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Ciaran and Ruth's Worldwide Adventures

Rotorua to Waikato

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 17 August 2007 | Views [754] | Comments [1]

In the city of a thousand smells, Rotorua's most offensive olfactory insults are reserved for the only Maori owned park - the aptly named Hell's Gate. The name of this place - given by our very own GB Shaw - captures its essence. Shaw, upon seeing the patch of land, felt that the vision before him was close to that which his religious friends had promised his aethiest soul at the end of his life. When he mentioned this to the Maori owners of the area (who called the area Tikitere), rather than being insulted, they took to the fella, and selected his literary mind for the job of naming the vaious geysers and mudpools on the land. And so he did, with names as homely as Sodom and Gemorrah.

The most remarkable feature of the park, once you get past the smell, is the Kakahi Falls, gushing waterfalls that steam at 40 degrees Celsius. These falls - to be seen in Ciaran's company above - held a special position in Maori tradition. Upon returning from war, Maori warriors would bathe in these hot waters to mend their wounds. Newborn males were bathed in the waters by Tohunga - Maori high priests - as a dedication to the god of war. We just took a few photos. Also in the park is a mud volcano - the bubbling contents of which are occasionally distributed across a 15m radius, and various pools of water above boiling point. Signs in the park advise of the dangers while also informing that those who drop litter into the pools will be asked to retrieve it. Not a pleasant thought.

Earlier in the day we had visited Te Wairoa. This was a small village populated by about 120 Maori and 15 Europeans when the close-by volcano Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886. Included in the village's population at the time were a store owner from the Emerald Isle who went by the name of John Falloona (I suppose derived from O Faluin or something like that), a Scottish hotel owner named Joseph McRae and an Englishman who was McRae's only guest at the Rotomahana Hotel. Though most of the villagers were spared in the eruption, due to the modest distance from the volcano, the village itself was destroyed (it is now referred to as the Buried Village). Following a few archaelogical expeditions and clever investigations, the village was rediscovered and turned into the charming if sombre little park it now is. Tourism is not new to the area - the village had, before the eruption, actually turned its back on industry and let its mill run to ruin, in favour of making money from the tourism derived from the world-wide interest in the adjacent pink and white volcanic terraces. Alas the terraces were removed from the planet following Tarawera's activity, but much of the natural beauty that survived must rival these volcanic constructions for beauty. The Waitoharuru Valley and the thirty metre Wairere Waterfalls count as the most impressive of the collection of natural wonders.

Waikato is the name given to a river, a stream, a region, a stadium and a beer - and a damn nice one at that. Importantly though, this ubiquitous word serves as the name of Hamilton's local rugby team - last year's champions in the National Provincial Championship - the world's best provincial championship as the ads tell you. We made our way from Rotorua this morning to see this team play in defence of their title in Hamilton. To our mild surprise we found that the manager of the home team was Warren Gatland - former All-Black and boss of Ireland and London Wasps. We arrived at the Waikato Stadium a good hour or so before kick off - to give us time to buy the paraphanelia and absorb the atmosphere. For our entertainment, the cheerleaders gave us an on-pitch performance probably more suited to a stag than a honeymoon. Then Waikato made their entrance onto the pitch to bangs and explosions and proceeded to win the match 30-8, running in four tries - the last one in the last minute securing their bonus point. Not the most exciting match - one of the highpoints being the ejection of a few Waikato supporters for their over enthusiastic employment of noisy rattles. A great occasion though - very enjoyable.

Tags: Sightseeing




My wife, Mary, is a descendent of John Falloona

  Michael Jan 11, 2015 5:31 AM

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