Cultural Performance & Hangi Feast
Serious; Meaningful Protocal
A very sacred performance takes place upon arrival at the Marae known as the Wero (challenge). Followed by the Karanga (call), speeches and Hongi (greeting). The Marae is our Turangawaewae (standing ground). It is here, where we, the Maori, best express ourselves.
Song & Dance Participation
Let the local tribes people walk you through time to learn of the pride of the Maori, “our story” through song and dance. Become a part of our living history through the eyes of the Rangatahi (young), from the heart of the Kaumatua (old).
Witness, Taste and Enjoy
See, learn and taste food being prepared and cooked the ancient way as the night unfolds to a relaxed, informal, friendly and fun atmosphere of feasting and entertainment. All meats and vegetables are cooked in the traditional fashion, beneath the ground on hot rocks. Vegetarian meals are a speciality and are catered for on request. Dining is buffet style with the menu consisting of: Lamb, Pumkin, Steamed pudding, Chicken, Potatoes, Fresh fruit salad, Fish Kumara (sweet potato), Custard & Cream, Shellfish, Seasoning, Caramel sauce, Coleslaw, Salad, Maori bread.
The traditional Maori feast called Hangi, is big business here in Rotorua. Many places will pay one one, we enjoyed ours in the hotel we were staying.
A hangi is a Maori earth oven, many cultures in Oceania have a similar thing. Traditionally, a large hole is dug in the ground and stones heated over a fire are placed in the bottom. Food is placed in baskets covered with wet cloths and the hole is covered over again with earth. Basically, the hangi acts like a giant natural steamer, and the food is cooked slowly underground, then dug out again.
The hotel has a permanent hangi pit where is cooks its food, and we can observe this during the day.
The Polynesian Spa is one of the more modern facilities in which to enjoy the hot springs around Rotorua. Many motels and hotels in the area will have private spas but the Polynesian Spa is the largest public facility. There is a family pool and private pools available for hire. The main part of the pools are the adult pools which consist of several smaller pools of varying temperatures and minerals. The Spa is open from 6.30am to 11pm everyday. The cost is $12 for an adult (unlimited time in adult pools and half an hour in private pools).
The Redwoods - Whakarewarewa Forest
Just next to the thermal area is situated Whakarewarewa Forest Park, called mostly with a shorter version - Redwoods.
About a hundred years ago "the Kiwis" conducted an experiment, they planted various kinds of plants and trees to find out which ones would be effective for commercial use. Well, RADIATA PINE won the first place and has become the most important commercial specie in NZ.
Anyway there are 170 tree species in the park and the most favourite walk goes through the huge Californian Redwoods - Sequoia.
In the visitor center you get a map of the park with various tracks, the distances vary from 1,5 to 34 km. It depends on you and your physical shape which one you choose... :-))
The Lady Knox Geyser at Wai-o-tapu.
The Lady Knox Geyser at Waiotapu is unusual in that it is induced to play regularly at 1015 each day. I was very dubious about going to see this for the first time in July 2004, but the story that is told before the geyser is woken up is an interesting one and puts the whole show into some context. If you are on a limited budget, I'd say save your money at Waiotapu and just go to Whakarewarewa in the city to see Pohutu Geyser, which is natural and far more spectacular.
See my Wai-o-tapu travelogue for more pictures of this valley.