What came first? The haka or ice-cream?

IMG_1299We did a lot of sticking our tongues out today.

For the first time this holiday we didn’t have to get up early and so had a liesurely breakfast. The boys sampled the local pancakes, continuing our long-running travel experiment, and declared them good in spite of a strange predilection to put fruit on top of them. 

Then we set out to sample some local activities. Te Puia is a Maori cultural centre and thermal area. It wasn’t really on our list of things to do, but turned out to be a lot of fun when our first choice fell through.

Even though we’d stood on an active volcano yesterday, the bubbling mud pools, deep blue thermal springs and shooting geysers were a lot of fun to explore. We were a bit bemused by the geysers after our Iceland experience with the eponymous original which exploded upwards from nothing on a regular cycle.  The local geysers here have a giant explosion of steam and water and then continue to constantly shoot upwards for another hour or so. Quite different and but equally spectacular.

Te Puia has a cultural show which is a little bit naff like most of its kind, but better done than many others. The definite highlight was when Cal, Dec and I got to do the haka with the local warriors. I think the level of fear we induced by bugging our eyes and sticking our tongues out was tempered by our mildly bemused expressions as we tried to follow the quite complex instructions.

Te Puia also has a carving and weaving school where they teach traditional skills – which are still very much in demand here. The carvings in particular were absolutely beautiful.

Cal got to choose our next activity and opted for one of several local mazes. This was a beautiful hedged labyrinth which was complex enough to present a real challenge in navigation. It turned into a real race which added a certain stress to the whole thing.

Onwards again we went for the one thing Declan had been planning for all day. Yet more tongue sticking out. This time with the wonderful local ice-creams. There is something about NZ ice-creams that makes them the best anywhere: Maybe it’s a subtle Maori plot to train the locals in haka skills.

And to finish off the day the boys went for a swim in the hotel pool, which is mercifully maintained at a nice 30 degrees, while I sit acting as life-guard and writing this with blue fingers in spite of four layers of clothing. I’m consoling myself with thoughts of a meal at the restaurant that won ‘best lamb’ this year. What a lovely day.

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