Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the road again... from Auckland to Rotorua, NZ

My time in Auckland at end, I collected my rental car from Thrifty (three days for the price of two and they picked me up at my hotel) and was on the road to Rotorua by 10:30 am. I'd packed a lunch since I had no clue what my options would be while traveling through unknown territory. The left-side road driving didn't confound me (had had two weeks "down under" to get used to it) and the trip was relatively uneventful, passing through beautiful farmland and quiet towns en route.

Although I stopped a couple of times to take photos, I was at Rainbow Springs (a few kilometers from Rotorua) for the 2 PM Kiwi tour where I learned how they are working on bringing back the Kiwi population. If left in the wild, the survival rate for Kiwi chicks is about 5% but under management as is done at Rainbow Springs, the survival rate is on the order of 60% and chicks are returned to the wild at about six months of age. Photography isn't allowed on the Kiwi tour (it disturbs the hatchlings and the adult birds as well) but I've included a couple of photos taken en route to Rotorua below.

New Zealand countryside, farmland with country lane
This scene reminded me of a Cat Stevens lyric... "Miles from nowhere.. on the road to find out.." At least I think that's how it goes... When I stopped on the side of the road to take this photo, I was surprised to find a feathered friend (below) visiting on what appeared to be a completely deserted stretch of road...
beautiful chicken
I have NO IDEA where this bird belonged... there was no farmhouse in sight, nor a barnyard anywhere near where I'd parked. He (?) just suddenly appeared next to my car and startled me a bit when I turned around to get back in the car.

No visit to Rotorua is complete without attending a Maori cultural experience... an evening of story telling, dance and food (Hangi feast) designed to teach visitors some of the history of the Maori and give them a taste of the native culture. My first evening in Rotorua included the show at the Mitai Maori Village and was quite enjoyable (in spite of the miserable cold that I had at the time). The food was fantastic! Took too many photos to post them all but here are a couple for you...
Maori warriors doing a war dance
The chief (in the background) is urging the warriors into a frenzy in preparation for going into battle.
Maori warrior
Close-up of one of the younger warriors performing at the Mitai Maori Village.

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