We fought off jet lag last night to meet two native groups in Rotorua: the Maori and the kiwi. The Maori people are the indigenous people of New Zealand. With painted faces, loud chants, and fierce weaponry, these people appeared to be a fearsome sight. But on the flip side, they could use their native instruments and voices to harmonize in beautiful native song, which fascinated me, but put Fanny to sleep. Thankfully,we both were awake for their hangi feast, which consisted of meats and potatoes roasted below ground.
After our filling meal, we were able to walk it off on a nature hike through a kiwi preserve. In the dark of night, we saw glowworms (who really DO glow in the dark), possums, lizards, rainbow trout and California redwoods (trout and redwoods both imported from California in the 1800’s -who knew?). But the main star of the show was the kiwis – nocturnal fat, fluffy birds with long beaks. 95% of baby kiwis die in the wild, abandoned at birth by their parents and left weak and helpless, ready prey for other animals. So this preserve takes kiwi eggs, raises the baby kiwis, and releases them back into the wild at 6 months. The ones we saw in the preserve were cute, nervous creatures, running in circles and crazy-8 patterns, probably frightened by all the tourists in the while plastic ponchos (it was raining). No photos of the kiwi unfortunately – they are strictly forbidden in the preserve.
Today, we’re intermittently dodging rain, and have taken up a temporary residence at another Mickey D’s in the lakeside town of Taupo (yes, for the free wifi yet again). The skies are clearing so this may be our chance to take some lakeside photos. Tomorrow… tongariro national park, aka Mordor!!!