One of the many unique charms of New Zealand is its Maori heritage so for any visitor, a taste of the unique Maori experience is a must. Having been a regular visitor to New Zealand, I have experienced a few different ‘Maori experiences’ but none as authentic as the Tamaki Village in Rotorua.
Tamaki Village – classic Maori culture
I found out about Tamaki Village courtesy of a flyer in the local i-Site centre and luckily as I was reading the information about the village and the experience itself, a fellow tourist came over and gave it the thumbs up having visited the night before. Upon that recommendation I went over and booked at the i-Site desk for my husband and I to attend the next evening. I was thrilled to discover that included in the price was free transport to and from our hotel – excellent.
So the evening of our visit, there we stood outside our hotel dressed smartly but casually, as is the New Zealand way. Our mini-bus arrived only a couple of minutes late (as is also the New Zealand way) and thanks to the branded sides, there was no mistaking the mini-bus was destined for Tamaki Village. We were pleasantly greeted and then spent the next twenty minutes or so picking up other tourists from local hotels before heading to the Tamaki Village itself.
When we arrived we were taken into a large room which was laid out with tables and shown to our seats. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes, our fellow dinner guests arrived who ranged in nationality from British, American and Norwegian. We all enjoyed a drink together (did I mention there was a bar?) as we were greeted by a Maori host who than sang us a song – what a pleasant way to start the evening.
Authentic Maori culture
After some audience participation where some of the guests were invited to join in the experience, we headed off for a tour of the village and ended up by a river where we were greeted by a Maori war canoe complete with native Maori’s painted and dresses in traditional costumes. More singing and some tongue-sticking-out was seen before we were ushered into a sort of theatre where we enjoyed a great show which comprised of a little Maori culture such as greetings before seeing some Maori women spinning some wool balls in a sort of dance and then being exposed to the infamous Haka – and might I say that it was by far the best Haka I have seen.
After the show, we returned to our tables and enjoyed a traditional Hangi feast. The buffet comprised of a range of meats including chicken and lamb which had been cooked in the ground over the course of the day. It was accompanied by vegetables cooked in the same manner. We were entertained by some more Maori folk songs before being bid a fond farewell and returned to our hotel by mini-bus. All in all it had been an incredibly authentic Maori experience which we will never forget.
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