Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Cycling In New Zealand 2018: Day 9 - Hamilton To Rotorua & The Māori Village

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Day D9    |     Go to D1-2/D3/D4/D5/D6/7-8/D10/D11/D12&13
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Cycling New Zealand 2018Day 9 - Hamilton To Rotorua & The Māori Village
New Zealand, North & South Island : Monday, 29th October 2018
This is part of a multi-mode cycling tour North Island & South IslandNew Zealand:
Distance: Not Applicable     Level: Not Applicable
Time : Not Applicable
Time Taken :  Not Applicable

This is page 7 of a 10-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7-8 Hobbiton         |        Go to Other Days      |      Go to D10 Auckland 2 >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Traffic in New Zealand is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
    Often New Zealanders have a Jekylj & Hyde manner when it comes to driving; their normal calm composure disappears to be replaced by impatience when they are behind the wheel. So do not hog the road, stay within your lane and put on your indicators when turning or changing lanes so as not to irate them.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The map below shows a quick cycling circuit around Hamilton Lake followed by a 100km road trip from Hamilton to Rotorua. Zoom out to see the whole map.
    For cycling, New Zealand has fairly well developed cycling routes that run in the cities, town, villages, and country side. Some of the cycling trails are on dedicated cycling lanes, some on shared lanes with pedestrians or other traffic. Some are on paved tracks while others are on gravel or earth trails, and they go through fairly busy towns, green forests and bright blue lakeside.
    The New Zealand Cycle Trail site provides an interactive map of exciting journeys on 2,500km of trails suited to everyone from sightseeing easy-going riders, to hardcore mountain bikers up for a challenge. The Queenstown Trail site provides cycling routes for various levels of rides in QueenstownNew Zealand law requires cyclists to wear helmets while cycling.

3. Navigation
    When cycling, we used Google Maps in Cycling Mode for navigation but there is a lag when starting off, so one would have to cycle a bit to get the orientation right. Google Maps is also useful as it shows various places of interests that were not shown on GPS units.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.

4. Weather
    Day temperatures in Hamilton averaged 15°C. In Rotorua, evening temperatures averaged 13°C, but it did feel colder in the forest of the Tamaki Maori Village.
    Useful weather forecast sites for the New Zealand are the New Zealand Met Service and AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

5. Places/Points of Interests
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
Lake Rotoroa (GPS: -37.79847, 175.27418), unofficially called Hamilton Lake.
- Hamilton Gardens (GPS: -37.80628, 175.30429) & the Waikato riverside.
- the Māori culture show including the Haka dance Tamaki Māori Village (GPS:-38.2482, 176.31434 ) (entry tickets required) at Rotorua.

6. Food
Breakfast: inclusive breakfast at Hamilton homestay.
Lunch: Picnic at Hamilton Lake consisting of  take-away roast chicken, pastry & strawberries bought from PAK'nSAVE Clarence Street (GPS: -37.79544, 175.28267) in Hamilton.

7. Accomodations
We stayed Spa Lodge (GPS: -38.1397, 176.24983) in Rotorua:, at NZD84 for a queen-room with an ensuite small bathroom. We had upgraded from a similar room without a bathroom which cost NZD60.
Address:1221 Amohau St, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand.
Tel.: +64 7-348 3486
Email: spalodgerotorua@gmail.com

8. Communicating with Each Other
   When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest. Vodafone prepaid phone cards can be bought at the Vodafone stall located just outside the Arrival Hall. We got ours from a promoter at the shopping arcade within the arrival hall, with each of us getting the prepaid mobile cards at NZ$25 (inclusive of GST) which came with 1.5Gb of data lasting 30 days. Also included were 200 minutes for local calls and calls to selected countries, including Malaysia. This also includes text messages to the selected countries. There's also free chat data when using FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp.
    Most hotels, motels, home-stays, restaurants, and airports have free Wifi; do note that these free wifi may not be secure and registration could be required. But one can safe on one's mobile data by using these especially for uploading or downloading videos.

9. Communicating with Locals
    All locals speaks very good English and communicating with them should not be a problem.
    
10. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

The previous day was day of road trips; we had driven from Auckland to Hamilton and from there went on to visit a couple of fun and beautiful place - the exicitingly, colouful Hobbiton, and a serenely beautiful Blue Spring.
Today we continue our road trip and head from Hamilton for Rotorua, where we will attend the Tamaki Maori Village culture show.
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THE LAKE HAMILTON ROUTE

The above is a map of a short cycling route ringing Lake Rotoroa (otherwise known as Hamilton Lake, note it's a different lake from Lake Rotorua.
Cycling Distance: 4.57 km.     Level: Easy.
(Zoom out to see Rotorua attractions)


Tamy & Toby's homestay in Hamilton was actually a sort of a farm on a 5-acre lot just at the outskirts of the town. I must really take my hat off to Toby, he's running the place as eco-friendly as possible. Rainwater is collected into harvesting tanks to be used for purposes other than cooking. And right at his gate is a small wind-mill that generates electricity to be stored in batteries. Tamy is not left out, having a small shed with chicken and ducks. The eggs we had for breakfast were from her chickens. They also had a few cows.
Overall, their place forms a picturesque rustic scene as can be seen in the above photo.

We said our goodbyes to the lovely couple and headed for Hamilton Lake to visit a Malaysian friend's mother staying there before heading for Rotorua .... and then got distracted .... on seeing the beautiful lake, our legs demanded that we take our bikes out to scratch the cycling itch.
 We happily rode on pathways running along the lakeside passing through green parks....


... willowy rush-land .....


..... there was even one section teeming with water lilies!


and another section with a rocky beach.


But suddenly, just after the Hamilton Yacht Club, a sign-board gave a warning, "No Cycling" beyond a point where a board walk ramp started and led to residential houses.
We were trying to figure out how to detour around this section, and asked a kindly gentleman nearby, and got a very encouraging reply. Looking at our bike, he said, "Oh, it's okay with your bikes. We residents are just discouraging those on fast bikes speeding through our quiet neighbourhood."
And off we went!


It was a nice section running almost all the way on boardwalks going through brush-land cutting in front of the residential area fronting the lake.
By the way, Hamilton Lake is officially know as Lake Rotoroa.... note the spelling and don't get it confused with Lake Rotorua located much further south.. It has a surface area of about 54 hectares and an average depth of 2.4 metres. It is the home of the Hamilton Yacht Club, which holds regular sailing in the summer.


Anyway, along the lakeside is a small promontory which stick outwards and gives is an excellent viewpoint. Yippee went Lynn ..... 


And near the club were shaded tables where we stopped for a quick picnic among the many birds that resided here.


No, Lynn was not trying to feed these Pukeko birds, just trying to attract them for me to get a good photo of them. "Come to mummy, babies, 💓💖💖.
With their bright blue plumes and red crest, I had thought they were the almost extinct Takahē Bird.


I think she was more successful; here's me with some funny arm actions, trying to attract those mallard ducks - they ran for their life Haha!
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ROTORUA & THE MAORI VILLAGE
2:15pm - And we are off, it's Goodbye Hamilton as we head on our 100+ km. drive down to Rotorua. Moat of the route were passed through farmland but near Rotorua was a green stretch going through a secondary forest.


After a 2-hour drive we arrived at our stay in Rotorua, the Spa Lodge. The place provides hostel accommodations but also have queen-bedder or twin bedder rooms for those who wants some privacy. It has a large communal yard and also a communal kitchen for patrons to cook themselves, which is a good thing as eating out can be expensive in New Zealand. It also boast of a thermal bath which is fed by a natural hot spring.
Silly us, we just came to Rotorua without any plans than hopefully to cycle around the area. But seeing that it was already quite late, we decided to skip the cycling. So what shall we do? Well might as well go see a Māori cultural show. That's where the operators of the lodge came in helpful. We were showed two possibilities, and the lodge recommended the Tamaki Maori Village. But the culture show (inclusive of dinner) was not cheap at NZD130 per adult, which came up to more than RM700 for the two of us. Perhaps we should have done some research comparisons earlier. But since we are here, might as well go for it!


   The entry price included a pick-up form our hotel, and they sent a van with a capable and pretty lady driver/guide, Ms. Aroha, to pick us up. She sent us over to their information centre to congregate with other customers and we boarded tour buses in groups about twenty to be sent to the village which was situated about 17 km. away, near Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake). This lake is famous for its abundance of kakahi (fresh water mussels).

The entrance archway leading to the Māori village .....

..... it reminded me of the entrance archway of the Formosan Aboriginal Village (see above photo) near Sun Moon Lake which we visited during a 2017 cycling tour of Taiwan. I guess the aboriginal people around the Pacific Rim are related in some ways.

At their open amphitheater, we were invited into their Marae (communal sacred place), where the cultural show started with an "invasion" of fierce Māori warriors coming down from their waka (canoe), they are ready to do battle.


But before the battle, a warm, friendly welcome by their chief.


.... and here they are, their battle presentation was like a war dance.


Each of them looking fierce with their facial tattoos.....


..... and wide-eyed snarling faces.


This was followed by a short tour of a Wharepuni (sleeping house).


But the Māori warriors were not the only ones making their presence felt, their wahines came out too, giving presentations of their culture such as the Poi Dance. They did this skillfully and smoothly. Ladies from the audience were invited to try out their hands at these; they went at it with gusto although not so skillfully and often getting their hands got caught in the Poi strings.


Here I am with their queen dressed in her regal costume. I noticed that the king's and queen's costumes were different from the others, theirs were more like a full-height robe.


Meanwhile, guys from the audience were encouraged to take part in a stick game". Participants stand in a ring each with a long stick in their hand; at the word "Go!", the MC will shout out "Right" or "Left", and the participant will have to pass his stick to the right or left respectively. This alternating right or left calls (not in consecutive order) goes on faster and faster, and can be confusing the person who makes a mistake and let a stick fall is omitted. The last person remaining is the winner; it's a game of quick reaction! Definitely not for older AhPek Like me! 😖
I was no stranger to Māori culture - during my younger school days we had taken part in the concert performance of the E Papa stick dance. I started singing the song E papä wairi, and suddenly, I was not just an Ah Pek, but a Tuākana, an elder kindred spirit!


And of course there was the Haka war dance, done in with their iconic large-eyed stares and fierce sticking-out-of-their-long tongues!


We were called on to do the Haka too, we tried our best but were definitely not as fierce or as loud as them. That's me on the right-most, okay or not?


After all the games and dancing, we must be hungry - and it was off to their Wharenui (communal house), but it's a modern one, a large bricked hall with a stage at one end.


We here for a Hāngi (feast) - chicken, lamb, potatoes, carrots were laid our in baskets on the stage....


And they are really doing it the traditional way of cooking the food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven, also called an umu.


While we were dining, on stage there was a performance of a Tī tī tōrea stick dance.


Te pō pai &
Kia manaakitia koe e nga atua.

(That's Good night & May God bless you, in Maori)


Click here for a Relive of our Hamilton Lake Ride
(For more photos of the day Click Here)
This is page 7 of a 10-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7-8 Hobbiton         |        Go to Other Days      |      Go to D10 Auckland 2 >
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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Day D9    |     Go to D1-2/D3/D4/D5/D6/7-8/D10/D11/D12&13
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