Taking its name from the Maori culture, Rotorua is positioned in the heart of New Zealand's North Island.
Today it's a major destination for tourists, and in fact, the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the area.
The city is known around the world for its geothermal activity and geysers - notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa - and the surrounding hot mud pools.
Whakarewarewa is the site of the Maori fortress of Te Puia, first occupied around 1325, and known as an impenetrable stronghold never taken in battle.
Maori have lived there ever since, and visitors are given the opportunity to experience and learn about their culture.
This is a colorful Maori mask. They are easily found across New Zealand. The dominate teeth that many of these masks have signify defiance toward an enemy.
The protruding tongue that many Maori masks have is designed to scare an enemy.
In the complex museum I discovered this photo of Maori mother and child, late 19th century.
Pohutu Geyser is a geyser in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, Rotorua. Pohutu means "big splash" or "explosion." This geyser spurts up to twenty times per day and can reach heights of up to 30 m (100 feet). It's very much like Yellowstone's Old Faithful, and a real site to see.
Why does the air surrounding a volcano smell like rotten eggs? Well, most experts feel it's due to the high sulfur content to it,and this photo shows that sulfur draining off from the Pohutu Geyser. In addition, the sulfur smell in Rotorua comes from bubbling mud. - see below.
Mudpots (or pools) form in high-temperature geothermal areas near volcanoes where water is in short supply. The little water that is available rises to the surface at a spot where the soil is rich in volcanic ash, clay and other fine particulates. The thickness of the mud usually changes along with seasonal changes in the water table, and the sulfur smell can be quite strong.
One of the main reasons to visit Rotorua's Whakarewarewa area is the opportunity to learn about, and to experience parts of the Maori culture, and nothing gets your attention more then the somewhat-frightening Maori masks. Carved to honor ancestors, their masks looks very fierce. The expressions and eyes are often aggressive, and they're meant to look that way. This one stands in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa area.
A Marae is usually a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds which belongs to a particular tribe or family of the Maori people. They see their Marae as a place to belong and be respected by all. Marae are normally used for celebrations, funerals and meetings.
As we approached the Marae , we were given a demonstration on how Maori warriors in the past would try to intimidate their enemies by using an aggressive posture. Holding his weapons, he ran in our direction chanting a loud vocal warning. It worked for me.
Maori above-ground tree house; note the small door.