We were in NZ for 10 days, plenty of time to do some sightseeing outside Auckland. We went south of the city, towards the areas where Rotorua and Taupo are located. On the way to Rotorua, we passed through a town called Cambridge. Very nice place, we stopped at a well-known arts and crafts shop called the Cambridge Country Store, got lots of souvenirs, hehe. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the place, the building itself was quite interesting and it was called "The Pink Church".
When we reached Rotorua, the first place we stopped was Lake Rotorua (Photo 1), formed from the crater of a volcano and is the second largest lake in the North Island. There's an island called Mokoia Island at the centre of the lake (you can see it in the distance in Photo 1). It has a famous Maori legend attached to it, which is about two lovers called Hinemoa and Tutanekai - you can read about it here.
Not far from the lake is the geothermal Maori village of Whakarewarewa. The guy in the first photo with my parents was our guide around the village. The next two photos are of traditional Maori dances, the second being the well-known war dance form called haka. The following four photos show some of the natural geothermal formations, including the active geysers, mud pools and Ngararatuatara hot spring (my favourite part of the whole place, hehe). The latter is actually called a cooking pool, since they actually use it for that purpose. This pool as well as the mud pools are of temperatures between 100-200 degrees Celcius! O.O You definitely do not want to fall into them! And the last two photos are of the meeting house (wharenui) located on the marae (a sacred enclosed area used as a communal ceremonial centre for the Maori tribes). Every Maori tribal village has a marae. The guide told us a lot of the Maori culture, which I found it extremely interesting.
We left the village to head to Taupo, where lake Taupo is located. Before we reached our destination, we stopped by Huka Falls, a set of waterfalls on Waikato River (which drains Lake Taupo). The photos really don't do them justice, I think I would describe them as majestic, hehe.
Unfortunately, when we reached Taupo, the weather wasn't great for taking photos, so I have none to post - sorry! :( Just a bit of info, Lake Taupo is another lake created from a volcanic crater (more correctly a caldera) and it is the largest lake in NZ by surface area!