Polynesian culture and lava: 2017 has brought two more trips to volcanic lands that will be featured in my upcoming travel book about visiting some of the world’s most interesting and infamous volcanoes. (Read more about my upcoming book project here.)
In May 2017, I hopped over to the Big Island of Hawai‘i for a short visit, mostly exploring Kīlauea but also Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (did you know that the Big Island is made up of five different volcanoes?). There were no surface breakouts of lava while I was there, but did get to see spectacular glows and lava splattering at the Halema‘uma‘u Crater and lava entering the ocean. And yeah, Hawai‘i is technically the North Pacific geographically, but it is culturally much more connected to the South Pacific and the rest of Polynesia.
As always with my volcano travels though, it was about more than rocks, as I learned about Hawaiian legends and stories associated with these living mountains, explored petroglyphs carved into volcanic rock, and more.
In a week, I’ll be headed further south, to New Zealand, a land with its own contemporary Polynesian culture. I am interested as always how these volcanoes are similar and different from volcanoes I’ve been to in Alaska, Italy, Indonesia, and other places. Because I have just been to Hawai‘i too, though, I am intrigued how the country responds similarly or different from Hawaiians as Maori and Hawaiian peoples are both part of Polynesian cultures who have been living with volcanoes in the South Pacific for thousands of years.
I’ll be in New Zealand for a month, exploring volcanic landscapes as varied as Auckland’s 53 (yes, 53!) volcanoes, geysers in Rotorua, and the cones of volcanoes in Tongariro National Park.