You are visiting New Zealand, you jump on your bus and hear your next stop will be Rotorua – New Zealand’s number one Maori Cultural Destination. Your heading to Base Backpackers Hostel for some Cheap accommodation and Fun.
Your driver starts by telling you about thick bubbling mud, huge boiling hot pools filled with rainbows of colours and water that shoots sky-high, WOW! You wonder whether you might just fall straight through the ground into the volcano that once was and still is Rotorua.
As you get closer to this ‘Tourism destination’ the Bus turns into a long hand-carved waka (a canoe) and you row over the great Pink and White terraces and see where they once stood. You float past a village buried deep below the lake, and come to rest where hot and cold streams burst out of the ground mixing to that just right temperature.
While you bathe and gaze up through the dewy trees at the starry filled sky, you suddenly find yourself being thrown down raging white water rapids and fly over a seven meter waterfall. Ahhhhhhh!
You are now being greeted by the beautiful sound of a karanga and haka powhiti (welcome song and dance) from an indigenous tribe of locals who have never seen nor known any other language, world or people. You’ve heard stories that if you put your foot out of line you maybe beheaded and eaten by huge dark warriors. Their faces are covered in moko (tattoos) and topped from head to toe in amazing intricate koru designs that tell their stories. They chant and dance their haka (war dance) with their eyes bulging out of their heads, and their tongues protruding from their mouths.
You are now being challenged as you enter the gates of tall moss-covered trees and silver ferns by the ariki (great chief) with a taiaha (long wooden weapon) surrounded by his tribe armed with hand-made weapons and conch shells. To your Luck, you are now being offered a green leaf and a hongi (sharing the breath of life) in exchange for a peaceful, friendly visit…
You wake to hear the driver still talking... “And lastly, the food, ah the food is just Amazing. Their traditional Hangi (ground oven) Smoked for hours deep underground with huge amounts of meat; lamb, chicken and pork with delicious, tasty vegetables and soft herb stuffing topped off with a warm golden steamed pudding.” Suddenly your bus stops; the door flies open the first thing you hear is
“KIA ORA. (Greetings to you) Welcome to Rotorua.”
Rotorua, feel the spirit.
Written by Jessamine Bradley.