12 October 2005 Taupo / Rotorua

Before leaving Taupo Pest and I took a trip on the Huka Jet, a speedboat that spins around the river by the Huka Falls.  A real thrill, enhanced by the deadpan driver/pilot/skipper/whatever  ‘Somewhere about here, if you look down, you might just see some bits of the first Huka Jet.’

Then a drive to Rotorua, where we took a gondola to the viewpoint on  top of the nearby hill and came down in ‘luges’ – basically a wheeled tray with steering, on which you abandon yourself to a steep downward stone track. Then you take the chairlift back up and do it again.
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In the evening we went to a Maori Evening, at a forest ‘village‘ reconstruction. There were demonstrations of Maori crafts, music and dance, all run by one extended Maori family; the (non-Maori) woman who worked in the shop told me they get many Maori visitors who are deeply moved by it, as it evokes memories of a world they’re aware of but have never experienced.
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Tauporotorua_2005_046The hostess on the coach that took us there was indefatigable (strange how George Galloway seems to own that word now), finding out where everyone came from and telling us about Maori culture on the way there, and leading a singsong  on the way back by selecting people from the list and getting them to sing something from their country (yes –  I sang Auld Lang Syne!). When that was exhausted she just kept on singing whatever came into her head, including ‘She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain’ at which she started driving round and round a roundabout to the astonishment of other drivers. ‘Don’t worry, she said, the cops are on their tea break’. It was only on disembarking that we discovered she was also the driver! I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time.

Oh and yes, we saw the Haka – and it is far more intimidating in the flesh than it looks on TV at the rugby!