After meeting you at the Port of Tauranga we begin the tour with a short drive along the coast where we stop to enjoy the sandy beaches of Mt Maunganui and Papamoa. Here we tell you about the region, its history, economy, geology, the volcanoes and the arrival of the Polynesians, who later became known as Maori. Hear the story of Mauao (an extinct volcano here in Tauranga) where legend tells us, his love we rejected by the beautiful girl mountain, Puwhenua, and he called on the ‘patupaiarehe’ (fairies of the forest) to help throw him into the pacific and so end his suffering.
Continuing on to Rotorua we drive through kiwi fruit orchards and learn about where they came from, how they got their name ‘kiwi fruit’ and their economic importance to the region.
Then we continue through dense pine forest plantations to arrive at Okere Falls - home of the grade 5 Kaituna River which sees thousands of white water rafters plummet over the 7-metre- high waterfall, each year. Most days in summer we get to watch them raft the falls from a vantage point high in the native rainforest overlooking the river. You will also get the chance to taste medicinal plants, hear why the ‘silver fern’ is such a commonly used symbol in New Zealand (including being on the shirts of our national rugby team, the All Blacks) and why there are no native mammals in New Zealand (with the exception of 3 little bats).
Next the main attraction, Te Puia (which includes the Maori Arts and Crafts Centre), and is set in the geologically active Whakarewarewa valley, home of the famous Pohutu, Te Tohu and Kereru Geysers.
Here you will learn how these spectacular geysers are formed, and culture of the local Te Arewa tribe. You will be guided around the reserve looking at (and smelling) the geyser, steaming lakes, the bubbling mud pools, boiling cooking pools and the replica Maori village, Pikirangi, set up to look like a fortified ‘pa’.
Hear how Maori preserved their enemies’ heads and then sold them to Europeans in exchange for guns. See live kiwi birds and the waka taua (war canoe). Experience an authentic ‘wero’ or challenge from an armed Maori warrior in traditional dress before being called into the Maori cultural performance by a ‘kuia’ (female tribal elder). The concert will showcase Maori dance, song and of course, the famous war dance or haka! We will also visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute to see young men learning the ancient art of wood carving (funded by your entry fee), as well as a flax weaving demonstration.
After your visit to Te Puia we will take you on a short tour of the Rotorua lake front, Government Gardens and see the famous Bath House Museum, originally a health spa, built after the Tarawera eruption of 1886. Then on to Kuirau park, a place unique in the world, where you can see (and smell and hear) boiling pools of water, right in the heart of the city.
Time permitting (depending on the departure time of your ship and not guaranteed), we will try to fit in a visit the crystal clear Hamurana Springs to see the local ducks and trout, or stop off at Comvita, the home of the world famous Manuka Honey and enjoy a kiwi fruit ice cream.
After a great day out we will guarantee you are back at the port in plenty of time to board your ship, taking with you lots of wonderful memories and photos, of your tour with us.
‘Ka kite anō’ and have a safe journey.