Another early alarm as Karen wanted to take advantage of the free laundry facilities and managed to get 2 loads down before we left at 8am to drive to Te Puia.
This a Maori Cultural Centre with lots of Geothermal activities, the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and Kiwi's! Although again, the admission was not cheap we felt that by going here we could cram lots in a small amount of time.
We wanted to join the 9am guided tour but had enough time to go to see the Kiwi birds beforehand. They are nocturnal so their enclosure is kept dark during the day so when we entered it took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust. Being quite ignorant of these things I thought they would be tiny. But on the contrary they are large fluffy birds with a large curved beak. Karen was so excited when one appeared in front of us, searching the ground for bugs. We had the Kiwi House to ourselves at that point and it was a really special moment.
The guided tour by a young girl whose Maori family owned the land the centre is located upon, was very good. We learnt about the language, history, and culture. It was extremely interesting visiting the Wood-carving school and the weaving centre where we were shown how the get the weave from flax. I want to try it!
We were then taken around the geothermal area which although was good, we felt it was quite similar to our visit to parts of Yellowstone so we we probably not as excited or in awe as everyone else. The hot rocks heated by the geo thermals we were allowed to is upon on were novel.
A quick caffeine fix for Karen followed and we then decided to go to listen to a talk by the Kiwi Keeper. This was short but informative.
Lunch followed which today for us was a picnic on the Lakefront and very pleasant it was too.
We had arranged to meet Chris & Shirley again at 2pm at The Redwood Centre which was only 2 minutes from their home. They showed us some of the facilities including the BMX track through the woods where one of their grandsons practices. At the age of 11 he already rides internationally for NZ. The track looked deadly through the woods to us. After a brief walk through the Redwoods, they kindly drove us around the many other Lakes in the area. They were all beautiful and quite inspiring. We stopped several times including a longer one for tea/coffee.
We went and collected our car and followed them back to their home. Their house is fabulous. It is large and spacious and we were so impressed by all the work they had completed on it. We sat and chatted for a while (as we had done all afternoon) and could have carried on all evening but we didn't want to outstay our welcome as they had been so generous with their hospitality. They are both lovely people whose company we really enjoyed.
They have a great lifestyle and outlook on Life. They also made us really want to visit NZ again - soon. There is so much to see and do. How we are doing is at break neck speed with little rest and it is obvious to us now we are going to be missing many things.
After leaving them we went to a local Burger joint which was basic but fine. The food was good and we had a good chat with the Manager. We then returned to our room before a quick walk to the Pak n Save to stock up on fruit and other provisions for the next day.