We arrived into rotorua fairly early, and the majority of us had decided to attend a Maori experience later that night, so we went straight to the booking office before heading to our hostel.
Once we had dropped all out stuff off we went exploring. Strangely enough rotorua actually reminded me quite a lot of an American suburb as it is very grid like in layout. Charlie and I took a stroll down to the shopping mall but as it was a Sunday most of the shops were closed. So we grabbed some lunch and headed back to the hostel.
We spent most of the afternoon sat by the pool chilling out in the sun as there weren’t a huge amount of activities to do in rotorua.
Later that night we all got picked up to go to the Maori village. On the way there we were told what to expect from our evening. It was explained to us that when we arrived we would be greeted in a traditional way and it was very important that we took this seriously so as not to cause offence to any of the staff. We were also told we needed to appoint a chief, it was at this point that charlie looked me dead in the eye and said “DON’T YOU DARE!” luckily for him, no one trusted him to keep a straight face during the greeting so our friend Dan was appointed our chief instead.
Once we arrived we were all lead into an outside, small auditorium type area which was covered in beautiful carvings. The chief of the village then came out and started singing to us while other members of the village also came out and started to dance all while looking as menacing as possible with their tongues sticking out and there eyes bulging. They then offered dan (our chief) a peace offered to establish if we came in peace or if we were looking for war. Then dan had to do the traditional Maori greeting by touching noses twice with their chief.
Once this part of the evening was over we were then taken through into the actual village which was very cute. It was made up of about 7 or 8 fairly small huts which again were covered in beautiful carvings. At each of the huts where different members of the village, all in full costume waiting to do a different activity with us to try and show us some of the activities Maoris did to pass the time.
One hut taught us about some of the training methods that were used for fighting. The second hut showed us how to do the haka, the third explained how the carvings that were on all the buildings were made, the forth showed us a special ball on string technique that the women used to help tell stories and the last one was about some of the games that were played by the younger generation.
Once everyone had made there way around each of the huts we were then taken to see our food being raised. Our dinner that night had been cooked in a traditional Maori style. A huge hole is dug in the ground and the bottom is lined with hot coals. They then place all the meat on top of the coals to form the bottom layer. They then use potato sacks to separate the food and then add the potatoes, they repeat this finally adding the vegetables. The whole thing is then covered at the top with fern leaves and then mud to trap in all the steam. It was very similar to what we saw in Fiji.
Once all the food had been raised we then moved onto the last section of the evening. We were taken to a large hall, similar to a school hall, however it was still in keeping with the theme. We all took our seats while the Maori people showed us a variety of different song and dance numbers. After this we were then shown a short DVD about the history of the Maori people and how everything changed when captain cook arrived. It was actually quite moving.
Then we were taken for our feast! There was so much food it was crazy! And it all tasted amazing! After nearly setting the place alight due to someone knocking over the biggest bowl of food with a lit flame underneath it (Emma tried to blame this on Charlie but he claims it wasn’t him!) we made a hasty exit back to our hostel where we met up with the rest of our group, mainly the boys that had decided against coming, for a few drinks as our friend George had found out that morning that he had got into the uni he wanted to go to. The girls had also bumped into some guys they met up in the bay of islands so there was quite a big group of us. I don’t think anyone had a crazy late night though as we were leaving for lake Taupo in the morning.