16 November 2018
I had to climb in with Cornelia again last night, but as I was wide awake after she went back to sleep, I went back to my own bed for the rest of the night, waking to find another missed call and voicemail from Vodafone, who had ignored my personalised “If this is Vodafone please leave a message updating me on the status of my query with you, because we are thirteen hours ahead here and you keep calling me in the early hours of the morning!” message. 🙄
Bugsy woke up around 08:30, but was in a bit of a funny mood, demanding help to get her clothes on, then confusing me with “Go away! But don’t leave me alone!” yells. I just let her yell it out while I went to do the washing up, and she turned up at the kitchen crying and full of apologies. What a funny way to wake up! She made amends by eating her second bowl of porridge nicely, and brushing her own hair, before we left, slightly later than we had planned.
We were off to Rotorua but the couple on the pitch next to us had recommended we make the detour to Huka Falls, about 30kms away. It was on the way for us, and we parked up and walked the 50metres across the bridge to look at them. Although the Falls aren’t that impressive when you’ve been lucky enough to see Niagra and Victoria, the force with which the water was jettisoned down the river was incredible, as was the almost glacial blue colour of it.
We had the fastest game of Pooh sticks ever, which Cornelia loved (and so did I!!). She was then more interested in finding good sticks in the surrounding woodland than she was looking at the water, and had loads of fun when we walked the kilometre through the woods to the Hub Cafe where we watched a helicopter take flight before ordering our drinks. We drank hot chocolate and coffee in the sunshine and soaked up the atmosphere, before retracing our steps to the car park.
We stopped twice more on the way to Rotorua: once to stock up on food at the Countdown supermarket in Taupo, and again for a quick sandwich lunch. In Countdown, we started getting into the festive mood with the purchase of a Christmas Elf book and I downloaded an album of Christmas songs which we sang along to, as we drove the short distance to Rotorua, 80kms or so away. In this final part of the drive, Cornelia had yelled that she wanted to go to sleep, which would’ve worked perfectly in readiness for a late night tonight, but she remained wide awake, despite doing her best to snooze.
We arrived at our All Seasons Holiday Park to be greeted by a large dinosaur model, which immediately attracted Cornelia’s interest and she had fun spotting the numerous dinosaurs on the way over to our pitch.
She also saw the play park, and was straight over there with Ian, bouncing on the trampoline and screaming with laughter as Daddy threw her around it! It was just as well I went for a run, as I was certain that it wouldn’t end well for her!
I had another nice short run, down the lake a mere 200 metres away, and along the grass of the lake front. There were some families paddling and, rather worryingly, one dad in an inflatable dinghy with his kid. It was quite windy and the water was very choppy, but mum was watching them from dry land, so I assumed that if they got into trouble , she’d know about it rather quickly!
Back on site, I was relieved to find that all of Bugsy’s bones were in their rightful place, and with half an hour to spare, she showered with me, before donning her beautiful Hawaiian dress, ready for our dinner out.
Tony, a representative of the event, picked us up bang on 17:45, and once we had collected two other couples, we arrived at Mitai Maori Village for around 18:15. For just over 200 of our finest NZD, we entered the village, with high expectations after our African Boma evening in Zimbabwe.
Gracie, our host for the night was 18, and it was her first evening of hosting. She was very sweet and enthusiastic, but I think her lack of experience was fairly obvious. Nonetheless, she showed no sign of nerves and organised us all very well into groups for our walk around the village, which featured replica huts of how Maoris would have lived in years gone by. She made some comment about moderation, to which Cornelia came out with “Moderation is a virtue!” – a quote from one of her Beatrix Potter episodes, we deduced! We also watched a short traditional canoe display complete with Maori warriors chanting.
After the short walk, we were seated for the show. Again, this did not quite meet our expectations. It could be really brilliant with just a few tweaks, but it all felt a bit amateurish. I had prepared Cornelia to expect the Maori haka to be quite intimidating (so she wouldn’t be scared when she saw and heard it), but it was far from it and was, overall, a slightly dull version of what you might see on the TV before the All Blacks play. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t amazing.
After the show, we went back to our original room and tables, where we were invited to the buffet, which was prepared in a hangi (an underground oven) – I ate more than my fair share of slow-cooked lamb, chicken, sweet potato and rice, whilst Bugsy discovered a new love of Dauphinoise potatoes! We were on a table with another English family who had a two year old daughter, Evelyn, plus a young couple from India who either did not want to or could not socialise. And neither of them ate anything, so I made sure I ate for both of them.
After we had stuffed ourselves silly, Gracie invited us to ask questions, but the floor was silent. And then one of the other tribe members joined her, at which point the questions started flowing. I felt bad for Gracie, but I suspect she was well- prepared for this to be the case, and as her experience being compere for an evening increases, so will her ability to encourage the audience’s participation. Eurgh, that sounds patronising, but really, it was all just a little underwhelming. Cornelia and Evelyn has taken themselves off around the corner and were having a fine old time chasing each other, dancing, and playing with the torches that one of the hosts had given to them!
We were then divided into groups and had a second walk around the same route we had taken earlier only this time, as it was dark, we saw some glow worms in the bushes.
On our return from the walk, we were directed to the car park where Tony was waiting to whiz us back to our campsite. Cornelia was terrific. She stayed alert and was brilliantly well-behaved all evening, and was so tired when we got back that, once she had brushed her teeth and Ian had read her a story, she fell fast asleep.