Auckland guy and I didn’t manage to meet up. I am gutted. He would’ve loved to catch up but apparently me reaching out to him 4 days ago was on too short notice. I told him that I had tried to contact him in September and again in November, but he hadn’t replied and I wasn’t sure if he ignored my messages or just hadn’t seen them. It turns out he hadn’t seen them, which makes it even worse now because I know he definitely would’ve made lots of time to meet me. Next time, in about 5 years or so. Mhhh (still gutted).
Today we are finally on the road, our first stop was Rotorua – a famous area to experience a bit of the Maori culture. Surrounded by those famous rolling green hills (best known from the Hobbit movies) and many dairy farms. Dairy production is the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s economy, there are about 28 million cattle in the country (down from about 70 million 10 years ago) and 13 million sheep. (Apologies for the boring statistics 🙂 ).
What else happened during our drive to Rotorua? I had my first taste of Hokey Pokey ice-cream. This is a traditional ice-cream over here, and yes – it is delicious. I will have plenty of that in the coming days!
We were invited to a Maori ceremony with lots of dancing, a Hakka performance, a Hangi feast (food cooked in an underground oven) and the visit of geysers. We had to elect a chief from our group, who then was welcomed by the Maori clan chief with the traditional greeting (noses touching twice – no head butting, not kissing!). I loved the performances, those warriors are quite an impressive sight (most of them very good looking, furious, strong) – of course I managed to get a picture surrounded by them. Cheeky grin. I also joined the Maori ladies and learned a traditional dance, using a poi (originally a weapon, a leather ball attached to a short string, which is swirled around one’s body). I did hit one of my fellow group mates, and a Maori lady and laughed so much during that dance that my belly ached. So much fun!