Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Love/Hate relationship with NZ.

  Most of the time I love New Zealand. It's a pretty sweet first posting for a family with middle and high school aged children.  At Flag Day, when I found out that we were being sent here, I cried tears of relief.  Then, the earthquake hit and I cried tears of frustration. My feelings toward my new temporary home can only be described now as bipolar.

Yesterday I marvelled looking at Lake Rotorua where we had rented a Bach (cabin) for a few days of R & R over the Easter Holiday.  After digesting the tranquil beauty of the place it took me half a second to remind myself that it was crated by a super volcano that erupted 240,000 years ago. You could say I am a glass is half empty kind of person right now when it comes to Mother Nature and New Zealand. Reminding myself that 240,000 years was a very long time ago, I was determined to put that thought in the back of my mind and enjoy the week. We scored the best view on the lake after all.

  Not to be deterred by the terrible weather that followed us, we ventured out to discover all that Rotorua had to offer. Our first stop was the spectacular Rotorua Museum which was once a healing center offering mineral and mud baths to optimistic visitors.

  Since it was Easter, they devised a clever game to make sure the younger visitors saw every exhibit on display.  Each child was given a clip board with clues on it. Each clue could be found somewhere in the museum. Once you found the clue, you got to check it off of your list. If you spotted the "Easter Bunny" in your search, you would be entered int o a special drawing for a spectacular prize. I have no idea what that prize is, but Ewan and I had fun running around the entire museum looking for the clues. I especially enjoyed the exhibit about Tarawera. Tarawera was "one of the worst recorded natural disasters in New Zealand history. Over 150 people died under the ash and mud that rained down on the district on that fateful night, and entire villages disappeared forever" according to the placard.  This happened on June 10, 1886. Uh, that's not that long ago. Tarawera was just one of the many volcanoes that dotted area.

  The next day we went to the site which is now a tourist attraction. The Buried Village of Te Wairoa was a thriving town back then thanks to the tourist industry fueled by the nearby pink and white terraces.  Sadly, they were buried in lava and mud as well. I would have liked to have seen them. While walking through the village you really can imagine what life was like back then. It certainly was a spectacular place to build a village, except for the massive volcano disguised as a peaceful mountain lurking in the background. Then, unexpectedly, we were treated to a magnificent waterfall that took my breath away. There she goes, reeling me back in.

  Our last night in Rotorua was for me. I had been dying to go to a Maori Hangi (dinner) since arriving and would not be denied. Nobody really wanted to go and balked about the 3 hour time requirement but it was well worth it. For a thorough explanation of the evening you can read about it on Adrian's blog. I will just tell you that the entertainment was brilliant, the costumes, very convincing and the food...not as bad as I expected. Besides, where else can you see an authentic Haka?

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