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Published: February 9th 2012
Day 2: We went to a Maori village to eat a Hangi meal, lamb, chicken and potatoes placed in a pit over hot volcanic rocks and left for hours to cook slowly- yum!!
The Maoris took us on a journey through the forest showcasing traditional skills- carving, warfare and clothes making etc, then treated us to a great concert. Our group had prepared a song which we sang and acted badly, but it was great fun.
Everyone else went home and we all stayed the night. There was a great firepit in the middle of the bush and we sat round it till the small hours and looked at the stars and learned about Maori stories.
Day 3: Blue Duck Lodge. We drove for hours to an incredible remote place where early settlers had tried to farm once but had failed, burned their homes and left. Fortunately these days the Manuka which grew like a weed for them has now become the main ingredient for bees producing Manuka honey, whose healing properties the NZ govt has just recognised and given medicinal status. We went quad biking over the land. Wendy runs the Eco Lodge which protects the Blue Duck from extinction,
lays traps for the stoat, rats and possums who prey on NZ's flightless birds (including the Kiwi) and they teach passing tourists to respect the plants and animals along the way. It was a real learning experience. The kayak trip with a photo opportunity of the Blue Duck was the icing on the cake- very few actually see one.
Day 4: Tongariro National Park: Onthe way we went to Lake Taupo with it's amazing volcanic mudpools- impossible to photograph. On for a spa and a variety of hot pools and rivers. The houses here have been geothermically heated since the 1950s by the powerplant.
Tongariro is an incredible volcano with numerous walks out. A lunar landscape for the mountaineer.
Day 5 Wellington: 5 hours on the bus to Wellington, Capital city, went up Mount victoria and took some shots of the harbour. Chilled at the waterfront with an expensive Sauvignon.
Day 6 Interisland ferry to Picton.
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