuto geyser.

There are hot mud pools and spa all over town as well. We are in the right place for our first stop!


We actually arrived on time for the Maori dance. I have to admit that it was very touristic. These dancers were locals in Rotorua and not Whakarewarewa village, they came and left with their cars, so that says enough, haha. But nonetheless, I appreciate this piece of Maori entertainment. It gave me an insight into the culture, especially the tongue out and eyes bulging movement which is called Pukana.

Pukana is mainly used in the Haka dance. I do not think what they did here was Haka, maybe some parts of it when the 2 warrior guys starting sticking their tongue out and bulging their eyes. It was fun, but like I earlier said, I cannot help but laugh. Am I the only one?


After the Maori dance entertainment, we could go anywhere in the village as we please or go with a guide. We thought its best to go with the guide as we will hear some history and interesting local stories. It's been almost 2 years from this visit, so whatever this guide has told me, I have surely forgotten, haha.

Anyway, I took lots of pictures.


They call Whakarewarewa as the living Maori village because local Maori people, about 21 families do live here. They bury their dead here too.

It's a tiny village right in the seat of scenic geothermal wonderland. The houses were built in wood and colored pastel. They are small and usually have a balcony. There's smoke all over the place coming from the ground, hot springs abound, there are mud pools and even geysers. The locals not only live side by side with these, but they also bathe in them and cook in them.


This guide we had was a very good guide. He was friendly and has a great sense of humor as well. He is a big man and is towering over the Asian women tourists, hehe.


Typical Maori houses in the village.


Here we are at one of the hot spring pools. The guide is explaining and showing us here how the locals make dinner. They basically have several options. If they want to cook, they just lower the food into the hot spring (of course in a covered container) or they put it under the ground, similar to an oven. How cool is that?

We managed to open this oven under the ground and true enough there was some food in there.


This is the bathing area, hot spring water flowing into bathing pools.


The village is nestled in a valley surrounded by rolling hills and green.


Our Maori tour guide.


This is the Maori meeting hall.


He was explaining here about the statues and the paint on them but it's been almost 2 years now so I have forgotten whatever he said.


The village has souvenirs, food and handicraft shops, as well as cafes.


After the tour, we consulted the village map we received with our ticket. There were suggestions on scenic walks of 5 minutes to half an hour.

We took the quick and easy walking route which passes over the lake. There was basically a wooden walkway through a little forest and above the lake which was stunning. The whole place was so beautiful and fantasy-like because of the smoke coming out of the water. It felt like out of this world, like a dream.


The wooden walkway, or bridge, I guess.


It's like coming out of a sauna, haha.


It was already getting late and we were hungry. So we went back to the parking lot to prepare some nibbles. This is just some little treat as we will have dinner later in the evening.

We opened the back of the camper and voila. The parking lot at Whakarewarewa village was not the ideal setting to do this but we were running out of time and my sister is hungry. So we just moved the camper van to the edge of the parking lot where there is a bench overlooking to the lake and hot springs. Not bad for our view.

The advantage of having a camper van is you can always prepare your meals whenever and wherever you are.


Most of these treats were given by Dolly when I visited her up north in Auckland. She gave me this Oster Bay Chardonnay wine, those gourmet crackers, and the cheese and pate too. As well those blueberry's that we picked together!

This was really nice, we enjoyed this very much.


Next, our evening adventure in Rotorua!

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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