Geothermal Activity, Maori Culture and Sheep

Geothermal Activity, Maori Culture and Sheep

Monday 13th January 2020, 6am our cruise ship MS Noordam docked at Port of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, for an excursion to Rotorua, New Zealand.

DSC07149MS Noordam docked at Port of Tauranga Cruise Terminal

The bus trip to Rotorua takes an hour on State Highways #2 and #33. I managed to capture a few different scenes along the way from the moving bus.

DSC07156Tauranga Beach

DSC07162DSC07163DSC07381DSC07175Lake Rotorua

Our first stop in Rotorua was the Agrodome. We were surprised to have booked a tour that included a sheep farm, given we’ve visited plenty of sheep farms and witnessed sheep shearing many of times in New South Wales, Australia. However the Agrodome provided a very different experience – a one person comedy show, …. with sheep ….

DSC07204Introduction to 20 varieties of sheep, with a short humorous explanation of each











How to shear a sheep as part of a comedy routine

…. audience participation ….

DSC07213This young Korean guy gave our host his phone in exchange for a sheep

He thought he was taking home the Merino ram from the top of the podium, but instead won a stuffed “Merino” lamb toy. His phone was returned to him.

DSC07217These three thought they would be drinking the fresh milk, from a cow they had seen milked side of stage … until the lambs appeared

….. dog & ducks ….

DSC07226A young sheep dog in-training “herding” ducks. Hilarious!

DSC07268Outside, an experienced dog at work


Tourism is the largest industry in the Rotorua region, with over 3 million visitors a year.  30% of the visitors are from New Zealand and 70% are international (

Two of the many things Rotorua is famous for, Maori Culture and geothermal activity came together at our next destination, Te Puia.

At the entrance of Te Puia is a large art piece.

DSC07278_1Heketanga-a-Rangi (Heavenly Origins) – tells the Maori story of creation

A circle of twelve poles with carvings top and bottom, weaved together with wire mesh, symbolise the sky and earth. The carvings represent various Maori gods (top – heavenly gods) (bottom – earthly gods).

DSC07277_1Haumia, god of natural foods. Carving at the bottom of one of 12 poles

DSC07280_1The stone positioned in the centre of the “12 pole circle” symbolises the earth

A Marae (Maori community, gathering area) consists of a group of buildings, an open space and a Wharenui (meeting house).

DSC07340Wharenui (meeting house) left of centre

DSC07287Inside Wharenui

DSC07288_1Internal detail

While carvings and weavings would normally be specific to each tribe, this exhibition house has carving and weaving contributions from many different Maori tribes.

Since all of the carvings and weaving have a meaning, akin to a written language, it was surprising to find that the painted designs are a modern addition to the meeting house and therefore have no historical meaning.

DSC07289Wharenui external details

DSC07284Pataka (storehouse) for food storage and safe place for other valuables

Also on site at Te Puia is the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute, offerings tertiary qualifications in traditional and modern Maori arts.

DSC07294Carving using native wood

DSC07299Warehouse full of New Zealand native wood for carving projects

DSC07304Carvings for sale

DSC07303Weaving products to wear

DSC07293Traditional craft using new materials of stone, metal, plaster


Since a third of the population in the region is Maori, it is understandable why Rotorua has a strong emphasis on conserving and promoting Maori culture.

Te Puia is in the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, which includes the famous Pohutu Geyser.


And then for something different, lunch was provided at a local hotel followed by a traditional Maori concert.

DSC07351DSC07350Maggie with Maori performers

Back on the bus, we took a short tour around Government Gardens in Rotorua.

DSC07352Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa – Tudor style Old Bath House

DSC07357_1King George V Memorial

DSC07358_1World War I & II Cenotaph

DSC07361_1Rotorua Tourist Centre

Apparently there are 17 lakes in the region, of which Lake Rotorua is the largest.

DSC07383Lake Rotorua looking very different on the return journey

Well it’s been fun, but we’re out of time. We’re off to Auckland … remember … the once capital of New Zealand.



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