Saturday, April 2: We looked forward to a jet boat ride – Roger excitedly, and me nervously. The wet and wild ride included 360 degree turns on a shallow river while dodging rocks and boulders. I’d recommend this fun part of our trip to anyone who is timid like me, but willing to try something new.
We also rode the Skyline Gondola to see the beautiful view of Lake Wakatipu. I stopped for lunch at the restaurant while my adventurous husband, Roger, enjoyed the zip line adventure.
After shopping at the DFS Souvenir Shop in the mall, we joined the rest of the tour group for a delicious dinner at the Prime Restaurant.
Sunday, April 3: After an early breakfast, the tour group took a coach to the Queenstown Airport for a three and a half hour flight to the Rotorua Airport. We had lunch at the Lakeside Café before visiting the Jade Centre. Jade is called Pounamu in the Maori language. Afterward, we arrived at the Distinction Rotorua Hotel to rest.
At 4:15 pm we took the Te Puia Cultural Tour and saw kiwi birds in the Kiwi House. The kiwi is New Zealand’s national bird and kiwi is the nickname that New Zealanders are proudly called. We saw many geysers, mud pools that smelled of sulphur, and the Maori Song and Dance Concert. After the dancers’ presentation, female members of the audience were invited to the stage to learn some of the Maori dance steps. Roger persuaded me to participate. It was exhilarating and lots of fun.
When it was the time for the men to learn the Haka dance, I encouraged Roger to go on stage. He was great and enjoyed the experience as much as I did.
The concert was followed by the buffet-style Hangi Dinner where over a hundred tourists had a choice of lamb, chicken, prawns, soups, salads, vegetables, and a variety of desserts.
Monday, April 4: We boarded the coach for a Rotorua sightseeing tour. We visited the Ohinemutu Living Maori Village and the Marae, a Maori meeting place. To enter the village, we had to choose a “chief” to represent our group. I’m pleased to say, my husband, Roger, was selected. He had to step forward to exchange a special greeting with the chief of the village and to speak for our group. He did an excellent job. And no, it didn’t go to his head.
We also visited the Rotorua Museum, saw a couple of short 20-minute movies about the culture, and then ate lunch at the museum café.
The best part of the evening was enjoying dinner at the home of Pamela and Willie, a three-generation Maori family. We were joined by two other couples in our group. The rest of the tour group dined with other families. Not only was the dinner delicious, but the conversation with Pamela, Willie, their daughter and daughter-in-law was enlightening. We were told that no topic was off limits. So we talked about the politics, racism, economics, and education in New Zealand and in the United States. We also enjoyed seeing the interaction between Pamela, Willie, and their young grandchildren. Afterward, we returned to the Distinction Rotorua Hotel to rest in preparation for the last leg of our wonderful trip.