Meeting with an old friend
My fondest memory of my trip to New Zealand was meeting up with my pen friend (since 1985 and to this day) Jonathan Lambert and his family. I really met Jonathan 3 times. The first time was during the long layover in Auckland when we left Papeete and were on our way to Australia. The second time, Jonathan and most of his family drove down from the Auckland suburbs to Rotorua to meet me and "borrow" me from the group on my last full day in New Zealand.
Agrodome Leisure Park
The Agrodome is a 160 hectare working sheep and cattle farm which gives international visitors a real hands on live experience of farming. There is complete interaction with goats, cattle, sheep, deer and baby lambs. There are many performances throughout the day including sheep shearing and dog trials. It is a unique experience for city and apartment dwellers to experience the workings of farm life.
Locaton: Western Road , Ngongotaha
Catch a cultural performance at Whakarewarewa.
At 1215 each day there is a Maori cultural performance at the Rotowhio Marae. The show begins with a semi-traditional powhiri, a formal greeting onto a marae. This is a memorable experience because of the haunting karanga that are called out and the warrior's challenge to a tourist who volunteers to be the leader of the manuhiri (visitors). The show then moves into the meeting house (wharenui).
The Agrodome: Far too touristy but still great
A visit to the Agrodome in Rotorua is as touristy as it can get. But still it is great fun and I am happy that I was there for the sheep show.
I yawned over the cheap jokes of the presenter who welcomed the public in 20 languages or so, and did not tire to bore me with his endless research if perhaps someone from Myanmar or the moon was among us, as probably he can say Hello in Burmese and Moonish. And well, as you share the big hall with approximately a million people there is a chance that one of them is from another planet. Believe me, it is a very tiring introduction.
But when this is over the show is just great and worth to ignore with how many people you have to share the fun.
First 19 sheep of 19 different breeds run onto the stage and right onto their place on the podium which carries the name tags of all breeds. When they have reached their designated spot they chew on the food pellets provided in little containers and seem to be bored. Those sheep are not to be compared to the sheep that flee from you on the paddocks when stop to take a photo. Those sheep do not even mind when a bunch of farmdogs run over their backs and finally sit on them. Most action is shaking the head as if asking why they have to perform the same and same rubbish again and again... Well, they are just fantastic!
Also the sheep that comes to stage for shearing is not scared at all. Perhaps it would even extend and contract its limbs without this microphone guy touching it at its soft spots.
Then a cow appears and some tourists have the chance to milk it on stage, and at the end some lambs nearly run over the tourists who have been chosen to bottle-feed them. Absolutely cute, of course :-)
True: Although I hate such masses of people, silly comments and cheap jokes I would go there again!
If you can't get enough make the farm tour, visit the woollen mill and the shearing shed.
3 shows daily at 9.30am, 11am and 2.30pm
Rates (as Feb. 2007):
adults $22, children $11
Organic farming tour $28/13
Combo of both $45/20
Hell’s Gate: the name tells the truth
This thermal reserve is so beautiful because it is so awful. Awful because a lot of the attractions exist of boiling mud pools, dirty sulphur baths, grey rock and sinter formations and black water pools.
And what about some of the name’s: Devil’s Bath, Heel’s Gate, Devil’s Throat, Sodom and Gomorrah and Devil’s Cauldron.
But there are also bright yellow sulphur crystals and a green native bush with some unique plants. And off course the birds, which are so tame that they eat (almost) from your hand.
Hell’s Gate has a couple of unique thermal spots:
- the largest (hot) water fall is a kind of an outside shower.
- the only mud volcano of New Zealand
- the steaming cliffs pool with a temperature above 100ºC.
All the attractions are situated more or less along a track of about 2,5 km’s. And the whole area is so violent, we didn’t feel any urge to leave the path.
Hell’s Gate: smell the sulphur and feel the power of the earth.