Day 6, Tuesday 10th June 08
The beautiful name of "Aotearoa" (New Zealand) originates from the Maori language which translates to "The Land of The Long White Cloud". I kept looking up at the sky through out the entire journey to spot any long white clouds, but all I could bear witness was the magnificent clear blue sky. Clouds were scarce here, probably due to winter, unlike the ones we perpetual see in our country which come in bunches of white puffs. Nevertheless, the breathtaking geographical make up of this country left us mesmerized most of the time, not at least missing the elusive long white cloud.
Aetearo is not just about the endless rolling green hills, the long white clouds and the pristine mountains and lakes, but most significantly it's also about the native Maori people and its rich culture. For the Maori people, it is considered an honour to share their cultural treasures with visitors like us. A culture they uniquely relayed through beautiful rendition of songs and graceful dances. Heritage so rich, narrated through the love epic and war saga of their ancestors. It was at the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve that we experienced in depth the ways of life of the Maoris, from the simple day to day activity of cooking and bathing, to the social and educational aspect of it.
Our visit to this village was firstly greeted with "Kia Ora" by an elder which literally means be well or healthy. It is also a general greeting for almost all occasions from thank yous to goodbyes. The accommodating nature of the language evidently persists in other aspects of the Maori way of life. Their existence is in harmony with nature, utilizing and appreciating what nature has rewarded them in terms of the fertile land and abundant natural resources : the spouting geysers, the bubbling mud pools and the steaming cliffs. Everything rewarded by nature is used on a daily basis. The mineral pools are used for baths and washing, the steaming earth is used to cook their food in an earthen oven, and the bubbling mud pools are used for medicinal purposes. Whakarewarewa is a self sufficient village in which the true Maoris live and operate as a big family simultaneously managing the village as a tourist centre.
"...kat sini plak, kami mandi-manda beramai-ramai. Air kami lembut, tak payah pakai perapi rambut"
My sis and I at the entrance of the mini concert arena. Clear blue cloudless sky.
After the interesting explanation, we trailed the village path that led to a mini concert area. It was here that we were held spellbound by handsome and beautiful dancers. I recorded almost all the cultural performances but failed to upload them on youtube for some inexplicable reasons. But below is a recording made by someone else, with the same dancers who entertained us that day.
Good looking dancers in graceful intoxicating movements. The music and dances are narrations of their stories.
The cultural performances ended our itinerary at Whakarewarewa. The remaining time was spent handicraft shopping and sight seeing of geysers and mud pools on location. After eating the jagung rebus and buying a handful of handcrafted pendants and rings, we retired at our motel for prayers and a quick meal before proceeding to Rainbow Springs.
"Breathe deeply, and take in the native bush, ferns, trees and plants that grow and flower all around you as you wander through the tree lined pathways at Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua. Enjoy the tranquillity of the crystal clear mineral water that flows tirelessly from the subterranean springs throughout the park. Marvel at the silent grace of the magnificent specimens of Rainbow, Brown and Tiger trout and feed them as they cruise the fern-fringed pools. Hear the bustling bush wildlife, and meet the curious species of native birds on display."
Excerpt taken from the offical website.
We were unfortunate to have missed the chance to see New Zealand's national icon the kiwi bird since we arrived at the premise after sunset. But it was a unique encounter on its own to stroll around the park at night. The pathway was amply lighted by colourful lights which interestingly enhanced the natural surrounding. As much as we tried to immerse ourselves in the whole experience, we couldn't help but feel ravenous. It was cold, everyone was hungry, my parents were whining to get back. It was hilarious for my sis and I to walk with a reluctant group whose only wish was to savour warm plates of rice. So we hastened our steps and just passed through quickly all the picture displays and informational data spread throughout the park and hurried back to the van.
Halfway through Rainbow Springs. Everyone was tired by then.
Off we whooshed to the motel, masak nasi, sup sayur and maggie and brewed pots of hot chocolate before snuggling up to bed to rest. The next adventure which soon to be embarked would arrive at the tweak of sunlight. And that is another story for another day folks.