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  • Day37

    No Volcano today

    August 15, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    We were up early to head to Volcanic Air for 8.45 for our flight to White Island. When we got there it turned out they had wanted to contact us but had no phone number as the weather was poor at White Island despite being excellent in Rotorua. They suggested waiting until 10am to see if it cleared, so we went and got a coffee from a recommended shop called Picnic then wandered around the shops before heading back. Unfortunately the weather had worsned at White Island so we agreed to come back at 8.45 tomorrow to see whether it was OK then.

    The kids were keen to head to Agroventures to do the Agrojet, a small quick jet bot that goes round a tight racing circuit. We nought vouchers for 10 rides as they ahd other things tehre too and did the Agrojet first - Tash and Ed then Ed and I. It was good fun, three laps very quick around the circuit, much more nimble than the larger river ones we had been on before. Ed was grinning massively.

    Ed and Tash then did the Scjweeb, which was a monorail bike that hung under the track and was pedalled lying down racing one track against the other. Ed beat Tash in about 1 min 50 seconds. We then had another go where I raced against Ed and Tash in tandem. It was very close and I won in about 1.37 with them about a second behind. Tash had wanted to do the Agrofall, which was a free fall simulator, with a big fan that blew upwards with you 'sktdiving' in the upward draft. She ended up not doing it as she managed to scare herself and get worried by people watching her and not being able to do it, so we eventually left. This made Tash miserable as you could tell she was annoyed with herself for not doing it. We had vouchers for 5 more rides, so Tash and Ed did another schweeb, though Tash's heart wasn't really in it so she did just under 2 minutes with Ed blitzing his best time and doing 1.23. They then both did anther jet boat and then to use up the remaining token Ed did his fifth jet boat ride of the day! (I had bought 4 more tokens when we thought Tash was doing the freefall).

    We bought the videos and photos on a USB then left to head for Te Puia, the Maori geothermal place we had bought tickets for the day before at the isite. We had lunch in teh cafe on arrival, with Ed declaring there was nothing he would eat in there and proceeding to be miserable for the next hour or so, Eventually his moved improved and we looked around the mock Maori viillage, meeting house etc, then went to see the boiling mud pools before finally waiting to see the Pohutu geyser erupt. This is the largest in teh Southern Hemisphere and erupts once or twice and hour up to 30m. We watched for probably 40 minutes and saw some small water spurts, lots of steam and a couple of metres of watewr from the geyser next to the big one, but no big eruption unfortunately.

    We returned to the campsite just before 5 via gift shop and New World supermarket to await our pcik up for the Maori feast and show tonight - pick up between 5.10 and 5.20 from the campsite.

    We waited at the entrance to the campsite and the bus arrived promptly. We went via several more pick ups then were on our way to the village. The driver gave us some commentary and taught us some Maori words - Kia Ora which seems to mean lots of things but mainly hello. Also aye for yes, puke puke for applause and others. A chief was then picked for our bus (or woka as Maori transport is known after their traditional canoes). A gentleman from Washington DC was 'volunteered' and had to go to the front of the bus to lead us all in paddling our woka to camp. He was then taught the hongi - the nose rubbing greeting as he would need to do this when greeted by the chief of the village.

    On arrival the three elected chiefs from different buses went first and waited for the village warriors to rush out and perform their greeting challenge - this was similar to lots of individual hakas and ended with a peace offering branch being dropped. If the visiting chief picked this up then they would be welcomed in, if not battle would begin. Our chief picked it up and we entered the village, where groups of 15 or so of us went around 5 different areas getting talks from the locals. We started with battle training and volunteers had to run ladders like Ed does at rugby but across sticks. The guy talking was very humorous and it was, like all the areas good fun to listen.

    Next was an explanation about the houses and the tattoos. These were like a cv on your face saying what you were good at. They were done quite barbarically using bones on sticks to cut open the flesh and put ink in - ancient Maori flesh would have felt rough like carved wood.

    Then a haka demonstration - I took part and just about managed to follow it. The guy next to me had a great end face with tongue out and eyes bulging. Fourth was a demo of some games, including balancing sticks and running around to catch them before they fell to the floor. Then finally the women showing us a dance using traditonal balls on sticks - Tash demo'd this one and did very well!

    Then it was through to the Marae or meeting house for a show by the Maori folks of song and dance, ended with women's and men's haka. It lasted about 20 minutes and was enjoyed by all of us. Then through to see how the food was cooked in a hangi - a big pit dug, piled high with wood then stones on top. The wood is lit which heats the stones and as the fire burns down the stones end up in the bottom of the pit extremely hot. The food is then put in and the pit covered over quickly with wet hessian sacks - stops them burning and the water drips down into the pit and makes steam which is then trapped in the pit byt e sacks and soil piled on top of them. We saw our food taken out of the pit then went through to the dining hall.

    We were on table 4 and were the first up to the buffet. The vegetables had a real earthy flavour because of the soil on top of the pit and the chunky carrots and potatoes went down very well, as did the chicken and especially the lamb which was excellent. after everyone had had soem we went up for seconds, then started on the desert - steamed pudding and custard, fresh fruit and pavlova. Then our hosts sang a couple of songs and said a few words and the chiefs did the haka before we headed back to Woka Kea for the bus ride home.

    On the bus each nation had to sing a song for everyone else to join in with - we did Old McDonald for a couple of verses (The Aussies were a bit weird and refused to do anything and some of the other nations didn't really seem to want to take part. On the outskirts of town our driver announced that if everyone didn't join in with the next song they wouldn't be getting off the bus. She then started singing "She'll be Coming Round the Mountain" and we followed the bus in front round a roundabout - 6 times! Crazy stuff. We obviously saang enough as we then carried on our way to be dropped back at the campsite.
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