We were recently treated to a fabulous day out at Te Puia in New Zealands geothermal home Rotorua.Te Puia is home to Pohutu geyser which is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest active geyser so we were super excited to come and see it erupt.
We opted for the Te Ra and Kai Ngawha experience which includes a tour of Te Puia and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (also onsite), a steambox lunch cooked in the geothermal steam plus a lesson in traditional weaving. There are several different package options so you can chose the option that best suits your family. Te Ra & Kai Ngawha was great for us. School aged children will find it very interesting but if you have very young children, the Te Ra and Haka package may be better suited to them as they are a self guided walk through the park so you can move at your own pace.
On arrival at Te Puia we met with our guide Paul and picked the ingredients we would like cooked in our steambox. There was Chicken and a selection of vegetables and stuffing. Once we’d chosen our ingredients and boxed them up ready for their steamy earth.
Paul gave us a run through of the history of the area and the Maori’s arrival in New Zealand. Paul was really informative and The Wandering Child listened intently and learned plenty from the chat. Once we were back in our hotel he wanted to Google the islands the Maori had come from so he was definitely listening.
Next stop on the tour was the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts institute to watch the amazing apprentice wood carvers working their magic. The scale and beauty of some the pieces they are working on is mind blowing. We were free to watch them work and take pictures or ask questions.
Then it was on to see the weavers at work and to see their fabulous creations; baskets, clothing etc. and then we all gave it a try. Paul was really patient in showing us each step of the process and was great with my son, taking special care to make sure he was keeping up. Our folding and twisting morphed into an adorable flower work of art. The Wandering child proudly carried his like a flag for the next 2 days.
We then commenced our tour of the park, taking in mud pools and steamy volcanic activity. We visited the Kiwi house and Paul talked us through their plight and the conservation efforts continuing to save this native flightless bird. Unfortunately I cannot show you pics of the Kiwi as photography is harmful to them and the exhibit is kept in a pitch black noctural style state. We also saw the Marae (tribal meeting house) where the Te Puia cultural performances take place.
Its not long before the geyser comes into view in the distance.
As we approached the Geyser, we could even feel a light spray on our faces in the breeze. Pohutu errupts twice an hour on average so you generally dont have to wait too long to see the action. On our visit the geyser was extremely active so we didn’t have to wait at all. We stood mesmerised by natures sheer power while Paul explained the natural processes in play here and talked about the ways that the Maori have lived around and used the steam and mud since their arrival in the area.
Soon the time comes for lunch to be removed from the steam. Our chef arrives and retrieves our meals as we look on. We watch the crate be pulled out of the ground and then we are all invited to check out the hole.
We make our way to our dining location; a marque set up atop the hill with views of the geyser.The food was great, even the picky eater was impressed! The food was so so unbelievably hot even though it had been some minutes since it was removed from the ground.
At this point Paul said his goodbyes and we enjoyed lunch chatting with the 3 others that were on our tour.After lunch we were free to explore the park for as long as we wished. There is a Maori cultural performance twice daily but unfortunately we missed the show while we were eating lunch so definitely arrive early for your tour so you can take in the 10am cultural show.
We really loved this experience, its so different from any experience we have had at home. Put this on your list for Rotorua. Te Puia has Kiwis, Cultural Performances, Boiling Mud, Geysers and Tradtional Arts and Crafts, its basically a top 5 of what to see in Rotorua all on its own.