March 8, 2023
Walked to Te Puia, Maori cultural center. Took the 10:30 tour to see a few geysers, boiling mud pools and finally, kiwi. Our Maori guide explained that there were about 12 million kiwi in New Zealand, but now only about 70,000. Kiwi are ground birds, so they don’t fly and are easily hunted by dogs. There’s a lot of effort to preserve and grow their numbers.
Our guide also said that many New Zealanders move to Australia to work for about 10 years before moving back to NZ. The cost of living is high and NZ wages are not. They find they can earn better wages in Australia, pay off their homes, and retire in NZ.
Part of the cultural center included a Maori trade school. They accept students with either ⅛ or 1/16 Maori heritage for weaving, woodcarving, and jade carving. The students are paid for the 2-3 years of their schooling, then expected to return to their tribes or towns to continue their trade.
NZ has clearly done a better job integrating western and indigenous culture than the US. Makes me wonder what our country could be like if it wasn’t dominated by abject fear of anyone with different traditions.
We went back into town to a highly rated Mexican restaurant for lunch. The woman working there was a hoot. She had quips and cracks for every question or comment. I think the reviews were much more in support of her fun personality than the food itself.
Afterwards we walked to a few health stores to find some Nuzest Good Green Vitality I wanted to find. Lots of green supplements originate from NZ so they’re generally better and cheaper here. We found it in the mall at Health 2000.
Kayaking (Or not…)
This evening we had a 3 hour kayaking trip to some hot pools and glow worm caves. Shortly after we arrived, a young woman towing a load of kayaks pulled in. She hopped out and said that their scout on the lake said it wasn’t a suitable day for kayaking as there were some whitecaps from the wind. She paddled out to get a look for herself, and came back completely out of breath. She could barely reach the lake, so the trip was canceled.
We weren’t exactly heartbroken. It was windy and as the sunset, it was going to be really cold on the lake. And none of us were that great at kayaking to want to go in whitecaps.
On our way back to Rotorua, we stopped at the redwood forest. In 1901 California redwoods were brought over and planted in this region. They are now around 200 feet tall. It reminded me of the first time I saw redwoods at Muir Woods with Yvonne. Their size and perfectly straight trunks were marvelous.
These redwoods did not disappoint.
Finally we went back to the hotel and enjoyed the heated pool for our last night.