Saturday, July 30, 2011

Auckland to Rotorua: July 25, 2011

Nau mai, Haere mai ki Aotearoa! Welcome to New Zealand! Kia hora! After a bit of a delay due to snow in the south island in Wellington, NZ we arrived in Auckland, NZ, the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand is quite serious about their airport security and searched a number of bags in customs looking for whatever it is that threatens homeland security but also for food! It must all be claimed upfront. Meats, fresh fruits, breads are not allowed and dirty golf shoes that are not claimed could all get you a fine of $400.00! It’s the bacteria, etc. that could be in the food and the dirt on the shoes that could be carrying an environmental threat to this beautiful and pristine environment. Years ago they introduced possums to help rid the country of something else and now those possums number in the millions and the saying goes, “The only good possum is a dead possum!”. Being the inventive and creative people they are, the Kiwis have learned to use possum fur mixed with merino wool to create a soft, warm garment so those deceased little rodents don’t go to waste!

I love flying into this country with its rugged coastline and its lush green gently rolling hills and flowering plants, even in the winter! The North Island is not home to the glaciers and higher mountains but is the island with the bulk of the Maori population and history. It’s all beautif
ul with some of us commenting that it reminded us of Ireland or even Sussex County!

Richard, our coach driver and of Maori descent, took us to Rotorua, a trip of @3 hours and we were able to see more of the countryside as we left one of the only multi-lane highways on the island for a double lane road for most of the trip. Rotorua means “ 2 lakes” or “second lake”, with “roto” signifying “lake” and “rua” meaning “2” or “second” and is the spiritual home to the Maori. It was given this name by the Maori explorer, Ihenga around 1350 AD. Rotorua sits on one of the most active geothermal and volcanic regions in the world. This geothermal field contains 1,200 geothermal features including geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and fumaroles, silica terraces and flats. The people population of New Zealand is @4 million. The sheep population is @40 million! So it was sheep we saw along with cows grazing on the hillsid
es as the sun set on our first night here and Richard told us a bit of New Zealand and Maori history. Rotorua is the center of Maori language and culture as well as an active geothermal area with the distinct smell of sulfur in the air. You can see steam rising out of bushes and in parks all around the area as we drove into town. Tomorrow we go to Whakarewarewa, a Maori village and geothermal park. "Whaka" is the shortened name for a very long one which is quite difficult to pronounce. If you just say every letter with “wh” sounding like “f”, you’ve got it! Go ahead. Try it! Let me know how this works out for you!

Here is the name in its entirety:


A couple of pictures from our hotel along Lake Rotorua:

Haere mai until tomorrow!

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