Hi, Mina here. I’m going to tell you about Rotorua and our experiences there!
Rotorua is known as the tourism capital of the North Island in NZ, with its lively geothermal activity and many opportunities to experience the Māori culture. It is one of the best places on the North Island to experience first-hand New Zealand’s culture and unique landscape.
The tourism industry in Rotorua is largely focused on the Māori people, who continue to share their food, songs, and dance, as well as other arts including carving, weaving, tattoo, and weaponry. This is in addition to their local history and legends. The Māori people can make money by sharing their culture with tourists from around the world.
After Rui suggested we could go to Rotorua, I quickly started researching what we could do there. I found out that Rotorua is particularly famous for its Māori experiences, and it is considered the best place in NZ to learn about and experience the Māori culture. I found this place called Whakarewarewa. It is New Zealand’s only living Māori village! The people there live in a unique geothermal valley amongst thermal activity and geysers. I told Alex and Rick, and they thought it would be very interesting to visit a Māori village located on top of all this geothermal activity! Whakarewarewa seemed a lot less «touristy» than a lot of the other places I looked at online, so we decided to give it a shot!
We went there during the day. The entrance fee included a 1 hour guided tour by one of the local Māori people, as well as a 30-minute cultural show. We were also welcomed to explore on our own afterwards
On the tour, we saw the main geysers. This included the Pohutu Geyser, which is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest active geyser! We were also able to see the intricately carved communal house and learn about the carvings, ceremonies and activities done there. Our experience of the tour was great! It did not feel fake or forced at all! The people there have been inviting people into their village for over 100 years, so they are used to tourists. The village is owned and run by the residents, which also makes it feel a lot more authentic.
After our tour, we saw the cultural show, where Haka was performed. The show lasted about half an hour, and the performers sang and danced to some traditional Māori songs. These told the story of their heritage, and in between, they gave explanations so we could understand what it was about.
After the performance, we walked around the village and the surrounding area. There, we saw the bubbling mud pools, hot springs, colourful steam lakes, green lakes and geysers. We also visited the village church and the local shops and buy some souvenirs. To cool down, we also had and ice cream! As we walked around the village, we got a glimpse into the daily life of the Māori people living there. At the end of the day, we started to get quite hungry, so we decided to have the hangi lunch option too. It was delicious! It came quickly and was healthy and nutritious – and for good value too!
We were all really impressed with Whakarewarewa. The local people were very friendly and welcoming, and we learnt a lot about the culture. All in all, we had a really enjoyable day!
So, I really hope you enjoyed this blog. Next up, we are going to Auckland, and Alex will tell you all about that -
Stay tuned :)