A unique waka (canoe) paddling attraction for Rotorua locals and visitors is set to open this weekend – just in time for the start of summer.
Ki te Hoe – Waka Paddle Rotorua is the first venture to offer guests the opportunity to crew their own waka on Lake Rotorua.
“In te reo Māori, ‘ki te hoe’ means get ready to paddle and that’s exactly what our new waka experience enables you to do,” says Eugene Berryman-Kamp, CEO Tumu Whakarae, and general manager.
“Our vision is to create a viable and authentic Māori cultural experience and establish waka as a regular sight on our lake Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamoemoe.”
Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer says this type of authentic cultural experience reinforces the manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) the city is internationally renowned for.
“It’s exciting to welcome another quality Māori cultural venture to Rotorua, one that is passionate about preserving and sharing the history of Te Arawa people who came to New Zealand via waka more than 800 years ago. It’s also very fitting as Rotorua is the place where Māori tourism began in the late 19th century.”
The traditionally styled waka tētē will travel along the lakefront to view the historic Māori village of Ohinemutu, across Ruapeka Bay to the mouth of the Utuhina Stream, stopping along the way to view sites of significance. Paddlers will hear stories from their kaihautū and kaihoe about the iwi’s history and relationship to the area, and their intimate connection with the environment.
The fleet includes two 9-metre waka which can take up to 14 passengers each. The waka can be rigged together to create a double-hulled vessel, as well – perfect for larger tour groups.
Ki te Hoe – Waka Paddle Rotorua adds another facet to the range of tourism businesses based at the lakefront which includes flights via helicopter and float plane, tours to Mokoia Island, jet boating and parasailing, and cruises on New Zealand’s only stern wheel paddle-driven vessel, the Lakeland Queen.