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June 6- The Queen’s Birthday

It’s Monday now and I’m sitting in McDonalds using their free wifi to catch up on things from email and facebook. Yesterday I didn’t do very much except gel at the hotel and catch up on all my reading that I had left. I woke up, ate a free breakfast (the hotel provides every day) and then got a shower. After, I walked around town a little, stopped in the tourist shops I missed on the first day, determined I have already bought enough to bring back, and headed back to the hotel. I took a nap, snacked on some fruit, got pizza at Dominos for dinner and then watched a movie on tv with the group. Dr. Cunningham bought us popcorn and cookies- YUM! Today, I don’t have too much planned, some of the girls are going bungee jumping and they just got on the bus that will take them to the place. I’d prefer to keep my feet on the ground though- that’s a bit extreme for me. Tomorrow I’m going to roll down the hill in the zorb or the ogo (it’s the same thing, one might be cheaper though). I’ll definitely take pictures and video of that!

Since I’m a day or so behind, I guess I need to talk about what a cool experience I had on Saturday. First, we went to the Maori museum and had a guided tour. Unfortunately, they were renovating their east wing of the exhibit hall and we didn’t get to see any Maori artifacts. But our tour guide was very thorough about all the history and information surrounding the bathhouses that were built in the early 19th century. When the English started to settle in New Zealand, they made a treaty with the Maori to share the land and the hot mineral springs. The English built bathhouses for people to use as healing measures. They became super popular after WWI when all the wounded soldiers would come to soak in the sulfur water (the doctors back then claimed that the water had special medicine that would heal any ailment). After the depression though, the bathhouses didn’t see many visitors and the English let them deteriorate. Just recently, maybe 50 years or so ago, the New Zealand government paid Rotorua to restore the bathhouses (not to their original condition or for use) so that the tourists who come from all around the world could experience and learn about why they were so popular back in the day. It was a pretty interesting tour with lots of facts and I learned so much about the history of the Maori and their encounters with the English and tourists.

We had a few hours in between the tour at the museum and dinner so I came back, took a shower (and a nap in Dr. Cunningham’s room since ours was too loud to sleep) and then got ready to wait on the bus. The Maori place sent a van to pick us up at the hotel and we rode about 10 minutes down the road to the Maori reservation. When we got there, we checked in and were seated at our tables; it was just like a big hut with a lot of dining tables placed around inside. It was supposed to be outside, but it was pouring rain all of Saturday, so they could let us get soaked. We were given ponchos and walked down a forest path to the river where a huge Maori war boat came floating down with Maori warriors chanting and singing. They got out and we followed them to a shelter/stage area where they sang, danced, and gave speeches. (I got everything on video, so as soon as I compile all the parts and make it into a movie, I’ll put it up on facebook). I learned about their culture, history, and even about their games and weapons. After the presentation, we were ushered back in the dining area and ate a buffet style Maori dinner. Man, was it good! There was roasted chicken and lamb, potatoes that were roasted and steamed, some with cheese covering them, salad, rice, stuffing, and so much more that I can’t remember. Then for dessert we ate a chocolate log and it was soooo good. Afterward, we went on a 20 minute nature walk (in the rain) to see the glow worms. Everyone was given a flashlight and when we got down the river we all turned off our lights to see the glow worms. It was so beautiful, there were thousands of worms all over the place, some even in the water and they made the ripples in the water look amazing. They were in the trees and all along the path, it was just gorgeous!

I might be going to a kiwi reservation today to see baby kiwis (and various other New Zealand animals) so that should be super fun! It’s raining here again and it’s getting colder. As we travel south it will keep getting colder too. It’s supposed to be snowing in Dunedin when we are there, which is only about a week from now. It feels like I’ve been here for so long, I’m getting used to all the customs and even some of the language. Did you know they call their shopping carts “trundles” or “trolleys”?? I can’t believe my trip is ending in less than two weeks now, I’ll be sad to leave. But there’s still so much to get into between now and then so let’s see what adventure is next!


June 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments