How to experience Maori culture in New Zealand
How to experience Maori culture in New Zealand
Video: Hawaii. Maori of New Zealand 2022, September
Maori culture, language, and traditions are diligently preserved in New Zealand. Just as common phrases and sayings are quite common in everyday interactions, there are ample opportunities to explore and learn about local heritage and history. Wondering how? Here are our top suggestions.
Spend a day in Rotorua
Rotorua is the place to embrace Maori culture as a whole. The local village of Whakarewarewa invites visitors to learn about their way of life and see the geothermal wonders of the area. The village of Tamaki Maori closer to town is another popular place that will teach you about tribal customs and myths. Traditional Hanxi food is part of both of these village experiences. For something a little off the grid, Mokoya Island will take you up close and personal to a protected heritage site in the area.
Spend the night at the marae.
An overnight stay in a marae is the best way to learn about Maori ceremonies, traditions and practices. Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua offers overnight stays, as does Te Hana Ao Marama Mae in Auckland. Be sure to use basic etiquette if you choose to do so-there are protocols for greeting at Wharenui (the meeting house), as well as general rules about how to behave while you are inside. For example, you must always take off your shoes before entering and never sit on any surface where food may be served.
Move on to Waitangi.
Waitangi, on the Bay of Islands, is a place of national importance. It was here that the controversial agreement between the colonial powers and chiefs known as the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. The local Te Tii Marae is now the site of the main Waitangi celebrations each year on February 6. Tours are regularly scheduled on a treaty basis, introducing visitors to the most important landmarks as well as the local museum.
Paddle Vaca in the Bay of Islands
Not only is the Bay of Islands region home to the historic Waitangi, it is also one of the few places that allow visitors to visit a traditional Maori canoe. The local Ngapuhi tribe runs the Taimai Canoe Tours, where you will use a Waka Taua (military canoe) to cross the Waitangi River. As you ride together, your hosts will share ancient stories, traditions, and histories that shape their rituals and personalities.
Journey through time with Ko Tane
Located in Christchurch’s Willowbank Reserve, Ko Tane prides itself on being the only place on the South Island that offers a fully interactive Maori cultural experience. Learn all about pre and post-European Maori settlement, including how traditions have developed in the 21st century. According to local custom, a special Powhiri will meet you on the grounds before you meet the warriors and hosts of Ko Tane. Performances of Kapahaka (dance) and vayata (traditional songs) will take you on a journey through each time period. A hanja-style dinner ends in typical New Zealand flavor.
Explore Wanganui National Park
Wanganui has made international headlines by becoming the first place in the world to grant human rights to a river. Not surprisingly, the national park will provide you with much tradition and history. You can journey to knowledge, kayak the famous waters and spend the night in a Tike Kainga hut as you marvel at these lush forests. The latter is quite unique as it is the only Department of Conservation accommodation that doubles as a mara.
Explore the Teppa Wellington Museum.
The Papa Maori Taong (treasure) Collection accurately encapsulates Maori heritage. Art, crafts and ancient relics are some of the exhibits. Museum tours are the best way to get a feel for what makes Maori culture special, from historical influences to the artistic inspiration surrounding each exhibit. If you venture out for another day, be sure to visit Kapiti Island, an area filled with Maori and colonial treasures to share with your visitors.
Watch a khaki performance in the Skylinest Gondola
Even budget travelers can enjoy it. You can head to Bob’s Peak on the Skyline Panoramic Gondola or head to the top via the free access Tiki Trail. Once you reach the summit, you can sit down for dinner at Stratosfare in the Gondola and prepare for an unforgettable khaki performance.
The Māori Craftsmanship Experience at Hokitika
Pounamu (greenstone) and bone carving are very much part of Maori custom. To learn all about this art form and even score yourself a memorable souvenir, head to Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island. The town is home to Bonz ‘n Stonz Carving Studio and Gallery, which makes exquisite creations and lets people carve their own jewelry. If you want to learn more about the benefits and significance of pounamu, choose Arahura Greenstone Tours – local guides will take you on a journey along the shoreline as they share their knowledge of the stone’s legendary qualities.
10 things to do in New Zealand
One of the most beautiful places in New Zealand is Lake Pukaki in Canterbury, 94 miles from Timaru on the South Island. Because of the high content of limestone that enters the lake through the Tasman and Hooker Rivers, the water in the lake is sky blue. Whether you’d like to do just a walk in the woods, hike in the Southern Alps or sit and admire the scenery, the lake area is the perfect place. You can also enjoy safaris, boating on glacial lakes, fishing and more.
2. Walk up Baldwin Street.
The town of Dunedin has a street called Baldwin Street. You’d think what could be noteworthy about it? Well, it’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the steepest residential street in the world! It is 359 meters long and at its highest point it is almost 80 meters high. The steepest section is 161.2 meters and its elevation is 47.22 meters, which corresponds to a slope of 38 degrees. Every year the Baldwin Street Gutbuster is held here, the essence of which is to get to the top as fast as possible and come down as low as possible. About a thousand people in various categories compete against each other, but the record from a decade ago – 1 minute 56 seconds – has yet to be broken.
3. See yellow-eyed penguins
Penguin Place is a world-renowned sanctuary created to preserve the population of yellow-eyed penguins, a very rare species. Today only about 5 thousand pairs of these birds remain on the planet, several hundred of which live in the reserve. During the hour and a half tour you will learn everything you need to know about these amazing animals, and when dusk comes, you will have a rare opportunity to see and photograph penguins up close. Curiously enough, a picture of a yellow-eyed penguin appears on the New Zealand $5 bill.
4. Sperm Whale Watching
The Kaikoura Peninsula and its namesake city on New Zealand’s northeast coast are considered the best place on the planet to watch whales, orcas, dolphins, and sperm whales. You can do this at any time of the year. There are many different travel agencies in the city, which offer excursions by plane or boat along the coast. For example, a three-hour excursion on a small boat will cost $145 (you can book here.)
5. Surf in Raglan
Raglan is a small town on the west coast of North Island, just 150 kilometers south of Auckland. Raglan is a surfing paradise because the waves here are flat and surf-friendly. Even if you do not know how to ski, do not despair, there is a special school, where you learn to do it and give the necessary equipment. By the way, on the surf beaches constantly sit locals who take pictures of everything, including surfers. It is all counted on the tourists, who after the next swim will want to buy a picture of themselves on the crest of a wave as a keepsake.
6. Kiwi spotting on Stuart Island
Stewart Island is the third largest island in the country after North and South Island, most of which is set aside as a national park. Mason Bay on the west coast of the island offers a great opportunity to watch the “national symbol of New Zealand,” the kiwi bird, in the wild. They even build kiwyarns – special places where you can watch the islanders’ favorite bird. Kiwis lead a nocturnal lifestyle. Now there are less than 15000 of them left on the planet and their population, unfortunately, is decreasing.
7. Take a ride on the Transalpine Railway
The Transalpine Railway is considered one of the most beautiful trails in New Zealand and one of the five most fascinating in the world. It is 223 kilometers long. The TranzAlpine train connects the South Island towns of Christchurch and Greymouth every day, covering the route in just over four hours. The TranzAlpine runs through 19 tunnels and four viaducts along its route, allowing passengers to enjoy the country’s spectacular scenery.
8. Climb the Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier is one of the South Island’s main attractions. It is located in the Westland National Park. It was discovered by German researchers, who gave it this name in honor of the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph. What makes the glacier unique is that it descends directly to the tropical vegetation, nowhere else in the world. For tourists are available the following activities: walking on the glacier, helicopter flights, skydiving, etc. Helicopter tours are organized by “The Helicopter Line” company, with prices available on the website.
9. Hiking in the volcano crater
White Island is an active volcano island, most of which is underwater. White Island Tours organizes daily tours for those who want to see the active volcano: boats leave from Rotorua and Tauranga, the cost for an adult tour is $199. The turquoise lake in the volcano’s crater, cliffs and white smoke will no doubt appeal to fans of “Martian scenery.”
10. Learn about Maori customs
To experience the culture of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, a trip to Rotorua is worthwhile. In addition to the city’s famous geyser valley, you can also visit the Maori village of Tamaki. Tours are arranged from Rotorua and cost an average of $105 per adult. Here you can learn about Maori traditions and customs, try a hangi dinner, and learn how to carve wood.