Helicopter Flight to Tikitera (Hell’s Gate)
I was originally booked on a float plane but the flight was overbooked and so I was offered – and accepted – the helicopter flight 3B by Air Tours instead. It was a fantastic experience. I was allowed to sit in the front with the pilot and so had an amazing view as we travelled over lakes and mountains. We flew over Mount Tarawera, which last erupted in 1886 leaving a large fissure. The helicopter landed at Tikitere (Hell’s Gate), where we were given a guided tour of the thermal reserve. We then rejoined the helicopter for the flight back to base.
Tamaki – Maori Concert and Hangi
In the evening we were picked up by a coach with a very jolly lady Maori driver, who asked that we choose a leader. That lot fell to Paul. We were driven to Tamaki, a Maori village, and assembled at the gateway to the village. It was important that we learn something of the Maori culture. The Maori warriors came out and challenged the leaders from the various groups. Paul did his job well and, after some ceremony, we were allowed into the village. There we could wander round until we were summoned to the traditional Maori concert. The concert over, we were invited into the main dining area, where a fantastic feast, a Hangi, was laid out as a buffet. All the food was excellent and we were able to try some Maori specialities, including kumara, a type of sweet potato but nothing like the ones we can buy in Britain. A final singsong and then it was time to leave.