Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Te Puia

A couple of months ago, I got to visit the number 1 place on my "Bucket List" -- New Zealand!

It was a FANTASTIC trip and the country was just as beautiful and the people even nicer than I anticipated. One of the most fascinating places we visited on our recent trip was the city of Rotorua and the area surrounding it. The region is visually stunning with gorgeous lakes, mountains, and geothermal hot springs. But also the most native New Zealanders, the Maori, live in this area, which has historically held deep spiritual significance for them.

The city of Rotorua is built on the shores of a beautiful lake of the same name, and has lots of geothermal hot springs and other natural wonders within the city and close by. One of the places I enjoyed seeing the most was a Maori historical and cultural center called Te Puia which showcased two geysers (shown above) and all things Maori.

The entrance to Te Puia.

A closer look at one of the elaborate wooden carvings, which are tributes to a family's ancestors.

There is also a carving school on the premises which teaches traditional Maori carving techniques like these as well as construction of things like buildings and war canoes.

The local Maori also give several performances daily in traditional dress. They do dances, songs, and even some fighting moves. Here are a couple of Maori warriors in authentic costumes, inside a beautiful meeting house built with traditional decorations.

Here is the outside of the meeting house (called a wharenui). The red color was originally derived from local clay.

I was surprised at how many place names and cities in New Zealand are from the Maori language, which is Polynesian in origin (so there are lots of vowels). Besides Rotorua, we also visited Whangarei, Paihia, the Tutukaka coast (gorgeous but I didn't get any good piccies due to rain), Taupo (including Haku falls), Otorohanga, and Mangere, to name a few!

I'll stop for now but will post more pictures of the simply stunning landscapes later. Since we stayed on the North Island for this visit, we will have to go back for a tour of the South Island! I can't wait!


Sheila Deeth said...

Wow! Cool pictures. It sounds a fantastic trip!

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Fantastic Pic!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

HI Sheila!
GREAT to see you, and yes, it was a WONDERFUL trip! Even though the 12 1/2 hour plane ride was pretty awful, it was worth it! I can't wait to go back!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I have an ancient 35mm camera that doesn't take very good shots sometimes, but NZ was so beautiful that even my funky camera and I could NOT make it look bad. ;-)


Helen said...

I do thank you for these beautiful photos and so glad that you got to go there one day I am going to be able to travel but in the mean time I can enjoy your photos and stories about your travel

Have Fun

Jane said...

How cool, Aunty Cindy. You already know I've been fascinated with New Zealand since the LOTR trilogy came out. I do hope to make it there someday.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I know you'll LOVE NZ when you get a chance to visit!

Do not be surprised someday when you open your door and I am standing on your doorstep. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

The LOTR movies really cemented my desire to see New Zealand too! A lot of the scenes were shot on the South Island, and unfortunately, I didn't make it there this trip. So I will have to go back someday soon and stay strictly on the South Island!

I'll know you'll love it, even if the plane flight will be even worse for you than it was for me!