Time Required : 2-3 hours
Immersed in a cultural history like no other, the Maori Villages form an integral part of Rotorua, along with several other areas of New Zealand. The extraordinary practices, habits, and lifestyles of these tribes offer a refreshing experience to the tourists who wish to look closely into the lives of these people. From wonderful cultural performances to unique geographical structures to people who are tattoo experts, once you enter into the Maori villages, you get to take a glance of a life that we are not used to seeing every day. There are primarily four Maori Villages at this point of time – Whakarewarewa, Mitai, Tamaki, and Te Puia.
At present, the Maori Villages have become popular tourist spots which welcome people from all over the world to get a chance to spend some time with the tribes and interact with them for a short while. Several activities are held in order to help the tourists explore these villages and provide them with excitement as well as tranquility. Be it paddling across Lake Rotorua or adeptly pulling out a hangi from the hot, steaming ground, the Maori Villages have something in store for all.
Home to the ethnic Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, Whakarewarewa is also known as the Living Maori Village and has been offering tourism services for more than two hundred years. Owned and operated by the local people, a visit to this village lets you have an intimate look into the daily lives of the people who reside here.
In this village, the visitors are offered an informative, guided tour through the village, where they find out the beautiful history of the Maori culture along with several other interesting facts. They also get to enjoy and be a part of the cultural performances that take place on a daily basis. Kapa Haka, or, the traditional performing arts, pay tribute to their ancestors through songs of their history, or Waiata, and rhythmic chants, known as Patere.
The serene nature walks beyond the guided tours shall lead you to fascinating mud pools, lush greenery, and coloured lakes. The ethnic cuisine – including Hangi pie and kai – prepared by using the natural geothermal waters is especially delicious. For an extraordinary experience, you can also set up camp at the Hotwater Beach Campground, located at the shores of the mesmerizing Te Rata Bay.
Monday to Sunday – 8:30 AM to 5 PM
How to Reach Whakarewarewa Village:
Lying close to mainland Rotorua, it takes approximately eight minutes to drive to the village via Ranolf Street. You can also reach there via the Fenton Street or State Highway 30. For those who prefer public transport, buses are also available from Amohia Street to Whakarewarewa.
A visit to the spectacular Mitai Maori Village will take you into the world of a natural bush setting, where you shall be able to get an insight into the customs and rituals of the residents. From witnessing the beautiful glowworms in their natural habitat to paddling down the gurgling Wai-o-whiro stream on an amazing, ancient war canoe, the tourism services at Mitai Village offer you an experience that is undoubtedly out of the ordinary!
Seeing the people in their traditional attire and getting acquainted with them give a lot of interesting opportunities to find out more about their rich history and heritage. Here too, the traditional pulling out of hangi from the ground is a famous ritual, along with the cultural performances by the Kapa Haka.
The graceful poi dance is sure to leave you in awe of the performers. There are a surprising number of people in the Mitai Maori Village who are adept in the art of ta moko, or drawing tattoos.
You can also go to the sacred Fairy Spring and spend a quiet hour or two in order to escape from the hustle of the city life while looking at eels and trout as they swim by. The succulent meats, eggs, salads made of fresh vegetables, and delicious desserts will surely make your mouth water, so do not hesitate to gorge on them with no regrets!
Monday to Sunday – 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
How to Reach Mitai Village:
There are frequent buses which are available from Amohia and Arawa Streets. Lying at a distance of around five kilometers, a car drive from Lake Road or State Highway 5 takes about ten minutes to reach.
Voted as one of the top ten travel experiences in the world, the Tamaki Maori Village is indeed, an unforgettable affair. In 1989, two brothers named Doug and Mike Tamaki started working to attract tourists from all over the world to come and be a part of the cultural retelling of the story of the Tamaki Maori Village.
At the heart of the village are said to exist the three pillars, or Pou, which make the tribe what it is today. They are the Mana Atua, or the spirit, Mana Whenua, or the land, and finally, the Mana Tangata, or the people.
Popularly considered to be ‘the highlight of a New Zealand holiday’, an evening in the Tamaki village is full of delightful experiences, which include guided tours, interactive sessions, nature walks, powerful art performances, and traditional Hangi feasts.
Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 7 PM
How to Reach Tamaki Village:
Tamaki Village lies only five hundred meters away from Rotorua and can be reached within two minutes. If you choose to walk along Pukuatua Street, it shall take approximately six minutes to reach the village. You can also take a bus from Amohia Street.
Home to the awe-inspiring New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, the glorious Te Puia Maori Village is a place which allows you to spend some time in the midst of nature, and lets you lose yourself in a fascinating environment.
Here, you shall find the largest active geyser of the entire Southern Hemisphere, known as the Pōhutu Geyser, which erupts at least once every hour and may rise to a height of thirty meters. Apart from this, other dormant geysers like the TeHoru and Papakura are also popular places to visit here.
Sightings of the endangered bird Kiwi is also common, which is a protected species in this village. Fall in love with the stunning Maori architecture, which displays itself in all its glory in such buildings as the Rhotowhio Marae and the Heketanga-a-Rangi.
Spreading across an area of seventy hectares, Te Puia is situated within the natural geothermal valley of Te Whakarewarewa and houses a number of hot springs, mud pools, and unique silica formations.
Monday to Sunday – 8 AM to 5 PM, 6 PM to 9 PM
How to Reach Te Puia Village:
Via State Highway 5, a car drive from Rotorua takes about thirty minutes to reach the village. Buses leave from Amohia Street and take about the same time to reach Te Puia.