Lord of the Rings was filmed here and there is currently another movie being filmed, The Hobbit, at a top secret location. Gasoline costs $8.10 per gallon at the unfavorable NZ exchange rate. With all of the grazing land, lamb is huge here. Seafood is also big. Meat pies are found everywhere and highly recommended and Asian food is also common. New Zealand is made largely up of the North Island and the South Island and numerous smaller islands. We stayed on the North Island, where Auckland is the largest city. New Zealanders are called Kiwis.
Brushtail Possum are a problem here as they multiply rapidly and threaten agriculture. What to do? Combine their fur with silk and Merino wool to create a very warm and soft fabric! Possum Silk! I bought scarves, gloves and socks. Everyone should have a pair of Possum socks!
The people of NZ are very aware of the damaging rays of the sun this close to the equator. The whole country is very conscious of the risks of skin cancer. The slogan: SLIP (on a shirt)- SLOP (on some sunscreen)- SLAP (on a hat) is heard everywhere. The government has created laws to protect it's citizens. Companies must supply employees with PPE's or Personal Protection Equipment if it's workers are exposed to the sun. Long sleeved shirts, hats and gloves... School children are taught at an early age how to identify changes in moles that could signify cancer. The social conscience here is refreshing.
We arrived in Rotorua (second lake) and my eyes darted everywhere trying to soak it all up. It's very quaint with a "European" flavor. Lots of buildings that look like we've arrived in Germany instead of a town in the South Pacific. Strange wafts of smoke rise from the ground everywhere and the smell of sulphur permeates the air. Our hotel looks like a ski chalet and is nestled up to a beautiful serene lake with black swans cruising lazily around. Did I mention that it's WINTER HERE?
Sudima. I loved the place instantly. You can "feel the 50's" here. Our room has a dilapidated radiator for heat which was definitely NOT working. We had to get some space heaters which warmed us up nicely. It was nice to relax with a hot cup of coffee after a long day of travelling.
Pavlova! OMG it was good and I stuffed myself.
We were treated to an informative story and dance about the origin of this traditional Maori dance, complete with loud grunts, wild eyes and tongues out! Oh and don't forget the body slapping! The purpose of all this was to appear scary to the enemy. It works for me!
Poi Balls. These women really know how to wield a ball... I would probably have knocked myself in the head!
We were all released to do as we pleased after the show. Some went to the hot springs pool while others spent the evening surfing the Internet and updating their Facebook. Of course I went off to dreamland with every expectation of another action packed day with an early start.