APRIL 15, 2003

We left Taupo, stopping just outside of town to view the Aratiatia Rapids in full force ... we just missed the opened flood gates (Sherrie's fault) but could still see the dark water line where the water level was only a short ten minutes before.

The Aratiatia Rapids were dammed in order to use as a power source.  Each day the dam gates open (every two hours from 10am to 4pm - except in winter no 4pm) allowing the built up water to roar down the narrow gorge for thirty minutes before closing again. 

From there we headed north to Rotorua .. the road was very good and at time we felt like we were driving through Manning Park back home. 

Just south of Rotorua we stopped at Whakarewarewa (which means gathering place for the war parties of Chief Wahiao).  This award winning cultural and tourist attraction has hourly guided tours but visitors are welcome to wander.  
At the Carving School (Te Wananga Whakairo) the art of Maori carving is taught.  This prestigious occupation in the Maori culture is dominated by men and this particular institute is a men-only domain.  Present tool technology includes a range of steel chisels and adzes while a handsome display of traditional tools is shown in the entrance hall.  The favoured timber used for Maori wood carving is the native totara (a reddish wood) and the intricate patterns are taken from the original tribes (each with their own motifs gathered from nature).  Most wall plaques (like the picture right) show a fierce figure - indicative of the war dance the Maori did to scare off or intimidate their opponents.  The stuck out tongue is simply to make them appear more imposing.  The Maori believed in one supreme god and felt that they should not create a face in their art that was already created by God the creator.  Human faces were adopted after the introduction of Christianity.  Prior to Christian influences, carvings showed three fingers for the three phases of live - birth, life and death.  After Christianity came to the Maori a fourth finger was added to represent the after-live. 
Like pictures in a book, Maori carvings support tribal oral history.   During their apprenticeship (supported by scholarships) the  student's work is the property of the institute and is sold in the gift shop to off-set costs.
In the weaving house (Te Rito) women create art through the traditional methods of identifying and using native plants for weaving.  Clothing, baskets and mats, from weaving, created protection, food storage and preservation along with other fundamental household tasks.  

We were shown how the Maori made their traditional dance skirts (too uncomfortable for everyday use) from the flax leaf.  First scraping off the green waxy surface (with a mussel shell) in areas to expose the white sinews (that will accept dye), stripping one end and then spinning and plying the sinew strands using nothing but the weavers hand and leg.  Once the leaves have been woven into a waist band the fabric is dyed using local mud.  The tube-like finish is naturally created as the flax leaf dries.   

The guide then took us into the Thermal Reserve to see the geysers and bubbling mud.     Ngamokaiakoko is a large pool of boiling mud whose name means "the pets or play things of Koko" (a historic Chief).  
It was given the name "Frog Pool" by Europeans because the plopping mud reminded them of leaping frogs.  This mud is the result of acid gases and steam that  cause the decomposition of minerals (feldspars) to form a clay called Kaolin. Kaolin is white when pure but fine black sulphur turns it to gray.  Activity of "plopping" varies with the amount of rainfall, but the temperature of the steaming mud bursts is approximately 90-95 degrees Celsius.
The largest of several geysers within the valley, the Pohutu (Splashing) Geyser erupts on average once or twice each hour and can reach heights of up to 30 meters (90 feet). 
 Pohutu Geyser is a complex spring which discharges water in a cyclic manner. It is thought that a geyser requires an intricate plumbing system involving one or more chambers into which hot water, streams and gases are all fed.  Eventually this reservoir becomes sufficiently pressurized and hot enough for the water to begin boiling.  From the rapid and violent pressure within the chamber, water is forced up the geyser vent and ejected into the air.

 Beside Pohuto and equally as active is the Prince of Wales Feathers which reaches heights of 13 meters (40 feet)

We didn't want to miss an opportunity to see more kiwi.  This nocturnal, flightless bird without a tail has nostrils at the tip of its very long beak to smell for its food as it prods constantly into the ground searching for insects, grubs and earthworms.

The kiwi relies on its powerful legs to carry it from danger.  They remain hidden in their burrows during the day, emerging at dusk to search for meals which might also include berries, shoots and leaves.  It's disproportionately large egg is a major ordeal for the female when laid and the male's task is to brood over the eggs for some 65 days before the young emerge.  

The kiwi is held in high esteem by the Maori with  kiwi feather cloaks being a sign of chieftainship.  

Picture is of stuffed Kiwi because pictures not allowed - Kiwis are high stress birds.  

A recreation of a Maori village features sleeping shelters and food storage buildings built from local resources.  

In the left picture, Terry investigates the different homes.  One is built in the ground to take advantage of the warmth.  Subsequent ones are built with more layering on the walls and more decoration.  The food house (picture right) was raised from the ground to protect food from animals and insects ..... as well as children.

As the Maori became more settled and tribes larger the food houses became more decorative and larger.  It was the most important building in the village and was a sign of wealth.  The larger size showed visitors that the village had ample food and the decoration show that villagers had time to spare for the arts.

The "front door way" is there for ventilation.  Access to inside is a trap door underneath.

Puau (Abalone) shells are used as a sparkling background for carved eyes.

Maori most often built their villages on a hill with the chief's sleeping house on top.  To fortify the village further, inside the palisade of manuka (pointed stakes surrounding the village) they dug a trench and piled the dirt high on the village side.  Any attacker would have to climb up the high pointed fence, climb or jump down the other side (which would put them in the ditch) and then climb up the steep sided trench .... all the time fighting off the clubs and spears of the village warriors.   The sleeping shelters are made from tree fern trunks which do not burn well ...  which provided a further form of defense.

The decorations of the entry way and the meeting house were carved by the Arts and Craft Institute students.  It is the place were a free concert (sometimes two) during the day is held.  Tickets should be requested early.  Tickets are sold for evening performances which include a traditional Maori greeting, a meal and performance.
We finished off this charming experience with a parking lot picnic snack. 

Cheers everyone!

 

(It's coke)

After checking into our accommodations, we went shopping at the local supermarket.  The fish monger picked out our dinner for tonight and we picked out some lamb for tomorrow night.  Before having dinner we declared it "Laundry Night".  Dinner was a little late but our clothes were clean.

 

APRIL 16, 2003

We started the day in Rotorua which takes its name from the lake.  Rotorua is a Maori word that means "the second lake" (roto=lake and rua=two). 

The countryside around Lake Rotorua was originally settled circa 1350AD by the descendents of Polynesian voyagers.  After a half century of fighting between the British and Maori, near the end of the 19th century the 'mineral waters that bubbled from the ground' started attracting visitors who wanted to relax and improve their health. 

Today the population of the Rotorua area is 68,000 (European 65%, Maori 30%, other 5%) but swells with 1.2 million visitors each year (20% of Rotorua's population are employed in the tourist industry).   We asked some locals what they call people who live in Rotorua ... Rotoruaians?  Rotoruaites?  They told us they are called "Rotovegans" ... because the entry into town is lined with neon signs advertising motels - reminiscent of  Las Vegas. 

IWe began our day trip around Lake Rotorua.

One attraction we had planned to attend for years "if we ever got to New Zealand" is the one at the Agridome.  Godfrey Bowen had brought the show, that showcases nineteen different  sheep breeds of New Zealand in an entertaining stage format, to the first ever World Sheep & Wool Congress held in Edmonton in 1986. This show has been performed in many parts of the world including a performance for the Queen. Godfrey's first claim to fame was that of a champion sheep shearer  who introduced  the "Bowen method of shearing" ... one that took less time and toll on the human body. 

Godfrey Bowen in competition

Today the show is produced by Godfrey's son, Paul, and his cousin, Warren. 

Together they have kept the traditional show and have added other elements that keep visitors, young and old, informed and entertained.

Before the show, Terry was looking at some pictures of Godfrey on the wall and had asked one of the staff if Godfrey was still involved stating that he had met Godfrey in Edmonton.  Warren overheard the conversation and mentioned it to Paul.  After the show Paul requested a meeting.  He told us that Godfrey had passed away in 1994.  At age 72 Godfrey shore fifty-five sheep on a Saturday.  The next day, Sunday, he gave a sermon in church, sat down and died.  Paul took us into one of the back rooms where we had a lovely visit sharing memories and getting caught up with their current status and future plans. 
Further around the lake we took a walk through a stand of Redwood trees that had been planted in the 1920s.  The sun filtered through the cathedral-like grove sided by a spring fed creek which was favoured by a whole heap of ducks. 

After driving the rest of the way around Rotorua Lake we went to the Skyline Gondola Ride.  

From the view point at lake level, Sherrie didn't think much of it "next to Grouse Mountain it looks pitiful."  But the gondola ride up was indeed enjoyable and gave a grand view of Rotorua and the lake with Mokoia Island in the centre. 

A cup of tea and a scone in the restaurant at the top, gave us an opportunity to rest and enjoy the view.

As part of the ticket package we had two rides each on the Luge.  The "luges" are 3-wheel carts that can be maneuvered down three different tracks.  The first go down we took the scenic track ... a two kilometre scenic ride through Redwood trees with great views along the way.  What a hoot!   
To get back up to the top again there is a chairlift at the base of the luge track.  The chairlift is also designed to pick up and carry the luges. 

Now that we had the "feel" of these adapted tricycles our second go down was on the Intermediate track .. a little steeper 1.7 km ride with some tighter twists and turns.

We felt a little like Stephen when he was four years old and didn't want to get off the motorcycle merry-go-round at the Fort Langley May Day celebrations.

Before returning to our accommodations we drove to St Faith's Anglican Church.  It was built in 1910 and features a window depicting Christ.  The image floats in the centre of the window looking out to the bay. When viewed from nearby pews it appears as if the image of Christ is walking on the water of the bay.
Pictures are not allowed to be taken inside the church and the image photographed from the outside does not hold the impact.

The neighbourhood around the church is spotted with steam vents. Some holes are fenced or covered with vented man-hole covers while others seep through the earth in yards, street ditches or small ponds .... like the bubbling pond on the other side of the church parking lot.

APRIL 17, 2003

It was a travel day and a stop at Okere Falls gave it a positive start. 

Okere Falls (also known as the Kaituna) is a significant Maori and European historical site.    The Okere River tumbles over four waterfalls (one as high as eight metres [26 ft]) and through regenerating native bush before opening to the Okere Trout Pools.   
The river is classified as Grade 5 for river rafters and canoeists ... not one to be attempted by inexperienced people.

Today's visitors follow in the footsteps of overseas tourists who have come to the Okere River for well over one hundred years on pleasant day-trips from Rotorua to view the Falls and fish for trout.  For travelers moving between Tauranga and Rotorua before the late 1800s, the Okere River was as far as they could go by road.  Ferries were operated by local Maori until 1872 when bridges were built to enabled people to travel directly to Rotorua.

The expansion of the tourist industry in the late 1800s demanded power for facilities such as sewers and drains.  As early as 1882, a local hotel owner had been in touch with Thomas Edison in the USA intending to have his premises lit by electricity.  However, it wasn't until 1897 that moves began to secure land for a powerhouse at Okere Falls.  The completed power station came into operation in May 1901, just in time for a visit from the Duke and Duchess of York. 

We wondered if they made their way down the path and steps to go behind the falls as Terry did when he snapped this picture (left).  The cave behind the falls was a hiding place for Moari women and children when their nearby village was under attack.  There were no paths at that time (nor would they have wanted to give their enemies access) instead they would let themselves down by rope to the cave and remained there until it was safe to come out.

The power station played an important part in New Zealand's history and contributed greatly to the development of the area.  At the time, Rotorua was just the fourth town in New Zealand to have electricity.  Having electric power was a wonder and status symbol for the people of Rotorua.   One family was so proud of its electricity that an electric kettle was placed alongside the children in an official family photograph. 

The power station became another draw for tourists to the area. Demand for electricity in the Rotorua area grew rapidly exceeding all expectations.  By 1907 the power station could no longer meet the demand and a wing dam to double the output was installed in 1908.  By the 1930s the station became obsolete and was officially closed in 1939.

Today a viewing platform looks over the old power station site.  A turbine has been raised from the site (picture right).  It was one of two Waverley Horizontal turbines originally  brought to the site by oxen team in 1900 and installed in the dynamo house.  These water driven turbines were connected to two 50 kilowatt generators enabling 100 kilowatt output.  

We traveled north ....  heading towards sun and warmth (like traveling south in the northern hemisphere).  At Tauranga, on the Bay of Plenty, we walked in the sun, watched sunbathers on the beach and surf board riders on the waves (and in the waves) and snacked on ice cream cones, while we debated the pros and cons of staying so Terry could climb up Mount Maunganui or push northwards.  Our concern was getting accommodation ... New Zealand was on the (Easter Break)  move.

To move northwards won.

Our plans to follow the coast up the Coromandel Peninsula to Hikuai, cut across the peninsula and stay in Thames changed.  We drove from Tauranga to Waihi and then cut across on Highway 2 to Highway 1 where we turned north towards Auckland.  

Map of trip 

We talked about finding somewhere to stay on the south side of Auckland but then decided to push on to the north side.  It was dark by the time we pulled into the little town of Albany where two older gentlemen, selling poppies for New Zealand's commemoration of WWI service men, advised us to continue to Orewa.  Following their suggestion, we found a place to stay.  

 

April 18, 2003

Orewa is a picturesque seaside town but other than a quick orientation drive we did not take in any of its walkways or regional parks.  

A stop at a Visitor Information Centre in Whangarei secured reservations for us in Kerikeri.    

With the pressure off, we enjoyed driving to Whangarei Falls where we stopped for a picnic lunch.

Just as today, in the 1880s and 1900s the park was a very popular picnic spot both above and below the falls. .  People came from Whangarei by carriage, horse or on foot for a day's outing.  Although originally held privately, control of the land was given to the Whangarei Borough in 1958.

The 26.3metre high falls were formed by the Hatea River crossing a basalt lava flow, estimated to be about 2.5 million years old.  The flow, here around 40 metre thick, cooled slowly and it's middle third split into "columnist basalt".  These upright six sided columns form when the cooling basalt cracks.  The river continually erodes the edge of the falls and slowly cuts a gorge as the fall moves upstream.  The falls have moved about 400 metres since the river started crossing the flow.

We have seen a great many falls since our arrival in New Zealand.  These falls and the setting they are in, certainly rate top marks in our travel diary .... even though the rain began while we walked the pathways around the park. 

The rain came in waves as we drove towards Kerikeri with hopeful warm sunshine between showers.  

After an orientation drive around the little town, we checked into the Cottle Court Motel and began making plans for a three day stay in the area ... taking time out to admire the sunset. 

 

APRIL 19, 2003

When we woke, it was raining .... but Terry saw brightness in the distance and with positive attitudes we ventured to Paihia.  It was raining when we parked the car and boarded the ferry to Russell.  

Russell once called "the Hellhole of the Pacific" was described by a surveyor as a "vile hole, full of impudent, half-drunken people" when he saw the stop over for European whalers.  Today, a small sign on the outside of a shop remembers this reputation and says "A HISTORIC NOTE  This spot was the site of a Maori Pa (fortified village) for many centuries before the coming of the early white whalers and sealers.  Research indicates that on this spot stood one of the first  grog shops and whore-houses which served the sailors and traders who caroused on these shores after long months at sea.  (NOTE - NEITHER BUSINESS IS CARRIED ON HERE AT PRESENT!)"

map

While waiting for the rain to subside, we had a hot drink and scone at one of the beachfront cafes.  We then walked up to the highest point by the town along roadways and nature trails, appreciating the architecture, flowers and views as we went.  
On the top of the hill a mast stands tall against cannonball coloured clouds.  A plaque shares a piece of the site's history:

"On this spot was erected in the year 1840 the first official signal flagstaff aft the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  Owing, however, to misunderstanding between the two races [British and Maori] the original flagstaff was cut down by the Maoris on July the 8th 1844 by one of Hone Heke's chiefs (He himself having pledged his word to Archdeacon William Williams not to cut it down as he had threatened, and on this occasion refused to break his word.) and another having been erected in its place this in turn was cut down on January the 10th 1845.  A third was erected on January 17th and this was laid low before daylight on the 19th.  This again was replaced by a fourth and this time sheathed for the lower 20 feet with iron as a further precaution.  However, this proved no protection and the staff was again cut down in the early morning of March 11th 1845.  Kororareka was sacked and destroyed during the fighting which followed and this time the staff was not re-erected by the British.  

However, during 1857 as a voluntary act of those who were directly concerned in cutting it down (and organized by Maihi Raraone Kawiti, son of Kawitione of the Maori chiefs) a noble spar was felled in the bush, towed to and prepared on the Kororareka Beach, dragged up the hill by four hundred men specially chosen to represent every section of the Maori tribes no "friendly" being permitted part or lot in the undertaking.  

For several weeks the band of willing workers toiled at their self-appointed task, and early in January 1858 the British flag, amidst the general rejoicings of both races, again floated at the peak of a mast which received the somewhat imposing title of "Whakakotahitanga" (Being at one with the Queen) and through all the intervening years the peace which it commemorated has never been broken.  The present staff is the remaining portion of the original "Whakakotahitanga". -- "

We took a picture of a couple from Australia with their camera and they reciprocated (picture right).

On another high site we looked at a structure that looked like a giant's sundial with a mosaic map of the Bay of Islands.

 

Making our way down the hill, we took a different pathway that lead us down to a beach around the point from the town.  High tide was shortly after our arrival in Russell and although it was making it's way out it was still too high for us to traverse the route back to Russell without going over mussel or lichen clad rock jetties. 
This created a bit of a dilemma .... because in two spots the trek required some rock climbing.  For those who are not aware, Sherrie is afraid of heights.  Terry not only dealt with the task at hand but also took on the role of coach and supporter (sometimes literally) to Sherrie.  So good at the job was he, that we made it around and took time to pick up shells and bits of naturally "sand blasted" glass.  The rain, thankfully, didn't impede our way.

Time was running short when we arrived back in town.  We had lots of time to catch the ferry, but most of the heritage sites closed at 4:00.  We took a picture of the Pompallier building (left) which had been built by French Roman Catholic Marist missionaries -- the first Catholic mission in Western Oceania.  Funding was minimal so they used the pise de terre  method of building as they had seen in their native Lyon, France.  This method uses rammed earth to build the walls.  After years of pounding sea winds and neglect, this heritage building has been extensively restored and is set in a garden created after 1880 from the crowded mission compound.

Inside there is a printing press and tannery.  Today's artisans do bookbinding much like they did in this building in 1842. 

Around the corner we visited Christ Church -- New Zealand's oldest surviving church established in 1836 and the only actual Georgian church (being built before Victoria's reign).  The church also lays claim to being the first church in the colony to be built by public subscription and it's had a battled raged about it (musket shot and cannonball scars remain).   It was a wonderful place to wander.  Inside the church to old wood shone with care and all the pews were padded with individual needlepoint pillows (three pictured below).
Outside the graveyard -- with graves of Maori chiefs and Europeans -- tells its own stories of the hardships faced by the people of this community.  So many so young.  One sad story is told by a gravestone that reads.  "In Memory Of Four Beloved Children of Samuel Hayward and Martha Ford who were all by one stroke of scarlet fever removed from the bosom of their fond parents to that of their heavenly father  --- John Wilcox - their eldest son born Dec 29 1825 died Oct 11 1838 Aged 13 years  ---  Samuel Hayward - fourth son born Sept 30 1832 died Oct 16 Aged 6 years  ---  Ellen Charlotte second daughter born Oct 23 1828 died Oct 13 1838 aged 10 years  ---  Alfred Randall fifth son born July 30 1836 died Oct 2_ 1838 aged 2 years."

An upright stone on the same grave continues the sad story.  "Maria Christian Heath third daughter of Samuel H. and Martha , Ford who was born March 23 1848 and died September 6, 1852 aged 4 years and 5 months.  ---  Also of Theodor Hayward Wilsox sixth son of the above who was born Oct 29 1849 and died October 25 1852 aged 3 years."

On our way back to the ferry, we ducked into small art galleries and antique shops.  Terry noticed a squall on it's way towards us so we made a dash for the ferry and climbed on board as soon as the entry door opened.  By the time we docked at Paihia, on the other side of the bay, a heavy rain was falling.  Like others around us we scurried from shelter to shelter but by the time we reached the car we were drenched.  

The rain was with us all the way back to our room.  Another dash out to pick up groceries and then back for a hot shower and a nice lamb dinner.  

It continued to rain ..... it rained hard ..... and then it rained harder .... it rained so hard that the tv stations could not receive their satellite feed.

 

 

continue to April 20, 2003

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