Ki Wīwī, Ki Wāwā

Celebrating Māori tourism in Aotearoa
Te whakanui i te tāpoitanga i Aotearoa

The Māori phrase “Ki Wīwī, Ki Wāwā” is similar to the word “roaming” and is also part of a proverb about going on walkabout to distant places - with all the sense of freedom that entails. 

He āhua rite anō te kīanga “Ki wīwī, Ki wāwā ki te kupu “Tipi Haere,” ka mutu, he wāhanga anō ki tētahi whakataukī mō te kotiti haere ki tawhiti - me ngā āhua anō o te noho kore here i roto i tēnei mahi.

Like most New Zealanders, early Māori settlers were famously big travellers, using the stars and ocean currents to guide them across vast swathes of the Pacific and exploring Aotearoa’s then-untouched coastline, mountain ranges and forests in waka and on foot. 

Embracing the concept “ki wīwī, ki wāwā” today enables you to go deeper on your travels. To learn more about the tangata whenua (people of the land) and the values they continue to live by as you explore places which, in many cases, look similar to when those early settlers first set eyes on them. Whether you’re keen to sample the country’s best Māori cuisine, go on an outdoor adventure or learn more about the Māori worldview, let the principles of manaakitanga (kindness and care for others), kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and whanaungatanga (kinship) be your guide. 

Pēnei me te tokomaha ake o ngā tāngata o Aotearoa, ko ngā Māori i tau tuatahi ake i tēnei whenua i rongonuitia ai rātou mō te haere moana e whakamahia ana ngā whetū me ngā au o te moana kia ārahina rātou i ngā ātea rangiwhāwhā o te Moananui-a-Kiwa. Ko te tuhurā anō tērā ā rātou mahi i ngā takutai toitū, ngā pae maunga me ngā wao mā runga waka, mā raro anō hoki. 

Ko te nanaotanga atu i tēnei ariā “ki wīwī, ki wāwā” i ēnei rā nei e āheitia ai koe kia ruku rētō iho koe ki ō tipi haere. Kia ako nui ai mō te tangata whenua me ā rātou uaratanga e ora tonu nei i a koe ka toro, ka tūhura haere nei i ngā wāhi, i te nuinga o te wā, he rite tonu anō te āhua o aua wāhi rā ki te wā i kitea tuatahitia ai e ngā karu o ērā kainoho Māori tuatahi nei. Mehemea rānei e hīkaka ana koe ki te whakamātau i ngā kai rangatira a te Māori, kia kotiti haere ai ki te taiao o waho, ki te ako nui ake anō rānei mō te tirohanga o te ao Māori, waiho mā te manaakitanga, te kaitiakitanga me te whanaungatanga koe e ārahi. 


Matariki

Aotearoa is celebrating the first ever Matariki public holiday in June 2022, a uniquely New Zealand occasion, acknowledging our shared identity and the importance of tikanga Māori.

Matariki is a cluster of nine stars, also known as the Pleiades cluster or Seven Sisters. The cluster can be seen almost year-round, but disappears from our skies for a month before rising again in winter, marking the start of the Māori New Year.

The appearance of Matariki is traditionally a time to get together to look back on the past 12 months, honour and remember those who have passed and also plan for the future.

Matariki is also a time which involves examining the stars to determine the success of the coming harvest. Clear, bright stars are a good sign, promising a warm, bountiful season, while hazy ones are believed to be a harbinger of cold weather and poor crops.

Many modern-day Matariki celebrations feature kites, the sharing of food, and stargazing sessions which offer an insight into Māori star lore, astronomy and the way in which iwi lived in tune with the seasons.

This year, Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea falls on Friday, June 24, New Zealand's first public holiday recognising te ao Māori.


Stargazing is an exciting time during Matariki celebrations. BROOK SABIN/STUFF

Stargazing is an exciting time during Matariki celebrations. BROOK SABIN/STUFF

Holiday fun for the whole whanau

Right across Aotearoa, families will gather for festivities to mark our first official Matariki public holiday in June. A number of festivals and events are in the pipeline, while individual iwi are also planning their own ways to celebrate. Take the tamariki on a scavenger hunt through Northland/Te Tai Tokerau or stay up til dark to be dazzled by the light festival Tīrama Mai in Christchurch/Ōtautahi, featuring live kapa haka and fire performances in Cathedral Square. Read more

A group of young women perform in a kapa haka performance

Nga Tai Ahurea o Te Ngaengae perform as part of the Naenae Matariki Festival. SUPPLIED

Nga Tai Ahurea o Te Ngaengae perform as part of the Naenae Matariki Festival. SUPPLIED

Light up, eat up

Nearly every region is hosting some sort of festival or chance to gather to celebrate Matariki. Enjoy astrophotography workshops and dawn cruises in the Bay of Islands, the launch of a new Ātea-ā-Rangi (star compass) on the summit of Mauao in Tauranga, and Rotorua restaurants will be taking part in the city’s inaugural Matariki Dish Challenge. Other festivals around NZ include impressive light installations, kapa haka performances, arts and crafts, and of course, plenty of kai. Read more

Ahi Kā is an immersive experience in Wellington including projections, displays, performances, fire and light. MONIQUE FORD

Ahi Kā is an immersive experience in Wellington including projections, displays, performances, fire and light. MONIQUE FORD

Take a hike to see the stars

For a truly special Matariki experience, take a hike up one of our might maunga for a stargazing experience like no other. Mt Heale Hut on Aotea/Great Barrier Island is known for its spectacular sunrises, as is Hawke's Bay's Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Forest Park. Green Lake Hut in Fiordland National Park has optimum stargazing opportunities and of course so does Hooker Hut in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Read more

Gaze east to find Matariki rising

Stargazing can be a meditative experience for those who are willing to wrap up and stand still in the presence of the night sky. In most parts of Aotearoa, to see Matariki rising, you’ll want to have a clear view of the horizon as it will be low in the sky, and you’ll need to look out east. It will only be visible before dawn, about half an hour before the sun brightens the sky too much to see the stars. Wrap up, grab a thermos and enjoy the celebration by heading to these brilliant stargazing regions. Read more

Guests look out the ocean on a dawn cruise in the Bay of Islands

A dawn cruise during the Puanga Matariki celebrations in the Bay of Islands. MARK RUSSELL

A dawn cruise during the Puanga Matariki celebrations in the Bay of Islands. MARK RUSSELL

A time to feast

Matariki and sharing kai go hand in hand. So where are the best places to find these mouthwatering Matariki dishes? Vote for your favourite meal in Rotorua and Bay of Plenty in this year's Matariki Dish Challenge, designed to shine a light on the regions' culinary scene while celebrating Matariki. Or in the south, feast on a nine-course degustation at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, with each dish relating to a star within the constellation. Or head to the many other Matariki feasts planned all over Aotearoa. Read more

Te Taiao

Learn more about Aotearoa’s natural environment on the likes of stargazing tours enlightening visitors on Māori astronomy, waka tours, wildlife and two-wheel adventures, and a kayak trip over the ‘buried Eighth wonder of the world’.

Kia ako nui atu mō ngā taiao māori nei o Aotearoa mō ngā tāpoi haeretanga mātai whetū, e ako haere ai i ngā kōrero mātauranga Māori mō ngā whetū, ngā tāpoitanga haere waka, ngā haeretanga rua wīra me te haere kōreti i runga ake i ‘te whakamiharotanga tuawaru o te ao’ kua tanumia.


Stargaze under one of the finest night skies in the world

Throughout humanity, stars and constellations have helped reveal the secrets to life on earth from celestial navigation, to guidance on planting crops and hunting seasons. And there's no better place in Aotearoa to observe the night sky than under the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest reserve in the southern hemisphere. Head to Takapō's Dark Sky Project to experience the Milky Way like you've never seen before. Discover what you can see in our unique southern skies, while learning about tātai arorangi (Māori astronomy). Read more

Telescope pointing to Milky Way

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere HUILI CHAI/SUPPLIED

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere HUILI CHAI/SUPPLIED

The spectacular ocean tour that will strengthen your spirit

Carve through the brilliant turquoise waters of the Tasman sea on a waka tour towards the Abel Tasman National Park. Learn the correct tikanga (custom) of the waka and hoe (paddle) with Waka Abel Tasman before paddling out from Kaiteriteri along this stunning stretch of coastline. You'll learn how to steer and power the waka as a team, feel the strength of working together on the ocean, while deepening your knowledge of the rich Māori history of the region. Read more

A double hull waka in front of Split Apple Rock

Paddle through clear waters up to Toko Ngawhā/Split Apple Rock in a waka. WAKA ABEL TASMAN/SUPPLIED

Paddle through clear waters up to Toko Ngawhā/Split Apple Rock in a waka. WAKA ABEL TASMAN/SUPPLIED

See majestic marine wildlife in Kaikōura

The Kaikōura Peninsula is rich in over 800 years of Māori tradition. Owned and operated by Ngati Kuri of Kaikōura, a hapū of Ngāi Tahu, Whale Watch celebrates the majestic whales and marine life that frequent this area. As well as the resident sperm whales, you might see visiting humpback, pilot, blue and southern right whales; plus dolphins, seals and seabirds. It’s the type of experience that leaves guests in awe and even a bit teary. Read more

Whale fluke splashes out of the water

Whales are attracted by Kaikōura's nutrient-rich cold waters. WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA/SUPPLIED

Whales are attracted by Kaikōura's nutrient-rich cold waters. WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA/SUPPLIED

Follow the footsteps of Aotearoa’s first discoverer

Kupe is credited in many Māori narratives as being the first person to discover Aotearoa some 1000 years ago, having used the stars and currents to guide his waka across Te Moananui-a-Kiwa. Multiple hapū trace their whakapapa back to the explorer, and he’s left many a mark on the Land of the Long White Cloud in the form of place names that commemorate him and his adventures. His journey was quite an adventure - one that still makes for an epic road or boat trip today. Read more

Manea Footprints of Kupe in Opononi celebrates Kupe’s travels through Aotearoa. MANEA FOOTPRINTS OF KUPE/SUPPLIED

Manea Footprints of Kupe in Opononi celebrates Kupe’s travels through Aotearoa. MANEA FOOTPRINTS OF KUPE/SUPPLIED

Boardwalk over steaming geyser

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a nighttime experience to see geysers under the stars. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a nighttime experience to see geysers under the stars. BROOK SABIN

Geysers and boiling mud by starlight

Under a cloak of darkness, walk up to the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. Te Puia's Geyser By Night experience takes guests through the Rotorua geothermal wonderland after dark, past bubbling mud and boiling hot pools to reach the geyser Pōhutu, with a kaleidoscope of colours bouncing off the steam. Sample steamed pudding cooked in a natural hot spring, feel the mist of the geysers on your skin, while hearing about the legends of this incredible site, that was 200,000 years in the making. Read more

SIX WĀHI TAPU/SACRED MĀORI SITES

Te Rerenga Wairua | Cape Rēinga

The great Polynesian navigator Kupe is said to have named Te Rerenga Wairua, which translates to “the leaping place of spirits”, before returning to Hawaiki after a decades-long voyage of discovery around Aotearoa. It was hoped that the spirits of descendants who made their homes in New Zealand would be able to find their way back to Hawaiki by sliding down a root of the pōhutukawa into the sea and swimming underwater to the Three Kings Islands, where they would bid their final farewells to whānau before reaching their final resting place.

Lighthouse at the tip of Cape Reinga

Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga JACQUI STOKE/SUPPLIED

Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga JACQUI STOKE/SUPPLIED

Mount Tītīraupenga

The geographical heart of the North Island, the forest surrounding Mt Tītīraupenga is home to towering tōtara trees which predate the Taupō eruption more than 1900 years ago. Mount Tītīraupenga, with a dark, dome-like head rising above a thick cloak of forest green, features prominently in Māori history and evidence of Māori occupation is everywhere. Pā sites, trenches, stone channels dug for irrigated gardens and burial caves can all be found on and around the mountain.

Kura Tawhiti | Castle Hill

The Dalai Lama was so enraptured by his visit to Castle Hill in 2002 that he declared it a “Spiritual Centre of the Universe”. The sentiment was nothing new to the Ngāi Tahu tribe though: they’ve recognised the special significance of the Canterbury site, which resembles the ruins of an ancient castle, for centuries. The iwi’s connection to Kura Tawhiti was formally recognised in a Deed of Settlement with the Crown in 1998 which granted it tōpuni status, honouring its historical, cultural and spiritual significance.

Te Kāhui Tupua | The sacred peaks of the Central Plateau

The Māori name for the three volcanoes, Te Kāhui Tupua, translates to “the sacred peaks”. According to Māori oral traditions, Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe, Ruapehu and three other male mountains which used to stand in the area were besotted with the only female around, Pihanga. Fighting for her affections, they tore up the ground that stood between them, attacking each other with hot boulders and streams of molten lava, forming the seemingly battle-scarred landscape the area resembles today. Tongariro emerged the victor.

Sunrise at the summit of Tongariro Crossing

Sunrise at the top of the Tongariro Crossing. SUPPLIED

Sunrise at the top of the Tongariro Crossing. SUPPLIED

Maunga Hikurangi

A trip to Gisborne isn’t complete without a visit to Maunga Hikurangi. The sacred maunga is believed to be the very first part of Te Ika-a-Māui to emerge when Māui fished it up. Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou operates the only guided tours up the maunga and, while there is a public walking track, permission should be sought before attempting an unguided trek. The tour provides iwi history and stories, and explains the nine carvings dedicated to Māui and his whānau.

Kaitī Hill | Tītīrangi Reserve

In Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Poverty Bay), Kaitī Hill holds history in the earth as the historic landing site where James Cook first set foot on New Zealand soil in 1769. It’s a dark history; fear and ignorance led to the death of Ngāti Oneone rangatira Te Maro and many other Māori here after Cook and his men invited themselves ashore. However, the bay is a special place in non-settler-based history too, as it’s believed to also be the landing place of the Horouta and Te Ikaroa-a-Rauru waka which first carried Māori to the region.

Read more

TE WAIKOROPUPŪ SPRINGS


Te Waikoropupū Springs funnel some of the world's clearest fresh water, and arguably its most beautiful, pumping up out of huge aquifers at the phenomenal rate of 14,000 litres per second.

But these hyper-blue springs near Tākaka have long been considered wāhi tapu to Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu, who have used them for healing and ceremonial blessings for generations. The health of these stunning waters are central to to their spiritual and cultural wellbeing. 

Ngāti Tama acts as kaitiaki (guardians) for the springs, believing they represent the lifeblood of Papatūānuku (mother earth) and the tears of Ranginui (the sky father). As a source of wai (water), they are also a sustainer of life.


Ko ngā Puna o Te Waikoropupū e kōrere mai ana i ngā wai tino māori ake nei o te ao, ka mutu, e mea ana he ātaahua kē e puta mai ana i ngā toka tukunoa e 14,000 rita te nui i ia hēkona kotahi.

Heoi anō, ēnei puna-kahurangi e tata atu ana ki Tākaka e mea ana he wāhi tapu ki a Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu, ā, tā rātou e mahitia ai hei wai whakaora, hei wāhi tikanga whakairiiri mō e hia whakapaparanga ki muri. Ko te hauora o ēnei wai whakamiharo e hāngai ana ki tō rātou hauora ā-wairua, ā-ahurea anō hoki.

Ko Ngāti Tama ngā kaitiaki o ngā puna nei, e whakapono ana rātou ko rātou ake e whakakanohi ana i te toto ora o Papatūānuku me ngā roimata o Ranginui. Hei puna wai, he kaiwhakauka ora hoki rātou.

Read more

Te Waikoropupū Springs, Takaka. BROOK SABIN/STUFF

Te Waikoropupū Springs, Takaka. BROOK SABIN/STUFF

The power of pounamu

Wander through the streets of Hokitika and you'll find many stores and studios selling and carving pounamu, the precious greenstone famously found on the West Coast. For many Māori, the stone is recognised as having healing powers, like a medicine. You can buy a piece as a gift for others or keep it as a taonga or treasure to self-heal and look after yourself. Take a walking tour along the Arahura River to search for pounamu with a local guide who can explain the tikanga and significance of the jade, then drop in to the shops in town and watch carvers transform the stones into an artistic masterpiece. Read more

Three pounamu carvings in the shape of manaia, a mythical creature

Three manaia pendants from West Coast carver Mark Pfahlert. JACQUI GIBSON/SUPPLIED

Three manaia pendants from West Coast carver Mark Pfahlert. JACQUI GIBSON/SUPPLIED

Healing hot pools and where to find them

For centuries, Māori have been making use of thermal pools and their healing powers. Rainwater seeps down through rock to be heated deep in the earth before rising again. After its journey, the water contains minerals from the rock which, along with the heat of the water, are where the pools’ healing properties come from. Thermal hot pools have been used to treat everything from skin and digestive issues to arthritis and insomnia. Luckily in New Zealand, we have an abundance to choose from. Read more

Steam rising from thermal hot pool

Thermal pools are still used today to treat a range of ailments. BROOK SABIN

Thermal pools are still used today to treat a range of ailments. BROOK SABIN/STUFF

Kayak over the buried Eighth Wonder of the World

New Zealand has hundreds of kayak trips, but Paddle Board Rotorua's new tour has to be one of the most remarkable. In the geothermal wonderland of Waimangu Volcanic Valley, you can paddle within metres of steaming cliffs, floating inside what is essentially a giant volcano crater. Waimangu is the youngest geothermal system in the world after Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886. The disaster saw most life within six kilometres extinguished, with the loss of around 120 people and several villages. Māori had been living near the lake since around 1600. As you glide across the lake, more than 130 years later, it's hard to imagine the devastation that unfolded. Read more

Insider tip: Stay at least one extra night in Takapō as a backup stargazing night in case of overcast or inclement weather.
Juliette Sivertsen, travel news director
Maori tour guide touching tree in the forest

Everlyne Chase leads a Te Hīkoi o Pūkaha tour at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. SUPPLIED

Everlyne Chase leads a Te Hīkoi o Pūkaha tour at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. SUPPLIED

Meet the kōkako that wolf whistles at men

Kahurangi is the only captive kōkako in New Zealand, rescued by a DOC ranger and brought to Pūkaha Wildlife Centre in 2005. Tragically she never learned her natural song, but can say “kōkako" and apparently wolf-whistles at male visitors. But Kahurangi's story reveals how much we are at risk of losing in Aotearoa. Visitors to Pūkaha can also see kiwi, tuatara and discover the nearby forest with a local guide, and appreciate the precious taonga that was gifted back to the people of Aotearoa. Read more

Close up of kōkako bird

Kahurangi the kōkako never properly learned her natural song. SUPPLIED

Kahurangi the kōkako never properly learned her natural song. SUPPLIED

THRILLING ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Riverbug.NZ

Enjoy the thrill of riding the whitewater in with these unique Riverbug tours, from mild to wild around Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatāne. Guests are welcomed with a pōwhiri, introduced to the area, before going through some basic tikanga, a karakia, whakataukī and waiata. Guests who are able to speak te reo Māori are encouraged to do so.

Tourist riding whitewater down river

Riverbug.NZ incorporates Māori culture into its whitewater adventures. RIVERBUG.NZ/SUPPLIED

Riverbug.NZ incorporates Māori culture into its whitewater adventures. RIVERBUG.NZ/SUPPLIED

Dart River Adventures

Enjoy breathtaking panoramic scenery along the glacier-fed Dart River in the thrill of a jet boat. The Ngāi Tahu-owned company aims to help connect manuhiri, to tell stories, increase their knowledge and ultimately take care of the beautiful environment they operate in. The ride takes you into Mount Aspiring National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Area - while experiences guides weave details about the area's history and renowned Māori legends into the experience.

Jet boat ride with mountains in background

Enjoy the thrill of a jet boat ride in stunning scenery with Dart River Adventures. NGAI TAHU TOURISM/SUPPLIED

Enjoy the thrill of a jet boat ride in stunning scenery with Dart River Adventures. NGAI TAHU TOURISM/SUPPLIED

Awesome Adventures Hokianga

From hiking and fishing, to kayaking and cooking classes, there are options aplenty for exploring the beautiful Hokianga region in Northland with Awesome Adventures Hokianga. Discover the traditions of our ancestors such as gathering kaimoana, or experience more modern day adventures such as jumping on a jet ski, all while gaining a deeper understanding of the region's deep Māori heritage.

A Māori carving at the settlement of Panguru in the upper Hokianga

A Māori carving at the settlement of Panguru in the upper Hokianga. NORTHLAND INC/SUPPLIED

A Māori carving at the settlement of Panguru in the upper Hokianga. NORTHLAND INC/SUPPLIED

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Te ao Māori

Traditional Māori concepts such as manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and kotahitanga serve as a blueprint for sustainable tourism and leading balanced lives in tune with nature and our neighbours. Enrich your understanding at leading cultural attractions, healing hot pools, and on a twilight forest tour featuring a 3000-year-old giant.

Ko ngā ariā matua o te ao Māori pēnei me te manaakitanga, te kaitiakitanga me te kotahitanga hei tauira kia toitū ai te tāpoitanga me te noho ora iho ki te taiao me ō tātou pātata. Whakamātau ake tō māramatanga ki ngā taonga ahurea Māori rangatira, ngā puna whakaora wera me ngā hīkoitanga ngahere kaunenehu e kitea ai he rākau kaumātua nunui rawa e 3000 tau te pakeke.

The geothermal hot pool which predicts earthquakes

Step back in time and discover life in the remarkable geothermal village of Whakarewarewa, where homes overlook steaming hot pools that are used for cooking, cleaning and bathing. It's a way of life that's been preserved for hundreds of years, and visitors can learn how the people of the village have learned how to read the waters — a certain pool is even used as a barometer to forecast the weather. Feel the steam rising and hear the waters bubbling as you learn about a way of life largely unchanged for hundreds of years. Read more

Kuia overlooking steaming hot pool at Whakarewarewa

People still cook and bathe in the thermal waters at Whakarewarewa village, just like they did 700 years ago. BROOK SABIN

People still cook and bathe in the thermal waters at Whakarewarewa village, just like they did 700 years ago. BROOK SABIN

The valley of thermal secrets

Most New Zealanders know Rotorua's incredible geothermal park, Hell’s Gate, for its mud pools that you can bathe in – but there is so much more to discover. A self-guided walk through the park offers insight into the Māori people who thrived here for hundreds of years and a glimpse of the precious taonga. Highlights include a giant hot waterfall where warriors would bathe after battle, a labyrinth of paths that weave around steaming pools and the largest mud volcano in the Southern Hemisphere. Read more

Hell's Gate is known for its mud pools. BROOK SABIN

Hell's Gate is known for its mud pools. BROOK SABIN

Insider tip: Soak up the culture and history of Tairāwhiti Gisborne on the self-guided Tūpapa Heritage Trail. The free app, narrated in both English and te reo Māori, follows landmarks and tells stories of tangata whenua.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

Improve your reo while cycling

Jump on two wheels while practicing your reo along the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Experience manaakitanga at Te Rito Marae, revisit history at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and immerse yourself at Ngāwhā Springs for a therapeutic reprieve. Practice your reo all the way along the trail while discovering Te Tai Tokerau's fascinating Māori pūrākau (legends), whenua and tāngata, with the trail's evocative, bi-lingual information panels. Read more

Twin Coast Cycle Trail. CAMILLA RUTHERFORD/SUPPLIED

Twin Coast Cycle Trail. CAMILLA RUTHERFORD/SUPPLIED

The coastal trail with a nod to the past

Take a guided e-bike tour on Bay of Plenty’s newest cycle track, a 19-kilometre trail from Ōmokoroa to Wairoa River. The scenic coastal route that traverses the rohe (area) of Pirirākau, is made up of both new and existing off-road shared paths and local road connections. Te Ara Tourism runs 90-minute guided e-bike tours on Te Awanui Trail, giving a newfound insight into the tangata whenua. Read more

Woman walking through geyser mist on a boardwalk

Feel the mist on your skin of the geothermal wonderland that is Te Puia. BROOK SABIN

Feel the mist on your skin of the geothermal wonderland that is Te Puia. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, Napier. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, Napier. BROOK SABIN

Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings, Taupō. BROOK SABIN

Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings, Taupō. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa earn a living by sharing their unique way of life. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa earn a living by sharing their unique way of life. BROOK SABIN

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Woman walking through geyser mist on a boardwalk

Feel the mist on your skin of the geothermal wonderland that is Te Puia. BROOK SABIN

Feel the mist on your skin of the geothermal wonderland that is Te Puia. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, Napier. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, Napier. BROOK SABIN

Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings, Taupō. BROOK SABIN

Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings, Taupō. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa earn a living by sharing their unique way of life. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa earn a living by sharing their unique way of life. BROOK SABIN

A twilight tour of the world's tallest kauri

Tāne Mahuta has been around for a long time – 2000 years, give or take half a millennium – so most people touring Aotearoa will have paid a visit to this towering kauri tree in Northland’s Waipoua Forest. But there is a better way to see it. Wait until visiting hours are over, and experience a four-hour twilight tour with Footprints Waipoua. You'll see both Tāne Mahuta, Lord of the Forest, and the even more stately Te Matua Ngāhere, Father of the Forest and the world’s oldest kauri, at 3000 years old. Read more

Sun shining through forest to Tane Mahuta

Tāne Māhuta is New Zealand's largest living kauri tree. DAVID KIRKLAND/SUPPLIED

Tāne Māhuta is New Zealand's largest living kauri tree. DAVID KIRKLAND/SUPPLIED

Pay respects to the singing angel of Eastern Bay of Plenty

Whales and an angel are part of the less widely known stories of Te Kaha, the small coastal village on State Highway 35. Opera singer, Princess Te Rangi Pai, or Fanny Rose Howie, of Te Whānau-a-Apanui and Ngāti Pōrou descent, wrote Hine e Hine. She is buried in a roadside grave, topped with an angel, under a stand of pōhutukawa trees, near Te Kaha. You might need to ask the locals where to go, but she sang like an angel and now rests at her tūrangawaewae, mostly undisturbed by curious passers-by. Read more

THE BIRTHPLACE OF CULTURAL TOURISM IN AOTEAROA

In the Rotorua region, generations of guides have been pioneering leaders of tourism in Aotearoa, hosting and welcoming guests into their homes, sharing insights into Māori culture.

From the Pink and White Terraces, to the taonga of Whakarewarewa, this region is proudly home to the first major cultural tourism experiences in Aotearoa.

Twenty-one families still live in the kāinga (village) at Whakarewarewa, embracing the traditional practices their tīpuna laid down to ensure the health and wellbeing of the hapū. Every morning and night whānau from the village and across the city bathe in the waters of the geyser that flow from Papatūānuku.

Many families relocated to Whakarewarewa from the Pink and White Terraces after the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.

In the early 1900s the Government recognised the toanga that Whakarewarewa was and the draw of the geothermal plateau to visitors of Aotearoa, leading to the first department of tourism to be established in the city, and by design making Whakarewarewa the first official Māori cultural tourism experience.

That was before there was a bridge into Whakarewarewa, so whānau would piggyback manuhiri across the water into the village – for a fee of course. The bridge was opened in 1954 for Queen Elizabeth’s royal tour as it was not becoming of a queen to be carried across the water.

But the children still found a way to take advantage of the tourism opportunities the bridge presented by penny diving off the side as visitors threw money into the water below.

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Tamariki dive for coins off the side of the bridge as Queen Elizabeth watches during her 1954 royal tour. SUPPLIED

Tamariki dive for coins off the side of the bridge as Queen Elizabeth watches during her 1954 royal tour. SUPPLIED

What does it take to become a Māori language city?

Our capital city has a policy, Te Tauihu te reo Māori, to make Wellington a Māori language city by 2040, the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. It means making te reo a core part of Wellington's identity by ensuring it is widely seen, heard and spoken in the capital. Already there are a number of ways to deepen your understanding of te ao Māori, such as paddling a waka across Whairepo Lagoon, learn more about Polynesian navigation at Te Papa Tongarewa, stroll along the Ara Moana waterfront walkway, or view carved taonga at The Dowse Art Museum. Read more

The restored ancestral house that travelled the world

Meet Mātaatua, an ancestral meeting house which was dedicated to the Queen of England. Dismantled and removed in 1879, by the colonial government, against the wishes of Ngāti Awa, it became a showpiece of the British Empire but suffered indignities such as being re-assembled inside out, with the precious carvings and woven tukutuku panels, exposed to the weather. Finally it returned home to Whakatāne in 1996 where master carvers and weavers restored it to its former glory — and you can see it there today. Read more

The carved exterior of Mataatua whare/meeting house

Mātaatua was dismantled against Ngati Awa's wishes but has since been restored and returned to Whakatāne. SUPPLIED

Mātaatua was dismantled against Ngati Awa's wishes but has since been restored and returned to Whakatāne. SUPPLIED

Bring the whole whānau to these iconic Kiwi experiences

There are some quintessential Māori tourism experiences that every New Zealand family must enjoy at least once in life. Walk amongst the living giant Tāne Māhuta, visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to learn more about the history of Aotearoa, or for the young (and young at heart) who like to get the heart rate thumping, book a ride on the famous Shotover Jet. With options available for all ages, these family-friendly activities are a must do. Read more

Ngāi Tahu has held exclusive rights to the canyon section of the Kimiākau/Shotover River since 1987. SUPPLIED

Ngāi Tahu has held exclusive rights to the canyon section of the Kimiākau/Shotover River since 1987. SUPPLIED

Pāpāmoa Hills: sweeping views and incredible history

Pāpāmoa Hills is one of the most archaeologically significant sites in Aotearoa. The Pāpāmoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park (Te Rae o Pāpāmoa), and its 135-hectare reserve has incredible views of Tauranga, Mauao, and down towards Whakatāne. But what makes this walk even more remarkable is its history. At least seven pā sites can be found and explored within the park's boundary - believed to be the highest concentration found anywhere in New Zealand. Archaeologists have also found evidence of human history dating back to 1650. Read more

Kai Māori

Feast on imaginatively prepared indigenous kai on tours encompassing foraging, storytelling and information on the nutritional and medicinal properties of native ingredients, and at cafes, bars and restaurants ushering in a local food revolution.

Kainga iho ngā kai māori i ngā tipi haere tāpoi kua kohikoiha, ngā pakiwaitara me ngā kōrero mō ngā hua taioranga, ngā rongoā o ngā kai māori anō hoki, ka mutu, kei ngā toa kawhe, ngā paparakauta, whare kai hoki e heri kai ana o te takiwā o te wā.

Feast on the rich food story of Kaikōura

Nestled by the sea and wrapped in mountains, the geography of Kaikōura creates a food bowl. Food is part of the whakapapa of Kaikōura: the name itself refers to eating (kai) crayfish (kōura), which thrive off the coast. Head to Hapuku Kitchen for a culinary experience to celebrate the cuisine of the region. Forage for organic native plants and learn tips to prepare a meal that connects land to sea, and enjoy hearty kōrero at the dinner table. Read more

Slices of pāua on skewers resting on tray

Pāua skewers ready to be cooked over hot coals. MERIANA JOHNSEN/SUPPLIED

Pāua skewers ready to be cooked over hot coals. MERIANA JOHNSEN/SUPPLIED

Hāngī: the food experience every Kiwi must try

Hāngī is not just a cooking method but also a social experience in itself. Traditionally wrapped in flax leaves, hāngī cooking involves wrapping meat and vegetables such as potato, kūmara, cabbage in an underground oven. The kai is placed over hot rocks and covered with damp cloths, and cooks underground for about three to four hours. Find hāngī at Rewi Spraggon's famous Hāngī Master food truck, a hāngī pie at Blue Rose Café in Auckland or That Hangi Place in Gisborne. Read more

Food for a hangi and hangi pit

Rewi Spraggon, aka the Hāngi Master, prepares food for a feast. HĀNGĪ MASTER/SUPPLIED

Rewi Spraggon, aka the Hāngi Master, prepares food for a feast. HĀNGĪ MASTER/SUPPLIED

Showcasing Māori cuisine through storytelling

Oysters with black garlic, black vinegar and charcoal tempura. Kaimoana, hāngī and boil up. Fermented foods and preserving. Sisters Kārena and Kasey Bird are not only MasterChef winners but also master storytellers, showcasing Māori cuisine in a unique world-class way by weaving pūrakau (legends) throughout their dinner experiences. The sisters are revered for integrating their Māori culture and reo into their passion for cooking, igniting all the sense. Now teaching online, celebrate kai and te reo with these top chefs from Maketū. Read more

Chefs Karena and Kasey Bird in chefs jackets

Kārena and Kasey Bird. SUPPLIED

Kārena and Kasey Bird. SUPPLIED

Insider tip: Book a full-day experience at Hapuku Kitchen in Kaikōura so you have plenty of time for socialising at the end.
Meriana Johnsen, travel writer

A cultural tour for foodies

Taste your way through the streets of Ōtautahi (Christchurch) with a guided cultural food and wine experience with Āmiki Tours. Combining Māori and British history, renowned guide Rewai Grace will help you discover the city's unique heritage and connect not only to the city, but also to those that have gone before them. On the Ngā Hari o te Pō tour (The Night of Delights), you'll enjoy a progressive dinner, hear some of the city’s best kept secrets, while learning popular Māori words and meeting some of the friendly locals as you move the the vibrant and dynamic city. Read more

Wellington's kai Māori restaurant serving more than hāngī

The traditional hāngī has long been seen as the mainstay of kai Māori. Monique Fiso, owner of Wellington's Hiakai, is challenging this by bringing native ingredients back on the menu. Some of her current flavour innovations include a manono (a native shrub) rum and harakeke (flax) ice-cream. She’s also brought te ao Māori concepts of sharing food into her restaurant: the current menu theme is “Hākari” (feast), incorporating sharing dishes to emulate the big feasts of marae gatherings. Read more

Enjoy a fine dining experience celebrating kai Māori at Hiakai. WELLINGTONNZ/SUPPLIED

Enjoy a fine dining experience celebrating kai Māori at Hiakai. WELLINGTONNZ/SUPPLIED

FOUR MORE WAYS TO ENJOY MĀORI-INSPIRED CUISINE

Forage for food in Rotorua

Search for edible native plants and herbs in the Rotorua bush, learning about their nutritional and medicinal properties as you go, through Treetops Lodge' Māori Food Trail and Wild Food Cooking School. Sample them in situ or harvest them for the talented chefs at Treetops to transform into edible works of art. If you’d prefer to have a go at cooking them yourself, head along to the Wild Food Cooking School, which will see you forage for native ingredients before gathering around a table to learn how to prepare them. The feast at the end is fantastic, but helping put it together is at least half the fun.

Forage for native edible plants on the Treetops Māori Food Trail. SUPPLIED

Forage for native edible plants on the Treetops Māori Food Trail. SUPPLIED

Hāngī, but cafe-style

Overlooking Wellington’s Whairepo Lagoon, Karaka Cafe is a slick suntrap offering a huge assortment of traditional kai Māori, in many cases with a modern twist. The signature ‘mean Māori mean’ dishes include four types of hāngi: oven steamed, between burger buns, on chips, and as a generously topped pizza. The bilingual menu also features Māori takes on both Kiwi and overseas classics, like eggs benedict with smoked hāngi hash, or coconut fried chicken with kawakawa and lemon.

A cocktail is poured through a strainer into a cocktail glass

KuiKui Lane's signature cocktails all have Kiwi ingredients. SUPPLIED

KuiKui Lane's signature cocktails all have Kiwi ingredients. SUPPLIED

Toast your kuia at Kuikui Lane

A tribute to the kuia (grandmothers) who always made us feel loved and yet commanded respect, Wellington gin and cocktail bar KuiKui Lane serves up drinks made by distilleries from around Aotearoa. Signature cocktails include the “Aotearoa spritz” — which combines Reid + Reid Bitter Aperitivo made from 14 different fruits, seeds, leaves and roots with sparkling wine and soda. The bilingual menu includes sharing boards of tīhi (cheese), mīti (meat) and parāoa (bread), along with parāoa pohema (flatbreads) with various toppings, and kūmara chips. The mince pies topped with Wattie’s tomato sauce, meanwhile, are as warm and comforting as a hug from the nicest of nans.

Kaimoana to fill your puku

The kaimoana and indigenous ingredients her tūpuna (ancestors) lived on are the inspiration behind Reni Wereta-Gargiulo’s Nelson cafe, KiwiKai. Aiming to use four ingredients or less for each dish, organic if possible, the team turn out top-notch kai that’s as good for your health as your taste buds. Think marinated raw fish, mussel and pāua patties, seafood pies and chowder and fried Māori bread.

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Steam rising from geyser under floodlights

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a night time geyser experience. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a night time geyser experience. BROOK SABIN

Kuia reaching over steam vent

The people of Whakarewarewa still use thermal pools to bathe and cook today. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa still use thermal pools to bathe and cook today. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass is located in Waitangi Regional Park, Napier BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass is located in Waitangi Regional Park, Napier BROOK SABIN

Whakarewarewa Village is one of NZ's earliest tourist attractions. BROOK SABIN

Whakarewarewa Village is one of NZ's earliest tourist attractions. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua is Aotearoa's geothermal hot spot. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua is Aotearoa's geothermal hot spot. BROOK SABIN

Morere Hot Springs. BROOK SABIN

Morere Hot Springs. BROOK SABIN

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Steam rising from geyser under floodlights

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a night time geyser experience. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua's Te Puia offers a night time geyser experience. BROOK SABIN

Kuia reaching over steam vent

The people of Whakarewarewa still use thermal pools to bathe and cook today. BROOK SABIN

The people of Whakarewarewa still use thermal pools to bathe and cook today. BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass is located in Waitangi Regional Park, Napier BROOK SABIN

Ātea a Rangi Star Compass is located in Waitangi Regional Park, Napier BROOK SABIN

Whakarewarewa Village is one of NZ's earliest tourist attractions. BROOK SABIN

Whakarewarewa Village is one of NZ's earliest tourist attractions. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua is Aotearoa's geothermal hot spot. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua is Aotearoa's geothermal hot spot. BROOK SABIN

Morere Hot Springs. BROOK SABIN

Morere Hot Springs. BROOK SABIN

Sponsored

Ngā Taritari o Matariki (the Winds of Matariki)

Jerome Kavanagh is a Grammy award-winning Māori instrumentalist. SUPPLIED

 To help us celebrate the inaugural Matariki public holiday, Grammy award-winning Māori instrumentalist, Jerome Kavanagh, has crafted a bespoke composition that calls on New Zealanders to gather, reconnect and reflect with whānau and loved ones, and enjoy the celebration of Matariki together.

Jerome Kavanagh is a Grammy award-winning Māori instrumentalist. SUPPLIED

Jerome Kavanagh is a Grammy award-winning Māori instrumentalist. SUPPLIED

Visuals: Brook Sabin

Words: Siena Yates, Brook Sabin, Maxine Jacobs, Kim Webby, Meriana Johnsen, Lorna Thornber, Stephen Heard, Siobhan Downes, Alan Granville, Pamela Wade, Jacqui Gibson

Translation: Zeb Nicklin

Editors: Juliette Sivertsen, Trupti Biradar, Stephen Heard

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