Sunday, January 19, 2014


Kathy, Michele, and I headed south of Auckland for a tour of the geothermal area of Rotorua, about a two and a half hour drive, where we planned to spend the night.  When we arrived, we rented an apartment across from lovely Lake Rotorua.

There were several inhabitants of this lake, including these red-billed black swans.

In one area there was a swarm of small ducks, many of which were snoozing while others were lounging or feeding.

There are Maori living in this area, and there were examples of structures reflecting the traditions of this native people.  This is St. Faith's Anglican Church.

Inside the church was this beautiful glass etching of Jesus with Maori features.

His Maori features are easier to distinguish in this closeup.  It's not easy to see that this Jesus has the face tattoos typical of the Maori.  He is also wearing a Maori cloak.

These face markings, called ta moko, tell the story of the wearer's family and tribal affiliations.  Here's an example on a man who is demonstrating the facial expression used in the haka, the Maori war challenge dance, the intention of which is to frighten the enemy away, thereby avoiding combat.  I think I would run the other way if confronted by a group of these Maori warriors challenging me in this way.  Back in the day, these tattoos were created by making incisions on the face with a knife and then pouring dye into the cuts.  OUCH!

Many Maori women also have face markings, usually on the chin and upper lip.  (Yes, this is a woman.)

This building had no signage, but we figured it was a meeting hall.

The wood carvings on Maori buildings have significance also, often related to ancestors.

This is the prow of a very large Maori canoe that provides another example of their skillfiul carving.

We walked around the lake for a while and then veered off to see the Government Gardens and the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, housed in this colorful building.  

The day was too lovely to spend inside, so we just continued on to the rose garden.

This very modern sculpture was interesting and beautiful.

There are many thermal pools in and around Rotorua, from tiny ones like this that are marked for safety....

To medium size pools....

To the opposite extreme...large pools that are simmer and steam.

At one of the pools, we could see our shadows in the steam, and the shadow seemed to move eerily toward the person casting it.  This is my shadow floating toward me.

After a rest and a glass of delicious New Zealand white wine, we went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and had a delicious meal.  It had been a breezy day, but the wind seemed almost gale force on the walk back to our motel.  

This was an area that wasn't on my list of places to visit, but I glad my friends encouraged me to see it.  Thermal pools are a lot more interesting than I imagined they would be.

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