Day 10 – Auckland to Rotorua

Our family friends kindly dropped me off in town at 7:00am and I was able to quickly check my email before heading out again with our new driver, Buz, who was awesome and a whole new group of people just joining the Magic Bus experience. Before leaving the city we made our way to the top of Mount Eden, the highest natural point in Auckland with stunning 360 degree views of the city in the early morning light.

Auckland city skyline viewed from the summit of Mount Eden

panorama of Auckland over the crater at the top of Mount Eden

panorama looking south from the summit of Mount Eden

panorama looking East from the summit of Mount Eden, Auckland

The Magic Bus - our trusty steed

Next stop was Matamata where you can see the Shire (Middle-earth) or Hobbiton. Here you can do tours of the movie set where they filmed Lord of the Rings. Again I am not fanatical so couldn’t justify the cost to myself but others said it was fantastic. However when we arrived at the Shire’s Rest restaurant they had a team building challenge for us which my group won so we got a bottle of Harringtons Sobering Thought , a beer exclusively brewed for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In order to not impair the performance of the actors it has a very low alcohol volume but was very refreshing and a nice addition to the backpacker lunch special.

panorama of the hills near the Shire in Hobbiton

our prize, a bottle of Sobering - the official beer for Lord of the Rings

We then carried on through Paeroa again, home of the famous L&P drink, and on to Rotorua.

some Maori carvings on the side of the road

This time I stayed at the Kiwi Paka hostel which was awesome. They are family run, so welcoming and friendly plus they have their own swimming pool that is geothermal heated to 39 degrees Celsius where we relaxed with a few beers later that night. Bev also knows everything about anything and they can help book any activity often with some exclusive discounts. I only wish I had stayed there on my previous visit.

That night we all went to the Tamaki Maori Village for a cultural show and feast. I thought to myself that I couldn’t come to New Zealand and not learn something about the Maori, well, this experience was fantastic and one of the highlights of my trip. They collect you from your hostel and drive you out to the village. It’s not ordinary bus ride though. Our driver, Mark, explained the meaning of the Maori greeting “Kia Ora” (be well/healthy or hi) in no less than 62 different languages, impressive to say the least. Once there we had a traditional Maori welcome with the women singing and warriors dancing before a peace offering was made and accepted by the respective chiefs that had been nominated from our buses.

being welcomed at the Tamaki Cultural Village

We then proceeded into the village where you see and learn about the art forms, traditions and ways of life for the Maori.

the Tamaki Village setting under the trees

demonstration of their traditional tattoo techniques used by the Maori

The chief inviting us to join them for dinner

Before dinner though we must take it out of the earth oven or Hangi where it has been cooking for several hours.

unearthing our meal from the "Hangi" or "earth oven"

the food looked absolutely mouth-watering

While they laid the food out for us in the large dining hall we got to sit back and enjoy a concert  in the sacred meeting-house. Here the Maori people entertain and share more of their culture with you through songs and dance.

the concert with traditional music, song and dance

After the show you get to feast and feast you do. There was so much delicious food but you must remember to leave space for the world-famous Pavlova, it was so good I had 3 helpings. The evening ends with a closing ceremony of songs and speeches as well as the appointed chiefs being lead in a Haka. I also got pulled up to do the Haka, probably because of being South African and our endless rivalry with New Zealand on the rugby field.

Then you climb back onto your waka (transport) and Mark drove us back to the hostels entertaining us all the way with songs from all the countries of the nationalities of those on the bus. An absolutely amazing evening and a Maori experience not to be missed if you ever visit New Zealand.

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About Rory Alexander

Ever growing blogger that spent 2 years in living in China, then 6 weeks backpacking around New Zealand and is now back home in South Africa for the foreseeable future.
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8 Responses to Day 10 – Auckland to Rotorua

  1. manshurzikri says:

    It’s awesome. Let me to post it in my blog (on the link format), please! 😀

  2. Pingback: dari Auckland ke Rotorua « catatan sekitar

  3. mschristiner says:

    Looks like fun! The food also looks delicious 🙂

  4. roanmack13 says:

    Very impressive traditional oven that, must have been delicious and a sight to behold. Just wish you could have gotten a little video clip of you joining in on the Haka. (that is of course if you’re not holding out on us???)

    P.S. My favourite dessert is Pavlova! Come to think of it, I must try and get a decent recipe for it. You don’t by any chance have one do you?

    • I would have liked a video myself but I got dragged up unexpectedly at the last minute. Definitely would have shared if I had it.
      They kept the recipe a strict secret but when you get round to making one don’t forget to invite me and I’ll let you know how it compares.

  5. Suzanne Thurston says:

    Would you recommend staying In Rotorua an extra day or two?

    • It all depends on what experiences you are after but for me Rotorua didn’t hold that much attraction. The spas are nice but only require a couple of hours and you may want to walk around part of Lake Rotorua. I thought the Tamaki Cultural Show was great and that’s in the evening. There are also lots of “fun” things to do like Zorbing and the Gondola Luge and the Magic Bus was actually trialling a late start the next morning because people were asking for more time in Rotorua. Some people loved it and it’s a very popular tourism destination within New Zealand but for my time and money there are more beautiful, once in a life time places to spend a few days like, Abel Tasman, the Glaciers (to ensure you get some good weather) and Wanaka is beautiful.

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