We diligently woke up at 6.15am today and hopped onto Anne's truck. She drives to Mt Maunganui to sell blueberries every Sunday. It's a popular holiday resort town about an hour's drive from Rotorua.
The Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 9am to 1pm in the Phoenix car park
In New Zealand, farmers market is like a combination of our wet market and pasar malam; there's fresh produce, handmade goods, food and live country music. It's usually a weekly affair put together by the local community.
Big, sweet and juicy blueberries
We helped Anne set up the stall, unloaded the ice-cream box, jams and berries from the truck. It's unbelievable at her age, she's still doing this faithfully every weekend. Support Mamaku Blue at Maunganui!
Views from summit of Mauao
A 40 mins climb up to the top of Mauao (or colloquially known as The Mount) rewards visitors with decent views. Mt Maunganui has a unique geographical formation known as tombolo. Beach on one side and harbour on the other side. Quite cool eh?
All eyes on the stick...
On the way back to town, we caught the Lifeguard Service Junior Champs live in action at the beach. Different age groups compete in games which test the participants' agility and dexterity. It was fun watching the kids dive to grab the stick.
Tender, off-the-bone meat and succulent vegetables
Chi came over in the evening and invited us to her neighbour's house for hangi (Maori feast). In traditional hangi, food is cooked in a hole dug in the earth for several hours. This interesting cooking method is healthy - no oil or charred meat - but it's too laborious. Modern hangi is prepared using a portable "stove". In a wire basket, meat is placed at the bottom and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, kamo kamo) on top. Eru and Ngaire also prepared a Polynesian dish called ota ika - raw fish marinated in coconut milk.
Ngaire's yummy homemade fried bread
Everyday love the Samsui ginger sauce!
We found out from Eru that 'kia ora' (Maori greeting) does not mean hello in Maori, it means 'be well'. This lovely family is camera shy and I did not manage to get a group photo with them :( We were really moved by their sincerity and hospitality.