Māori cultural knowledge and experiences are as popular as ever, with New Zealanders keen to delve further into knowing the customs, traditions, cuisine, historical facts and stories of our indigenous people.
In recent times, many Māori tourism operators have redeveloped their tours to provide more time with their guests in order to create more personal connections and opportunities to learn, and form deeper understandings.
Starting at Buried Village of Te Wairoa, you’ll learn about the significant role the Pink and White Terraces played in creating a tourism economy in New Zealand (ca. 1850s), and how guiding became a formalised profession, largely led by the local bilingual Māori women of Ngāti Tūhourangi.
Learn about the local Māori people who lived in the area, and how their and the European cultures were integrated during an important phase in our country’s social development. Visit the museum’s records of the devastating eruption, exhibition of artefacts, and the 12-acre archaeological site to discover the remains, excavated evidence and recreated scenes from the lasting devastation that was the Mount Tarawera eruption of 1886.
The Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people of Whakarewarewa village have also been hosting guests since the 1800s, sharing the history and stories of their ancestors and guiding visitors through Whakarewarewa Geothermal Reserve. Whakarewarewa - The Living Māori Village offers guided tours through the village which is still home to the ancestors of the original inhabitants. Hear the history and stories of the iwi from now and then from guides who are direct descendants.
Self-guided tours along the Whaka Geothermal Trails past colourful steaming lakes and thermal pools are also available.
Rounding the corner to the southwest is Te Puia, home to the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, Pōhutu. We highly suggest experiencing either one of the guided daytime tours or the Geyser by Night tour, both offering personalised ways to discover the history and lineage of this part of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Reserve and the early Māori inhabitants who lived here prior to European settlement.
Watch and meet artists at work at New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute onsite (pictured above), which is training the next generation of artists from around the country in traditional Māori toi (art) such as carving and flax weaving.
Tamaki Māori Village (pictured above), is a re-created traditional village sheltered under the canopy of an ancient 200-year-old native tawa forest. Learn about Māori traditions, customs and way of life through a traditional Māori welcome ceremony, stories, songs and performances, interactive experiences, and the sharing of traditional food – activities of old that remain prevalent to Māori today.
At Mitai Māori Village (pictured at top), the story of the migration of Tamatekapua on the Te Arawa waka (canoe) to Aotearoa and the Māori-Pacifica connection told is in dance form in the Mitai Māori Hula Haka - Cultural Experience and Buffet. This Māori and island fusion extravaganza includes a traditional feast for the ravenous.