Here are our top 10 cultural activities and experiences that you can enjoy to learn about the Maori culture in New Zealand.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi invites you to join them on a journey through Aotearoa’s most significant historic site. Discover the new Te Kongahu Museum in Waitangi and Te Rau Aroha museums. Take a guided tour to learn more about our history. Don’t miss the Carving Studio live demonstration, the traditional Maori waka, and the action-packed 30-minute cultural performance. There are also age-appropriate scavenger hunts and other fun activities!
Whale Watching Tour in Kaikoura
Take a whale watching tour to retrace Paikea’s story. Legend has it that Paikea, a whale-riding whale, arrived in New Zealand on the back of a whale centuries ago. His descendants include the Ngati Kuri of Kaikoura. Kaikoura, a paradise for marine enthusiasts, is the ideal spot for whanau to go wildlife spotting year-round. The 3.5-hour tour will take you to the spot where the world’s largest toothed predator, the giant Sperm whales, is located. You’ll also see fur seals, dusky dolphin pods, and the endangered wandering albatross.
Maori Highlights Tour at Te Papa Museum, Wellington
Our Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa offers a deep understanding of Maori culture. Experience the living treasures (taonga) of Te Iwi Taketake, the first peoples of the land, on a one-hour journey. The Maori Highlights Tour offers families a unique opportunity to learn about New Zealand’s Maori culture from historical, artistic, and current perspectives.
Northland Footprints Waipoua
The Waipoua Forest daylight encounter tour is an adventure your kids will love. Here you can see the largest Kauri trees left in the world. Local Maori guides will guide you through the legends, myths, and culture surrounding these forest lords. The world’s oldest kauri tree, Te Matua Ngahere, “The Father of the Forest”, is between 2,500-3,000 years old. The highlight of the tour is “The Lord of the Forest”, the gigantic Tane Mahuta.
Te Hana Te Ao Marama Te Hana (Auckland Region).
The tiny town of Te Hana, north of Wellsford, is simple to get to. It does, however, house a cultural treasure. Auckland’s Maori Cultural Centre, Te Hana Te Ao Marama, provides a variety of authentic Maori cultural experiences. You can take your family on a Guided Maori Village Tour that will transport you back 300 years to the time of Princess Te Hana.
You could also stay overnight at the Marae. A buffet lunch, village tour, and cultural performance are also included in the Ultimate Experience Package.
Cruise to Taupo’s Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings
You can enjoy comfort and style as you travel to the Maori Rock Carvings from Lake Taupo, one of the largest freshwater volcanic craters in the world. Ngatoroirangi’s massive Maori rock carving is 14 metres high and a stunning piece of contemporary art. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the bays and learn about the mythology and history of the area. The 90-minute tour allows you to get up close and personal with the carvings that can only be seen by water.
Pounamu, Bone & Paua Carvings in Hokitika
You can experience the NZ carving tradition and create your own masterpiece in pounamu (NZ Jade/Greenstone), paua, or bone. Bonz n Stonez’s master carvers will guide you every step of your way, and you’ll discover the practical skills that you never knew you had. The “Carve Your Own Package” allows you to bring your jade, bone, or shell. Steve Gwaliasi is the founder. He has spent nearly 30 years mastering pounamu carving and has taught carving classes at Tai Poutini Polytechnic as well as the NZ Correspond School.
Waka Experience with Te Matau, Hawke’s Bay
Enjoy a 2-hour cultural sailing adventure across Hawke’s Bay aboard “Te Matau a Maui”, a traditional Polynesian sailing waka which has travelled extensively throughout the Pacific. You can also take part in the crew and help to sail the waka if you wish! Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust is a registered charitable trust. All koha and payments go back into the Trust, allowing them continue delivering cultural, environmental, and health education programmes to the community.
The Auckland Museum is New Zealand’s oldest museum. It tells the story Aotearoa. It is known for its unique collection of more than 2000 Maori treasures and artifacts. This includes rare carvings and whole buildings as well as the last great Maori war canoe made from a Totara tree. These items are most often displayed in the main Maori galleries. These taonga represent the ancestral representations all the major tribes in Aotearoa. They embody spiritual power in terms of tapu (restriction form everyday being), mana (ancestral authority), and korero.) Maori toda still consider these taonga key symbols of tribal identity.
Te Puia Rotorua
The must-do Te Ra Day Time Experience (Day Time) offers so many things for whanau! You will be able to meet the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere (Pohutu Geyser), and explore the jumping mud pools. There are over 500 geothermal wonders within the Whakarewarewa geothermal valley. The Conservation Centre will allow you to view kiwi birds, observe master carvers and weavers in action at the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute and learn more about Maori culture and history as guides tell stories from their ancestors. The model Pre-European Maori Village and the sacred Marae are two other options that provide insight into Maori life prior to European settlement.