DAY #2: 7/12/08 - Auckland, New Zealand
Kai oro! The main cultures here in New Zealand are British and Maori, Maori being the native people of New Zealand, and kai oro is Maori for hello!
Today was quite a busy day down here in New Zealand. We woke up around 6am New Zealand time, which was about 1pm the day before back home. After a light breakfast, in which we discovered the wonders of vegemite, we were off to the Waitomo caves by bus. The ride took about 3 hours, but it didn't seem to bad as we drove through the New Zealand countryside. This is a very beautiful country. The land is very hilly with many rolling hills, rivers, and sheep or cow pastures. There is also a lot of forest and it was all very green, as it is currently the winter and very rainy. The Waitomo caves are famous for their inhabitants, the glow worms. Once we got down into the cave we were greeted with dangling stalactites and protruding stalacmites as well as odd little lights on the ceiling. As it turns out, the little lights were the fabled glow worms! We were supposed to take a boat into the glow worm grotto where there are supposedly many more, but the rains had flooded the bottom portion of the cave and we weren't able to go any further. After exploring the open portions of the cave for awhile, it was time to move on to our next event, the thermal village.
We travelled for another hour or so up to the city of Rotorua, where just outside the village of Tewhakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao, more commonly known as Whakarewarewa: The Thermal village. (I promise those are correct spellings) is situated. The village is an actual Maori village where people still live an work, they do however allow guests to common and tour their village. We were greeted by our tour guide Wai (pronounced why) who took us all around the village and showed us the various sites. Because of the village's location amongst many underground thermal springs there are many unique features of the village. For one there is a constant scent of sulphur as it leaks out of the ground. There also several different steaming pools around. Some are used for cooking corn, as the temperature of the water is about 95 degrees Celsius, around 200 Fahrenheit. They also has some mud pits around. The mud at surface level is 98 degrees Celsius. Both the mud and water possess many healing and therapeutic properties due to the accumulated minerals from eroding the ground. Of course you would want to cool them a little bit first; there is nothing therapeutic about third degree burns. Another interesting feature was the steam ovens used all over the village. They are just basic boxes built over a steam vent and function quite well for slow cooking meat as well as vegetables. After our tour ended, we had daily mass in the Maori Catholic chapel. The power wasn't working and it was starting to get dark since it is winter here, so we made do and had a candle light mass.
After mass, we got back on our bus and began the 3 hour ride home. Once we got back to the hotel, it was off to bed, as we have another busy day tomorrow: a cruise tour of Auckland and a trip to Mt. Eden.
The St. Margaret Mary WYD Pilgrims