Sunday, 1 June 2008

New Zealand Trip: Day 3-4 Rotorua 1

The tour coaches were our main form of transportation. The good thing is, we covered more ground rather quickly but, it was difficult taking good pictures when we were constantly in motion. On top of that, the reflection on the huge windows was a constant challenge. I do think that it was good practice for me to sharpen my understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO as I had to hastily fiddle with the settings as we went past different mountains, fields or valleys.

It was unfortunate that we were not allowed to take pictures while we were in the Waitomo Caves. It would have been interesting to attempt taking pictures of the glow worms that carpeted the roofs of the caves. The caves we visited, both the limestone one and the glow worm one, were fascinating. Photography has been prohibited as visitors have been known to injure themselves while they were too engrossed with their photo taking. This was quite obvious when we entered the caves. The limestone cave was so dimly lit, it made it difficult to see the ground clearly. And, the glow worm cave was in completely darkness with only the glowing blue light sparkling bright enough for the guide to maneuver the boat. Ah yes, the Waitomo glow worm cave is a passage for an underground river which flows out through here (pictures below).

Layers of rocks compress onto each other, over time forming pillars of rocks.

We headed to Big Apple Cafe for lunch before heading to Rainbow Springs.

So, I now know kiwis do not grow on trees!

There was an orchard behind the cafe.

At night, we had a Hangi (Maori traditional dinner) dinner and got to watch the Haka (Maori traditional dance).

The ladies doing a dance using "pois" (poi - a ball attached to a rope).

The ladies were asked to give it a shot and I got called up to try. It was difficult to try to move your arm down while swinging the poi around. I laughed my way through as I tried to swing the poi without it hitting my arm.

The juggling sticks dance. Just like in Amazing Race! COOL!

The men were asked to do the pūkana (literally "glaring"). They had to stomp their feet and skew their faces to look menacing. LOL!

The Paua shell is very popular in New Zealand. It seems to represent the country, like a national symbol or something. You can find jewellery, key chains and other souveniers made with the shell. By our hotel entrance at Kingsgate Hotel (Fenton Street), they had an entire wall covered with them.

The following morning, we visited Te Puia (geothermal area), Rainbow Springs (nature park) and Agrodome (farm).

Te Puia, home to geysers, mud pools, emerald lake, smoking volcanic rocks and rivers, is also a cultural centre. However, we didn't have a chance to wander around the area as we were pressed for time to make the next visit to the Rainbow Springs.

Thermal mud contains sulphur (yellow), ferrous oxide (green), antimony (orange), copper (blue) and silica (white). You'll find friendlier versions of these in souvenir shops in the forms of mud masks, mineral soaps and other facial products.

We were in time to watch the geyser go! The water that rushed out immediately evaporated into steam.

Hmm.. Without the trees, it looked like we were on the moon.

Rainbow Springs is a home to the rainbow trouts, many bird species and a conservation centre for the famous kiwi bird.

The ones with hooked lips are males and those otherwise are females. Hahaha, we can see the duckies' feet.

Not a very animal-friendly souvenir store?

We watched a sheep show at Agrodome. It's actually a farm open to visitors.

It was decades ago when I learnt about the Merino sheep in primary school geography. It looked rather regal yet intimidating.

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?

So many kinds of sheep! Some for wool and some for poultry.

Sheep shearing.

Sheep circus with highly trained herding dogs. Extremely entertaining! Like a sheep circus!

Sheep are not camera-shy? Sheep with dreadlocks has fallen asleep.

The bus driver was dropping some passengers off Sudima Hotel and I managed to get a shot of Lake Rotorua (2nd largest lake in NZ).

For bigger picture sizes, more pictures or camera properties, visit the New Zealand Trip: Day 3-4 Rotorua 08 album.

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