Where is it – In the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island, New Zealand
What is there to see – Minden Lookout, Te Puke, Te Puna, Rotorua, Agrodome, The Strand
Interesting Trivia – The Maori people believe that gentle pressing of noses signifies the mingling of the sacred breath of life.
More than 1.5 billion kiwifruits are exported from Tauranga every year.
“Haere Mai” (Welcome) to Tauranga, New Zealand, bustling port city of 121,000 people, a seaside resort with pristine beaches and an agricultural and timber centre of the North Island.
Tauranga is also the gateway to popular Rotorua, considered as the heart of the Maori culture. The name Tauranga comes from Maori word meaning “sheltered anchorage”.
Just a short drive from the city centre is the Minden Lookout and Observation Deck where we have a panoramic view of Tauranga and its suburbs, the famous Mt. Maunganaui, the Bay of Plenty coast, and out to the sea over green orchards and farmlands, and rolling hill country.
Southeast of Tauranga is the town of Te Puke (means The Hill), the “kiwi capital of the world”. Te Puke has thousands of acres of the woody vines grown on stout trellises heavy with the edible greenish-brown berries, the kiwifruits which are picked by large number of residents during April and May. A notable attraction in Te Puke is Kiwi 360 with its famous landmark, the giant kiwifruit, showing its yellow side.
Our journey then takes us to a small village known as “Te Puna” for an exploration of Maori cultural heritage. We experience the traditional ceremony of welcome called “powhiri” held at an open area called “marae”, regarded as a sacred space or courtyard. The rites involve speeches, dancing, singing, and “hongi”. Because the Maoris are very spiritual people they acknowledge the existence of God in their welcoming speeches.
The last part of the traditional welcome is called the “hongi”, the touching of noses and foreheads. The gentle pressing of noses signifies the mingling together of the breath of life; the touching of foreheads signifies the exchanging and sharing of knowledge. The ceremony is capped by performance of traditional dances called “kapa haka” and “poi”, the womens’ dance involving the swinging of balls about the size of tennis balls attached to a rope or string. “Kapa Haka”, a Maori traditional dance usually performed by the men, involves rhythmic chants, stomping of the feet and dancers wide-eyed and tongues protruding.
No visit in New Zealand would be complete without stopping at Rotorua which is about 60 kms. south of Tauranga. A geothermal wonderland of gushing geysers, hot springs and bubbling hot mud pools, Rotorua is a place of natural beauty although sometimes it has the ‘rotten eggs’ smell because of the hydrogen sulphide emissions from the earth.
An experience not to be missed is the Agrodome located north of Rotorua. The world famous Agrodome is home to popular sheep show featuring live sheeps shearing, breeds of champion rams, cow milking, lamb feeding, and sheep dog demonstration.
On the waterfront of the port city is “The Strand”, regarded as the restaurant central and the main social hub of Tauranga.
“Haera ra”! (Good-bye)