As part of our overnight trip to Rotorua, my girlfriend and I stopped off at Te Puia. It’s a combination Maori cultural center and geothermal area, which makes more sense than it might first appear because the geothermal pools were a big part of the Maori culture around Rotorua!
We signed up for the cultural performance as well as the entrance fee, so we got to see some quite talented performers show us what it would be like to be welcomed into a Maori village as visitors.
It first involved a fight to the death…or not! We had to choose a chief, who was given some words to say. We were then led into the hut.
The performance was varied and quite long and entertaining. We’d seen a similar performance at the Auckland Museum, but this one was much more elaborate. It was cool to see a lot of traditional dances and songs!
We were encouraged to take photos before, during, and after the performance, and I took advantage of that! It was really quite enjoyable.
There were other structures and items around to look at as well. This is a waka, or canoe.
We got a chance to see a whole scale village. Despite being a largely primitive culture, pre-European Maori settlements were still quite elaborate. The Maori people had a rich and varied culture, which is thankfully still celebrated and taught in New Zealand today. It’s places like Te Puia which help preserve that culture, not just by putting it on display but by training people to do woodworking, weaving, and other craftwork just as it would have been done 300 years ago or more.
There is plenty of really cool sculpture and woodwork to see all over the area.
Much of Te Puia is a site of heavy geothermal activity. Walking around the back part of the park really felt like we were in another world!
It almost feels sinister to see holes in the ground belching steam and sulfurous smells!
This mud is actually boiling! Rotorua mud is sold as a cosmetic product; the high mineral and sulfur content is supposedly good for the skin!
Te Puia is also home to the Pohuta Geyser, which erupts nearly every hour. We were there for much of the day so we got to watch several eruptions! Near the geyser are hot stone steps that are like naturally heated seats. As it was Winter, that was one of our favorite attractions!
The minerals and high sulfur content turn the pools into a really neat shade of blue-green. I think this is a really nice color!
The sulfury, yellowish tinge around the outside of the pool is somewhat less attractive, but you gotta work with what you got.
I hope you enjoyed coming to Te Puia with us! If you find yourself in the Rotorua area, it’s definitely worth the price of admission. Not only are you seeing some really cool stuff, you’re also supporting the continuation of the Maori culture and arts so future generations can continue to see this cool stuff.
Sadly, this is the last post from my girlfriend’s trip here to New Zealand. It’s also one of the last posts I’ll make from New Zealand myself! I’ll be returning to the US soon, but because I’ve been so dilatory at actually writing up my adventures, there’s still a couple of months’ worth of New Zealand content at least!
Stay tuned for more adventures :)