There could be a number of compelling reasons why one would choose to travel; some just want to take a break—get away—from the daily routine while others simply want a change of scenery. While travel has, time and time again, proven to be a means of disconnection, it can be noted that it is also courses us to reconnect to our roots. That is, if we permit it.
It has been said many times that the world is quickly changing as everyone is clamouring to step into the digital wonderland, if not wasteland. But just before the grey walls are built, let us step back and appreciate the beginnings, the indigenous life and smiling culture, of New Zealand. Let’s review some of the previous chapters before moving on, shall we?
Before the Europeans settled in, the first people that came in Aotearoa, which is the name for New Zealand in Māori, are the, well, Māori people. They came as seafarers and ocean navigators, riding canoes (wakas) from eastern Polynesia, bringing their culture with them in the quiet country.
If you’re travelling to get in touch with the past, here are the top places in New Zealand to experience Māori Culture.
Restoration in Rotorua
It’s hot in Rotorua but it’s the kind of heat that magnetises people to be immersed even deeper. The city, which is located by the southern shores of the lake by the same name in the North Island and sits in the Pacific Rim of Fire, is known for it steaming natural hot springs, water-spurting geysers and mud pools aplenty for those looking for relaxation. Geothermal attractions include crater lakes, volcanic valleys, rainforests. If you want to see it from above, a helicopter tour is the best for you.
However, there is one more thing that the smokin’ hot town is known for other than its thermal tourism. Rotorua is one of the cultural hotspots in the country, also emerging as a hub for experiences with the Māori.
Upon its opening in 1967, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) positioned itself to safeguard the traditional Māori Arts. The school was founded to keep teaching the indigenous art forms such as carving (whakairo), weaving (raranga) and traditional Māori textiles. Now, it has become a massive tourist draw as it is located near the geyser fields.
Although a worthy starting point, the Rotorua Museum doesn’t quite capture what a live performance can teach you, especially in Te Puia. The area, found within the historic Te Whakarewarewa Valley edges, takes only a short minute drive from the city centre and provides you with a dose of Te Pō, an indigenous evening experience. The highlights include an entire cultural performance dedicated to the culture’s inception, humble beginnings and development of the culture and a feast they call the Hākari.
If it’s authenticity you want mustered, the Mitai is not one to disappoint. The village prides itself with an understanding of the Māori culture from the grassroots level enabling you to understand cultural beginnings for yourself. Here you’ll find warriors in traditional attire paddling in ancient canoe, artists donning costumes that enliven Māori ancestry parading warrior dances (haka) in nightly presentations, and be captivated further through tattoo art (ta moko), a hangi meal pulled up from the ground, and glow worms in their natural habitat.
The thing that separates a Tamaki experience from the others is interaction. Aside from the traditional hangi feasts and explosive dance performances by the Tamaki brothers, here. you’ll be able to participate. Enter the world of and be indulged in facial tattoos, weaving, carving and even cooking. The multi-awarded Māori attraction in New Zealand is one that captivates you—creating a renewed sense of awareness and character.
In Canterbury and in Auckland
When it comes to exploring Māori culture, one might rise to the conclusion that it begins and ends in Rotorua, but it doesn’t. The culture is not just celebrated, it is lived in its entirety. In fact, Māori culture transcends in the entire country of New Zealand, reverberating from the North Island to the South.
Canterbury provides guests with family-friendly perspective to the Māori culture through a scenic tour of mountains and coasts, as you drive a campervan, in Kaikoura. In this suburb in New South Wales, you can visit a Marae, a Māori village while being able dive in the culture through singing dancing, hangi and tribal arts and crafts. In Canterbury, you can also have close encounters with whales, who play a large part in the Māori legendary history.
A tour in Auckland, meanwhile, is not complete without being able to delve into the wondrous cultural experiences and Māori lifestyle. Everywhere you go, you’ll be discovering hints of the culture. From the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum to see how the Polynesians’ travelled to Aotearoa, collections of art and alluring history from the Auckland Museum or the Te Hana Te Ao Marama, set to be an authentic way to recall the life before the Europeans arrived.
Wherever it is you want to go, you’re sure to have a great experience not only after arriving to your chosen destination but also while you’re travelling. Apollo Motorhome Holidays provides you with a wide fleet of campervans for all kinds of expeditions. Call our branch today in Auckland and get going! For more information on our vehicles and some destination suggestions, simply visit our website, follow our blog and our Facebook page.