Day 7 – Tauranga (Rotorua) (Roto means lake and orua means second)
Pohiri – (Maori Welcome)
We started our day bright and early. I must say the cruise ship beats the hotel for my kind of morning. Nothing like waking up and being able to have a cup of coffee! In the hotel I had to scrounge for my coffee because the restaurant wasn’t open yet, but on the ship two decks up, coffee is served. I must say New Zealand has excellent tasting coffee.
The Port at Tauranga has surpassed Auckland as the largest cargo port in New Zealand. Tauranga is a non-union port and can turn a cargo ship in 6-8 hours while Auckland is a union port and it takes 14 hours to turn a cargo ship, so it is growing by leaps and bounds.
Our tour of Tauranga started at 8:15 am, and we headed off for Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park. We learned about the kiwi bird. They are nocturnal but the park has a nocturnal house for viewing the birds. People introduced ferrets and weasels to New Zealand to rid the island of opossums which people had brought over to eat. However the ferrets and weasels eat baby kiwi birds because they cannot fly. Rainbow Springs is trying to reestablish the kiwi with a 70% success rate. Currently there are only about 400 of these birds in the wild. It was very interesting.
Rainbow Springs is also trying to reestablish rainbow trout to the wild. Currently in New Zealand it is illegal to serve Rainbow trout in restaurants or sell them in stores. With a special permit one can fish for them because they are supposedly a good sport fish. However, the park is not as successful with the fish as they are with the birds. They feed their fish too well and the fish are too fat, so their swim bladders shut down and without a swim bladder a fish cannot balance or rest.
Then onto a Maori village. It was great. The warriors met us in their canoe in a stream in the woods alongside their realistic village. It was quite large and the guide was so good we learned a great deal about their ancient culture. They go back some 2,000 years.
The Maoi people were cannibals and believed that by eating their enemy, they would acquire their knowledge and strength. So the protruding of the tongue, said to the enemy, “my mouth waters and I lick my lips for soon I will taste your flesh.” Actually the missionaries who came found them quite easy to convert to Christianity because they did believe in a Supreme Being. So the missionaries convinced them that eating people was not a good thing to do. So now the “haka” where they still stick out their tongue is strictly for fun.
I booked this tour because they served a real ‘hangi’ lunch which is very similar to how the Hawaiians cook. First they burn rocks in about a four foot pit. When the rocks are white hot they pour water over them creating steam. Then the food is placed on top of the steaming rocks in baskets. We had lamb, chicken, and a type of sweet potato that is only native to this area. We also had a type of cornbread stuffing. Once the baskets are sitting on top of the rocks the baskets are covered with cloth. Originally the food was then covered with dirt, but of course today that is not allowed so covered with wet potato sacks and then the entire pit is covered with a stainless steel cover. Actually, the Maori people originally used the steam from the geothermal pool. However when we later walked through the geothermal reserve, I was glad our food was cooked in a concrete man-made pit and not one made by nature. A little too much mud for my taste! I prefer my food grit free. Although, on our walk she gave each of us some of the mud used in mud baths and it was pretty silky. Just the same I am not into eating mud with my food. Don’t care they have been doing it for 2,000 years. Oh the food we had was delicious.
“Life is uncharted territory, it reveals its story one moment at a time.” – Leo Buscaglia
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Tom and Holly