Although from time to time I had called in to the Maori Arts and Craft Institute over the years, I don’t recall having been back at Whakarewarewa for some time. Since perhaps the 1960s.
It was an interesting visit and everyone was super friendly. I preferred the idea of Whakarewarewa to the near-by flash, but perhaps overly flash, and newer, Te Puia.
The kids at the entrance obligingly dived for coins (gold coins preferred) and were suitably endearing. The mud pools are fantastic and we watched as Pohutu created a burst of steam for us. The entertainment was ok – a bit clichéd I thought but then I am not a tourist (a proper overseas one and I wonder why they do Ka mate which, of course, is local to the area where I live).
We walked up towards the green and blue (or is it brown) lakes and from the lookout saw the hot lakes below. We opted for the easier wander along the bridge that spans several mud pools and steaming small lakes that we saw from the lookout. The bridge walk is superbly exciting with dense mud bubbling at our feet and super hot pools boiling below.
It’s impressive to see the urupa and the memorial to Maggie Papakura (and other guides) and astonishing to think that we are walking around an area where people still live. We worried about privacy and other matters.
And the sense that it needs – something else. It seemed to me that competing with the high end tourist experience was not a good idea and that maybe the people who ran the place could think about marketing it for alternative medicines, cure-alls or bring the entertainment up to date so that it was truly living – some contemporary singers, some young guys doing hip-hop stuff, some experiments with kai that is cooked in the hot pools, mud packs……..I wanted to get rid of the old school carvings in the shop and create something cheap but more….um authentic.
But it’s not my place.
I did enjoy it and would seriously recommend the visit especially the walk over those hot lakes and the chance to remember some strong women. The people are great.