I always liked Rotorua. There is something very magic about that place. Lots of hot springs steaming everywhere, the strong smell of sulfur, the beautiful lake… Despite visiting it in the past, I always want to come back.
Therefore, I literally jumped on the opportunity to stay overnight at this peaceful country town during my last work trip to NZ.
In the past I chose to stay at the city centre. This time I decided to book an accommodation near the lake. And it was a really smart move.
How mysterious this little stream looks in the morning!
The local government built a boardwalk along this creek so people can go for a walk or jog and enjoy the views. I wish I had more time to go for a walk myself.
Very close to my hotel was the historic St Faith’s Anglican Church. It is the oldest religious institution in the district. The church was finished in 1914 and is still active. The services are held in English and Maori languages every Sunday. On the first night of my visit it was closed.
How could I leave Rotorua without visiting this church? Of course I could not. So in the morning I made another attempt and this time I was lucky.
Mary, the local lady, came early that day to do some cleaning. I almost begged her to let me in as it was the only opportunity for me as we were leaving in an hour.
From outside it looks like a typical European building. But inside all the benches, columns, and walls were decorated with traditional Maori carvings.
Look at the sculptures holding this rostrum.
I could be wrong, but to me it looks like this eagle is doing Haka – traditional war cry of the Maori people.
This is the most famous window display – Jesus, wearing the traditional Maori cloak, walking on the waters of Lake Rotorua. This is really divine.
Stunning artwork adorns the windows.
There is a small cemetery right next to the church. This is a resting place for community leaders.
Behind the church there are more graves. The gates were built by locals in a traditional way.
This ancestor is protecting the last resting place for Maori warriors.
And this is a modern version.
Just opposite to the St Faith’s Church there is a living Maori village Ohinemutu. People really live here. On this photo (below) is the Marae – meeting house. Only Maori can go inside for their social and cultural gathering. On the top is a sculpture of the chief, decorated with shiny shells.
This is a sculpture of one of the ancestors, who are deeply respected by the locals.
And this is a flag pole.
I could not stop admiring the outstanding craftsmanship. Each surface is decorated with carvings, where each line and each swirl have some meanings.
Through these carvings Maori pass their stories from one generation to another.
Maori totem carving, one of many in Ohinemutu.
I really enjoyed my visit. Actually, I am thinking of going there again to explore this area and the Maori culture without being in a rush. I wish I could learn more about this unique culture!