Travel Elysium

New Zealand – Day 7

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day – Henry David Thoreau

We started the day with a rather pleasant walk around Hamurana Springs. This place is just a 15-20 minute drive out of Rotorua and well worth the detour. We had a bit of trouble finding it, but it’s on the left hand side coming out of Rotorua on Hamurana Road. It’s a super easy track, and we spent a long time just feeling lost in the wonderful tranquil nature.

The walk itself takes you through some Redwood trees, so if you don’t want to pay for the treetop walk, this is a great, free alternative!

The place is pretty mesmerising.

 

The colours of the spring change throughout the walk

It is brilliantly blue.

 

Grotto

About halfway around the loop track you reach the head of the spring and the little grotto underneath is amazing. People have been coming for years to throw coins and it’s a truly beautiful sight. ‘It is the largest on the North Island and the rock surrounding this spring is volcanic in origin. The water travels down from the Mamaku plateau through underground aquifers, a journey which takes 70 years.’

From here, we went to each lunch at the Fat Dog Cafe

It was very cute and quirky inside, and extremely busy which suggested it was a good place to eat. It also has several good reviews.

Although my boyfriend and I ate in the same place, and ordered the exact same meal, our experiences were vastly different. We both ordered the special of Angus steak, which came out beautifully presented, and it was around $21.

However, Mark’s meal was full of nice juicy cuts of meat, with barely any fat and maybe one bit of gristle, and mine was inedible. I got about two bites of meat, and the rest were horrible cuts of fat and gristle. I wanted to complain, but it was super busy in the cafe and we had to get to our next stop. So this was rather disappointing. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend this place.

Next up, fun at the Luge! Here we purchased tickets for the gondola ride, and 3 runs of the luge track.

View from the Gondola

Looking over Lake Rotorua (doesn’t smell as much from up here).

There were 3 tracks to choose from on the Luge: Beginners – Intermediate – Advanced.
I was secretly scared of all three.

Maybe not so secretly

The lines to the tracks were all pretty long, however the one furthest away from where you first arrive is shorter.

Waiting in line and the close end to where we arrived.

Once we got onto the track, and had survived the beginners course, I gained a little bit of confidence. I was even excited to go back! We then went onto intermediate, and went back up the chairlift to tackle advanced.

Sadly, once we reached the front of the line, for some unknown reason they had closed the track to advanced, and once we reached the bottom it was reopened. We assume there was something blocking the track as we reached the top. But it was rather frustrating since we paid for 3 runs, and only got to experience 2. We would have been happy to wait up the top if they told us it was only a brief closure, but no one said anything – only that we couldn’t go down it.

From here, we made our way down to the Te Puia Cultural Village. Hot tip – if you have a pass for guided tour, the buffet and cultural dance for 4:30pm THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU CANNOT ACCESS THE PARK PRIOR TO 4:30PM. If only we had known this we would have received much more out of our experience. As July is winter, when we arrived it was already getting dark. Therefore our guided tour was not able to take us around the whole park, but it turns out we could have gone earlier and taken ourselves around.

First stop, we were taken to witness the great geyser.

Beware – it stinks like absolute crap. We were also able to sit on some heated rocks, which were hot due to the steam underground. That was cool.

The geyser

The tour took us around the park, showed us some traditional Maori architecture, such as their canoes, places where they stored food, and local carvings.

Canoe

Traditional larder

Meeting point

Next, we were able to view our food being cooked over hot stones, heated by the steam.

Cooking food over hot stones was a traditional method for the Maori people. The food we ate was delicious, but for some reason neither of us took photos of the actual buffet. It was well worth it though.

At the end of the tour we were able to view a traditional Maori dance where both Mark and I were roped into the ceremony. Mark became the ‘chief’ of all the tourists, and was awarded with a special welcome and gifted a palm leaf. He also had to greet the other chief by touching noses as a welcome.

I went up on stage with several other females to practice a traditional dance, which I wasn’t so skilled at.

The performance was great at drawing people in, and encouraging crowd participation. They also got the men up on stage to learn the Haka – traditional Maori war dance.

It was a really fun celebration, and a great way to end the night.

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